Royal Enfield Military 500 motorcycle

royal-enfield-military.jpg.jpg

Rob and I are both under the weather today, so pardon if we’re not up to our usual military-grade precision. Swiss watches we are, of normal. But today our clockworks are busy churning up phlegm.

Gross! Why am I…

So anyway, what do you guys know about Royal Enfield motorcycles? I have been toying with the idea of getting a motorcycle for a while, and I’ll probably just try to pick up an old Honda or BMW or Yamaha or Suzuki or whatever since I haven’t ridden since I was a kid on the farm, and even then not much. But then I saw this Bullet 500 and it’s a real looker, plus its MSRP is only $5,500, which may be about $4k more than I intended to spend, but it’s certainly not wildly expensive. And it’s apparently got a modern engine, too, and isn’t just a cast-for-cast recreation like those Russian BMW clones—Urals, right?—so you don’t have to deal with weird stuff like paper air filters and the like. [via Uncrate]

Probably a stupid idea. Parts are probably a bear to get. I really should just get an old Magna or something and call it a day.

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71 Responses to Royal Enfield Military 500 motorcycle

  1. Anonymous says:

    Actually, they’ve got a new “Classic” model that has been completely rebuilt from the ground up to be a modern bike with the original looks, with the only real exception being the disc brake in front. Personally, I’m willing to accept that :)

    Check out the article here:

    http://www.cycleworld.com/article.asp?section_id=3&article_id=1051

    They’re even fuel injected now.

  2. Beamish says:

    Cycle World recently reviews the 2009 incarnation of the Royal Enfield: http://www.cycleworld.com/article.asp?section_id=3&article_id=1051

    I love the look of the bike and relative simplicity of the design. Everything I read tells me that this is not a case of “inferior manufacturing” just because it is Indian-made, and you have a testimonial above to support that.

    However, the suggestions above to buy a 250/500 Japanese bike are very good ones – if this your first foray into road bikes and you are looking for reliable regular transport than the Royal Enfield is perhaps not the best choice. Buying new is probably not a good choice either.

    Riding a bike is fun. Commuting and relying on a bike is a whole other level of commitment. Lots of people enjoy the former, but not so many the latter.

  3. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Motorcycles of all kinds are awesome. Repairing and maintaining them is more like creating an adventure. I’ve logged over 50K miles on 2 wheels and still keep a ’76 Guzzi V1000 Automatic for the day that my vertigo goes away for good.
    I’ve owned one or more of just about every engine type and I’m partial to twins. That 500 single will vibrate like crazy if it’s anything like my old BSA.
    Hey, BSA & Enfield: both arms manufacturers. Coincidence?

  4. Rob Beschizza says:

    Luckyfink, that would be fantastic. I’ve been eyeing something unnecessarily swish for my own first bike (My wife, Heather, approves of very few motorcycles, but she does approve of the Ducati Monster) but that thing is damn fine.

    Rob

  5. LuckyFink says:

    @27

    About 70, I’ve had it go faster. And to be fair, 70 is higher than the speed limit in a lot of states, or their highest.

    And wait, modern bikes don’t use oil tanks? Um, really? I know the Sportster has one, and most custom bikes use them, not to mention most Harley’s in the last 20 years. Maybe you were thinking that most bikes don’t need an overflow? Not sure there.

    And I would have loved an R60, or a good to go Bonnie, but alas, none under $4k when I looked. I actually ended up getting my Enfield for $3.5K. They’re incredibly cheap on the used market. I’ve seen them go for under $2K on ebay, depending on mileage and condition. I really lucked out though.

    @26: Nice BMW

    @29: The vibration is part of what makes the ride fun. The V1000′s are gorgeous, minus all the distraction of fairings and unnecessary saddlebags. Don’t forget: Enfield, Made Like a Gun, Goes Like a Bullet.

  6. Henri Bergius says:

    I’ve been running one of the Bullet 500 Classics for couple of summers now, and I can easily recommend it. Not very powerful, needs attention every now and then. But properly tuned starts with first kick, is beautiful and takes you around Europe with a nice slow pace.

    Some photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bergie/tags/royalenfield/

  7. LuckyFink says:

    Rob, you are the guy in Pittsburgh, right? I’m ordering an oil tank as we speak, since the weather is fine, and would be happy to bring it out for a run as soon as I get that puppy strapped on.

