Has Royal Enfield overused their J-Series engine platform in products
Once the new platform was given a thumbs up by the buyers they adapted the same engine on the new-gen Classic
BHPian pranavshet recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
The sales numbers might paint a different story but I feel RE has used it’s J Series & twin cylinder engine a bit too much in their products without much differentiation.
When the J series engine came out on Meteor it was praised for its refinement and tractability. It was an improvement of leaps and bounds when compared to the old UCE Engine platform.
Once the new platform was given a thumbs up by the buyers they adapted the same engine on the new-gen Classic albeit with minor differences in gearing and ECU maps.
For me, the engine of any motorcycle is like a soul. It has to match with the aesthetics of the vehicle i.e. the soul and body should be in sync. The engine character has to match the personality of the vehicle.
They could have tweaked the motor on Meteor to eke out a few more horses. But they didn’t.
The Biggest bummer for me was when they used the J series engine in the same tune on the Hunter. The product as an idea is excellent, it might be a great product in isolation but it would have stood out if it came with a performance of say 24 ps and 30nm of torque. People would have still purchased it if it was 3-4k more expensive than the classic. It is positioned as a sharp city bike and not for long tours.
They tried to capitalize through pricing. In the process, they have created competition among their own stable mates( Meteor, Classic, Hunter & now the Bullet). Hunter over the last 6 months has started to cannibalize classic sales. Even the new classic and Bullet are virtually identical
Now that competition from Triumph and Harley is heating up RE might start feeling the heat.
Even for their 650 cc engine platform, they could have launched Interceptor with a relaxed state of tune & continental GT with a sportier state of tune. That would have been a good differentiator.
Though the Super Meteor is the best world-class motorcycle to come out of any Indian manufacturer by far in terms of design, quality, and aesthetics, they repeated the same mistake ie using the engine with the same state of tune as of the earlier 650cc models. Only the Airbox had become bigger.
I know they didn’t do it to match A2 License norms.
But, do motorcyclists buy motorcycles looking at A2 license norms and other Jargon? Probably not, For Him/ Her it’s an emotional purchase.
I have been observing this trend from RE for far too long. The products are excellent in their own right, just that their soul has to be matched with the nature of the motorcycle.
They have been dragging their engines across products like a rubber band.
Would love to know your thoughts on the same. Should companies do things that are right for a product from it’s positioning perspective( How it must actually be if developed from scratch) and not from a cost perspective like engine sharing etc?
Just felt like penning down my thoughts on the same.
Here’s what BHPian aargee had to say on the matter:
- Kawasaki: Uses the same 649cc parallel twin on Z650, Versys 650, Ninja 650 & Vulcan S
- Honda: Uses the same 286cc single cylinder on CB300R, CBR300R, CRF300L, CRF300 Rally
- Ducati: Uses their 937cc engine on SuperSport, Hypermotard 950, Multistrada 950 & Monster 937
- Yamaha: Uses their 847cc engine on MT-09, Tracer 900 & XSR900
- Suzuki: Uses their 645cc engine on SV650 & V-Strom 650
Point is: RE is just copycat, they’re not alone
Here’s what BHPian ExOblivione had to say on the matter:
All manufactures reuse their engine platforms for different formats. It’s logical to do so. Reengineering a unique engine for every motorcycle in their stable would be cost prohibitive.
Yet, I do see @pranavshet point. It’s not just the reuse of the platform, but the lack of substantial differentiation between too many of their offerings. Taking their 650 series as an example, personally I don’t see enough of a difference between the Interceptor 650, the upcoming Shotgun 650 and the Scram 650. Similarly, Bullet 650 and Classic 650. For contrast, look at how massively different Kawasaki’s range of 650s are, despite having the same heart.
Whereas the other manufacturers have a very wide range of formats, ranging from sportsbikes to nakeds to ADVs/sport-tourers to cruisers to off-roaders etc., RE’s focus is completely on retro bikes, and there isn’t much of a difference between so many of them. They have no sportsbikes, no nakeds, no ADVs/sport-tourers. Their output is retro motorcycle with feet-forward controls or retro motorcycle with center-set controls, with the engine tune also feeling very much the same. Himalayan is the only real break from this pattern.
I wish they would start expanding into other formats. I don’t expect them to make sportsbikes, doesn’t go with their image, but the rest can carry the air of “sophistication” that RE wants to cultivate.
I think we are seeing certain signs of this. The Himalayan, especially with the upcoming liquid-cooled 450, is one. And there is the rumored ADV 650 that will be focused on sports-touring rather than off-roading.
Here’s what BHPian sanchari had to say on the matter:
Better to have cannibalization within the company than going to competitors. The bottom line always matters. There could be a niche segment who would like more diverse engine differentiation across their product range . Unfortunately they are a minority and won’t bring in the moolah. RE is catering to multiple segments with same engines and slightly differenly tuned, and that has worked for them.
Here’s what BHPian neil.jericho had to say on the matter:
pranavshet, I feel that there are far too many sweeping generalizations and assumptions being made in your opening post. Without getting into the weeds, I can only suggest that you also consider the research, engineering, time and cost impacts of some of the points that you have raised, with a manufactures hat on, and see if it makes financial sense to do so. That shift in mindset will directly answer many of the points that you have raised.
While I havent ridden all of Royal Enfield’s J series based motorbikes, I do know veteran riders who have ridden them back to back. The unanimous feedback that I have received is that Royal Enfield has done fabulous well in differentiating the feel of each bike, to suit the character and positioning of that particular product.
Based on that, I can confidently say that Royal Enfield has done a more than outstanding job with altering their J series engine to meet the expectations of various segments of the market.
Here’s what BHPian sandeepmohan had to say on the matter:
It is not financially viable for any manufacturer to build a series of different engines based on the model. The advent of modern Electronic Fuel Injection system has sort of negated the need for that too. You can tune up a bike to give it a different feel based on what the purpose of the bike is going to be. Change a couple of cogs or ratios inside the gearbox and it will feel totally different.
Royal Enfield or any manufacturer for that matter would have thought of what the J Series is going to be used for right when they were designing it. It has to suit a range of different models.
The fact that the engine isn’t going to change from model to model isn’t going to deter sales either. There isn’t much cross hopping between a brand. Someone who finds a Hunter appealing is not going to consider a Classic 350. Technically they may not be too different. They are poles apart when it comes to looks and the target audience. Same goes for the Super Meteor and smaller 650 Twins. If you’re looking at a Cruiser, it can only be the Super Meteor. The smaller 650’s are more like big brat bikes.
Here’s what BHPian JayPrashanth had to say on the matter:
In so far as buyers are concerned, every Royal Enfield running the J-Series motor looks/feels different to ride, and that’s what really counts.
For instance, the Hunter feels very flickable for an Enfield while the Classic feels much more planted/stable at highway speeds. Both motorcycles look very different, too. Thee Meteor is much more relaxed. The Bullet has that retro vibe and appeals to nostalgia. There’s adequate differentiation!
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.
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