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    Royal Enfield Bullet-The Indian Cult ?

    Royal Enfield Bullet-The Indian Cult ? Find out !!

    An Introduction:


    List price Rs 69,250 (ex-showroom, Delhi) Top speed 108kph 0-60kph 6.73sec Kpl 32.1 (overall)

    For: Complete retro experience, classic style

     against: Poor gearshift, build quality



    The latest Electra iteration is equipped with a fifth gear on the left. Will the new machine appeal to Bullet riders who till now preferred shifting from the right?
    It’s been a Bullet-riddled couple of months. Last month we got astride the relatively high-velocity Hurricane, while in July 2005 we rode the Bullet 500 ES, following quick on the heels of March 2005 where we brought you India’s first-ever Bullet comparison test between
    the Electra, Thunderbird and Machismo. Just when you thought the dust had died down and we were done writing about Royal Enfield, the company has gone to town announcing its 50th anniversary of making motorcycles in India. What’s creditable is the fact that the company has achieved this milestone riding the crest of a wave firmly astride the saddle of one basic model — the barely changed classic that to us Indians is a household name. The Bullet is today a world record holder, becoming the oldest motorcycle brand in production. Enough celebratory reason for the Chennai-based factory to roll out a new Electra variant that comes equipped with a five-speed gearbox. We scythe through the marketing hype and give the newcomer the Autocar India road test treatment.



    Engine & Performance:


    It is in this department that the major changes have been effected on the new Electra. While the motor remains a 346cc pushrod-driven twin-valve unit with long-stroke dimensions, it retains true-blue Royal Enfield traits in lacking AVL-introduced features seen on siblings Thunderbird and Machismo. The new Electra will continue to employ a cast iron cylinder and a Mikcarb VM 24 carburettor. The bike creditably manages to meet tough emission norms and Royal Enfield has bolted on a Pulse Air Valve to the engine head which injects fresh air that in turn helps green up emissions. The motor has been retuned in the interests of emission, although it still does retain its lazy compression ratio of 6.5:1, which is key to delivering the velvet-gloved punch while cruising around in Electra-mode. The ignition system is transistor coil-actuated, while starting the Electra is now easier due to the self-starter. We did, however, note that the starter on our spanking new test bike got worked up to spin the heavy engine internals. Will passage of time cause this to aggravate? The big change to the engine that makes a peak 18.1bhp at 5000rpm is its all-new five-speed gearbox, as also a new left-foot-operated heel-and-toe gear lever, unlike the one on the right as with the older Electra. The gearbox sports closer-packed internal ratios thanks to the new cog, with the fifth gear ratio remaining identical to fourth gear on the previous bike.Riding the bike reveals that all previous Royal Enfield character traits have been retained. The relaxed and punchy throb that draws so many to these machines is present in healthy doses, with a deep and melodious tone wafting from the silencer. Throttle nursing is imperative as a flat spot otherwise makes itself felt low down in the power band. But judicious use of the throttle has the large bore motor delighting with a silken smooth output of its 3.2kgm of torque effortlessly churned out low in the powerband at 3000rpm. Clutch feel is just as heavy and vague as Enfield riders have learnt to bear, and while the inclusion of a fifth wheel in the gearbox is a change for the better, the lever does dish out too many false neutrals. The gearshifts lack a positive feel and are cumbersome. However, with practice and a careful, measured approach, the gears can be made to shift better. Anything too brisk and sporty makes for a missed gear.Performance on the new Electra is marginally quicker than the older bike, no doubt aided by the extra cog and closer-packed ratios. The five-speeder shoots off the block to nudge 60kph in 6.73seconds, and goes on to zap past the tonne at 24.54sec, finally hitting a top speed of 108kph.


    Design & Engineering:


    The refreshed Electra is easily distinguishable thanks to the sparkling new dual-tone paint. Its profile retains those recognizable and stately Royal Enfield lines that still manage to look as much at home today as they did half a century ago. Of course, being an Enfield, oodles of chrome are a must while the typical 19-inch rims add their bit to the inherently majestic proportions on this motorcycle. Multi-reflector-equipped lamps have become mandatory kit and lend a touch of modernity to the new Electra. On first dekho they look a bit out of place but after spending a few days with the bike they seem to be fine. Other minor, less visible improvements come in the form of ribbed PVC shrouding for the wiring harness that replaces insulating tape previously used. Behind the vast circle of the darkness-piercing headlight remains the familiar vintage headlight housing with its mean-looking twin-city lights. A simple, round speedo calibrated in kilometres is accommodated within this sturdy-looking unit, while the other prominent instrumentation is a traditional amp meter, for which we see little use. Royal Enfield would do well to shunt this for a missing fuel gauge. Adjusting the slightly altered mirrors, which seem more showpiece than practical, is a well nigh impossible task. Switchgear is civilized and comprehensive and includes push-to-cancel indicators and a pass-light flasher, and the handlebar-mounted lever stalks and rubber palm grips are comfy too. Royal Enfield’s latest juggernaut uses a teardrop fuel tank with 14.4-litre maximum capacity and a clunky lid. The battery and air filter shrouds continue the classic theme in protruding outwards from the motorcycle flanks. An eagle-eyed Bullet fan will easily spot the stepped seat, a change from the older flat unit. The tail-lamp unit has seen considerable alterations – it is now broader and more perceptible, while the handsome single silencer bent pipe and canister in chrome remain unchanged. All these changes notwithstanding, there is always a feeling that Enfields still need to achieve better build quality and attention to detail.