  8. international harvester says:

    You also need to take into account that this is a thumper, and as you can imagine they vibrate enough to loosen the fillings on your teeth, not to mention loosen all the other little doodads on the bike itself. Part of the reason why so many old triumphs and BSA’s need CONSTANT attention. Sure, this is a kind of charming and very butch feeling at first, but will soon begin to drive you insane. Not to mention also might make your little soldier less eager to stand at attention if you get my drift…

    Plus, while a 1960′s spec engine may engender some nostalgia, 1960′s spec brakes will only introduce you to mr black and scratchy much earlier in your biking career. There’s a reason why Honda has used disc brakes on almost every bike they’ve made since 1969. Also a pretty good reason why almost every car has as well: They work better.

    Go for a late 70′s or early 80′s Honda CB. You can still get the vintage look, but you’ll also get disc brakes and once you spend a few bucks to get her up to par, a basically maintenance free machine. They have slightly higher pitched exhaust note than an old thumper or twin, but a four cylinder bike will have more torque and run much, much smoother. Good bikes to look at: 82-92 CB650/750 Nighthawks. CB400f (prettiest exhaust ever made) CB550, or 70′s era CB750s. I really wouldn’t bother with a 150 or 350 unless you’re under 5’5″ or so, as the frames are smaller too.

    Also: GEAR UP! The main rule of thumb over at ADV rider is: ATGATT= ALL THE GEAR ALL THE TIME i.e. helmet, gloves, boots, leather. CE rated armor is also a good investment. I went down at 20mph a few months ago and fractured and badly dislocted my shoulder wearing no CE rated armor. Teknic makes some really affordable gear with high end Knox CE rated armor.

  9. wrybread says:

    Not that this bike compares since, oddly, its new… But I once bought a 1969 Triumph Bonneville. Pretty much the pinnacle of cool motorcycles, or at least it seemed so to me. Right away it started with carb and electrical issues and when I made things even worse I brought it to an eastern European motorcycle mechanic who was nearby. He scoffed at the bike and said that in his country they valued bikes for how well they drove, not how cool they looked. After owning that bike for about a year and literally working on it for an hour in order to ride it an hour, I now hear his voice every time I contemplate an overly stylish vehicle purchase.

    That said, that’s a badass bike and I say go for it. I now drive an old Cushman metermaid buggy which is a great conversation piece and it never gets old meeting new people who are curious about it, as you certainly would driving this.

  10. BobbyMike says:

    If the lack of disc brakes is something that bothers you there is a conversion kit available for $399.95 here in the USA (from Royal Enfield USA @ http://store.royalenfieldusa.com/maintenance-repair/brakes/disc-brake-conversion-kit ).

    As to the difference in price between the USA import and Indian domestic models, the Indian models are not up to European and USA standards (emissions, etc.). The Indian site clearly states this if you look for the information.

    If you’re really interested in these bikes, read the March 2009 Cycle World articles.

    See if you can ride one too, even as a passneger. Some people love the feel and some people hate the feel of a thumper.

  11. ChrisBartlett says:

    I own a 2003 Royal Enfield 500 and is runs beautifully. It’s easy enough to change your own oil etc and is like riding a time machine. Lots of looks and conversations on these. You can see mine at http://tinyurl.com/myenfield

  12. styrofoam says:

    I’m guessing the oiltank comment ws regarding two strokes.

    I’m a scooter nerd with aspirations of graduating to a real bike one of these days. But the Oil Tank comment makes me snicker because my ’78 has an oil tank- and my ’64 doesn’t. Of course, oil-injected two strokes feel like a luxury after dealing with premix for awhile.

    The Ninja 250 is a fun little bike. But I can’t agree more with “Get the bike that turns you on.” Factor in your desire to either do your own work, have somebody else do the work (and not be riding while you’re waiting!) or just riding an indestructible tank.

    I want a /2, but that’s crazy talk.

  13. santosh k satpathy says:

    i want purchase this bike, can u tell me the price in indian currency and how do i get it ? and from where?
    my no…09773308161
    add-skylark 802 ,sector -6,kharghar,
    navi mumbai,maharastra, india.

  14. Wordguy says:

    @#30 Luckyfink — I didn’t mean to come off so anti-Enfield. I like their style. But I think it’s true that they require more maintenance than, and do not perform as well as, more modern designs. But that doesn’t matter really; everybody should ride what they like.

    Last year I had a commute that would have been great on a scooter. This year, 70 mph is the slow lane for about 2/3 or my route.

