Royal Enfield Continental GT: Saddle time with CEO Siddhartha Lal


Royal Enfield’s Siddhartha Lal

Royal Enfield’s Siddhartha Lal on the new Continental GT. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Wing.)

Is Royal Enfield boss Siddhartha Lal simply a wealthy heir to industry who’s risen to his position by dint of birth? Or is he a true visionary and motorcycle enthusiast bent on reviving a once noble brand? There’s no question but that Lal was born into wealth. Dad Vikram Mal founded Royal Enfield parent company Eicher Motors in 1982 and Eicher, which has a foot in numerous businesses including a joint venture with Volvo trucks, had gross sales in 2013 approaching $325 million. There’s also no question he’s a motorcycle enthusiast – Lal eschewed the traditional horse in favor of a red Royal Enfield Bullet to lead his wedding procession. And he loves life on two wheels, a fact amply supported during an all-day romp Lal made with journalists aboard new Royal Enfield Continental GTs in the hills south of Temecula, California, this past May.

Royal Enfield’s Siddhartha Lal

Royal Enfield’s Siddhartha Lal (center) is last in for a lunch stop during a day’s ride aboard Continental GTs.

Lal's involvement in Royal Enfield goes back to 2000, when the then 26-year-old took the reins of the company. Royal Enfield, which became part of Eicher Motors in 1994, was faring poorly. Eicher’s board of directors was pushing to either sell or shut down Royal Enfield. The story goes that Lal convinced the board to give him a two-year grace period to turn Royal Enfield around: He proceeded to do just that. In 2000, RE was producing an estimated 2,000 bikes a month in a factory designed to build 6,000. In 2013, RE put the finishing touches on a new, state of the art factory on a 50-acre lot in Chennai, the capital of India’s auto industry. Production capacity? 200,000.

6/20/2014 2:15:31 PM

Do we really care if the CEO is the real deal or not? I'm more interested in the details of what this bike has to offer.

6/19/2014 8:19:36 AM

I owned a 2002 Bullet 500ES. I went through the same sprag issue too, but when I replaced mine I sent the shaft it rides on to a dealer in WA state that upgrades the oil hole for better flow. It was a fantastic bike. Slow as molasses, but what a great sound and so much fun to ride. It got a ton of positive attention too, even from the Harley guys. I regretted selling it almost immediately. The Bullet was my entry back into riding after a 20+ year layoff and since selling it have owned 4 other bikes, including 2 Honda SOHC 550/4's (still have one) and a '77 GoldWing (sold last November). RE had a big presence at this years Motoblot (formerly Mods vs Rockers) and had about a dozen bikes there. That yellow is fantastic and I am seriously considering making a Continental GT my first ever new bike purchase.

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