Motorcycle USA travels the New England countryside aboard the 2012 Royal Enfield Classic Chrome during Laconia Motorcycle Week on a quest for Maine's best lobster.
“What year is that?”
We fielded this question numerous times riding the 2012 Royal Enfield Classic Chrome during Laconia Motorcycle week. Though its signature styling cues hail back to post war British bikes, this shiny single-cylinder cruiser enjoys modern conventions of electronic fuel injection and push button starting.
Sporting timeless styling cues and a highly polished tank with a sheen that rivaled anything in the parking lot at the Naswa Resort, it’s no wonder the Classic Chrome was a big hit with the predominantly Harley crowd. The 3.2 gallon tank is adorned with post war graphics and the gleam of the chrome finish extends to the fenders as well. How many other bikes for less than $7K will you find hand-painted pinstripes and accents? Spoked wheels, a stalwart Single mounted vertically in the single downtubed frame, and a sprung solo seat keep the styling of the Classic Chrome clean and tidy. A kick pedal, which turned the bike over on the first try, adds to the nostalgia.
We took a one-day road trip over to the coast of Maine on the Royal Enfield in quest of the best lobster shack, spending a couple hundred miles in its saddle. Our journey began in the curvy roads of New Hampshire first though where we found the slim, light Classic Chrome to be a very nimble bike. With a fairly low seat height, compact rider’s triangle and a claimed curb weight of a paltry 412 lbs, it doesn’t take much to toss the Royal Enfield around. And while it doesn’t necessarily carve turns, it’s still predictable when leaned over and holds its line true.
A light clutch pull and a smooth shifting transmission make it a very rider friendly bike as does the crisp throttle response the electronic fuel injection provides. Gearing is surprisingly wide and we frequently wound out second gear for everything it’s worth. Cruising the highway, we were pleased to find a bit of top end in 5th gear at 70 mph. Now if only some of the vibes that set into the bars and foot pegs at that speed could be remedied…
Rolling through quaint touristy towns like Kennebunkport, the suspension provides a firm ride, the back side in particular thanks to dual shocks on the swingarm and dual springs under the seat. We wouldn’t mind a bit more damping on the front fork which took hits hard at times. When it came time to stop, we relied on the solid, grippy front brakes because the rear drum is mush and you really have to push down hard on the pedal to get it to bite. And while you can achieve decent lean angles on the bike, the arm of the rear brake pedal runs below the foot peg and scrapes on right hand turns.
The little Single has just enough juice to put a smile on your face. It’s efficiency will make you smile, too, as the Classic Chrome was good for a 61.5 mpg average. Fun is the best way to describe the overall riding experience on the Classic Chrome. Climb aboard and you’re swept up in a sense of nostalgia, the sound of the throaty Single taking you back to a time when things were less complicated. Every time we stepped off this virtual time machine we found ourselves grinning.