Venki Padmanabhan (right) with the Thunderbird 500 in Calcutta on Friday. Picture by Rashbehari Das
Calcutta, Nov. 2: Royal Enfield is set to launch the first factory-built Royal Enfield Cafe Racer 500 next year.
“The Cafe Racer will be our next launch scheduled early next year,” said Venki Padmanabhan, CEO of Royal Enfield, on the sidelines of the launch of the Thunderbird 500 in the city today.
Cafe Racer is a term used for bikes as well as bikers. During the 60s and 70s both in UK and the US, bikers would bring their bikes to cafes and race around them. The term refers to a style of motorcyles used for fast rides from one cafe or coffee bar to another.
Typically a cafe racer bike is not factory made but modified by the biker for speed and handling rather than comfort.
Having showcased the Cafe Racer 500 at the Delhi Auto Expo early this year, the company that started assembling Enfield bikes under licence from the UK-based parent company in 1956, received enough response to launch the Cafe Racer.
Padmanabhan refused to elaborate on the bike and only said: “It’s an iconic thing and only Royal Enfield could do it as we promote pleasure biking. We are in a very niche segment and plan to continue to operate in that space.”
Royal Enfield, the oldest motorcycle brand in the world, has still in production the Bullet model that enjoys the longest bike production run of all time.
The company is buoyed by a 50 per cent year-on-year growth in 2012 and a 50 per cent growth within the year itself.
Attributing this to the growing culture of biking in the country along with better road and highway infrastructure, Padmanabhan said: “We will sell more than a lakh motorcycles this year. We sold 75,000 last year and 50,000 in 2010.”
On the 50 per cent growth in 2012, the company CEO said: “We were doing 7,000 bikes in a month. Last three months we sold 10,000 motorcycles each month.”
However, despite the growth, the company has about only 1 per cent of the market share. “Its comical but we are operating in an extremely niche category,” he added.