From . Winston, OR
I Ride . Nighthawk S 700, Royal Enfield Bullet 500
The history is pretty detailed. I left out most of it because it was already pretty long. But for those who may be interested, here are a few details about it. I’ll just skim over the highlights.
The Bullet dates back to 1931. Before that, George Townshend started a manufacturing company in 1851 in a village called Hunt End, near Redditch, in England. He first started making needles, then branched out into other things. They were located very close to the Enfield Armoury, and they eventually started making parts for Enfield rifles for the Armoury.
They changed their name to Enfield Manufacturing in 1892. They added ‘Royal’ a short time later, after receiving an award from the crown for services to country or something like that.
They began making bicycles, and later ‘motorized bicycles’. Their first motorcycle was made in 1900. A four-valve single was introduced in 1931, and it was given the name Bullet in 1932. It went through various changes over the years.
A new version of the Bullet was released in 1949, and that’s the one today’s Bullet is directly descended from. It was initially a 350, and the 500 was introduced a few years later.
In 1949, the Indian Army wanted a motorcycle to use in the mountains around Pakistan. They chose the Bullet. The first order was filled and they were happy with the bikes.
A following order was too large for the factory in Redditch to fill, so they built a factory in Madras (now Chennai). The original plan was that Redditch would send them bikes that were already manufactured, all they had to do in India was the final assembly. But this still wasn’t enough to meet the military’s demand for the bikes, and they also wanted them to be built in India.
So they expanded the plant there and stocked it with the machinery and tooling purchased from Redditch that they would need to manufacture the bikes themselves. Then the entire Indian factory team was sent to Redditch, where they were trained one-on-one at the factory on how to manufacture the bikes exactly like the parent factory did. They went back to India to start making their bikes, and they’ve been going ever since.
The parent factory in Redditch folded in 1970, but the India factory was doing fine with their civilian sales and just kept going.
They have always been built by hand, no automation, the way they were trained in Redditch in the 1950s. This was true up until today (things are different now with the new EFI models). They started importing them into the U.S. in 1998. The 350 was sold in the U.S. for a few years, but lack of sales made them stop importing it.
The 500 was the better seller.
Royal Enfield has the distinction of being the oldest name in motorcyles still going today, and the Bullet is the oldest model in history that’s still in production.
So that’s basically how it ended up being made in India. There are a lot more details that I can’t cover here, but that’s a basic timeline. But there’s a lot more to it than just being a cool-looking bike. It’s not a modern bike by any means (not counting the new EFI models).
It’s an old design that goes back to the early days of the British motorcycle industry, and it has a long history behind it.
Here are a few more shots I took just today at our local bike night.
- ROYAL ENFIELD MOTORCYCLES
- Royal Enfield Electra Twinspark – Bharath Autos – Automobile News Updates
- 2009 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic C5 Road Test Rider Magazine
- Bullet The City Streets ROYAL ENFIELD MOTORCYCLES
- New Royal Enfield Bullet Electra 5s How To Make & Do Everything!