Ready to Crash

Microsoft may not be able to start these up.

Royal Enfield, the venerable British motorcycle manufacturer, went out of business about 40 years ago, succumbing—as did Norton, BSA, and other makers of cool but finnicky bikes—to the tide of cheap and reliable Japanese cycles.

But before it died, the company set up a factory in India. To this day, the plant continues to churn out Enfields that are virtually the same as the ones Royal Enfield first made in 1956.

One of them is in my basement. Well, actually, its been in the shop down the road for six months.

You see, theyre not the most reliable machines. When you least expect it, something goes wrong. Sort of like the Microsoft Windows system that went Blue Screen as I attempted to write this.

So I had to smirk when I received an e-mail, moments after rebooting, from Enfields U.S.A. importer:

"One of our West Coast dealers made a deal with Microsoft this week for 22 Royal Enfields with sidecars. They will be painted green and purple ... and used to promote the new Microsoft Ultimate TV product."

Giant TVs will temporarily replace the sidecar bodies, and the motorcycles will be ridden in 16 cities to generate some buzz for Ultimate TV, which competes with the Tivo digital video recorder.

I hope Bill Gates is handy with a toolkit. And I also hope his PR team realizes that kick starting an Enfield (they have no electric starter) is a somewhat tricky endeavor that requires patience, practice and the hand of God.

One other thing that might be a problem: The bikes cannot be legally sold in California due to their inability to comply with emissions rules.