New Bikes

Royal Enfield ‘putting enormous focus on quality’ ahead of 650 twins launch

Development boss admits Himalayan was temporarily withdrawn from sale in India over quality issues but says processes have improved.

ROYAL Enfield is working hard to ensure new models don’t suffer from the quality issues that affected the Himalayan, the firm’s Head of Product Development has said.

Simon Warburton admitted issues had led to the 410cc Himalayan adventure bike being temporarily withdrawn from sale in India but said the firm was “putting enormous focus on quality”.

He said: “We recognise the need to improve from where we were. No question about that.”

He said new factories had “much better quality systems embedded in,” adding: “The equipment on the line is better. The checks and balances put in and the in-house manufacturing processes are better.”

Mark Wells, Royal Enfield’s Head of Product Strategy and Industrial Design, said: “We’ve improved vastly in the last 18 months. We're not burying our heads in the sand.”

Warburton said: "There's an enormous focus on quality right now. It's a really tough regime at the moment."

Royal Enfield's Head of Product Strategy and Industrial Design Mark Wells (left) and Head of Product Development Simon Waburton.

Warburton and Wells spoke as journalists were given a guided tour of Royal Enfield’s new model development facility at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire, employing 120 people with a view to recruiting 20 more by the end of the year.  

The UK Technical Centre (main image) is where more models will be developed using the new 648cc parallel-twin engine in the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650, which are scheduled to be launched around April this year.

The Continental GT 650

Warburton, formerly Product Manager for Triumph, said the Himalayan had been withdrawn from sale in India to allow time to address quality issues, which were resolved before the model reached the UK.  

He said: “We had some issues when it first came out. We’ve been doing a lot of work on it. That’s why it was late coming into Europe, basically.”

He didn’t elaborate on the nature of the issues.

In November 2016 Royal Enfield announced the Himalayan was to be sold in Europe but it’s only in recent weeks that it's been added to the line-up listed on the firm’s official UK website.

It was launched in India at the beginning of 2016, with a promo video in which one of the rider’s footpegs could be seen snapping off as the bike landed after a jump. Royal Enfield removed the video from its YouTube channel after Visordown readers spotted the peg tumbling in dust behind the bike.

Wells said: “There was a discussion about whether that should have gone out and probably it shouldn’t have.”

Comments

Rogerborg's picture

Royal Enfield made much the same empty promises about quality before they launched the woeful Himalayan that had even their domestic True Believers in despair.

They never acknowledged or even laughed off that snappy-peg, they just tried to cover it up with a huffy assertion that they always intended to remove the video.

And to this day, Royal Enfield still insist that the woefully inadequate sprag clutch on the AVLs and early UCEs was fit for purpose - this despite re-engineering it for the post 2010 UCEs, in best BMW "We've fixed that problem which didn't exist" style. Having scraped the shards of one out, I can only laugh at their risible position. At least they're keeping bearing manufacturers in business for years to come.

They have a saying in Texas: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me... uh... can't get fooled again.

The 500s and 535 have been made for long enough that they've figured them out. But the Himalayan and any new bikes will need more than empty rhetoric to make them sensible purchasing decisions. Royal Enfield have long since burned through any goodwill and benefit of the doubt as far as I'm concerned. I'd honestly rather trust a Chinese bike.

The proof will be in the long term results. They lost me when their own promo video had a snapping foot-peg. A broad sweeping statement of improvement wont convince me otherwise. (Yes, I am a potential buyer)

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