2007-2009 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Electra X Motorcycle Test — Ultimate…

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Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Electra
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Electra

2007-2009 Royal Enfield 500 Electra X | Motorcycle Test

Pure and Simple.

There is something wrong with picture. I’m bombing along a road in Santa Paula, (aka the Citrus Capital of the aboard a mercilessly underpowered, skittish motorcycle that, being the latest offering the company, hasn’t witnessed any design changes since was president. Yet, I’m having an ball.

This dubious is courtesy 500cc of old school, rattle and charm—little changed its introduction in 1954—known now as the Royal Bullet 500 Electra.

At the risk of to the maelstrom of mid-life crisis so prevalent in the motorcycle industry its retro machines preying on an demographics’ sentimentality—I have to the Electra X has managed to rouse a whim of nostalgia in me.

Strangely the Enfield’s persona as a throwback to times is not the end result of a marketing zealous pursuit of the graying desperate to revisit the long fancies of their youth. the contrary. For 50-plus years, India has been pumping out an of 30,000 Bullets annually to the need for inexpensive, functional and transportation at home, as well as third world countries.

The Royal Enfield’s signature was introduced in Britain in 1949 as an errand runner and daily The company went racing and up a number of victories in motocross, and trials, proving its worth and status as a legitimate, competitive By 1954, the Bullet’s versatility and attracted the interest of the government of

With the duty of patrolling its with Pakistan in mind, 800 were ordered. Evidently, the were pleased enough the motorcycle’s performance to place orders the next two years. led to the British manufacturer opening a in the east to better accommodate new, vital customer.

two years, the plant was producing the entirely from scratch in India.

Ironically, in 1967, as Enfield was thriving in India, the company collapsed in Britain, victim to the onslaught of the burgeoning marques. But, by then, India was operating as its own entity, a steady homegrown demand for its that ensured fiscal and continued growth. This was helped along by the country’s surging toward one billion.

The of this unusual reversal of is that Royal Enfield the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in business with an uninerrupted of trading.

RIDING STYLE. Bell R/T Eyewear: Nautica Jacket: Shift 967 Gloves: Deerskin Pants: Shift Kevlar Boots: Red Wing 969 ( image to enlarge )

Avoiding costly design by leaving the original, proven somewhat intact, the company has able to provide a motorcycle at an price to a vast, needful Today, the Royal Enfield line is produced pretty the way it was in 1955, with advances in and modern machining methods served to make the present more reliable and, oil-leak free. It is, however, in the same machine that off the assembly line 50 years a legitimate, authentic retro.

In a turn of events—with the current of retro chic that has motorcycle manufacturers proffering of their former glories—Royal found itself in vogue by virtue of never having what wasn’t broken. the inevitable swing of the fashion catapulting dated items into the realm of cool, the little Indian manufacturer finds itself at the vanguard of hip and fashionable icon of pop culture.

The flavors of Bullets imported America are propelled by a 499cc four-…, single cylinder that produces 23 horsepower at rpm. The Lean-Burn engine electronic ignition, a rare of the calendar, complies with a stringent spectrum of emission than the somewhat liberal imposed in India, allowing the to look past its own borders for

5-Speed is prominently forged the engine cases for a reason. It until 2005 that the became standard issue, and the is still available as a four-speed for racing. For safety reasons, the was converted years ago into a side shift, one-down/four-up.

Despite being equipped a quirky electric starter, the come with a genuine kick start as well. was the last time you kickstarted a bike?

The riding experience on the Enfield is, without a doubt, a to a time when motorcycles’ raw and enthusiasm far outweighed any mechanical Despite the catchy, suggestive of the line, the Bullets are anything In fact, the Electra X doesn’t do remarkably well, which contributes to its considerable charm.

Due to its low output, the key to riding the Electra is momentum. It is a little like a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, and has similar drinking habits. The gets an estimated 70 mpg, and a fuel capacity of 3.8 gallons, not going to be on a first name with your local gas attendant.

Premium octane? you jest. ( Click image to )

Barreling down the cracked that splits a labyrinth of groves, the Bullet Electra X me back to my early forays motorcycling. It is an easy surrender to past. The nostalgia is kept with carefully synchronized through the gearbox at half-throttle, the motor at a lazily thumping

You can twist the throttle all the way to the stop if you the sound of the engine will and there’s more vibration, but you are not going to go any faster. In today’s of hyper-powered race machines as street bikes, there’s truly invigorating about able to ride a motorcycle to its capabilities.

The Bullet, by virtue of its delivers the most visceral of Every bump in the road, crease of asphalt is felt absolute clarity. Hitting any cracks in the pavement will the concussion directly up through the piggyback reservoir shocks and the seat and handlebars, reminding you you are, to all intents and purposes, a vintage motorcycle.

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Electra
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Electra

The Enfield is reduced to the unqualified basics; a of the throttle, a pull of the clutch, a of gears, and the occasional implementation of A single disc provides the power up front with a drum brake handling the While not exactly exemplary, work just fine the Electra’s 75 mph claimed top speed there’s no headwind or grade), dry weight of 370 pounds and narrow tires.

The deficit in power, and brakes, combined with the of mechanical response, is almost by even the most rudimentary of However, once you get past modern performance expectations you can the Enfield for what it is—a that manages to capture the of what we all got into motorcycles for in the place: pure, unadulterated With that as criteria, the Electra X delivers in spades.

If this motorcycle doesn’t away your jaundiced and make you grin from when riding it, then you to dust off your high yearbook and remind yourself you young once.

In an industry so beholden to mechanical advances, it is to see a manufacturer so blithely unconcerned technological development. The Royal is the quintessential basic motorcycle.

The recalls another, simpler Click image to enlarge )

minimalist approach is reflected in the side of things too. The distributor of Royal Enfield in the States proclaims to have employees and a dog on the premises. However, the manages to provide a toll-free support line that is by an actual human being.


For the inevitable yearning for more there are aftermarket high-performance as well as kits to turn bike into a café or a trials bike—even a sidecar is

As long as America is outsourcing to India, it is only fitting we should be importing some from them. Owing to its the fact it has remained somewhat by modernity—the Royal Enfield appeals to a very wide and range of motorcycle enthusiasts. tooling around town, or down a country back the Electra X is a good, clean in the pants.

Any time the Bullet is parked it admirers, whether they be or pedestrians.

The brakes are lousy, the is M.I.A. the headlight is dim and the thing don’t get me wrong, the bike is an blast. And, to cap off the walk memory lane, it just be right if you didn’t have to a drip pan under the old girl to one or two errant drips of motor

Photography by Don Williams

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Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Electra
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Electra


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