Royal Enfield will officially launch the limited edition Pegasus in Australia on July 26th. The event will take place at selected Royal Enfield dealerships across Australia with some lucky customers even taking delivery of their pre-ordered Pegasus on the night. Light refreshments will be served and guest speakers will be present to make this a special evening not to be missed.
If you would like to attend the launch, please register your attendance by filling out the form on royalenfield.com.au
Date: 26th July, 7pm – 9pm
VIC – Midlife Motorcycles
28 Cremorne St , Cremorne, VIC 3121
VIC – A1 Motorcycles
58 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood VIC 3134
NSW – Brisan Motorcycles
250 Maitland Rd, Islington, NSW 2296
NSW – Royal Enfield Sydney
336 Parramatta Road , Burwood, NSW 2134
QLD – Scooter Style
16 Rene St, Noosaville QLD, 4566
QLD – Team Moto Euro Springwood
59 Moss St , Slacks Creek, QLD 4127
SA – Motorcycle Revolution
949 South Rd, Melrose Park, SA 5039
WA – MotoMAX
25A Hutton St, Osborne Park WA 6017
For more information go to royalenfield.com.au/models/pegasus/
The Pegasus was launched recently in the UK and Australian journalist Max Blenkin was there to report on the historic World War 2 connection and meet with the veterans of the paratrooper regiment who rode Royal Enfield in battle.
The launch took place at the famous Duxford Imperial War Museum with a special air display by the Red Devils.
As British paratroopers landed in Holland at the start of the epic World War 2 battle of Arnhem, they brought with them “Flying Fleas”, lightweight motorcycles which were soon zipping around the increasingly chaotic battlefield.
The Flying Flea, landed by parachute in a special cradle or by glider, was a most useful wartime innovation, allowing dispatch riders to maintain vital communications between scattered units.
Flying Fleas – proper name Royal Enfield WD/RE – were beloved of their users, such as Signaller John Jeffries, now 96 and one of the diminishing band of Arnhem veterans.
“I was in the sigs. I was either a wireless operator or a despatch rider and I was mad about motorbikes. So I volunteered for anything,” he said.
“Despatch riders went to headquarters at Oosterbeek Town Hall from the detachments. They used to be buzzing around from all over.”
Alas, he never got to ride a Flying Flea at Arnhem. He was shot and wounded as he descended on Holland.
“I got it through the arse – very painful,” he recalled. German forces took him prisoner in the makeshift field hospital where he was being treated.
Arnhem, fought in September 1944, was a daring but unsuccessful bid by allied forces to open the route into Germany with British, American and Polish paratroopers seizing and holding bridges until ground forces arrived. They encountered unexpectedly strong German resistance.
British Airborne forces landed at Arnhem to capture the most northerly bridge – termed “a bridge too far.” – holding out for nine days.
Had Arnhem succeeded, the war could have ended months sooner, with the allies advancing much further into Germany before encountering Soviet forces.
Even though a British defeat, Arnhem has become a byword for courage against overwhelming odds.
Jeffries and fellow WW2 paratrooper Fred Glover, 92, were special guests for the UK launch of the Royal Enfield Classic 500 Pegasus, a homage to the Flying Flea.
This was held at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, home of the Airborne Forces Museum. The launch featured the British Army parachute display team, the Red Devils, jumping from a WW2-era C47 Dakota, which then landed and delivered two of the new motorcycles to the launch function.
The Classic 500 Pegasus isn’t a Flying Flea. It’s a limited production – just 1000 will be made – version of the Royal Enfield Classic 500, each individually numbered and featuring the distinctive Pegasus “flying horse” symbol of British airborne forces.
These will be distributed throughout the world, with 190 going to the UK and around 50 coming to Australia.
Royal Enfield has produced motorcycles since 1901, making it the longest motorcycle brand in continuous production. Forbears had been in business for the preceding half century, making sewing machine needles, bicycles and much else.
Royal Enfield is the result of a bit of Victorian-era sharp branding.
