This is the first motorcycle I ever owned.
It’s the bike that made me understand everything about motorcycle basics, not only the mechanics but also the principles of riding one. It’s not usually a normal choice for a first bike, but I really wanted to do things the hard way.
During the years I rode it, I started to have a feeling that as cool as it was in it’s original form, I’d maybe like to build it into something which didn’t look like it was straight from the factory. In fact, I wanted it to look the exact opposite of that.
So, I thought and thought but just couldn’t get an idea, the base idea of what I wanted. I had no experience on custom made motorcycles so I was a bit lost on where to start.
Then I saw a bike online, built by ultra-talented James Roper Caldbeck of Customs From Jamesville. A Gorgeous ’47 HD Model U Flathead.
I wanted one, but I couldn’t afford one. But wait, I have this Royal Enfield…
I was determined that I wouldn’t have to alter the frame dimensions at all, but I had to make the bike just a little longer from the back and switch the telescopic front end to something which had a little bit more character. So I sourced a handful of brass parts, a new girder front end, a new 3″ longer swingarm and set to work. I dismantled the bike completely, cleaned the frame and fitted the original rims with new 4.00-19 Mitas tires.
I painted the front end black and polished the girder springs nice and shiny. I knew I didn’t want any paint on the bike, except the frame, frontend and the electrics box as I wanted a super minimal and natural look.
The gas tank is from some old moped and it was completely rusted so I cleaned it, welded some brackets on it and used gunblue on the metal to make that nice multicolor shade it has. The same technique was applied to the rear fender also, which is the original front fender off the Enfield.
The cylinder shaped dummy-oil tank under the seat is for the electronics, and it’s an old Spanish replica of a German WW2 era gasmask carrying canister I modified to do the job.
For the seat, I bought a nice leather seat made by Rich Phillips USA and altered the seat mount on the frame to accept it.
I also bought some raw brass materials, like some flat and round bars to make some struts and brackets. The rear light was carved from a single brass round bar piece.
For the frontlight I used a basic Bates -style headlight with copper ring. For the handlebars I wanted something really low, and that’s just what i got when one guy visiting our garage saw my bike under construction, went to his car and dug out a very nice old Raask Motors adjustable clubman bars from his boot.
After all that, I rebuilt the top end of the engine with new piston rings and detailed the engine with many nice brass details. I removed the starter motor and starter clutch assembly and made the bike kick only, because I liked the simpliness and Enfield’s electric starter is not the most reliable one anyhow. Then I just had to assemble the whole thing back together. I think it took about four kicks and it roared back to life and I had a huge grin on my face.
I had just made my first motorcycle, used my own hands for every bit of it as well as lots of tools which I didn’t know how to use earlier.
I call the bike ‘Honey Ryder’ after the first Bond girl from Dr. No, played by actress Ursula Andress. ‘Honey Ryder’ proved to be great ride in it’s new form and I drove over 1000 miles on it during the summer. As it was my first bike build, there were bound to be some problems, mainly two: the chain guard fell off and the piston rings didn’t seem to seat, so it burns through oil way too quickly. I guess I have another top end rebuild coming soon, but, nonetheless it’s a helluva bike. The whole build was a learning process for me in every aspect, so such few glitches don’t even matter to me.
Everyone else seems to think so too, as I’ve never gotten as many compliments as I do with this bike.
People just seem to love Honey Ryder and you know what? I can’t really blame them.