EnfieldMotorcycles.in is the blog for all Royal Enfield enthusiast where we live, breathe, and eat Royal Enfield Bullet . We not only keep you informed of the news about Royal Enfield originals, but also give custom bikes and historical bikes a lot of attention. You can also find with us the best Enfield related movies and crazy stunts etc. We are testing and reviewing new models of which a complete relief will be shown on our site. Finally, we have technical tips, for example, how to properly get engine through the winter.
  • Read more
  • classic 500 review

    A comprehensive Road test done by Zigwheels

    Cleaning your Royal Enfield

    article about cleaning and maintaining your royal enfield

    EFI Made Easy

    Everything you need to know to take care of the new EFI system

    Royal Enfield Bullet-The Indian Cult ?

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

    Royal enfield 250 Continental GT

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Purchased as a pile of of boxes, it took a couple of months to reconstruct the 1967 250 Continental GT. I'd paid a fair whack and was much relieved to find the owner's claims to have refurbished most of the machine turned out to be true. Royal Enfield's single cylinder 248cc OHV motor was a gem for its time. Being short of stroke (70x65mm), high of compression ratio (9.5:1) and reasonable in delivery of horses (21hp at 7500rpm) made it a fast bike for its day and still one capable of confounding car owners in town.

    Apart from a few missing chassis parts, that were easily cobbled together from bits in my garage, the rebuild was the kind of easy job that anyone who has worked on bikes for a while could contemplate. The motor came as a complete unit and was not stripped down, I figured that there was no point repeating someone else's work. Even the paint had been done (bright red on black), so it was really just a spanner job on my part.

    The engine refused to start for a while. I checked the obvious things to no avail. The spark was there, strong and blue. The swept back exhaust has to be removed to access the points. The ignition timing was miles out. Once I set this up the engine started making encouraging noises when kicked over but only finally made it into full life when push started up the road.

    You could tell that the bike was a sixties relic straight away. The noise out of the apparently straight through exhaust was about as anti-social as you can get, short of lobbing grenades into neighbour's gardens. What a glorious racket. I could just about hear another racket coming from the cylinder head. This was much diminished once I'd reset the valve clearances.

    Starting was always a problem. There was no choke, but the carb had to be flooded until fuel was running all over the engine. After freeing the clutch, it needed about eight to ten kicks before agreeing to burst into life. Every so often the engine would give an almighty kickback. The force was strong enough to break an ankle if you did not know what you were doing or could launch the rider off the bike. I often fancied I might end up zooming through the air, a human missile that would splatter down on the neighbour's glass conservatory! The latter shook violently whenever I blipped the throttle to keep the engine running whilst it took five to ten minutes to fully warm up.

    With an appropriately large grin, I climbed on board. The gearbox proved rather finicky. Initially, the lever had a short, precise throw that was a pleasure to use. As the engine warmed up, though, the change became very crunchy, especially on the fourth to fifth change, with the lower gear often doing a disappearing act. Second to third there was a large gap in ratios, but third to fourth, and fourth to fifth, were much closer, so it was possible to ignore fourth gear altogether. Neutral often proved impossible to find and as the miles wore on the bike would often slip out of third gear as well.

    The cafe racer riding position took its toll on my back and arms, but the bike was delightfully easy to swing through the bends. The low seat height and short travel suspension meant the centre of gravity was very low. Taut suspension and less than 300lbs of metal meant it felt more like a 125 than a modern 250. The engine growled ominously at low revs, buzzing all the way up to 8000rpm in the lower gears.

    Riding the bike in isolation it felt fast and furious, but in reality even something as mundane as a Superdream 250 would leave it standing on acceleration. Top speed was a filling loosening 85mph (on the clock), a practical cruising speed only 65 to 70mph. The bike was hopeless as an out of town cruiser and using a motorway was only viable as a means of suicide. Luckily, where I lived access to decent B roads is almost immediate.