  15. Anonymous says:

    There are diesel conversion kits available for these bikes. Nifty for the enviro-conscious.

  16. grimc says:

    If you’re willing to spend $5.5k, get an SV650. No, you won’t have the flash classic looks, but you’ll get a dependable, comfortable, fun v-twin.

    And Beamish above has it right: Buy a bike based on how you’re going to use it. I dearly miss my 749, but the 696 I traded it in for gets a helluva lot more use.

  17. dmac says:

    Get yourself a 1973 BMW R75/5. Retro styling with an indestructable engine. You can ride one of these until the end of your life, then your kids can ride it. Drum brakes are old school, but if it’s an issue you can move up one generation to the /6 models which have front disks; in fact, they are probably cheaper, as the /5′s are more desirable. With the /6 you will still get that retro style, but with upgraded brakes and ignition system.

  18. headmonkey says:

    Just get yourself a cheap Bandit. The 600′s are pretty common and as such are cheap to maintain (a practically un-burstable oil cooled engine and loads of them in scrapyards waiting to be scavenged from), cheap to repair (steel frame means any sucka can weld it back together), and the ability to be far more entertaining than it has any right to be when considering it’s a budget parts bin special. The 400 is cheaper on the insurance but there’s fewer around. My first bike was a Bandit 600. I then went the sportsbike route and finally returned to the trusty Bandit when I realised that winter sports bike riding isn’t that fun. I ride mine to work every day and it hasn’t missed a beat in over 40,000 miles. Just squirt chain lube on the chain in summer, and everywhere else in the winter. Smiles all year round.

  19. UncleD says:

    Get a bike that you love, it’s the only reason to be out there riding. If it’s this (and I wouldn’t blame you if it was) then nothing else matters. The way the bike makes you feel is the most important thing, even it’s not the best bike in the world. I understand why folks say “get this” and “get that”, but lets face it, if we all rode Honda Nighthawks the world would be a very boring place.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Do the research and decide for yourself. If you do, you will find that the 2009 Royal Enfields come with Unit Constructed Engines (All one casing) Aluminium Engines, and meet the new European emissions standards. Then you can be an informed hipster.

  21. dculberson says:

    Wrybread, I love your Cushman photoboof! That’s really cool.

    Usonia and Henri, awesome bikes, both of you. Everyone’s cool looking bikes makes me wish I had gone for that Triumph I fell for last year. Or the BSA. Or …

    I can’t believe there’s so many bike lovers here. I guess it’s just the adventurous “new thing to do” gene that makes us like all kinds of stuff.

    RE: Thumpers; my current bike is a thumper (KLR650) and it’s very far from smooth, running on 50/50 knobby dirt tires. Commuting and around town, it’s great. The only time it’s a problem is on the freeway, but so much of that is because the bike is incredibly tall and upright. There’s a lot of buffeting. But the vibration from it being a thumper isn’t an issue to me. I highly doubt the Enfield is any rougher, since it’s smaller and definitely has a quieter exhaust.

  22. Anonymous says:

    i want to buy royal enfield second hand for around 40000.. what specificaions i shld look for.and basic guidlines for knowing the condition of bike

  23. brrm says:

    A Royal Enfield, on a gadget blog? For a moment, I thought this might have been an April fool! ;-)

    I’ve been a UK-based owner of a Bullet Classic 500 (for nearly 2 years now), so while I can say that I love the bike, I can’t really comment on the parts etc. situation on the other side of the pond.

    I’ll second what others have said – it’s not a bike you can buy, ride and forget. Maintenance is needed. But of course that’s half the fun…

    If the spannering on a classic scares you, perhaps the Kawasaki W650 might be worth a look – I’m not sure if they still make them, but reasonable used ones are affordable, in the UK at least. Looks convincingly like an old Triumph, but (hopefully) with a dash of Japanese reliability.

  24. BritSwedeGuy says:

    Depends if it’s an Indian-made Enfield or not – they’re not worth half that much.

  25. Ice says:

    Older design Iron Barrel engine powered Bullets (now discontinued) earlier models; kick start only 4 speed transmission, later Iron Barrels, 5 speed transmission, kick and and electric start, Points ignition, Drum brakes,front disc can be retro fitted, most maintenance of the Bullet series.

    AVL engine powered bullet models ( mildly updated engine ) Higher sustained speeds, 5 speed transmission, Both electric start and kicker, electronic ignition,disc brake, less maintenance.

