I'm from South London, grew up around Stratton and Brixton, and got into rock 'n' roll in the '70s, when all the Teddy-boy gangs were still running around. I started hanging out in the scene, meeting all the old guys and seeing all their bikes: Triumphs, Nortons, BSAs, Velocettes, you know... As a young, impressionable lad, I was like, 'Wow, that's cool. I wanna do that.'
"I was always a BSA guy. I learned to ride on a Bantam, and had a whole slew of A10s after that. When I moved to the U.S. I started looking at BSAs and couldn't find one worth having-the few that survived the '70s without being chopped needed a full rebuild. Then these Royal Enfields came around, another 500cc single, so I decided to try that. I've got so much money into this one now that I could have bought a perfectly restored Gold Star, though!
"It's a 2002 Royal Enfield Bullet ES (electric start), but I use the kicker most of the time. The stock Bullet is fine if you just want to plod around town, but I'm an old Rocker and I want to go fast! I had Motor West in Milwaukee build a proper racing motor: stroker crank (it displaces 615cc now), ported head, race cam, alloy rod, the works. A stock Bullet might make 22 horsepower; mine's around 45 now, about the same as a Gold Star, but more reliable. I also made it look right, and lightened it up, too. The headlight is a larger, 7-inch unit, the taillight is from a Bantam and a reproduction Gold Star muffler gives it the signature 'tweet.' I changed the rear subframe out to a later style, with the BSA fender carriers, added alloy fenders front and back, Tommaselli adjustable clubmans and a steering damper-it gets a little shaky past 80, but it still handles better than any of my BSAs! It'll break the ton, barely-that's as much as you'll get out of it.
"I got the front numberplate over the Internet, and the British road-tax disc is a reprint of one from 1955, because this bike is essentially a 1955-model Royal Enfield, only with 12 volts and electric start. It's a brand-new vintage bike!"