The People’s Champion
Let’s start by stating that we have a week spot for Royal Enfield. We do not get sponsored by them; we have no affiliations with them. The reason we love them is because Royal Enfield has somewhat become the “People’s Champion”. Classic looking, British styled motorcycles (with the exception of the Himalayan), made to look the part without breaking the bank. Long gone are the times where Royal Enfield motorcycles would be considered unreliable. Not with the amount of money the company has put into R&D and improving manufacturing processes. Once only found in the United Kingdom and India, Royal Enfield has become hugely popular in Asia, Africa, and incredibly enough, even in South America. As a matter of fact, the demand from the continent has been so high, that Royal Enfield decided to open up a new, state-of-the facility, in Argentina. This has been a deliberate strategy, since Royal Enfield has big plans to grow in North-America too.
When Royal Enfield first launched the 650 range back in 2018 (Interceptor and Continental GT) our bike hearts skipped a little beat. These two models, which are technically identical, looked like serious contenders in the retro-classic market. Triumph, Moto Guzzi and even BMW had a new competitor to deal with. The main difference between the Royal Enfield and the rest is that they are no-frills motorcycles i.e. there are no technological aids on them with the exception of ABS and a simple fuel-injection system. Furthermore, the price cannot be beaten. It is THE bike for those that want to buy a new retro bike, but don’t want to spend a ton of money. We can see why, because you do get a lot of bang for buck. The 650 puts out 48 hp and about 52Nm of torque. Those numbers may not seem like a lot, but considering the relatively low weight of about 200kg wet, which is carried fairly low in the double-cradle frame, it has plenty of oomph to catapult you through bends.
It goes without saying that Royal Enfield is hugely popular in India. It is a status symbol and the epitome of cool. People really like to ride their Royal Enfield and even more people like to customise their bikes. The custom scene is incredible in India, and very rarely does one’s Royal Enfield remain stock for long. Which brings us to the subject of the matter. Meet Paul Smith. He has been living in Goa India for a very long time now. Paul has built himself a reputation of master craftsman. Building bikes in his shed with nothing more than a hammer, a saw and a lathe makes Paul’s work especially notable. Paul has been wanting to build a bike based on the Royal Enfield 650 ever since it came out. Last year, Royal Enfield approached Paul and asked him to go all out, building a custom motorcycle based on the 650 Interceptor. Commission builds are unusual in India, so having the support from Royal Enfield to build something extraordinary is extra special.
Jugaad Goa, as Paul calls himself, had never worked on a motorcycle that has fuel injection before. Considering the techniques he uses, it does not surprise us. He’s an old-school builder after all. The second challenge was to build a café racer, something Paul hadn’t built before either. The idea was to build a motorcycle that could have been built in the 1940s-1950s thinking about what a street-fighter would look like back then. A retro futuristic motorcycle, or as Paul calls it “Retroistic”; clever! The 650 build is dubbed the “Chai Racer”. Chai is a tea-based drink which is extremely popular in India. Cafés aren’t popular in India, but chai-stalls are. Another neat feat!
There isn’t much that was kept original on this Royal Enfield. Only the rim, fork legs, swing arm, engine and clocks were kept from the standard 650 Interceptor, everything else is a one-off handmade part. Paul has cast the back light, footpegs and cable holders in brass, giving them a very classy finish. All the rivets were punched in by hand. Paul doesn’t have access to an English wheel or anything like that in Goa. It’s all very basic, without any CNC or milling machines. “When I say hand made, I mean it”, Paul adds. We asked Jugaad Goa what he loves the most about this build, he responded: “I love the whole bike. To have an idea in your head and see it become a reality, it is the best one could wish for.” The most interesting and eye-catching feature on this Royal Enfield is probably the front cowl with a headlight, actually inspired by a mudguard! We reckon that this is probably Paul’s most notable build to date. Being funded by Royal Enfield allowed for some outsourcing. Paul’s good friends at TNT Motorcycles who helped out with excellent machining of the hubs and triple clamps. This is a motorcycle we would love to get our hands on, not for a long journey though, but perhaps to just pop down the local chai shop for a chai.
Photo credits: Paul Smit, Vibhor Yadav, Royal Enfield
Paul Smith “Jugaad Goa”