I’m not dead, as stated before, and am currently making changes in my life. Another Harley is entering my life, the Buell is gone, A royal Enfield and an old GL1200 Goldwing sit in my driveway for further work. I’ve had a relationship for a while (which occupies a substantial amount of my free time), I just got a promotion a month ago, and, in general, things are going swimmingly. I plan to begin blog updates soon, and start Vlogging as well.
One of the greatest under-dogs in the American market, the Royal Enfield is a bike that defies every bike notion you may have. From the oldest continuous-production motorcycle company in the world, the Bullet 500 Classic is a true wonder.
L: 2,120 mm (83 in)
W: 750 mm (30 in)
H: 1,080 mm (43 in)
3.5 imp gal (16 l; 4.2 US gal)
The Case For The Bullet Classic 500:
The true under-dog of the motorcycle scene, the Royal Enfield gets hate from every side except those who’ve owned them. Reviled by the Cafe Racer hipsters for its inability to hit “the ton” (100 mph), loathed both the Japanese and American cruiser/standard crowd, and unknown to almost everyone in America, the Royal Enfield has a lot of ground to cover to get a leg-up in the U.S. market.
While the R.E.’s Continental GT and the brand-new Himalayan (pictured above) are slowly increasing the brand’s visibility within the market, they still arguably have a very long way to go to truly compete with the “Big Six”. While it has had a small presence, R.E. has begun to take massive steps in bringing brand-awareness to America in general by launching the Royal Enfield of North America subsidiary earlier this year, and partnering with GM Financial to help expand their dealer network. This is great news for those people who have struggled against brand anonymity (and antipathy) and a slightly dodgy dealer support system.
Despite the existing issues, owners of this nearly indestructible bike laud it for its mountains of usable torque, its almost unimpeachable reliability, and its classic (some would say antique) build. This bike really didn’t change much, if at all, from its first production date in 1955 up until 1997, when they were forced to retool the Bullet to meet increasingly tighter emissions regulations in the U.S. and Europe. In 2007 they stepped into the modern age by finally outfitting their models with Fuel Injection, thus increasing the fuel efficiency and ease-of-starting (previous carbureted models could be notoriously dangerous and difficult to start when cold or had been sitting for a long period).
The aftermarket for this bike is massive overseas, as it is the darling of its home-countries of India (production) and England (its progenitor nation). Want to make it “do the Ton”? There’s a few shops online who specialize in high-performance upgrade parts for the engine and transmission. Want to make it capable of moving a mountain worth of stuff? The guys in India have made racks for everywhere that’ll haul anything. Want to make it an off-road trials bike? There’s parts for that too. This bike can be anything to anybody.
Beginning riders find its friendly (and substantial) torque to be useful, as it means they have to use little or no throttle to get off the line, while its sturdy gearbox will happily take the fumbling inputs of a new rider and keep ticking along like they meant to be riding it. It makes you look good. Its not fast, true, but it refuses to give up and only an owner with massive levels of ineptitude can possibly break it.
I have a friend who bought a Classic 500 from a gentleman whom he could only charitably describe as “the greatest imbecile to ever be inflicted upon a motorcycle”. The gentleman in question obviously hadn’t taken care of it (it had parts from a Bullet Classic 350 model, we strongly suspect he crashed it quite badly), and had allowed his son to rip it apart ham-fistedly in an effort to make it into a “brat/bobber”. When my friend finally got it home, he was dismayed at the state of the bike and bemoaned what he had spent on it, seeing it as a nearly insurmountable task to bring the Bullet back to fighting trim, but as he dug into it (cursing the previous owner with every turn of the wrench), he began to see the soul of the bike within, and its desire to live again. It has taken him a while to do it, but his Bullet is nearly ready to roar along the roads again:
He informs me he doesn’t have much left to do on it, and will probably be riding it soon.
I love the Bullet Classic 500. It tickles my fancy for a classic bike, while sparing my wallet the threat of “collector” vintage bike prices. It is on my list of bikes I will own, and I recommend you try riding one; you just might want one too.