Royal Enfield Bullet 500 specs Archives : Latest Mobiles, Cars, Laptops…

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Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army

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Royal Enfield Bullet 500

2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500

The story of how Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles came to be produced in India is yet another spin-off from the mismanagement of the 1960s British motorcycle industry. An order from the Indian army for 800 Bullets in the 1950s was followed in the 1960s by the acquisition of tooling and equipment to first produce spare parts for those machines, then complete motorcycles, simply because the Indians were struggling to get what they needed directly from the United Kingdom.

The company in England eventually closed down, leaving the improbable situation of the only mass-produced British motorcycles actually rolling out of factory in Madras, which was now busy meeting India’s huge demand for rugged and economical personal transport. In a country where massive import tariffs protected the fledgling home industry, the Enfield Bullet established a reputation as the inspirational super bike among swarms of small-capacity utility motorcycles and scooters.

But by the 1990s both its iconic status and market share began to suffer. There is still huge affection in India for the Bullet, but affection doesn’t pay bills, and in 1994 Enfield had to be sold if it wasn’t to close down. The Eicher group, a huge industrial concern best known in India for its tractors and trucks, bought it whose chief executive was Vikram Lal.

But for several more years the only significant change appeared to be the return of the “Royal” to Enfield’s name, the company surviving on its dwindling sales and return from its investments. Production fell less to 30,000, a tiny amount in the market where two-wheeler sales total more than 5 million. While most manufacturers were competing hard for market share with new models and more advanced technology, a 1999 Enfield was almost indistinguishable from a 1959 one.

All the indications were that Royal Enfield would fizzle out gracefully. Not anymore. One year ago control of the company was taken over by Siddhartha Lal, son of Vikram, and flying in the face of the usual criticisms of nepotism, he’s qualified for the job in just about every respect.

As if the 28-year-old’s English university education, which produced an economics degree and Masters degree in automotive engineering, aren’t enough, he also displays an infectious enthusiasm for motorcycles- the last Japanese machine he rode before we spoke was a Yamaha R1 super bike- and a deeply perceptive understanding of the Royal Enfield’s strengths and weaknesses.

He has also arrived at an especially difficult time for the company, as the Indian government has finally noticed how its cities are becoming choked and poisoned by exhaust fumes, driving it to propose strict emission requirements on all new vehicles. And the Bullet won’t be able to meet them.

Lal’s response was to contact Austrian automotive consultancy AVL, which came up with a lean-burn engine design to Enfield’s specifications. The basic configuration is still the traditional single cylinder, air-cooled pushrod motor, initially in 350cc capacity, and the engine still feels like a traditional Royal Enfield Bullet. Only better, as I found out after spending several days trying to survive the chaotic Chennai traffic on the new lean-burn Bullet Machismo.

Don’t worry the name will change when the bikes eventually come to U.S. dealers and perhaps even California through the distributor, maybe in a year or so, and probably as 500s.

The power has the same thumping, low-revving character, but builds more smoothy and to a higher peak. The throttle response is crisper, starting is easier and even vibration is reduced, not that it’s a serious problem on the Bullet anyway. Coupled with the new engine is a new five-speed gearbox. Gear changing is dependable and light, unlike the four-speed-and-four-neutral clunker on the standard Bullet.

Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army

I rode for comparisons. The frame and running gear are unchanged. But Enfield is undoubtedly justified in calling the bike a new model.

Under Enfield’s previous management, this would have been quite enough for a couple of decades, but Lal has only just started: “At the moment we are concentrating on perfecting the new engine,” he says. “But there is much more to be done. Our build-quality needs huge improvements, and there’s no reason why this can’t be achieved.

For example, we are outsourcing components, which we previously made here at the factory- the frames now being made by a major company, which supplies much of the Indian motorcycle industry. It has the latest equipment and manufacturing methods and the quality is much higher than we could achieve.

“But we had to ask ourselves, why are we only producing 30,000 machines a year in this huge Indian market? It seemed that once our customers had bought a Bullet, they would make it last for years and not need another. Because the models were the same every year, there was no reason to change.

So we are introducing regular updates- the new Bullet Electra (which has an electronic ignition, not an electric start, and bright new color schemes) has been a great success for us – it has had record sales and margins are up by 50 percent. And we have many more updates planned to keep giving people reasons to buy new Enfields again.”

I pointed to Lal that while the Machismo engine and transmission work extremely well, the motor looks more like an air compressor than a classic British single, and western markets steeped in nostalgia won’t like it much. He pulls a selection of sketches out of a drawer: “We know that.

In India it’s considered very modern and progressive, but for exports we will have a restyled version, with a broad cylinder ahead.” Several drawings also show a traditional black-finished barrel, even though the motor is all-aluminum. There are unit-construction motors, variously styled 500s and crucially, an adherence on the export models to unmistakable 1950s and 1960s styling cues.

Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Army

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