While off my feet for the last few days, definitely not by choice, I had some extra time to think instead of write. The McDeeb Royal Enfields kept coming back to me as a wonderful opportunity on many levels. A small dealer and builder putting out some very well designed specials based on a current production motorcycle is an idea that could be adapted by many similar companies, taking a motorcycle of their choice and doing something reflecting their own passion, in the way Fabrizio DiBella has turned his passion for old British motorcycles into the McDeeb lineup.
If the major manufacturers were willing to get on board, not trying to squeeze these innovators out, but encouraging them to take their products and build a true high quality special, more potential buyers might be found for the original models and perhaps, too, a new level of respect would arise for the potential innovative designs hidden in plain sight.
Many of you like the McDeeb style, recreating the past with these hand built beauties, some perhaps not, but a few were wondering about doing something similar with a Sportster and I would guess, a few of you had other bikes in mind as well.
Consider, also, the McDeeb specials are 500cc singles, not massive V-Twins or 180hp inline fours. Isn’t it refreshing to see someone devote time and attention to small displacement motorcycles enjoyable even without the skills of a Ben Spies?
There are already a lot of custom builders out there but these Royal Enfield derivatives are not designed to be one off builds to show how outrageous a custom can be, these are actually designed for limited production. You might, in the future, say you were buying a McDeeb and people would know what you were talking about, a rather nice scenario to my mind.
Basing the bikes on a current production model, ideally a somewhat higher production unit, ensures a ready supply of raw material, modifying an already limited production bike might leave you out of business quickly unless you could promptly retool for a different one.
Modifying a production model also eliminates the need for large investments that come with trying to start a new company from scratch. While I don’t think any of these niche brands would be high production, if approached properly, they might have some staying power, as long as the manufacturer didn’t try to cut off the small builder, “borrowing” his idea and taking it in house. It’s a synergistic, not competitive, relationship.
The skills are already out there, but builders concentrating on vintage bikes limit themselves to what’s available in the used market, instead of brand new bikes with lots of factory service and parts availability, certainly a more comforting situation for many customers.
Maybe I’m rambling here and this idea isn’t what I think it could be, but, on the other hand, maybe it’s not so crazy after all. What do all of you think and what other bikes would make a nice starting point for a new niche brand series of specials?