The sun never set on the British Empire, until, of course, it did. We must face the fact that the United States is no longer the gravitating force in the motorcycle industry. Is it India? Perhaps.
Royal Enfield is the oldest motorcycle manufacturer on the planet. It is currently owned by the India-based Eicher Group (since 1994). India-based Hero is the world’s largest manufacturer, which bought a 49% interest in Erik Buell Racing a few years ago. Hero is looking to come to America with a multi-model lineup and a respectably large dealer network. Royal Enfield may be following suit.
Royal Enfield recently hired former Harley-Davidson executive Rod Copes to serve as president of RE’s North American division. Copes intends to establish significantly more dealers for RE (currently just a handful) in the U.S. market, and is hoping the Royal Enfield models (including the Continental GT pictured above) will appeal to the large number of Americans currently pursuing simpler, retro-styled motorcycles.
Royal Enfield is also producing a new 400 cc engine, which will be a more modern, powerful design than its current air-cooled single. That new engine will need new chassis in which to reside. Enter Pierre Terblanche.
Terblanche, originally from South Africa, is most famous for his stint at Ducati and his hand in several beautiful Italian bikes. Terblanche was mentored early in his career at Cagiva by Massimo Tamburini, perhaps the greatest of all motorcycle designers. Terblanche is leaving his most recent gig at the U.S. manufacturer Confederate Motorcycles to join Royal Enfield. Described by the Indian press as the “young and dynamic CEO of Eicher”, Siddhartha Lal has been quoted as follows: “I am very excited that Pierre Terblanche has recently joined our team; he is one of the most prolific industrial designers for motorcycles, and is best known for having created some extra-ordinary motorcycles as the head of design for Ducati for over a decade.”