The Royal Enfield Bullet
Since 1955, the originally
British motorcycle Royal Enfield has been manufactured in Madras, India.
The decision to move production there stemmed from the same causes for
such decisions typical of business today, when one relocates from one
continent of manufacture to another: efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Royal Enfields are still produced in India at the rate of 25,000
motorcycles per year, but as a subsidiary of the original brand.
2009 Royal Enfield Bullet C5 and G5 EFIs are primarily the same model as
the original 1950's versions. If you buy one today, you will feel a
certain kindred connection to James Dean or any leather-jacketed rebel of
mass Hollywood appeal, on what will appear to novices as a classically
restored and sexy vintage machine.
The Bullets of today hold the same beauty and authenticity of mid-20th
Century bikes, but sport modern emissions compliance through a newly
designed engine, as well as the simple luxuries of an electric starter and
ignition. All enhancements were designed, originated, and executed in
keeping with the external history and beauty of the original models, as
design aesthetics seem to hold more regard from Bullet riders than
performance. In all of the upgrades performance was improved, which has
resulted in less concern for the antiquated concept of excessive roadside
wrenching and tinkering as part of ongoing maintenance.
Specific upgrades for the C5 Bullet include increased reliability and
low maintenance, ability to sustain higher speeds for cruising, added
passing power and torque (as associated with a single cylinder, pushrod
engine), electronic fuel injection and lower emissions. The C5 engine is a
totally new design of Unit Construction (UCE) and the fuel injection (EFI)
is a first for Royal Enfield. Customary sound, feel, and torque of the
1951 Bullet remain through the 500cc long-stroke, single cylinder, pushrod
The G5 also has the new UCE engine with EFI, but remains externally true
to the 1955 Bullet bike. Additional chroming are available on the Deluxe
model, or you may opt for the Olive Drab for WWII British authenticity.
The suspension was improved, as were cruising speeds, handling, fuel
economy, emissions (to a "green" designation with a three-stage catalytic
converter), and front disc brakes.
When driving, you will still feel the authenticity of the Bullet. In
other words, it is a little jerky at high speeds and will not compete with
more modern sport and speed bikes. If performance is your game, opt for
something else. But, the Royal Enfield is not produced for performance. It
is produced for those riders who might wish they could have ridden the
East Lancs in the '50's in full leather and denim regalia. The Bullet
turns heads and captures stares of jealous onlookers, so if you can get
past its ineffectiveness toward road racing, you will not be dissatisfied
by your newly found cool factor. In fact, it seems that nobody can sit
atop a Royal Enfield Bullet without appearing to be instantly cooler, and
with the new upgrades, performance is raised a notch, too.
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