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    Royal Enfield Bullet-The Indian Cult ?

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


    That’s what made me buy the CL500. This is my first bike in my life although I have ridden lot of bikes in past by borrowing from my friends including some high end Jap bikes and surely the Bullets.

    Something always troubled me for not having a bike. Bike in UK just didn’t made sense to me considering the limited driving time due to the weather conditions out there. In summers I used to see few Enfields down the Brighton (Madira Drive)road and I used to get flash backs from my old memories of riding Bullet in India. Time changed and I moved back to India. It all started with a trip to Shimla on a borrowed Electra in February 09.


    It was really cold, me and my friend from Bombay who had never been on a bike before in his life headed towards Shimla around 11pm. We were shivering with cold as we were not dressed for the occasion. Going through Chahal short cut and no one on the road at that time. We could hardly see any lights and it was pitch dark with only the thump giving us comfort and support that we will make it in one piece. Eventually we made it with a stop in the middle, I kept the thump going as we needed the light to collect the scattered dry leafs for a bonfire with our frozen hands. After a very long time I enjoyed the bright stars in the sky with pitch dark around us. In short, the small trip had me going(soul searching) and I felt as if the Bullet was our third metal friend.


    After a lapse, heard about the classic being launched in India. Went straight to the dealer to Inquire. Took a TR of a CL350 and booked it there and then. After few days and tempted by the fellow members on here, took a TR of 500 and changed by booking to 500.

     

    First impression :

    Nicely put together and well composed. Retro looks and new technology fused together. Very well executed design. Muted thump helps your ears at three figure speeds. Paint work does leaves a lot to be desired. After riding a CL500 you don’t want to ride any other Bullet, leave alone any other fuel starving bikes. Put the key in, you hear the fuel pump prime for 4 seconds. Red light goes off, you crank and the beast comes to life.



    Engine/Performance :


    C5 is a Indian version of a mid-range revving thumper. Always starts at first crank. Takes about a minute or two before the Decompression stops lifting the valve after 700RPM when the engine warms up and crosses the threshold. Idle is set to 1000-1050RPM. Idles beautifully with a bit of noise from tappets. This engine wants to be abused. I find it hard to ride under 60Km/hr. The torque is lovely jubly and very addictive. But don’t expect rocket like propulsion.

    Please for love of God, do not expect UCE engine to perform in terms of quietness and the ability to lug at slow speeds. You need a helmet at all times to get away from the chitter chatter going on in the engine to enjoy the ride although with a upswept, things get better.

    When I see a open road, my heart jumps a bit and I go for a muted gallop. With my inexpensive Ninja helmet half open and me smiling like a kid with increasing air pressure generated by the wind reminding me of reaching 100 as it tries to lift off my face. I stop and transform my helmet back into one piece to go past 100 and settle at a cruising speed of 110. On this bull it’s not how fast you reach 100 but the way it takes you there. The best part is how she pulls from 80-120 with some juice left, all you need is a straight and empty road. She can do 100 all day long. You feel all the 27.2 horses galloping in a sync. On a std bullet, you would be rattling your tail off or perhaps churning milk into butter at 100+. Praying at the same time for early radar warning of any movable approaching hazard in your way.


    I have faced no overheating or a missed beat so far.

    For lads who might be keen to know the
    KM/L figures;
    During initial 500km+ I got 28km/L
    Settled down to 32km/L+ after 2000km
    Since it got cold out here, plugs turning out black. RE is unable to sort out if its running rich or else. Consumption has come down to 22Km/L.

    The engine requires nothing off you except oil change at 500km which I highly recommend, then at 6000km.
    I had a issue of oil leak from the kick shaft which on second attempt after replacing the oil seal and plate, vanished. Not a drop of oil from anywhere since then.

    There is some issue with the plugs turning out black which the RE is working on it. Its happening only up North as far as I know according to RE. Due to the cold weather and plugs meant for warmer climate. They will be replacing the plugs soon and I got mine. Upon changing, it turns out that plugs are not at fault but something else. Mystery continues while RE has failed to address the problem so far.
    In short, engine is a gem. Fitted with a Keihin EFI system and a DENSO (made in Japan) electric starter, CL350 has a Indian made ES. EFI system is same as on exported models except the absence of Lamda sensor due to cost reasons as it needs a expensive CAT.

    A cute little fuel pump resides under the left bank on the fuel tank, maintaining 295 Kpa all day long.

    With a upgraded ECU and possibility of a bigger piston this bull has some potential in tuning.

      
    Gearbox :
     
    Notchy at first with lot of false neutral but things improve drastically after first service. By now I have mastered in finding neutral between every gear on demand. I find the gear ratio’s to be quite tuned with the engine. But there is excessive play in the gear lever to my liking. With 7 plate heavy duty clutch plates, things can hardly go wrong.

