1927 ROYLE ENFIELD BOARD TRACK
STEEL BUFFALO MOTORS™ PRIVATE COLLECTION
Royal Enfield’s first motorcycle went on sale in 1901. It was powered by a diminutive 1 1/2 hp single cylinder engine and small capacity singles were to remain the company’s motors of choice until November 1909 when its first V-Twin was unveiled. After WWI, a two model policy was adopted; large capacity 976cc V-twins and small capacity 225cc 2-strokes, a strategy which covered both ends of motorcyclists’ requirements, namely a powerful workhorse suited to hauling heavy sidecars, and a small capacity, lightweight and economical commuter. The middle ground, populated by many other manufacturers, was not addressed.
That changed in the mid-1920s, first with the adoption of JAP (JA Prestwich) 350cc engines in 1924, then Enfield’s own 350cc engines in mid-1925. The next step was to develop a big single: in late 1926 the company launched their first at the renowned Olympia Motor Cycle Show in London. The Model 500 was powered by a 488cc side valve engine linked to a four speed gearbox by a hand change lever. The MotorCycle, Britain’s leading weekly motorcycle magazine, grabbed one, mounted a sidecar on it and put it to test. It performed “its duties with a pleasing absence of fuss.” Top gear “pulled down to 15 mph without snatch and in bottom gear it was found possible to travel appreciably slower than walking pace without slipping the clutch.” Costing just £52, with electric lighting an extra £7, the future looked bright for the Enfield big single.