Friday, December 11, 2009

Cheating the wind

Towards the end of the 1950's the British motorcycling press was getting restless. Tired of dealing with Britain's notorious weather while riding, they demanded protection from the elements. The British motorcycling industry, attentive and responsive to the riders needs as usual, ignored them completely. So the journalists did something unheard of in the history of their profession. They got down and dirty and collaborating with the Enfield cycle company built a totally enclosed motorcycle, the Enfield Dreamliner. The results were quite impressive, the machine was very stable, offered improved mileage per gallon and top speed. The Enfield engineers, however, were less impressed. The Dreamliner was very bulky and difficult to maneuver at slow speeds, in parking lots and in tight inner-city conditions. So they had their own take on the concept and came up with the Airflow encasing that protected the front of the bike. It achieved many of the results of the Dreamliner but was much more nimble. Response in the press was very positive. In subsequent years, the Airflow fairing was available on all Enfield models and proved popular with police forces. It was even tested in the wind tunnels of the Bristol aircraft company. Alas, the public was not as enthusiastic as the moto-journalists and sales of the Airflow models were ok, but did not provide the economic boost that the Enfield Motorcycle Company was soon going to be desperately needing.

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