FANS of the legendary Royal Enfield motorcycle gathered at a Swindon dealership to see the unveiling of a brand new model for the 21st century.

The classic machine has changed little in appearance over the decades since the 1940s. But on Saturday members of the Wiltshire branch of the Royal Enfield Owners' Club were given a first glimpse of the 650 Interceptor and its Continental GT650 cousin at Bike Treads in Kembrey Street.

Chairman of the club Carl Cope said: “This is a big deal for us.”

He and fellow member Alan Snook explained the love members of the group had for the Royal Enfield make, which began life as a motorbike, lawnmower and stationary engine manufacturer before the turn of the last century.

“When you ride them, even the modern ones, it’s like time travel,” said Alan. “As you get faster you feel as though the beat synchronises with your heart.”

“It is the sensation through your hands and feet. It is a very slow revving engine,” added Carl. “And it is a comfortable ride.

“My wife had never ridden one before and I gave her a go on the back. She couldn’t believe the fact that you could see, hear and smell so much more, because you are out there in the elements.”

The branch, which has members aged 23 to 76, holds rallies every year and organises regular runs so owners can ride their motor cycles together.

Royal Enfield sealed its place in British motorcycle history during two world wars. Bikes were made with stretcher side cars, machine gun attachments and there was even a Flying Flea that was designed to be dropped by parachute for airborne troops.

They were hugely popular in India and in the 1950s, tooling was sent out so they could build the machines in the country.

Sold to Norton-Triumph-Villiers in the late 1960s, the UK firm stopped production in 1970. Within a few years machines were being imported from India. Royal Enfield returned as name when a new parent company took over and a technology centre was opened in the UK in January.

Bike Treads owner Martin Tarrant said the Interceptor was more of a racer than previous bikes and incorporated modern technology that was bringing the brand into the 21st century.