View Full Version : Royal Enfields

04-20-2006, 02:05 PM
Does anyone have any experience with Royal Enfields? The thought of getting a new Bullet or Electra-X after I pass the MSF has been stuck in my mind, if I can spare the money at that point. Does anyone have any experience with them, particularly the newer ones? Any word on how they fit taller riders?

04-20-2006, 04:29 PM
Unfortunately not since we were selling them in '47 till I sold out my shares, of the m/c shop--in moving to another part of Cdn., in '51. These were the Brit ones.

Though did try to help a chap from India with the first 500cc I had seen in this country & probably around 80s. Was amazed at all the metal shaving still in the gearbox to some other flaws---which put a halt to any further work on it & he was going to contact the Dist in Vancouver. B.C. Cdn. What he did with it I do not know (other then know he has never riden it since & no word on the final outcome) and imagine they are not like that now. Yes he was having troubles with the shifting at the time.

04-20-2006, 04:39 PM
The first Electras arrived in the USA only a few weeks ago, but have been out in India for several years and in the UK for a year or so.

Also see this thread (http://www.beginnerbikers.org/showthread.php?t=5601) and this thread (http://www.beginnerbikers.org/showthread.php?t=3124).


04-21-2006, 12:07 AM
Here's what RE-USA says about their various offerings:

The Conventional Bullet (Classic, Deluxe or Military)

The conventional Bullet has its roots in the late 1930's. While it has
improved, and the styling changed some over time, the bike sold today
is basically the 1955 model frozen in time. Even the paint colors are true
to colors used in that era. When comparing a true vintage Royal Enfield
with its modern cousin the similarities far outweigh the differences. These
three models are mechanically identical, just trimmed differently.

While the look and the technology are historic, the manufacturing methods
and materials are modern. The bike which was affectionately called the
"Royal Oilfield" in its day no longer leaks, although we kid people that we
make a kit that will make it leak if you insist.

Royal Enfield found that the biggest cause of leakage was simply poor
machining. In its day the machining was good, but with modern computer-
controlled machining processes, it is relatively easy to make flat surfaces
join perfectly. Modern gaskets and seals have been a big help. Steel and
alloys have improved as well, and all of these improvements have been
incorporated into the modern "Vintage" Royal Enfield.

Until the mid 2000's, Whitworth or British Standard threads could still be
found on the Royal Enfield. Now all of the fasteners use the modern metric
form. The basic design of the engine remains the same as it's original design.
The Bullet's crankshaft, unique "donut"-shaped connecting rod bearing, low
compression piston, cylinder head, coil and points ignition system, and
suspension have remained virtually unchanged for the past 50 years.

The hallmark of this engine is its simplicity. The bike was designed to
be worked on by its owners, and the simple design is testimony to this
goal. We like to say that, "If you can read, you can fix it."

One of the reasons the Royal Enfield is so reliable is that the engine is
very "de-tuned". It is capable of making much more power than it does,
but reliabilty was deemed to be more important than performance.

One of the reasons the bike has survived so long in India is its rugged
simplicity. It is virtually impossible to wear an Enfield out. The frame is
mostly bar steel instead of tube, and no concessions were made in the
area of strength and durability. In many parts of India roads are almost
non-existent, and only the rugged and strong survive! In trips over the
Himalayas which is some of the toughest terrain in the world, the Bullet
is the vehicle of choice.

The conventional Bullet requires somewhat more maintenence than the
Electra(X). Mostly, this involves adjusting ignition points, engine timing,
and adjusting the valves. These procedures are dirt simple, but none the
less, required. The skills needed can be learned by anyone and provide
great satisfaction for those that do their own maintenance.

The Bullet engine has a wide array of performance-enhancing parts
available, as the engine has been developed for more than 50 years.
It lends itself to improvement because, as I mentioned before, it is so
de-tuned. On the other hand, it has some important limitations. While
it has a remarkably strong crankshaft, connecting rod and piston, that
is somewhat limiting in terms of RPM. Also, the cast-iron cylinder can
only dissipate so much heat. At the end of the day, probably the best
reasons to choose the Classic, Deluxe or Military models are because
of both their classical, timeless, and original look and their mechanical
simplicity. Everywhere you take your Bullet you will be the center of
attention and will be peppered with questions and compliments.