    New Unit Construction Engine models, (C5 & G5)
    C5 is oldest looking of the bunch. Electronic ignition, E.F.I., Hydraulic lifters,disc brakes, Highest sustained speeds, most stock H.P., least maintenance.

    They are a blast to ride. Handle very well. Mild trail capable.

    Low restriction air filter and exhaust along with re jetting the carb on older models really wakes them up.

    E.F.I models are self compensating and mapped up to 18,000 above sea level.

    Parts and accessories are plentiful and inexpensive to downright cheap. C.M.W. stocks more parts in their warehouse than the factory does.

    Go fast goodies are available.

    These things can be addictive.

  26. Daithi says:

    I bought my military model enfield two years ago and have put 15 thousand on the clock since then. I have had GPZ900 ninjas cx500 hondas and ridden other Japanese bike in my time but I have never enjoyed a bike more than my enfield. She rides and handles just great. Has good low down torque is the most fun of any bike I ever had. She is my sole mode of transport so I rely on her almost every day. Yes there is maintainance to do like changing oil, setting points, tappet clearances etc but its not much and is easy to do. Parts are easy to get over the internet and there is a good choice of options. I buy most of my parts cheap on Ebay or Hitchcocks. Enfield parts don’t cost a lot and she is easy to work on. She is also very economical to run.
    I plan to keep this bike for the rest of my life I like it so much

  27. chikurt says:

    my friend had a new enfield and we rode together often. It was a wonderful machine for someone who was as interested in its needs as in a sweet ride. He enjoyed its needyness and difficulty to start along with the fact that he never saw more than one or so others on the road.

  28. Anonymous says:

    My god, that thing is beautiful. All I can think about is riding it across the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk. Mmmm.

  29. usonia says:

    @26 Duffong – Yes, I agree. Sexy delicious.
    This is the fruit of my labors:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sightlab/2910188803/sizes/o/

    @32 Styrofoam – That’s not crazy talk. Lofty talk, perhaps…/2s last forever, so they get forgotten in barns & basements and inherited by indifferent recipients.

  30. dculberson says:

    Uncled is right, of course. Make sure you get something that you like.

    But I will say this; I started with a “cool” bike that had some mechanical problems. I spent a year and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars trying to get it running 100%. I loved it when it ran but it broke again and again. I tried fixing it, I took it to two different shops and they couldn’t get it right. I finally gave up and sold it as-is and bought the aforementioned GS500e. While it didn’t have the character of my earlier bike, it was 10x the bike as far as reliability and riding dynamics. It opened my eyes to enjoying the actual ride rather than just the bike. I almost gave up on riding bikes at all because of what a pain my first bike was, when all I needed was a reliable bike to show me the ropes.

    I would always advocate a reliable bike first then, once you’re comfortable with the concepts of riding and won’t freak out if your bike dies on the highway, look to get a cool bike.

    And yes, used – and a low plastic content – is always better for your first bike. It would royally (ha!) suck to spend $5,500 on a bike then drop it. I dropped my GS500e once and it wasn’t a big deal. I still got most of what I paid for it, even with the dented tank.

    Luckyfink, your issue with dropping the bike and it shutting down and giving you problems is exactly what I mean. That might be the only trouble your bike has shown, but I believe they’re just not the “add gas and go” machines that Japanese bikes are. I could be wrong, but at least some consumers have had that experience with them. (do some searching.. I did when I was drooling over a Military 500 and just didn’t feel comfortable with buying one after that.)

  31. Anonymous says:

    Check out http://www.royalenfields.com/ for a great blog on the subject

  32. Purly says:

    I know nothing about motorcycles, but I approve of this bike. It’s adorable!

  33. Carta di credito Gratis says:

    I love the military look, and am actually quite excited to see the new G5 Military. I was even trying with the possibility of a trade-in . However, I’d really have to see this bike first…not sure how it will look to me without the panniers, which to me are so emblematic to the military model. Further, I kinda like the idea of having the iron barrel, the last of its kind, a dying Enfield breed, a piece of history.
    Carta di credito Gratis

  34. Mycroft says:

    One of my customers has one. I don’t know anything about it except that it is beautiful.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Benjamin Button rode one, which should give you a clue as to what is going on here. But there truly is something fascinating and a little comforting about technology that you can comprehend just by looking at it, (sometimes after removing a few bolts and covers,) where the word “intuitive” is not just a marketing ploy.

  36. mccronin says:

    Love this bike. Can’t vouch for reliability.