    Although
    advisable in the morning to depress the clutch lever and hold it while turning the kick twice until it disengages with movement of the piston. It’s to avoid any jerks you might face after shifting into first gear.


    For those who like to use the kick rather then the electric starter(RE recommends to use ES in the mornings)- There is a certain way to do it effectively and some people might be using the method already if they are not new to the family.

    Put the key to on position, wait till the red light goes off. Now gently push the kick lever till the bottom and hold till you hear the fuel pump stops priming(as you would be doing on a std RE using the de comp). Press and hold the choke, bring the kick to 30° angle(just a bit above the silencer). Without twisting the accelerator, depress the kick and your bull should come to life. You are just transferring you starting skills from your older bull(with manual de comp with amp meter) to new CL. Just imagine starting the bull without an amp meter. It’s same old charm and style in totally new engine. I Just love it. It might take some time for some to master it if you are new to the family.


    Handling :

    It holds quite well around the bends. Feels highly unstable above 90km/hr. It’s like a locomotive engine on track without suspension. Quite comfortable at slow speeds. Suspension absorbs most of the potholes but 19 inches could have helped at the cost of maneuverability as I feel with size 18 it’s quite agile. Front disc brake is very effective but comes with some dive characteristics as standard which is essential for safe braking or else increasing the chances of skidding. Rear does not sway out on hard rear braking as it would normally do on previous bulls.

    In short the whole package inspires confidence in driving with the speeds it can achieve. You can ride the bike like any normal bike without worrying to plan every move for the traffic ahead.


    Only thing this bike lags is the stability at high speeds. I wish it could gulp the rough roads the way RD350 does at 100.


    The standard rear tyre 110/90/18(MRF Zapper Q) has poor grip on slushy roads. Even going straight at low speeds I was shocked by the sudden loss of grip and had my mouthful.


    Front tyre (MRF Zapper FS 90/90/18) has quite good grip to my liking. I have done some emergency stops at three figure speeds and not once did it failed to stop or loose traction.


    All though my latest experiment with tyre pressure has given fruitful results and to quite a extent solved the problem of unstable behavior at speeds above 80. I feel the recommended tyre pressure for CL5 is way to high. Now I am quite happy with front at 20 and rear at 22 PSI.(without pillion rider)



    Comfort :

    Quite frankly I can attain the beauty of Baboon’s bottom without going under a knife. All I need is patience and dedication to withstand the onslaught of ever increasing numbing pain. After an hour of drive, it becomes unbearable and demands you to pullover and scream in agony or laugh like your are on crack. Just to ease your body tissue. Thats a combination of a short handle and raised seat with not much of back support.

    Going for a bigger handle will not help much as the seating position is still high. If a bit of raised cushioning is done on the seat then things might improve. Short handle on this bike inspires more confidence then it would do with a bigger one so only thing I would ever mess around would be the seat. But if I just want to tour on this bike then personally I would get the machismo handle and re-fabricate the whole seat without the springs.

    Not for touring to be honest without doing modification to the seat and replacing handle.


    Electrical's :


    Switches are positioned well. Looks like they are picked straight from the Machismo.
    Headlight is quite powerful in low/high beam. Horn is pathetic and of poor quality, made by Minda. A descent horn by Bosch would have been much better. Alternator provides enough juice to charge the 12v 14amp battery and power the rest of electrical' s.

    There is no detailed mentioning of the fuses in the manual or in the box where all electrical’s reside. Why RE thinks that we as customers would be least bothered to know which fuse is for which electrical part is beyond my understanding. If big car giants can provide such a simple detail on the fuse box they RE cant. I would have preferred a sticker in the box indicating the designation of the fuses.

    ECU is by Keihin and a world-class product.

    There is a blank wire provided to check for fault codes incase of emergency. All though the ecu does self diagnoses on start up but to pin point the fault, it comes handy. The wire needs to be earthed to read the faulty code. I have not tried it so please try at your own risk and do not blame me for fried electrical’s later on.

    There are to major components in the electrical department if either of one gets kaput then we would need a trailer to haul it to the nearest RE workshop. It wont limp with them sensor dying on us.

    1.Pulsar coil which resides near the magneto inside the RH chamber.(It never brakes down and not a single complaint since the TBTS or UCE350 was launched)
    2.Tilt sensor which resides under the front seat. Although it can be bypassed.

    Tilt sensor gets activated and switches off the engine when one runs out of luck on a rainy/oil patched road. After reconciling with crashed/bruised ego and by the time you rekindle your emotions to get going again, you would need a 1.3minute silence after switching off the ignition switch. Only then you would be allowed to put the life back into the bull.
     

