Saturday, February 3, 2018

Royal Enfield Ensign 2 1956

Brochure for Royal Enfield's Ensign two stroke. Postwar there were several manufacturers making copies of DKW's prewar RT100 model, the design of which was taken as war reparations. DKW continued themselves making the machine along with, most famously, BSA (Bantam), Harley (Hummer), Sokol of Poland, Minsk, IFA, MZ. Even Yamaha took advantage of the fact that the allies had voided the copyright and made their own version, the YA1.

The Royal Enfield was distinguished from the other DKW clones in that the bike actually had its roots pre-war. The story is that in Holland the DKW importers were a Jewish owned company (Stokvis and Sons), the Nazis banned trading with Jewish companies in 1938. As the RT100 was a popular seller the enterprising Dutch approached Royal Enfield to make a clone, Redditch obliged and had two prototypes on view in 1939. The war intervened and the 'Royal Baby' as the new design was known didn't make it in to production.

In 1942 the British War Office developed an interest in a lightweight motorcycle that could be dropped with Paratroopers and used for rapid regrouping and mobilisation. The Royal Baby design was revisited and with some modifications to decrease weight it was found to be a suitable tool for the job. James also scored a contract with their ML (Military Lightweight) model as did Excelsior with the Welbike.

Postwar Royal Enfield produced a civilianised version of the 'Flying Flea' as it was popularly known - though its official name was the RE125. Development continued and the RE125 became the Ensign and eventually the Prince.

Not greatly different from a BSA Bantam the Ensign never achieved anything like the phenomenal success of the Bantam though was a steady seller for Royal Enfield in the commuter market for a number of years.

Royal Enfield Ensign II brochure front cover.

Royal Enfield Ensign II brochure inner page 1.

Royal Enfield Ensign II brochure inner page 2.

Royal Enfield Ensign II brochure rear cover.


  1. The writer A F Tschiffely rode one of these around Spain around 1952.
    "Round and about Spain", quite a quaint period read.

    1. Thanks for the lead Ken. I'm a motorcycle travel book buff but was unaware of this one. I will seek it out.

    2. Have a look for 'Three Lands on Three Wheels' at same time; France> UK ?Ireland on a sidecar outfit 1932

    3. Already have that one on my shelf. Haven't read it yet though. Have sourced a copy of Round and About Spain already!

    4. 3 lands is a good read, and I have a vested interest!
      That Bike was a Sunbeam. Old Tschiffely did quite well on his RE for an Old non motorcyclist. He died a couple years later.

    5. What's the vested interest?! Or do I need to read to find out.