    I have two friends who have Kawasaki W650′s that BRRM mentioned and have had no trouble at all. They are sweet looking bikes, but unfortunately, they don’t sell them in the US anymore.

    The new Triumph Bonnevilles are actually pretty sweet and they have a Scrambler that comes in flat military green! Check it! http://www.triumph.co.uk/usa/2009%20Triumph%20Scrambler_9861.aspx

  37. Anonymous says:

    #48:”As to the difference in price between the USA import and Indian domestic models, the Indian models are not up to European and USA standards”

    The original engine design was standard on these bikes in the US as of a couple years ago. The new motor that satisfied the stricter EU emissions standards was a several hundred dollar option at that time. That wouldn’t justify the $3000 price difference.

    The cost of transportation, import fees, “we’re marking it up ’cause we can” – aka dealer profit, etc. also factor into the difference. In addition, a model with a smaller motor (350?) is available in India, but not the US.

  38. General Specific says:

    It’s beautiful, but an old Honda CB100 would also bring the smiles for lots less money.

  39. Wordguy says:

    “Modern” is a relative term here. The new Enfields are updated, but nowhere near as modern as a new Honda, etc. If you buy one, you will have to do more maintenance as a matter of course than if you buy an actual “modern” brand.

    The Urals have been modernized too. They are still 1960s technology for the most part (updated from 1940s tech!). Lots of folks ride them and love them, but if you just want to get on and go I’d look for a Nighthawk or whatever.

  40. UncleErnie says:

    ‘lo all. First, let’s can the idea of cruising at 70mph. 60mph is comfortable, 65 is doable. The newer UCE can add about 5mph to that.
    They are much like the Russian Ural in that the last few years have brought new management and improved mechanicals. However- they are still a 50 year old design. I would say a Bullet (I refer to mine as a Musket Ball) is great for the countryside and mountains. 85 into Atlanta or 5 out of L.A.- forget it!

    There is much practile information and advice at http://www.enfieldmotorcycles.com The community forum has quite lively discussions from newbies and the experienced alike.

    Here is mine with some accessories;

    [IMG]http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j315/UncleErnie/re6B.jpg[/IMG]

    Now- I also have a Kawasaki W650. I must say it is infinitely better than a Triumph. It is a wonder blend of old and new- and can cruise the freeeways at any legal speed you desire. I love it. For more info about them, Yahoo W650 Group.

  41. I myself own a Royal Enfield motorcycle. Riding on this gives me a totally different kind of pleasure and I feel flying in the air.

  42. usonia says:

    The Bullet 500 with the cafe kid (race seat, bare metal tank, etc) is by far the sickest looking “new” bike I’ve seen.
    Meanwhile, I have a ’65 BMW r50 that I rebuilt myself (and I’m no stellar mechanic) and use as a daily rider. Any BMW is indestructible, but any pre-’79 beemer (with a few exceptions) is indestructable +100. I could get a Honda & give the BMW a break, but where’s the fun in that? Plus: Earles Forks = german styling with Rolls Royce feel. Woo!

  43. LuckyFink says:

    DCULBERSON

    Oh, definitely. I’ve read a lot of sob stories on the internet, undoubtedly from people that have never ridden before, or bought them second hand. There is a lot of war stories about this bike, and not nearly as many good ones (Save for anyone that’s ever done a formal review of it. Reviewers tend to love the bike). But, parts are more readily available for this than a lot of older bikes. And as far as the trouble I’ve had, it starts right up, even in the worst weather. But i spits out too much oil, which is the problem. The tiny little non-existant overflow can’t handle the pressure. That, or something knocked loose inside. Either way, I’ve driven it 2K miles since then, oil spitting everywhere, without incident. Sucker is a real trooper.

    And I have to agree about restoring or fixing a bike. I’ve had my share of restore/fix projects with all number of wheels. I’m mechanically inclined, and have worked on a lot of engines. But there’s really something to be said about starting fresh, with something that you know if it does require maintenance, it’s only minor. Heck, I’ve got 3 cars up on Craigslist right now, because I thought it’d be better to fix them.