    Ride Handling and Braking:



    Don’t expect much change in ride or handling on this refreshed Electra, for there have been no major changes introduced to a proven package. A solid downtube frame provides the spinework and the heavy engine is deployed as a stressed member. Twin telescopic front forks impart nicely firmed-up damping, while at the rear gas-charged dual shocks with piggyback reservoirs pair up with a double-sided swingarm to help endow the bike with its smartly sorted out ride quality. The Electra’s new-found stepped seat is padded a tad on the hard side, but long rides revealed no cause for concern. The friendly riding position has adequate room for both heavy as well as tall riders. The Royal Enfield family of motorcycles probably makes the most sense to any heavily built couple, for there is relatively very little loss of composure even with the bike considerably loaded up.Straight-line stability is legendary to Enfields and comes naturally to the Electra, assisted by those tall 19-inch rims, a long 1370mm wheelbase and heavy 175kg kerb weight. Any change in direction is a heavy and unhurried affair and while cornering is stable, the bike needs loads of weight-transfer and muscle flexing. Overtly sporty riding is not what the Electra loves, while cruising and soaking in the scenery on a long highway ride with like-minded mates is the stuff that will bring a smile to an Electra rider’s face.The brakes on our test bike felt reassuringly powerful and though the bike comes with a 280mm front disc as optional, we think this is one piece of essential equipment for the heavy thumper. Feel and feedback levels from the lever were acceptable, and the heavy bike managed to post a fine emergency stop from 60kph to zero — 17.67 metres in 2.16 seconds.


    Fuel Efficiency:


    The Royal Enfield brigade has never proffered the best mileage. These are large bore motorcycles that have more to do with classic styling, a complete retro feel, and that relaxed wind-in-the-hair feel. The five-speed Electra delivers near-identical mileage as the previous version which we feel is more than fair given the overall nature of the bike. In our real-world city tests, we obtained a flat 31kpl. At higher speeds and enjoying its fine composure on the highways, that figure stretched a little further to 33.3kpl.



    Summing it up:


    The Electra was the surprise Royal Enfield model to win our three Bullet compariso
    n test earlier this year. It managed to pip the T’bird and Machismo to the finish post and came up tops in spite of not using fresher AVL technology as present on its siblings. The Electra offers the most unadulterated Royal Enfield experience, with all the trappings of a character-abundant classic. Now, its new two-tone paint job makes it a shade more attractive, and to go with its show it retains stable manners and decent ride quality. Although some hardcore aficionados may bemoan the gearshift lever shifting to the left with extra legwork involved playing with the new cog, we uphold the changes. They serve to improve and get Enfield moving with the times, albeit slowly. Better 50 years late, than never.

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION:

    EngineSingle Cylinder, 4 Stroke, OHV, SI Engine, Air Cooled
    Displacement346 CC
    Bore x Stroke70mm x 90mm
    Maximum Power18 bhp @ 5000 rpm
    Maximum Torque32 Nm @ 3000rpm
    Transmission5 Speed (left foot gear shift)
    IgnitionTransistor Coil Ignition
    CarburetorMicrab VM 24
    Dimensions
    Ground Clearance140 mm
    Width750 mm
    Wheel Base1370 mm
    Length2120 mm
    Height1080 mm
    Seat Height/ Saddle Height800 mm
    Tyres
    Front3.25 x 19" , 4/6 PR
    Rear3.25 x 19" , 4/6 PR
    Electricals
    Electrical System12 Volts
    Head lamp35/35 W
    Brakes
    FrontHydraulic Disc Brake (Disc dia 280mm)
    RearInternal Expansion (Drum), 6"
    Maximum Speed
    Speed100 Kmph
    Suspension
    FrontTelescopic, Hydraulic Damping. Stroke 130mm
    RearSwing Arm With Adjustable and Gas Filled Shock Absorbers stroke 80mm
    g

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    9 comments
    1. Roberto Said,

      Fascinating bike!

      Posted on 4:26:00 PM

       
    2. siddhartha Said,

      Hi I am owning an Electra 5s for the last one week. It’s a great feeling riding this machine. "Great", "Superb"are not enough to describe the thump you feel in your belly while you’re on..

      Posted on 2:09:00 AM

       
    3. sai Said,

      occassional snags like the tepid getting stuck

      Posted on 12:40:00 AM

       
    4. Jesse Said,

      Hey guys, planning to buy a new RE…….bit confused around T’bird and Electra….Please suggest.

      Posted on 11:36:00 PM

       
    5. jassi Said,

      This Bike is the king of the Indian Roads, very stylish bike, good speed, good power, good riding.

      Posted on 7:27:00 AM

       
    6. anannay Said,

      well i like to modifi my bullet standerd 350 cc 1993 model .is it will become legal can i get the renuval any one please help me.

      Posted on 8:18:00 AM

       
    7. Anonymous Said,

      Hi, If you want to ride a motorbike it should be a Bullet.
      I had a Bullet Deluxe-1995 model and it has served me without
      any problem until 2008 then I sold it because I was out of India.
      Now I am planninf to buy Bullet Electra 5S by November, 2010.

      Posted on 1:36:00 PM

       
    8. gautam Said,

      im not satisfied Royal Enfield Electra 5S, I have 5S fully loaded disc and Elect start, my bullet average is in city 21 Kmpl in city and highway is 24 to 29 Kmpl and hills 18 to 20 Kmpl and my bike has done 5500 Km in 45 days old, and my service is time to time and my speed limt in city only 45 to 50 Kmph only. but my bike sound is to high and vibration on all part, Royal enfield was drive since 2000 4S, 4S is imazing better den 5S really.............

      Posted on 2:47:00 PM

       
    9. neil Said,

      Found your comments on the bike to be very insightful. Thank you!

      I am a new owner of the Electra 5S and am attempting to calculate its annual maintenance cost. What would be a good estimate based on your experience?

      Posted on 7:40:00 AM

       

    Post a Comment

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