As riders, we have a wide variety of opinions on any number of things—but one thing most of us can agree upon is that we’re a pretty nostalgic bunch. Maybe it’s a particular bike design of yesteryear that has your heart forever, or even one specific bike that someone close to you once owned. Maybe you’re even the one who owned it. Possibly, you’re just extremely into the history of your favorite OEM. It's all good!
It should come as zero surprise, then, when OEMs keep going back to their own historical troughs to draw new model inspiration. Take Royal Enfield, for example—for whom the past is seemingly both the present and the future. In the past couple of years alone, we’ve had the revival of the Interceptor and Meteor names on bikes, with further trademark registrations for both the Sherpa and the Hunter.
All four of those names have their places in Enfield history—but naturally, Enfield Isn't done yet. On February 10, 2022, Enfield parent company Eicher Motors Limited applied for a trademark on the nameplate “Royal Enfield Constellation” with the Intellectual Property India office. While it’s a name Enfield hasn’t used in decades, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that it has a significant place in the company’s history.
The year was 1948. Royal Enfield launched a set of Twins—this time, with 500cc of displacement. By 1953, a 693cc touring bike called the Meteor was released. Soon, according to the Classic Bike Guide, it was followed by the Super Meteor. (Hey, can we get a modern revival of that one?) After that came … the Indian Apache. Wait, what?!
While the 1959 Indian Apache auctioned off in 2020 that my colleague wrote about had a later, larger-displacement 736cc engine from a 1965 Royal Enfield Interceptor, the original 1959 Indian Apache was, in fact, a rebadged Royal Enfield Constellation. From the factory, it packed a 693cc parallel twin engine, and made a claimed 51 brake horsepower while reportedly boasting a top speed of 115 miles per hour. To make matters even better for cost-conscious moto lovers of the day, it apparently sipped fuel. Who doesn’t like that combination of characteristics?
Interestingly, the engine of the original Constellation was apparently comprised of a 350 Bullet mill sandwich. The oil tank was built right into the crankcases, with no need for an external oil tank—a bit of engineering that Enfield had already utilized on the earlier Bullets, themselves.
Of course, it’s 2022, and there’s no telling when—or even if—Enfield will bring its new Constellation to life. The current Meteor is a 350, which is strikingly different from the Meteor of old. The modern Twins are both 650s instead of 500s. Since the old Constellation was a 700, does that mean we can expect the revived version to also be a larger-displacement model? The modern Meteor got smaller than its historic counterpart, not larger—so it’s all speculation at this point.
Sources: IP India Online, Classic Bike Guide, Bonhams