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 engine.

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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