Royal Enfield hires designer Pierre Terblanche

With bikes like their new cafe racer coming out, and their new factory, Royal Enfield is gearing up to take on the world.

The Indians are coming, and Royal Enfield appears to be aiming at a spot at the forefront of that invasion, with their hire of designer Pierre Terblanche, according to that country’s press.

In recent months, Indian motorcycle manufacturers have all armed themselves for an invasion of western markets. Hero showed off several new concept bikes at the Delhi Auto Expo last year and of course, they’ve got their deal with Erik Buell Racing. They also signed former BMW bigwig Dr. Markus Braunsperger.

Meanwhile, BMW themselves have got a deal with TVS to work on small-capacity bikes, and Bajaj has bought up as much KTM stock as they can.

The latest news is Royal Enfield has hired designer Pierre Terblanche, best-known for his years of work at Ducati that produced many of the company’s classics from the 1990s. Terblanche has been kicking around smaller companies for the last few years, putting in time with Confederate, Norton and the Piaggi Group.

Now, here’s why this news is especially interesting: While Royal Enfield is arguably the Indian manufacturer that’s best-known outside their company’s borders, they’re really only known for one thing – their lineup has received minimal visual changes in decades. Sure, the 350 cc and 500 cc machines have gained fuel injection and generally seem more reliable. Sure, the company built a new plant to increase production. Sure, they even released the Continental GT cafe racer back in 2013. But even that bike, with its big-bore engine and trick suspension, was really just another flavour of the common theme. In short, Royal Enfield builds bikes that follow classic lines – they’re India’s version of Harley-Davidson.

But now Harley-Davidson is moving into the Indian market. Their Street 500 and Street 750 models will actually be produced there (supposedly, North American bikes will be built in Kansas City). That means Royal Enfield has to grow their market outside their own borders, and that’s likely a big reason why they hired a big name like Terblanche. His name still carries cachet internationally; it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with for the company.

Royal Enfield is also supposedly working on another new factory, built to meet international demand for their motorcycles.


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