Carrera Moto builds a Johnny Brittain-inspired Enfield…
The late Johnny Brittain was one of the most accomplished trials and enduro riders of all time. At the tender age of 18, riding a Royal Enfield Bullet 350, he won gold in both the International Six Days Trial (ISDT) and the 900-mile Scottish Six Days Trial. Brittain would go on to compete in 15 consecutive ISDT editions, earning 13 gold medals, and win more than 50 competitions over the course of his career.
Recently, we heard from Arturo Zorrilla of Mexico’s Carrera Moto — a custom workshop and café associated with Royal Enfield Aguascalientes. When Arturo and his team were invited to participate in Royal Enfield’s Busted Knuckles Build-off, they decided to dig back into Royal Enfield’s ISDT history for inspiration:
“The design of the bike is inspired by Royal Enfield bikes that raced in the ISDT during the late 40s and early 50s, ridden by heroic riders such as Johnny Brittain.”
These were the days before purpose-built trials and enduro bikes, of course, so factories and privateers had to stripped down and modify road bikes for off-road competition.
“These bikes had nothing but the bare essentials, and (in our opinion), represent motorcycling in its purest form.”
With Brittain once competing on a Bullet 350, Arturo and team opted to start with a ’22 Royal Enfield Classic 350. They swapped out the 19-inch front wheel for a more off-road-oriented 21-incher, rebuilt the forks with custom yokes and bespoke headlight / number plate, powder-coated the frame, fabbed up a new subframe with custom saddle, removed the pesky ABS, and took several other steps to slim down and streamline the single-cylinder Enfield…all this in just 45 days.
Nicknamed “Patagonia” after one of the team members, the bike was displayed at the 2023 edition of the prestigious Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, and Arturo says the bike is a good fun in the dirt:
“It has lots of grip, and immediately gives you the sensation of stability and predictability. It allows you to play around a little bit with the rear wheel with its torquey engine… Having been completely stripped of its ABS computer, it really feels like an old-school…scrambler bike.”
Below, Arturo gives us the full story on Carrera Moto’s “Patagonia” scrambler.
Royal Enfield 350 Scrambler: Builder Questionnaire
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Arturo Zorrilla, I am from Aguascalientes, Mexico, and 26 years old, I have always been passionate about motorcycles. My father introduced me to the wonderful world of motorcycles with a Honda CRF50F, and ever since then I have been addicted to riding.
Motorcycles started as a hobby, but soon after entering college, I knew I needed to find a job that would keep me around bikes. A little before graduating, I had the amazing opportunity (again owing to my father) of being part of the opening of a Royal Enfield dealership in my hometown.
Royal Enfield had been re-launching the brand for Mexico during that year, and I found myself at an incredible time and place to take part on the project.
As much as I love riding, I have always been fascinated with mechanics and knowing how things work. I believe the best riding experience comes with knowing exactly what is happening with your bike, and so, it was just a matter of time until I decided to build a “café racer”. Starting with a little Honda 125 I ended up with a brat-styled bike, which I still have to this day. I have enjoyed it plenty and actually right now is in the shop again, as it was ridden quite hard on some clandestine flat track races.
Two and a half years into the Royal Enfield project, I have had an extraordinary experience. I have met so many amazing people and I have been around bikes more than ever. We are currently perusing the dream of also being a custom workshop. To do so, we selected a dedicated area of workshop only for custom work and have established a coffee shop around it, with the dream of attracting and creating a community that feels the same passion that we feel for motorcycles and custom work.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The original bike is a 2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built to participate in a Royal Enfield organized build-off, “Busted Knuckles,” which was a great surprise and a blessing for our own dream of establishing a custom shop.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design of the bike is inspired by Royal Enfield bikes that raced in the ISDT during the late 40s and early 50s, ridden by heroic riders such as Johnny Brittain.
These bikes had nothing but the bare essentials, and (in our opinion), represent motorcycling in its purest form.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
We began by replacing the 19-inch front wheel with a 21-inch one. After that we machined a new yoke out of aluminum and rebuilt the front end of the bike, preserving the telescopic forks but adding a new headlight and a custom-made numberplate.
On top of the triple clamp sits an 800mm “moto”-styled handlebar, with internal wiring and very simple hand controls. Accompanied by a single speed dial.
We also powder-painted the frame, and custom-made a subframe in red (inspired by the colors of the bikes from the 50s).
Half bought and half made, we fitted a scrambler-styled exhaust, and eliminated the air box to make the bike slimmer. The seat was built from scratch, with a steel base and red leather upholstery.
To finish it all up, we painted the tank matte gray (sort of like primer color) and added beige and red striping — all of this, respecting the original chrome on this beautiful Classic.
The bike sits on trials-inspired Shinko tires.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Yes, “La Patagonia”, this name is to tribute a team member in the dealership, “Pato,” as he quit his job to go to college during the last weeks of the build.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The bike rides amazing, the exhaust note is loud and very mono-cylindric, the 21-inch front wheel and the super soft Shinko tires make the bike feel very different from the original.
Especially when riding off-road, even though I have only done a few miles of dirt-road riding on it, I can tell that it will be a lot of fun due to the weight and the power; it has lots of grip, and immediately gives you the sensation of stability and predictability. It allows you to play around a little bit with the rear wheel with its torquey engine.
Having been completely stripped of its ABS computer, it really feels like an old-school (at least that is how I imagine it) scrambler bike.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Yes, I believe the bike came out great, and this is due to true work team, as we only had around 45 days to complete the build. I want to congratulate the whole work team, especially Carlos Hurtado.
So I truly appreciate that this bike is the result of having the ability to put together different talents, in a way that we can achieve a result, that no member of the team could have done alone.