Royal Enfield Classic 500 User Review – Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 500…

4 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Royal Enfield Classic 500 User Review – Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 500…
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic

Pros: killing vintage looks, great fuel economy

Cons: expensive to own

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Let me be upfront at the very beginning. I do not own the Royal Enfield 500 EFI (or simply C5, as it’s known by model code). At least not yet. The dang thing has a wait period of 30 days + in Delhi

and I’ll be lucky to be seated on mine two weeks later, as promised by the dealer. I chose the black since I thought the chrome lashings look beautiful against this colour. But true to male fickleness, I now wonder whether the maroon or the unique sea-green number would have been more attractive at traffic-lights.

Anyway, black it is for me.

I have some experience in owning a Bullet though. A standard model 350 (black again), graced my garage for three years between ’94 and ’97 and that was the third motorcycle since I started with a RX100 in ’86 and quickly followed up with a RD350 in ’91. I share this history to be able to compare the experience that one may have, throwing a leg over a fuel-injected C5 for the first time.

Fair enough?

First off as always, the looks. The C5 is one of those design marvels that look even better in the flesh, than all the photographs on a laptop screen. Take in the beautifully painted and finished tank, with smart rubber knee-pads, oval tool-box where a ’biscuit tin’ sat on earlier models, over-grown bicycle saddle on it’s own springs, smaller, fatter wheels. I could go on. But do us both a favour and Google an image since you’re on the computer anyway.

The bike’s a looker. Let’s end it at that. You could walk into a showroom fooling yourself one look and I’ll be gone.. You’ll end up buying it. I did. Not before I rode it though.

Sitting astride, nothing’s changed if you’re an ’old Bulleteer’. And everything if you’ve just migrated from the seats of a rice-rocket. Your behind will thank you for the luxury of a wide saddle that sinks just slightly under your weight on the springs. Your legs spread out to a slightly obscene splay, unlike what slimmer Japanese tanks request.

The classically flat Bullet handles ask you to reach out and grab them with some hesitation. The bike has mass and more screen presence than Amitabh Bachchan. Respect. The launch controls are something every rider is familiar with today. Turn the ignition key on the legendary ’tiger head’ or headlight binnacle and a red ECU lamp will glow momentarily where the old ammeter used to be, before snuffing itself.

Feel around for the Self starter (that’s right, you can’t see it from your perch. Weird.) and thumb it with zero input from the throttle (fuel injection, remember?) and the C5 will wake up with a deep ’woof’ and settle instantly into the most famous ’bhutta-bhutta-bhutta’ after the American Harley and the slight lurch and rocking from the seat, combined with the throbs through the bars will give you a little teaser about what lies ahead. At this point, you’re already calculating EMI’s in your mind.

Look over your shoulders for traffic. The chromed mirrors are useless for me. I’m six feet and no amount of craning the neck or twisting the mirrors resulted in a rear-view. Bad boy Enfield! Tease the throttle more for effect than anything else (the woof! woof! will clear the streets in a 2 km radius) and launch the Bullet known as C5.

I’ve ridden all the Pulsars, all the Yamahas, Karizmas and mostly anything that comes below or slightly above a lac in India. I’ve owned a RD350 and an older generation Bullet 350. I had also ridden a 500 cc Bullet of the 90’s.

I was unprepared for this. But this is a review and it won’t do for me to get emotional, so I’ll simply put down the three top-of-mind observations and you can wait for more pro reviews in the auto mags later:

1. The bike has so much torque pouring out of it’s bolts (41.3 Nm @ 4000 rpm! That’s more than twice the Pulsar/Karizma and the newly launched Ninja 250R! Just to give you an idea how unruffled this’ll be going uphill to Leh), it’ll lurch forward in most of it’s 5 gears (left foot operation, 1 down 4 up, heel-toe UGH!) at lowly speeds and not hiccup once.

That’s cubic capacity and fuel-injection working in harmony for you. While not as manic as the ancient RD, it’s forward progress is almost comparable. Now that’s a two-stroke, twin cylinder on the radar of a push-rod, single four-stroke. Unbelievable?

You bet.

2. It stops. Period. The RD350 didn’t do so good even with over-sized drums up front. The older Bullet 350 didn’t want to stop when it got going (almost costing me a leg way back in the last century) and the modern machines bar a few of the latest, are skittish under heavy breaking.

The C5 stops. The smaller, wider tyres work. The front disc from Brembo (actually I’m not sure if the Indian version has Brembos or KBX. Can someone check?) works. The frame works.

The bike’ll stop without drama, at least at city speeds. Still need to find out about open roads.

3. It handles. It dances. I’ve never had the pleasure of chucking Bullets around traffic. Sure it’s heavy. But it’s well planted. Sure it’s big. But it goes where and when you point it to. Something’s changed and I’m not sure what. It’s not as ’chuckable’ as say a TVS Apache with it’s shorter wheelbase, but I could swear it was more willing than the Pulsar 200 my brother rides.

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic

Throttle response is instantaneous, closed or opened up and you will no longer be afraid to shut the throttle just before you dip the heavy machine, because it’ll snap to life the very moment you will it and pull out of the curve and roar away with you on board. Fuel-injection.

I bought the bike as soon as I returned it to the showroom. I didn’t need to know anything more beyond this: Here’s a Bullet that doesn’t leak oil like a bad puppy, one that goes like the wind and can stop on the dime, looks like a million bucks standing and is cheaper per cc than anything else on sale today. Open roads, here I come.

If you wish, you can follow for photographs here once I have the C5 on the road.

Verdict: Try. Buy.

My C5 is here. In teal green instead of black and I’m glad I changed my mind. This shade makes it look so achingly beautiful under most light. Here’s a short review from 150 kms of riding since I got it:

Ride quality – mostly great, except the fuel-injection isn’t as smooth as I expected. It’s catching a bit sometimes, almost like a fuel starved carburetted bike. Will need to be resolved at firs service.

Other than that, the engine feels smoother every time I take the bike out for a spin and especially so on open stretches, coasting at a self-limited 60 kmph (running in).

Electricals – Poor horn. Powerful headlamp but focus too wide. Powerful self-starter, but needs an adequately charged battery.

My battery died in two days and luckily had the kick starter come to my rescue. The battery was replaced under warranty.

Others – no chance to verify mileage yet. Seems decent so far. Suspension is firm without being thrashy. Brakes adequate at front but poor on the rear wheel.

Very neutral and predictable handling and better than a Pulsar 200x.

Accessories – fitted the off-road exhaust, genuine RE leather saddle-bags and a ’winged’ crash-bar. Can’t remove my eyes from the bike ever since and it’s almost painful to walk to the car in the morning instead of the bike.

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Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic

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