I’ve always liked the idea of firearm manufacturers building motorbikes. Companies like BSA and CZ who exploited engineering synergies in the technologies and their manufacture. At the end of the day, the outcome is very similar; harnessing the energy of an explosion to propel a lump of metal down the metaphorical or literal road. Then there is Royal Enfield. Their original tagline, “Made like a gun, goes like a bullet”, playing off the legacy of the old Enfield weapons manufacturer, still represented in the canon of the Royal Enfield logo. Sure, in performance terms modern Enfields are more Musket than Minigun, but the basic principles are the same. That Enfields have now been made in India for almost as long as the original company made bikes in Britain is quite astonishing. The resurgence in cafe racer culture globally has meant the Chennai workforce putting in double shifts to meet demand.
The fabulously monikered Reginald Hilt from New Delhi is one of the new breed of bike builder finding life in the old Enfield. A fashion designer by trade, customising bikes started as a hobby to sate his creative urge for a stylish two wheeler. Having watched his father tinker with bikes since a young age, it was inevitable really. “Over the years I’ve seen bikes like the RD350, Yezdi, Yamaha RX100, Rajdoot and even a Suzuki 125 roll in an out of our place every 6 to 7 months, depending on how long it took my Dad to get over his current ride and crave for his next indulgence”. Sounds familiar, right? As soon as college was done and dusted Reginald started modifying his own Enfield in search of something he could call his own. From this Bull City Customs was born and this is their second build.
What started life as a Royal Enfield 350 cc Twin Spark Thunderbird with 5 speed ‘box, has been stripped and bobbed to update the classic workhorse. Reginald’s client wanted the bike to have a more modern, metallic edge; the clean edges of the metalwork and satin blue paint certainly achieve this. A number of brass elements and the brown pipe wrap contrast with the modern metalwork and tyres to create the classic. The Twin Spark engine also helps, the more panhead-style rocker covers giving a blockier, modern look to whole powerplant. A sinuous high level exhaust is tucked in close to the bike, the pipe wrap and and brass heat shield help keep legs cooler in the New Delhi sun. Along with the free flowing exhaust the 29mm Pacco carb was rejetted to make the most of the K&N filter.
With hints of an oversize Sportster tank, the custom 14 litre fuel cell, is a great display of the fabrication skills Bull City offer. Combined with the frugal powerplant it also happens to give a useful range for all day cruising. Details abound, the tank is adorned with a neat physical fuel gauge, and machined alloy fuel cap. Along the flanks brass knee inserts have been beautifully machined . All of the steel bodywork has been made specifically for this bike. An oval battery was made to be tucked away under the seat, emulating the oil tanks of old, whilst offering a home for unsightly electrics. Impossible to tell but the headlight is an old Yamaha RX100 unit with a new outer bezel to enhance it’s diminutive stature.
Most of the chassis cycle parts have been revised or replaced. The front 35mm forks have been shortened slightly and are held in wide 9-inch custom yokes, beefing up the stance of the bike. With the headlight centrally mounted, shrouds for the fork uppers were fabricated with more than a passing glance to the heatshield on gun barrel. Gas shocks at the rear with machined aluminium top caps give 80mm of travel, enough to offer comfort at the genteel pace the bike will be used at. Wheels are have rebuilt to 17″ rims at either end but are considerably wider than standard. This allows the fitment of modern 140/70/17 Continental rubber, further enhancing the modern look asked for.
A steel seat pan was hammered out before being clad in fine black leather; not too much padding but the seat springs add any missed compliance. Custom forward controls hunker down by the engine, transforming the riding position when combined with some wide Pro-Racer bars. These are capped with knurled aluminium grips to match the footpegs, all made up in-house on the Bull City lathes. It’s the handmade details on this bike that tie it all together; just enough to break up the simple lines but not too much to be a distraction. Reginald and his team have produced a confident looking bike that straddles the new and old and we look forward to see what appears from guys next!
More bikes and likely more Enfields are in the pipeline for Bull City Customs, follow progress on their Facebook Page where far more of the build progress is captured.