In 1892 the then Enfield Cycle Company Limited won contracts to make firearm components for the Royal Small Arms Factory. It adopted the name Royal Enfield for its first motorcycle.
That name stuck, as has the connection to the arms business. The company brand features a cannon and the logo: “Made Like a Gun.” It went on to make motorcycles for allied forces in two world wars and for the civilian market.
Royal Enfield UK went defunct in 1971 but the brand lived on in India where all Royal Enfield motorcycles are now produced.
Indian production began in 1955, initially through a subsidiary to the British parent, assembling the 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet under licence.
Royal Enfield, now owned by automaker Eicher Motors, is an Indian success story, though less than two decades ago, its future was looking none too bright, with substantial debt and production running at just 2000 units per month.
Now it produces more than 800,000 bikes a year from three factories and accounts for more than three-quarters of Eicher’s revenues and almost half its profits. India remains its biggest market but the company has global ambitions.
Overseeing this dramatic turnaround was chief executive officer Siddhartha Lal, a motorcycle enthusiast who saw that their products needed to be more reliable, robust and rider friendly.
And the company also needed to continue playing to its strengths, producing robust retro-styled motorcycles in a global market awash with high-technology, high performance brands.
“You either like this kind of motorcycling, the old school style of motorcycling in a modern context, or you don’t. The ones who do, they come to us,” he said.
“More and more people are moving away from the very modern and very quick motorcycles and into old style motorcycling.”
Lal said Royal Enfield had created something very particular and stuck to it.
“We have understood our consumer and what they want. It is the motorcycle they want and it is also what else they want in their lives around the motorcycle,” he said.
Although Australia’ isn’t the company’s largest market by far, Lal said it remains important.
“It is a relatively small market for us but it is a very important market for us to be present. The enthusiasm for this style of motorcycle is extremely high so we keep investing in markets like Australia,” he said.
Royal Enfield is serious about its history and heritage, of which the Flying Flea is a fine example.
Plenty of companies made plenty of motorcycles during World War 2 but only the Flying Flea was created specifically for use by airborne forces, landing on the battlefield by parachute or glider. These diminutive machines saw plenty of action.
When World War 2 started, Britain had no airborne forces. But the Germans did and Prime Minister Winston Churchill directed the formation of a 5000-member parachute force.
Even before the war started, journalist Arthur Bourne, the influential editor of The Motor Cycle magazine, tried to interest the British military in a lightweight cycle for use by despatch riders
Not interested, was the response. But commander of the new airborne force Major General Frederick Browning saw the need for a lightweight air deliverable motorcycle rather than bicycles.
Browning was also responsible for the Airborne’s distinctive maroon beret and shoulder flash, drawn from Greek mythology and featuring the first airborne warrior Bellerophon riding the winged horse Pegasus.
This is owned by the UK Ministry of Defence which approved Royal Enfield’s use of the symbol.
The original Flying Flea was very basic motorcycling, with a single cylinder 125cc engine and three-speed hand operated gearbox.
For parachute landing, Royal Enfield created a lightweight tube framed cage, which needed to be manhandled out the narrow door of the Douglas C47 Dakota.
In practice more arrived aboard troop-carrying gliders, the helicopter of the day.
The Flying Flea made its combat debut on D-Day, with many coming ashore from landing craft onto the Normandy beaches.
“The ramp would touch down and out would come the bikes,” said Royal Enfield historian Gordon May.
“They were used as a means of rounding up troops and getting them forward and also accompanying troops, much as a convoy escort rider would have done.”
Confronted with a fence or ditch, the rider could simply dismount and lift the 59-kilogram bike over.
Orders were placed for 8000 Flying Fleas but it’s unclear if all had been delivered when the war ended.
Post-war, Flying Fleas were bought up by a public eager for inexpensive basic transport. Few survive in their original wartime condition. Royal Enfield subsequently produced 20,000 Flying Fleas for the civilian market.
Words by Max Blenkin.
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24 months Warranty
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