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Royal Enfield launches tribute to wartime bikes

The Classic 500 Pegasus Edition pays homage to the WD/RE Flying Flea

AS YEARS pass, veterans age and the Second World War becomes further embedded in the past, stories of gallantry and heroics are becoming ever harder to come by.

But motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield is adamant that its war effort will not be forgotten, and has created a special edition paying homage to one of its most important motorcycles of the war effort, the WD/RE Flying Flea.

Launched earlier this week at a fun event at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, the Classic 500 Pegasus is a tribute to the lightweight paractroopers motorcycle.

Powered by a 126cc air-cooled two stroke single cylinder and each packaged in its own steel parachute cage to facilitate the drop, the 59kg Flying Flea saw action in Operation Market Garden and D-Day, among others. More than 4,000 units were ordered by the War Department, and transported behind enemy lines on gliders or parachuted from planes. 

It provided troops on the ground with a vital mode of transport for reconnaissance, communications and warfare and thanks to its tough nature could tackle most terrain that the soldiers threw it at. And if it couldn’t make it across a fence or ditch, the soldier could just lift it over.

While the Pegasus Edition certainly doesn’t share the Flea’s lightweight nature or go-anywhere ability – in fact it looks more like some of Royal Enfield’s other wartime motorcycles – it is a well-done tribute to one of the most important models in Enfield’s history.

Extensive paint matching allowed designers to mimic the military green and brown colours – the Pegasus will be available in these two options – and carefully crafted pannier bags adorn the rear. Royal Enfield’s historic roundel featuring the ‘Made Like a Gun’ slogan sits alongside the Paratroopers Pegasus badge and each of the 1,000 models built will have a unique number stencilled on to the fuel tank.

It’s effectively a Classic 500 with a new paint job, and so features Royal Enfield’s fuel-injected, 24hp 500cc single cylinder engine. The ride is unmistakeably Enfield, with soft, bouncy suspension – which actually swallowed up potholes on our test route quite well – appalling brakes and lots of vibration. But in this guise it really encapsulates the wartime spirit. If it wasn’t for the occasional car, and my modern garb, I could easily have passed as a wartime messenger.

Of the 1,000 models that will be built, 190 will come to the UK in July. Available in either brown or green, the bike will cost £5,000.

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