    Paint job :

    Done a good job but lot has left to be desired. It looses it’s shine after the wax(courtesy your dealer) is washed off in couple of washes. The ugly rust appears giving you some hibri jibri’s. The most common places I have seen the rust appearing on few CL is the tube under the front seat where the pillion seat is bolted on to. The side/center stand. On the welding joint's on the swing-arm and the where chassis holds the bottom part of the engine. I am really shocked and distressed to have this issue on my bike and feel sorry for the new owners who will have the same problem.

    There is a small issue(design flaw) with the fuel tank mounting plates which further creates paint cracking problems. The plates at the rear of the tank are too thin and of a very old design. Resulting in cracking of paint(rusting to be followed) when the bolt is tightened. The plates flex as they are too thin. The suggestion I have provided to RE is that to thickened the plates and provide a rubber between the plates and the chassis to absorb the torque on tightening.

    Common sense doesn’t prevails with RE and shows the callous attitude of the company on improving things.







    Some Issues/Flaws :

    1. As mentioned above about the poor design of the plates on the tank which also inherits another problem on CL5. I have observed some strange noises when you get to the reserve fuel level, noises from the engine resonates in to the tank and adds few more decibels to the existing chitter chatter (rock band) live concert happening at the very moment. It’s really annoying even with a full faced helmet.

    These noises really irritate me and the solution to that is very simple.

    Solution-Add rubber rings between the plates of the tank and chassis. Keep fuel more then 6 Liters.

    2. Front fork sleeve scuffing is due to poor workmanship. All it needs is some spacer to be inserted from down which would align the sleeve with the fork as to get equal clearance throughout and then tighten the sleeves. Since I did mine, it has stopped scuffing but damage has been done with the deep scars on the fork.

    I heard RE is designing a shorter sleeve to overcome this issues but that remains to be seen.


    3. Now this is a serious one- If you look carefully inside the Air Filter box(only on CL5), you will observe the air circulates all over the box before entering the intake hose. Air filter is not directly bolted on to the intake as in Electra. Now the problem arrises due to exposed area(specially the hinge where it has gaps and no seal is provided to cover it) inside the box where it sucks in mud and water from outside and mixes with the clean air coming from the filter. Which is fed straight into the engine. Now imagine the engine trying to breath with dusty air and how long will it last considering the dust environment in India and the monsoons.
     
     




    Solution- My temporary solution for now until RE re-designs the box or provide the same filter box as on the export models, is to get the hinge(on Air filter box) laminated from outside.

    I have done it and it’s very effective. If anyone thinks it’s nothing to be worried for then open your’s just after a ride on a dusty road. 
     
    4. This is serious too- Some TBTS owners might share my feelings on this issue as I believe they face the same. It’s to do with the rear brake pedal design. The pipe itself is too thick and specially on CL5 with 18inch tyre in front things don’t get better but a bit better on CL350 with 19 in front.

    The issue is only while riding up/down hills. Just imagine yourself negotiating through some deep bend with descent speed and suddenly you have to brake and you hit the B pedal. You will get shock of your life(if you have not experienced earlier) when the pedal will bounce back with a judder, no brakes cause you will be scared to press again avoiding the front brake while controlling your balance to avoid hitting something in front or doing a batman stunt down the cliff.


    Cause-
    The brake pedal is to low and touches on the road on a sharp turn
     
    Solution-RE needs to design either a slimmer brake pedal lever or relocate it in a different way 

    5. Black smoke on cold startups- More I try to find out the reason, more confused I get. So far the theory according to RE engineers goes as-

    First lot of engineers-
    Its due to mapping as the engine is running rich and we have called a team from Italy who are working on a re-map.

    Second lot of engineers-
    Sir, it’s due to wrong temperature range plugs. We are talking with the plug supplier to get you one with a new set of plugs for colder weather.

    Third lot-
    Actually it’s normal for a bike to emit black smoke in colder weather. We have seen people in Punjab not using the By-starter(choke) and you should use the choke for at least 3 minutes to warm up. (Me)Hang on mate, have I payed all this money for a petrol engine which wants to behave like a diesel engine? (RE Engineer) Silence of death, no words come out.

    This time I was really irritated and if they are unable to resolve this issue on my bike then probably I’ll ask for a refund.


    Cause-Unknown
     
    Solution-Not insight

                                                                 State of the plug



    6. Oil leak from Kick shaft seal- Mine started leaking at 200km, got it changed and started leaking the next day. Finally after changing the plate with the seal on second time. It stopped. I have seen it on few bikes so far with same oil leak. It goes unnoticed due to the fact that mechanic tells you it’s the oil from the chain. No body bothers later on and the leak continues until one fine day...

