Indeed, when a company known for their classic ethos and retro nostalgia offers an extended warranty option on their products becomes an instant News. Though we didn't find this as a news rather it was a matter of brain storming for us, has Royal Enfield now gained some confidence after introducing UCE engine? or it is just another gimmick to get monetary benefits from their customers for some more time??Royal Enfield motorcycles are next to a cult not only for India but being associated with the legacy of Great Britain it also shares the same sentiments for rest of the World. It has been ages since Royal Enfield used to continue with the same Cast Iron (CI) engines. Despite of the old and very unreliable technology the engine was as popular as the RE motorcycles itself. It is said to believe among the hardcore fans of Royal Enfield Motorcycles that the alleged "Thump" of the cast iron engine is the SOUL of the bike.
The popularity of the RE motorcycles are based on these two traits- the retro styling and the so called Thump of the engine. However the popularity and the fan following of the Royal enfield motorcycles were outrunning by the quality issues of the RE bikes and by the stories of the RE riders about their unreliability. The Royal Enfield management started finding alternatives of the age old CI engine and doing this they had landed up to partnerships with companies like AVL but the experiment got miserably failed as the lean burn all aluminum AVL engines did not satisfy the acoustic pleasure of the customers and on top of that being constructed by aluminum the reliability factor still remained questionable. Hence there was no other option for the company than discontinuing the aforementioned models bearing with the AVL engines. After a very long time the Royal Enfield management ultimately succeeded in designing and developing one modern engine which has both the characteristic pre-requisites- number one now becoming the reliability factor and then the sound and feel of the RE. In terms of the solution now the company has a modern engine called as Unit Construction Engine (UCE). As far as the reliability factor is concerned it seems like its now being addressed properly, as one of the biggest problems with the old cast iron engine was its disintegrated engine design is now being taken care in all new UCE engine.
The old CI engine had separate clutch assembly and a separate transmission drive. This setup not only augments the size of the engine but also increases the chances of failure in longer term. Now the new UCE engine has everything as a unit and there by has got a standard design of a modern internal combustion engine, which got everything intact in a single casing, be it the transmission, clutch or the cylinder of the engine. Although, the relaibilty issue pertaining to the RE engines seems to be sorted out to a certain extent after introduction of the new UCE engine but the other quality issues are yet to be addressed by the Royal Enfield. Models like Thunderbird 350, Thunderbird 500, Classic 350/500 and Continental GT all of them have the latest UCE engine, there is no doubt about the good work taken place in the engine department though frankly speaking there still remains scope of improvement. But the rest of the departments like; chassis, paint job, wielding and some still in use old school design parts are strongly needed to be addressed as soon as possible. Considering these aforementioned points Royal Enfield still maintaining the standard Warranty of one year on their all products and it is only now that they have introduced optional extended warranty of 2 years. It is clearly understandable that RE has taken this step after acquiring all feedback pertaining to the quality issues with the new UCE engine, it is now that RE looks a little relaxed with the engine and extended the warranty for 2 years. In a motorbike the engine is the primary and core concern area for any manufacturer, and giving warranty by the company, directly means taking liability for any genuine part failure.
In a World where companies like Mahindra 2- wheelers and Hero MotoCorp is extending the standard warranty of 5 years or 70000 Kms to the customers of their products, the pressure can be felt on company like Royal Enfield to match the standards. Royal Enfield India is evolving very rapidly and in fact in recent days they have performed outstandingly national and international. It is expected from Royal Enfield that they should improve their quality standards to meet the international parameters. There is so much to do for RE starting from the QC, designing and not to forget the scope of improvement in the engine. The power output from the size of RE engine is really heart breaking, there is literally so much that can be done in performance, refinement and overall reliability departments. We would like to see the day when Royal Enfield bullets would fire like their slogan- "Made Like Gun Goes Like Bullet" in a true sense. It is not expected a whole lifetime warranty but at least a standard 5 year warranty is all we need to see from Royal Enfield in near future. One might not use the privilege of the extended warranty at all but at least it gives a sort of confidence on a product you are shelling your hard earned money. Moreover, what I believe is the Royal Enfield is more in need of this confidence on their products rather than their customers.
What do you think of it? please share your mind with your fellow bike enthusiasts.
By: Farhan Kashif