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Not all new bikes are created equal, but riders are.

Let’s compare the Royal Enfield Classic 350 with BMW’s all-electric CE-04. Why? Read on…

Here, parked in one corner of my shed, there’s a ground-up redesign of a really significant model from a 120-year-old brand. Significant because in its home market it outsold anything else in its stable by three to one. And that’s just in May 2022 alone when 29,959 Royal Enfield Classic 350 found new homes in India, compared to 8290 Meteor 350s. And that’s especially significant when you consider that in the same period there was a combined total of just 1357 Continental GT and Interceptor 650s sold throughout India in the same four-week period.

But all that aside, there’s another significant model on the other side of my garage right now whose significance has nothing to do with how many of them have been sold. Instead, it’s significant because of what it represents to the future of the Bavarian brand, the future of urban mobility and, frankly, the future of the planet we all call home.

It’s BMW’s all-electric CE-04 and, judging by the 300 comments on the single photo we posted on facebook, AMCN readers also find it ‘significant’ for their own reasons. From what I can glean from those comments – and sure, I know it’s only the most vocal who’ll choose to comment online so it’s hardly a true representation of the broader motorcycling community – the CE-04 is significant to motorcyclists in that it’s a big and real blip on our beloved high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction radar.

But it’s more than just internal combustion. It’s because most of us don’t ride bikes simply to get from A to B. Nor do most of us – though admittedly not all of us – choose to ride bikes because of their superior emission and cost efficiency over their four-wheeled or locomotive-style counterparts. Most of us do it because of our symbiotic relationship with that very high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction.

I shared a meal recently with a fellow who grew up in India and who spent his youth tearing around on Royal Enfields. I was telling him about the brand’s recent-ish revival under the wing of Siddhartha Lal – as an aside, can you believe it’s been 15 years since he’s been at the helm?! – and that I had a new Royal Enfield Classic 350 in the shed. But when I handed him my phone showing him a picture of the bike, that symbiotic relationship became so clear to me as he went tearing back down memory lane, even making the familiar sound’s of the Indian-built single cylinder as he stared adoringly at the image with an unmistakable sparkle in his eye.

There’s not a motorcyclist alive who doesn’t have the same sparkle at the sight or even thought of a certain machine, engine or even exhaust note. But that doesn’t mean the unborn generation of riders who might only experience electric propulsion won’t also one day look wistfully upon a certain electric-powered machine and tear off down memory lane.

I challenge any one of those vocal facebook commentators to sit astride this futuristic-looking scoot and select Dynamic mode before twisting the throttle to the stop and not be thoroughly impressed by its berserk acceleration. Heck, even if you scroll down past both Road and Rain modes and select Eco mode, even then the thing will accelerate quicker than anything else on the road.

But the point of this isn’t to champion the qualities of electromobility, of which there are many, or to highlight that a modern reinterpretation of nostalgic design is a simple, clever and stupidly successful strategy. As I sit in my shed looking between these two wildly different MY22 machines, the thing that matters most is how spoilt riders are for choice.

In this job, we’re always asked if we have a favourite bike. I always answer that if I did, I’m probably in the wrong job, and that all I actually care about is if it has two wheels and an engine. And now even a motor. The important bit isn’t what we’re riding but that we’re riding. I’m going to jump off the keyboard and onto the footboards. And you should too.


Guess what?!

In 2021 BMW sold 328,316 electric vehicles in Europe, a 70.4 percent increase over 2020 and which represented 13 percent of its overall production. During the same 12-month period, Royal Enfield sold 550,557 units in its domestic market alone last year, which was 10,253 units more than in 2020. For perspective, the dwindling number of FCAI members in Australia registered a total of 37,270 new roadbikes were sold Down Under in 2021.