Remember the British bikes from old school carrying license plates on their front fenders!!. Well the occult has completely lost its existence in modern bikes. However this charm can be seen in few Royal Enfield modification enthusiasts though illegal.
It will be interesting to understand its origin, extinction and rebirth.
It all started during late 18th Century and early 19th century on British makes like Triumph, Norton, BSA, Matchless and Royal Enfield. During those days due to typical design of front shock absorbers or forks, there was no space available between fender and headlight. Hence license plate found its most appropriate home on fender in vertical a position. This continued till early 70s though between this period there was considerable improvement in front fork design.
The tough policies during mid 70s compelled the registration plates to be housed on front shock absorbers horizontally. The practice is followed worldwide till date. There are few theories overheard responsible for change in orthodox position of mounting license plates.
- The metal plates located on the fender serves like a shark fin and can be fatal during accidents. It was called ‘pedestrian slicer’ in those days. I partially agree with this theory. I haven’t witnessed a person got cut or injured during motorcycle accidents by the plates. However given a second thought it might work as a slit in a deviant type of misfortune.
- Mounting registration plate in horizontal position on shocks is visible on a wider angle by a person standing in front of the vehicle. This theory sounds more rational than the aforesaid. Registration plates are identity of the vehicle and very purpose gets defeated if its not properly visible.
Who would have thought in 19th century that fixing license plate on front fender will become a modification icon on motorcycles especially Royal Enfield motorcycles in 21st century!!. Knowingly or unknowingly the registration numbers on plates are replaced by nick names of motorcycles like ‘SHIVA’, ‘ENCODE’, ‘ZUDO’ and so on. Surprisingly the registration numbers are altered to give pretty names like BOSS for 8055, RAJ for 2151 and so on. I personally have also mounted thin plate on my silver Royal Enfield and pasted ‘ROYAL ENFIELD’ sticker with golden fonts on black background.
The heritage given by our forefathers is adopted as ritual and the legacy shall continue in coming years or centuries!!. Who knows!