The Classic Motorcycle

Royal Enfield Bullet


As the picture here clearly shows, Colin Duffy donated his Royal Enfield to the museum as a project. But it actually has an interestin­g history prior to being handed over to the restoratio­n team.

Colin bought the bike just after decimalisa­tion, in 1971, aged just 17, and it cost him the grand sum of 50p. He was around the sixth owner, and being 12 years old the bike had seen rather a lot of action and was something of a basket case even then. While Colin and a mate got the Bullet running – just – he soon headed off to university, and the Enfield sat in his dad’s garage while he got a degree, job, wife and then a home in London. That home had a garage, into which the Enfield was moved, and Colin decided that it was finally time to renovate it.

“My wife remembers the bike’s engine on the dining room table which was on a white, 1970s, deep shag pile carpet that was fashionabl­e at the time. She wasn’t happy. She also reminds me that I moved the petrol tank into the bedroom and she stubbed her toe on it going to the bathroom in the night. It’s 40 years later now, but she still remembers it…”

A new big end, a rebore, plenty of spares from Gander and Grey Motor Cycles in East London, and a lot of polishing and repainting later, the bike was together but issues with the electrical­s – particular­ly the timing and the magneto – meant that it took a back seat to a BMW K75 which was used for commuting, while a move to a derelict Victorian house took the next five years of Colin’s spare ‘restoratio­n’ time, so the Bullet sat, unused, in another garage..

Another move to Brighton saw Colin’s wife as headteache­r of the School for the Deaf (as featured on TV show Strictly Come Dancing with the winner

Rose Ayling-Ellis), where the Enfield was drafted in as a teaching aid to explain how bikes worked, being taken apart and rebuilt many times. Another move saw the Bullet languishin­g in many parts, until the Covid lockdown began and Colin had the chance to restore it. Except, as has been the case in many other instances, Colin managed to find other things to do, and he took this as a sign that he might never get the bike rebuilt, so maybe there could be another option?

“I can’t remember why I thought of the museum, but I looked up the website, saw the page about donations and emailed James (Hewing, the museum director) to see if he was interested”. As you can see, he was, and the Bullet is now in the queue to be restored by the team.

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