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1928 Royal Enfield
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John Bailey's unusual classic motorcycle was a winner in a RealClassic concours this summer. Back in 1928 it was just one of 13 RE models...

After the dust settled from the Great War, the Royal Enfield concern was in pretty good shape. It had supplied military motorcycles to both the British and Imperial Russian forces and was in a good position to supply the man in the street with affordable and robust machines. So while many other mid-size marques went under in the inter-war years, Royal Enfield thrived and created a line-up of modular-construction motorcycles which would help them to survive the financial disasters of the 1930s. By the end of the 1920s the Enfield factory covered some 18 acres, which included bicycle production (Royal Enfield built some 600 bicycles a week at that time… and even in the 1950s they were still making them. Prince Charles was given a Royal Enfield cycle in 1953!)

A Gurl's bike, apparently. 1928 Royal Enfield

John Bailey's Royal Enfield is a 1928 ladies' model. That was the year when Enfield adopted saddle fuel tanks and girder front forks, placing them at the cutting edge of the technology of the time. Their range consisted of 13 models in total, from a 225cc two-stroke to a 488c OHV four-stroke. Included in the range was a 346cc single with bore and stroke of 70mm by 90mm - dimensions which live on today in the 350 Bullet built in India…

But John's Enfield was built in Redditch nearly 80 years ago. When he bought the bikes in 2003 it was in 'sound condition' but had 'very poor paintwork' and was most reluctant to run - the tank was full of very stale petrol and there was no spark. So John had the bike thoroughly reconditioned and painted. He recommends DH Day of Swindon who overhauled the magneto, and Cleveland Bikespray of Thornaby for the paintwork.

Petrol tank doubles as a frisbee holder / bongo case.

They obviously did a good job, because John's Enfield has gathered quite a fair collection of trophies since the overhaul. It came to our attention when it was judged to be the Best In Show at the Yorkshire Classic Show at Ripley Castle - but John still thinks there's more work to do. 'It could be even better if the wheels were re-spoked and given fresh paint' he says, no doubt with one eye on the awards for his next season of show-going!

The bike's looks and light weight really impressed John, plus the bonus that this is an extremely unusual model. However, he wouldn't recommend buying one in a run-down condition unless you have deep pockets and plenty of patience.

'Buy one that is restored and running,' he says 'because restoration costs are high.' That's true for bike from any era, but when you're looking at ones this old then many parts need to be custom-made. 'Specialist repairers of old and obscure components can be very expensive.'

Footboard doubles as a mantlepiece / trophy cabinet

Still, if those trophies balanced on the running board are anything to go by, John's money was well spent…


Random Enfield stuff on

Show Off!

If you'd like to display your classic motorcycle at an event this autumn, there's still a range of shows around the UK, and a whole bunch of trophies and RC prizes up for grabs.

If you enter your bike for the concours competition then most organisers will give you a pass for free or discounted admission, too. Your bike doesn't need to be a very rare model, entirely original or immaculately restored; our judges are often just as interested in well-worn, practically modified popular classics.

So bring your bike along - even if you don't win an award you've still had a cheap day out! Contact the organiser for specific details about each of these events for autumn 2007…

  • August 26th/27th: The CHESHIRE CLASSIC CAR & MOTORCYCLE SHOW returns to Capesthorne Hall near Macclesfield. 01253 407779 /

  • August 27th: The NOTTINGHAMSHIRE CLASSIC CAR & MOTORCYCLE SHOW returns to Thoresby Park near Ollerton. 01253 407779 /

  • September 2nd: The DUDLEY CLASSIC CAR & TRANSPORT SHOW returns to Himley Hall in Dudley. 01922 643385,

  • September 2nd: The NORTH WEST CLASSIC CAR & MOTORCYCLE SHOW returns to Cholmondeley Castle near Malpas, just off the A49 in Cheshire. 01253 407779 /

  • September 9th: The LANCASHIRE CLASSIC CAR & MOTORCYCLE SHOW returns to Hoghton Tower near Preston. 01253 407779/

  • September 16th: The 6th STINKWHEEL BIKE SHOW and the Italian Classic Motorcycle Show returns to Beaumanor Hall near Loughborough in Leics. 01790 753015 or 01922 643385, or see

  • September 30th: The STAFFORDSHIRE CLASSIC CAR & MOTORCYCLE SHOW returns to Uttoxeter Racecourse. 01253 407779 /

  • October 28th: The SOUTH OF ENGLAND CLASSIC BIKE SHOW returns to Ardingly, near Gatwick. or call 01797 344277

  • November 4th: The MALVERN REALCLASSIC BIKE SHOW returns to the warm and cosy halls at the Three Counties Showground at Malvern, 10 mins from J2 off the M50 or J8/J7 off the M5. Enter your classic by calling 01484 452002 or see

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