    But I digress. Whomever above said ride what you love is right. There’s something about two wheels that just makes a person riding them happy. It takes all types. I’ve got a Vespa and the Enfield. And they make me happy for different reasons, and in different ways. Ride what you love. Vintage triumphs are gorgeous, as are old BMW’s, Knuckleheads, and old board track racers. The key is to ride what you love, and the sacrifices will be worth it. (This is, of course, as long as you don’t get in over your head)

  44. dculberson says:

    What Wordguy said. They’re Indian built, to Indian standards, which means (no offense) high maintenance. Parts availability isn’t bad; you have to order it unless you have a dealer in town but they make plenty of ‘em. It’s just that you’ll need those parts a lot.

    I just recently upgraded from a GS500e; not as cool looking as this bike but dead simple mechanically and a great starter. I sold mine for $2,000 and it had less than 5,000 miles on it. Similar and cheaper deals are out there often.

    The Ninja 250 is also an excellent starter bike, and is a lot more fun than the 250cc engine would imply. It’s faster than the Royal Enfield, that’s for sure.

    For a ‘cruiser’ type starter, the Honda Rebel 250 is a good choice. They aren’t available as cheaply as the other two I mentioned, but are super reliable.

    A CB100 would be a blast, but any of the small CB series bikes are going to be pretty outdated mechanically and will require more maintenance than a more modern sibling.

  45. UncleErnie says:

    Well, many of the current UCE models are recalled right now. I think you should wait another year for them to get some kinks worked out.
    As parts take some time to come in the mail, I wouldn’t want to take one around the world. Gaskets and filters cost as much as similar BMW itmes, too. They are not cheap to maintain, and cost a lot, considering what you get.
    There are still some AVL Military models scattered around the country that include the crash bar and panniers. I know there’s one in the dealership in Marion NC, for instance.
    The new buyer needs to go through everything upon arrival, as they are very careless at the factory.

  46. Anonymous says:

    http://www.royalenfield.com/ is the Indian Site. I am surprised why it costs $5000 when it is only around $2000 in India. 100% premium ?

  47. Naveen Roy says:

    Well, a Bullet is a Bullet is a Bullet…you either love it or hate it…but let me tell you, once you are hooked, you are hooked! It is a nice bike to ride and has its shortcomings but a nice ride!

  48. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I guess a single is a good starter bike because they’re typically light and don’t have enough power to get you into trouble. Don’t buy an old one with kick-only start unless you’re in good shape and very patient. Voice of experience…

  49. demidan says:

    Falls apart like a ,,, Chinese Motorcycle?

  50. Duffong says:

    I drive a 1972 BMW R60. I had a choice between and Enfield as well, but I’m glad I went with the BMW. I Picked up this beauty for $2k in cash, and put in another $1500 in repairs and maintenance. The end result was imo delicious:

    http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y279/duff51/BMWR60-5.jpg

  51. BastardNamban says:

    All I know is, I never even saw one of these bikes until I came to Japan. There seem to be plenty here, so my guess is if you need parts, you could always take a trip here.

    And agreed with previous comments- don’t know a whole lot about the specifics in engineering, but a look at them & I can pick out details that sugguest they use old tech. Might not be worth the hassle, but if older stuff is what you dig (hell, knuckleheads & panheads are popular in the US but they are OLD tech), then maybe it’s worth it. They do look cool.

  52. Duffong says:

    @39

    Ah yes, good stuff.

  53. Anonymous says:

    I did a lot of looking at the Enfields about 6 years ago. We seriously considered one for my wife before she lost interest in riding motorcycles. At 500cc, it’s highway legal and will easily handle standard speeds. It’s a simple design, I would suspect that there’s a dealership or bike shop that can get parts in most major cities. Everything that I’ve ever seen or read has been pretty positive.

  54. Rune says:

    As has been said, they’re Indian built, to Indian standards, which means that any village blacksmith in India can fix it. Here, not so much. But they do sound truly awesome (or at least the old ones did, dunno about the newer models).

  55. BastardNamban says:

    …actually, sorry for the double post, but THIS Royal Enfield is hella cool. I *WOULD* buy this, if I had the cash- looks like something Steve McQueen would casually hop on and drive away from Nazis with.

    These are new? Where are they selling this model new? The only ones I see are old Enfields in the shops here.

  56. oriste says:

    I can’t believe this! Exactly on the day I buy my first Royal Enfield Bullet 500 (second hand), you write an article covering it. Coincidence?

  57. ryrypizzaa says:

    They are such good looking bikes. I mean you can sort of say an older bike like you were thinking of, is like a new Enfield. Which isn’t a bad thing, they’re just a simpler kind of bike.

    If you buy an older bike there are a lot of unknowns of course. If something went wrong on this, you would have to a little less detective work trying to diagnose the problem.

