New Delhi: An Australian, who crafted a 1,000cc V-twin engine from a Royal Enfield 500cc thumper, before the rising costs forced him to shut shop, has now tied up with an Indian businessman to sell these powerful versions of the popular classic motorcycles as the Carberry Enfield.
Adelaide-based automotive engineer Paul Carberry sold 13 such motorcycles in Australia before he closed operations because of rising raw material and manpower costs, said Jaspreet Singh Bhatia, the Bhilai-based businessman who has invested in Carberry Enfield.
The motorcycle’s engine is essentially a 500cc Royal Enfield cast-iron engine mated in a ‘V’ architecture to a second 500cc mill developed by Carberry.
The bump in displacement to 1,000cc gives the motorcycle a satisfying grunt along with a performance increase.
To be sure, Delhi-based Eicher Motors Ltd, which owns Royal Enfield, bought one of Carberry’s bikes in 2011 when both parties were in talks for a tie-up. The talks did not lead to a partnership after Royal Enfield decided to limit its presence to middle-weight motorcycles of 350-750cc capacity.
Bhatia and Carberry are now scouting for suppliers and dealers in India and finalizing formalities to set up a production unit in the country.
“This engine is invented by Paul. He did it in Australia. Due to high-working and spare-parts costs, Paul could not continue with the production. He could only sell 13 bikes in Australia,but they were in great demand in the market due to the performance of the bike,” said Bhatia in a phone interview from Bhilai. Bhatia is going through legal formalities to complete his investments. The first Carberry Enfield is expected to be launched in the Indian market in 6-8 months.
“We have come under a partnership. Paul is bringing in his knowledge and I am bringing my money,” said Bhatia, who primarily dabbles in the real-estate business.
Globally and in India, Royal Enfield amateur enthusiasts and professional engineers often try to do different things with the shape and size of these motorcycles that command a loyal following. But few try to tweak their engines. Another such company trying to make similar changes is the Germany-based design firm Norkroft, which is also thought to have developed a 1,000cc engine fitted in an Enfield chassis, and plans to sell in India.
Royal Enfield did not respond to a questionnaire sent on Monday seeking response to questions on patent, copyright and other issues.
Carberry said Royal Enfield as a brand is very special to Indians, which prompted him to bring his engines to India. When functional, his website carberryenfield.com used to attract 60,000 visitors a month and most of them were from India.
“Some people wanted to buy, and some just said good luck. Most people like Enfields and when you give them a double dose, they like it even more,” Carberry said. “I have worked on this for years and it has generated a lot of interest worldwide.”
Nevertheless, a big challenge for these companies will be to meet Indian homologation as well as emission norms. Homologation is the process of certification that a vehicle has to go through to prove its roadworthiness. India will move up to the toughest emission standards of Bharat Stage-VI from the current BS-IV by 2020, skipping an intermediate level, transport minister Nitin Gadkari said in January.
The decision—the immediate motivation appears to be the worsening air quality of Delhi and other cities—will make cars, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), trucks and buses more expensive to buy. Auto companies and the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) doubt whether they would be ready in time.
But Carberry is confident that his engines will meet required emission norms. “2020 is a lot of time away. I can do many things in between,” he said. In Australia, his bikes met Euro III norms before they ceased production.
The bigger challenge, according to Carberry, will be in finding the right parts suppliers.
“I don’t think the challenge is going to be in sales. It will be control over parts supply,” he said.
Carberry will also not have the advantage of the economies of scale that a Royal Enfield or even Harley-Davidson India Pvt. Ltd enjoys. This would hamper Carberry’s efforts to price these motorcycles competitively.
But Carberry thinks otherwise. “It can’t be compared by price. It has to be compared by bikes. It is going to be a hand-built bike. It is going to be completely different from others,” he said.
If successful, he can do many things with Royal Enfield motorcycles in India, like building 1,100cc and 1,200cc versions.
“Eventually, I want to do a Continental GT. That will be very interesting,” he said.
So far, Carberry’s engines are based on old cast-iron mills that powered Royal Enfield models before the advent of the current unit-construction engines.
The Continental GT is a cafe racer from the Royal Enfield stable.