The Bullet Sixty-5

Introduced in 2004 as the first new model in over 50 years, the Bullet
Sixty-5 has some subtle styling and mechanical changes from the original
Bullet. Perhaps most importantly, the styling of the bike is a departure from
the traditional 1955 Bullet. The styling and colors available on the Bullet
Sixty-5 are more reminiscent of the 1960's than the 1950's. For those
of you who with a keen interest in this era, the Bullet may be just the thing
for you. Besides the vibrant metallic 1960's colors, there is less chrome and
a different pinstriping scheme. The seat on the Sixty-5 is a new, lower
ribbed model which has been retrofitted to the rest of the Bullet line.

While the mechanics of the Sixty-5 are the same as the conventional Bullet,
the Sixty-5 was the first Bullet to offer the new 5-speed transmission,
which is a wonderful improvement. It has been so successful that it is now
offered on all Bullet models. Other distinctions of the Sixty-5 is the addition
of rubber fork gaiters which really set it apart visually, and its suspension is
greatly enhanced by the addition of a newer design of shock absorber with
variable rate springs. This item has also proved a popular retrofit on the
recently produced traditional Bullets.

The Electra(X)

The Electra or Electra(X) as it is sometimes known is the newest offering
from Royal Enfield, and it is the first machine in over 50 years to have
an entirely new engine. The engine was initially designed by AVL in Austria
and labeled the "Lean-Burn". While it has many visual similarities with the
conventional Bullet engine, the similarities are only skin deep.

The crankshaft is improved and stronger to resist flexing, is made of a
more expensive material, and the crankpin is larger. The connecting rod
is made of steel instead of alloy for greater strength. The big end now
has a roller bearing which replaces the old donut-style bushing, and the
small end uses a pressed-in bushing.

The piston has a taller dome for higher compression and makes better
use of the air/fuel mixture. The combustion chamber is designed to have
a greater "squish" area for more power and less emissions. It is designed
to operate with a leaner air/fuel mixture for better economy and
cleaner exhaust. The included angle of the valves has been changed,
and the valve train has been extensively redesigned. The cylinder barrel
is made of aluminum alloy with a steel liner for better cooling. The oiling
system uses a gear-type pump as opposed to the piston pump as found on
the older Bullet design. It will pump up to ten times the voume of oil as
the conventional Bullet.

The Electra(X) has an electronic ignition which does not require any
maintenance, and is able to provide a hotter spark to burn the leaner
air/fuel mixture. It is also equipped with a CV (Constant Velocity)
carburetor of Mikuni design, as opposed to the Mikuni-designed slide
carburetor on the conventional Bullet. The CV carburetor gives smoother
performance and acceleration, and is less sensitive to variations in
altitude. On the other hand, the throttle response is a little less "snappy"
as compared to the older slide carburetor.

These technical improvements mean the Electra(X) engine requires less
maintenance and adjustment than the conventional Bullet engine, and has
proven to be very reliable in service. Some people say the the overall
"drivability" is improved.

The Electra(X) is equipped with a standard front disc brake and gas-filled
shocks, both of which greatly enhance its handling. It is also a styling
venture into the 1970's. It still has a very retro visual appeal, yet is more
modern in design.


I have attempted to clarify some of the differences and similarities
between the various Royal Enfield models. In the end, it really comes
down to personal preference. All of the bikes have a vintage look, are
strong, reliable and backed by the same great warranty. They represent
three different decades of the previous century, and it is up to you to
choose which one you prefer.

Scoot safe,

04-21-2006, 12:15 AM



04-21-2006, 07:45 AM
Thanks for the comments, Tom and Smitty.

Thankfully, they don't come with that gearbox that Smitty mentioned anymore!

Tom, that info from them was very useful. It's too bad they didn't have that on their website as it's quite informative.

04-22-2006, 02:56 PM
IIRC the Bullet 500s are $4795 US MSRP and the new Electra 500 is $4995 US MSRP.

In 500cc single road standards, the Buell Blast is less expensive, more powerful, is serviced by a much larger dealer network, and needs less maintainance (Surlin body panels, spin on oil filter, cast wheels, hydraulic valves and belt drive). I really like the Blast and would be happy to own and ride one - but IMHO it doesn't have the panache of the Bullet or Electra.

Scoot safe,

04-22-2006, 06:03 PM
I really like these bikes. My favorite is the Military version. They are just plain neat machines.

04-22-2006, 06:16 PM
I was drawn to them also; ghosts of my answers calling from the Mother Isle, I guess. They are sharp, appearance-wise. But wary of reports of the maintenance issues, and the sparsity of the support.

Smitty, you're the best. You stopped handling them in '51? You make us middle agers feel like kids again.
Today I met Phil Peterson, who has the Miami Harley franchise. Opened his first in Key West in '54. Because he wanted to live in the exotic town? No, the Navy base was there. "They had 8,000 sailors and a credit union," he says.