    I know with Urals, there is a HUGE community of owners who are always willing to help when problems arise. It may be this way with Enfields too?

    Me and my father picked this guy up last year.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryrypizza/2940686208/in/set-72157608012784851/

    I am personally a fan of older bikes in general just because of the styling.

  58. LuckyFink says:

    Allow me to be the first to chime in from an actual owner, of the Military model, no less.

    First of all, don’t let the naysayers fool you, this is one hell of a bike. If you’re buying one new, or used, the only thing you need to do is go through, and check everything when you get it. A hastily assembled bike is fine, until it makes the transit across the pacific, in a crate, for thousands of miles. Something is bound to vibrate loose. So yes, check your nuts and wires.

    Step two, enjoy.

    I bought my bike used, from someone who had just finished breaking it in. 990 miles when I got it. That week, I made a 251 mile trek to a hotrod show in York, PA, without incident. It’s got mean acceleration, and keeps cool at a stead 70mph, which, incidentally, is about it’s top end. I’ve pushed the hell out of the bike, and the only reason I had trouble with it was that I put it down. Ever since then, I’ve had trouble with the oil overflow. Maybe there’s too much. And if you lay the bike down, it gets into the air box, which clogs the filter, and kills the bike. I’ve put the bike down twice. Once gingerly at a speed under 5mph, which caused the oil problem, and once at about 40mph. There are a few small scratches, and I need a new brake lever, but it still runs like a champ.

    And don’t be discouraged by a 500c single banger, it’s got more balls than you’d think. If you must ride like an asshole, and accelerate as if you’re in a race, the Enfield can handle it, even with a full load on the back (tent, suitcase, supplies). It’s the perfect backpacking bike. Plus, the built in steel saddlebags are great (though not waterproof).

    Rob, if you’d like to see mine, I can bring out it sometime. I’m in Pittsburgh, which has some of the worst hills in the country, and this bike is a pleasure to ride them.

    I put 3K on the bike in about 3 months, and the only reason I’ve had any trouble was putting it down. I’m resolving the oil issue by moving the battery, and putting in an oil tank. Then, it’ll all be peachy keen.

    There’s also something to be said about the wow factor of the bike. I always get a bit of joy out of watching people gawk in amazement at the bike. I’ve spent way too much time explaining the history of the company, the Flying Flea, and the allure of tax breaks and cheap labor in British colonies to British companies in the mid 20th century. It’s worth at least taking a ride. And believe it or not, there’s actually a lot of parts that can interchange with, or be replaced by parts from other motorcycles, so it’s not quite the gloom and doom that you would think. And there’s always parts available online from Royal Enfield, should anything go wrong.

    In closing, don’t discount a bike because of it’s origins. It’s no worse than any single cylinder 500cc motorbike. In fact, that’s what gives it it’s charm.

  59. Anonymous says:

    I have one just like it, a 1995 Bullet 500.
    I need a whole clutch assembly for it, and maybe
    the rear sprocket/brake drum. The bike is tough, but not for the Lad who refuses to tinker.
    < Cousin.Ken123@gmail.com >
    The crashbars saved my legs numerous times.
    The steel sidebags were handy scavenging bricks.
    We replaced the original headlight with a Lucas lamp after crashing through a gate one drunken night.
    I rode all winter long, till the wiring fried.
    The engine oil spews into a box under battery.
    I used to collect it in film canisters for chain
    lubrication. 10 years off the road, and people are still willing to offer $4000+ Canadian for it, But
    alas; I’ll never sell it! I picked up as many Women with the Enfield, as I did bricks. The bike paid for itself twofold over. No regrets. -KJL.

  60. Wordguy says:

    Keep in mind that any bike with modern engineering and manufacturing techniques won’t NEED an oil tank. There’s no reason, in this day and age, to be spewing oil everywhere you go.

    Any bike designed and built in the last 20 years will be more modern than the Indian built Enfields. BUT, the sure are cool. If you want one enough to deal with the extra issues then go ahead and get one.

    (Top speed of 70? No thanks. Some times you need to pass the drunks on the highway.)

  61. Wordguy says:

    @26 Duffong — That’s gorgeous!

  62. Anonymous says:

    You want to real motorcycle, this is real machine. all mechanical part no electronic break down, this machine can take you around the world, with handful of tools in your saddle bag. But the problem is most of the people never really understood a motorcycle.