    The engine rewarded thrashing by throwing out huge quantities of oil. At lower revs oil leaks were much more moderate as Enfield had fitted a complex series of engine breathers to take some of the truth out of their Royal Oilfield nickname. Waves of heat came up off the engine when the full power was used, I had to change the oil every 400 miles. A careful check had to be kept on the ignition timing as it would often retard, causing the exhaust downpipe to glow red hot! This may have been the poor quality of the points (probably patterns) or just the fierce vibes....whatever, stripping off the exhaust every couple of hundred miles did not endear the bike to me. I once had the timing go off after doing 120 miles on a sunny afternoon. I wasn't even thrashing the machine, just enjoying myself burning along at 50 to 60mph down deserted back roads. I had to grapple with a red hot exhaust with predictable results. When the exhaust flange stripped its thread I was even less amused. Fixed with that good old standby, Araldite.

    Admittedly, the bike never broke down to the extent that I had to call on the AA. Old British bikes were designed with roadside repairs in mind. The GT even had an emergency ignition system which would allow you to start the machine with a dead battery. The cynical might remark that this is merely because the electrical system was so unreliable. The ignition switch, with a laughably unsophisticated key, did manage to fall off. I didn't even know about it as the switch hung there still attached to its wires.

    The Conti had quaint SLS drums at each end. They were quite fierce stoppers from 30mph, but used from higher speeds they rapidly overheated, causing very bad fade. It's no joke to find retardation suddenly disappearing. As using engine braking when downchanging rapidly usually caused the gearbox to erupt into a series of false neutrals (and some horrible noises), I soon found that it was possible to muscle the bike around intractable obstacles.

    I had some very close encounters with cagers. I once had the delightful experience of seeing a Metro driver clutching his heart as he had edged his car out into the road assuming I would have the sense to slam on my brakes. I did, but after the initial bite the braking just disappeared. To the car driver it seemed as if I'd suddenly speeded up. There was just enough space between the Metro and oncoming traffic into which to violently swing the Conti, but it was a very close thing. I bounced past him, catching his panicked eyes and spasmodically jerking body.

    Doubtless, some knowledgeable reader will know of an obscure cure for this braking malaise, involving strange combinations of brake shoe and lining materials, but the lack of effective braking did much to diminish the enjoyment of riding the Enfield. As did the knowledge that the 6V lights put out only enough illumination to serve as a vague warning to oncoming vehicles....using more than 5000 revs caused everything electrical to blow, though I never did work out if this was due to the frenzied vibes or the Lucas alternator and rectifier putting out too many volts.

    The result of these problems and a few other minor quibbles was that in three years I only did 4600 miles. My Japanese roadster, by way of contrast, clocked up 65000 miles in that same period. As a practical means of transport there was just no contest. I will admit that on sunny days when the bike was running well I did come back home with a large grin on my face. The RE goes around country bends like nothing else I've tried, makes a magnificent noise and is just about fast enough to keep you from dozing off. Despite its low mileage and relatively mild use, the engine exhibited a couple of problems that are common to the breed. After a year and a half, the oil ring on the piston went, giving the machine a two stroke like appearance whenever revs went above 3000rpm. The piston only lasted 2000 miles after that - I was forced to fit a Crusader piston as the GT item was unavailable at any price. This made starting slightly easier but reduced top speed to under 80mph. New parts are extremely expensive, on a par with Japanese bits. And the gearbox finally went so bad I had to pay someone to fix it. £200 poorer it's still not perfect, being very heavy in action, but it doesn't slip out of gears too frequently.

    Good points were fuel economy of 75 to 95mpg, long lasting consumables, handling and the stunning appearance. That doesn't add up to a lot, but then anyone who expects an excess of practicality, or god forbid speed, from an old British bike has their head buried in the sand. Even though classic prices have nose-dived I'd still make a fair profit if I sold the bike, whereas my Japanese machine is now worth next to nothing. Which just goes to show how curious is the classic scene

    RIDER'S REPORT BY - Thomas Hill

    Related Posts by categories


    Post a Comment

    Show your Love for Royal Enfield !!

    classic 500 review

    A comprehensive Road test done by Zigwheels covering each and every aspect.

    Cleaning your Royal Enfield

    An exhaustive article about cleaning and maintaining your royal enfield !!

    Interesting articles

    Read interesting posts on Royal enfield motorcycles

    Used motorcycles buying tips

    A detailed article on buying Used Royal Enfield a must read..

    EFI Made Easy

    Everything you need to know to take care of the system on your new EFI Royal Enfield in one short article.