Last month, Helmet Stories and a few other fellow motorcycle journos were invited by Royal Enfield for a special preview of the then yet-to-be-launched Desert Storm and and Classic Chrome variants of the Classic 500 at The Serai, a very hip and luxurious tented resort that is improbably yet impeccably set in the scrublands 30 km outside Jaisalmer. Royal Enfield's theme for its two new models, the Classic Chrome and Desert Storm, is ‘leisure motorcycling,’ and The Serai provided the perfect setting that harked back to the opulent lifestyle of the erstwhile royals of Rajasthan.
Both variants look smashing—the Classic Chrome has acres of, well, chrome that is tastefully offset by a minimal paint scheme of your choice, as long as it is a deep maroon or black, edged with the trademark gold pin-striping on the tank and fenders. Less effete is the brawny looking Desert Storm with a monochromatic matt sand paint and the motorcycle wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Monty and the Allies versus Rommel and the Afrika Korps WWII battlegrounds of the Sahara. The solo saddle seat reveals the rounded contours of the rear fender, a pleasant sight to gaze upon amidst the sandy undulations of the desert.
While it's true there's not much entirely new on the Chrome and the Storm, the minimal alterations have made this motorcycle a much more pleasurable ride. While motive power is supplied by the mechanically unchanged unit construction 500cc engine in its claimed 27.2 bhp state of tune, the ECU has been remapped for a better roll-on performance from low revs. The handlebars are a tad higher with more sweep making the riding position more upright and comfortable and the Classic’s cockpit is a comfy place to pile up miles. Frame geometry and suspension tweaks make this motorcycle more planted and it exhibits little of the high-speed rear end nervousness that plagued its forbear. The front wheel is now a 19-inch, while the unchanged 18-inch rear wheel sports chunkier 120-80/18 tyres.
In Mumbai, the Classic Chrome will cost Rs 1,65,000 on the road while the Desert Storm will set you back by Rs 1,58,000.