  63. Anonymous says:

    I have one just like it, a 1995 Bullet 500.
    I need a whole clutch assembly for it, and maybe
    the rear sprocket/brake drum. The bike is tough, but not for the Lad who refuses to tinker.
    < Cousin.Ken123@gmail.com >
    The crashbars saved my legs numerous times.
    The steel sidebags were handy scavenging bricks.
    We replaced the original headlight with a Lucas lamp after crashing through a gate one drunken night.
    I rode all winter long, till the wiring fried.
    The engine oil spews into a box under battery.
    I used to collect it in film canisters for chain
    lubrication. 10 years off the road, and people are still willing to offer $4000+ Canadian for it, But refuse to sell. Please reply if you find
    a clutch assemble for me
    alas; I’ll never sell it! I picked up as many Women with the Enfield, as I did bricks. The bike paid for itself twofold over. No regrets. -KJL.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Yay, i love those bikes! Best thing: they build it here in Germany with a diesel motor! It’s almost 10k$ and never reaches 62mph but I think that it’s an awesome machine. And it gets you 100+mpg. Oh, and they claim two hours of service (oil, filters, greasing, valves) per 5000 km of driving. Except cleaning :)
    http://www.motorradmanufaktur.de (only in german…)

  65. Spats MacGee says:

    Get a Honda from the seventies, an old cb or cl. Get a running one, and the engines are pretty bullet proof. I like my 100, but it doesn’t have much in the way of guts, my 350 is a lot more fun. and then there’s always the 750…

    P.S. McQueen’s motorcycle was a triumph bonneville from the sixties, so this would look MORE like something he should have been riding than what he actually was.

  66. Anonymous says:

    I thought about getting one of these bikes, but after reading a few posts on their forum, I decided against it. It was not recommended for the interstate highways because of the low top end. Apparently, even though the max speed is listed as 75, the people on the forum recommended that a better highway speed for these bikes is to oscillate between 50 & 55mph (occasionally speeding up and slowing down helps oil circulation). Speeds for an extended amount of time over 65-70 wasn’t recommended due to long term affects of overheating. Because of that, it’s considered a two-lane highway type of machine and something I wouldn’t be able to use. Also, for the cost, I could get a used Japanese bike with better reliability, speed, braking, etc for much less. Yes, it’s a cool bike, but I can’t afford cool.

  67. Scuba SM says:

    Every time I talk myself out of a bike, they pop up somewhere else. I’ve been salivating over old Indians for years, and I’ve been looking at the new ones. I lusted after a 40′s US Army Harley (It’s not leaking… it’s marking its territory….). And now this.

  68. retrojoe says:

    For the price of a new Bullet you can buy a real vintage British bike. That the conclusion I came to and bought an original Triumph. The maintenance will be the same and you’ll probably get a better bike. These really aren’t neophyte motorcycles. You HAVE to know how to maintain and tune them.

    Better still, as mentioned above, buy an old Honda. A cb350 twin from the late 60s or early 70s is a true vintage bike, more powerful than a stock Bullet, and very cheap and easy to to maintain. They’re readily available as well, a very good one will run less than $2k.

  69. usonia says:

    To contradict ROSSINDETROIT: be sure to buy a bike with at least a back-up kick start. I was surprised in a lame way when I lost battery power on a borrowed yamaha last year & could not pop start the beast. New bikes lack kick starters. An electric start is great, but in a pinch nothing beats being able to manually start the machine without having to run across a parking lot with it.

  70. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Especially older bikes should have kick as a backup to the electric leg. The older electric starts are far less reliable than a car starter. Many older bikes can be ridden with a totally dead battery if you know what you’re doing and have a strong leg. Done that FAR too many times.

  71. error404 says:

    Yes the Bullet is a very evocative machine.

    It is of it’s time and as such requires what to most would be considered prohibitive amounts of time spent upon it.

    The same is true of all older bikes or ones made to a pre 70s non Japanese paradigm.

    But for me I have to take the view as several others here seem to have that if you look at vintage bike like a Ural, you then look at a BMW R series and think…hey this one is a helluva lot better and more reliable too.

    In the UK the R70 was the plods bike so there are a lot of old ones about going cheap.

    And if you do as a mate of mine did and keep the white fairing wear a high viz jacket and white helmet everyone thinks you are the filth so get out your way

    He said it was like being Moses at the red sea.

    Tho any fule no that Moses came down from the mountain on his Triumph.

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