The perception that Royal Enfield makes only big bikes is grossly divorced from reality. While the company has focussed on regular transport bikes with more-than-average displacements, it has not shied away from making low-powered, small-sized machines. Whenever there has been a demand for such bikes, Royal Enfield has responded positively.
For World War II paratroopers, Royal Enfield made the WD/RE, a 125cc bike that was small enough to be dropped by a parachute. In the late-1980s, Enfield India produced the 22cc, two-stroke, single cylinder Mofa from its Anaikaraipatti plant for a cost-conscious market. As the engine produced just 0.8 bhp and made a sound only slightly more audible than a murmur, the machine hardly gave the sense of travelling by a bike. Another factor that made the Mofa appear to be more a cycle was the absence of any suspension.
It was a bike that could race only with cycles of the garden variety. But, the Mofa made up for these shortcomings with its fuel-efficiency. The fuel tank, fed through an orifice on the frame, could not take more than one-and-a-half litres at a time. As this moped easily managed to give 90 km to a litre, this quantity was more than sufficient. In the case of a fuel crunch, the bike could be turned into a cycle by the pull of a lever.
“Besides the fact that a relative had bought the Mofa, the moped's fuel-efficiency appealed to my father Dr. A.S. Ramasammy. In the late 1980s when he bought this moped, it sold for Rs. 2,950,” says 31-year-old R. Ramaprasad, who is as attached to the Mofa as his father.
“As a Mofa did not require to be licensed by a road transport officer, some preferred it to other two-wheelers that did.”
Despite these advantages, the Mofa lost out to low-powered autocycles that combined fuel-efficiency with a reasonably higher power output.
But today, there is an abundant interest in this bike among collectors because it is so unlike anything found in the two-wheeler market.