    7. Whining noise from LH side chamber(broken chain tensioner)- Noticed the noise around 3200km, upon inspection it turned out to be a broken chain tensioner. Waited 5 days for the part as they never had a problem with TBTS so never bothered having the part. After fitting the new tensioner, noise returns after 60km. On inspection nothing serious or broken except chain has hardly or no play at all. Chain replaced, noise goes away. Within 15km ride it haunts me back. On inspection the chain is to tight, virtually no play at all.

    Cause-
    known at first but now unknown
     
    Solution- Still trying to figure it out, whats going wrong.

    Hardly any parts are available at the workshop. Even for a small part you got to wait for ages before you can get things sorted. RE should have stocked the workshop with bare essentials to save us from harassment at their end. But they are trying and evolving at the same time so I hope things will improve for all of us in future.

     
    So far I had problems and some still exist and new ones emerging but I never though after 2 months of owning after all this I’ll feel the same as the day I first got her. Every morning I get up just to ride her. While some people are shivering in cold and finding an excuse to stay home and here it’s me thinking to take the longest empty stretch to my un-known destination. I feel as if she has possessed me, I can stare at her all day long. My folks are pointing me towards the signs of mid-life crises which I have a long way to go. This bike has delivered the qualities( still things need to be improved) I always wanted in a Bullet but never had before. I have Christened her Anastassia- AKA- Nastia and hope to ride her from dusk till dawn. The story continues...
    Note : Royal Enfield Classic 500 Ownership Review is prepared after running 4100 kms !!
    (Riders report by Randhawa)  

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    6 comments
    1. navpreet Said,

      Sorry to say this but, almost every C5 owner is reporting high speed instability. This is an issue that needs to be solved by RE on a priority basis before people start losing lives. And this isn't just on the domestic C5s, the export versions also have some high speed stability issues, which while not as pronounced as the domestic ones as the export versions have way better rubber, is still a niggling issue. This is in sharp contrast to my LB500 or most of the CIs I have ridden, which were rock solid at 120+ also.

      Posted on 6:25:00 PM

       
    2. Saurabh vats Said,

      This so called "Bullet Classic" is a SHAME and disgrace to the fair name of RE and Bullet. Look guys get real please, a Bullet is NOT a Bullet unless it has CI engine, 4-speed RIGHT side gear shift,Neutral lever and Contact Break Ignition.
      Basically RE has just introduced a new model like they have over the years (and which have gone kaput after ppl realize the above fact).
      After huffing and puffing for years that the Machismo was "the ultimate collectors item" we know now what has happened to it! I am sorry to say that I predict the death of this as well in a shorter space of time. And what the about the atrocious pricing (in these times of rampant inflation and galloping recession???)
      If they think that this so called modern vintage of a bike can replace the REAL deal (Standard 350) then they are seriously mistaken, and have lost the plot! RE has done a great disservice to itself and to the world by discontinuing its mascot of the last 50-odd years, and it will likely spell its final ruination -mark my words!
      RE has replaced its British soul with this half Japanese trash. They have tried to please too many people and authorities while forgetting the very people who have made them so popular (true blue Indian bulleteers since 1955) -- if anyone thinks otherwise, ask any army jawan worth his salt if he would ever ride this rubbish instead of the real thumper ... the Standard 350 Thumper

      Posted on 7:45:00 AM

       
    3. I agree Bullet needs much more consideration for its qaulity cause when i watched closely the Classic new model i found the weilding very prominent and with bad finish, naked wires coming out near the tool box. Finish of chrome on spokes gets very very dull after few mths.Quality is extremely imp besides other aspects.Why not twin cylinders with broader tyers to give more macho look ???????? what's stopping bullet from launching the same????

      Posted on 7:48:00 AM

       
    4. 1. Yes there is something about stability after about 100km/hr. I am not sure why but the bike starts wobbling sometimes. I was lucky once.

      2. Engine problem, the bike won't start in Monsoon. If it starts then it will turn off in 1-2kms. You have to let it warm up for like 5min.

      3. Rusting already ? ... I paid so much for this ?

      The workmen at service station consider C500 as just another bullet and apply same level of carelessness.

      Posted on 3:22:00 AM

       
    5. Sukla Said,

      I believe due to lack of % of air intake as tefflon coating may be blocking air inflow in air filter cover the bull is not getting enough oxygen for burning and hence the black plug . I have ridden a bull old std for many years and have resolved many problems myself.

      Posted on 2:27:00 PM

       
    6. sirdeep Said,

      @sukla thanks for the information !!

      Posted on 9:00:00 AM

       

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