Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Army

Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 test

Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 test

Robust design

Predictable handling

Suitable for everyday riding

Well finished

Ageless styling

The previous time I rode a Royal Enfield Bullet was 10 years ago. I remember it clearly as I ended up lying on a petrol station forecourt clutching my torn calf muscle as I writhed in agony.

I’d tried to kick start the Indian-built Pommie single a couple of times, and with each failed attempt I just became more frustrated, sinking the boot in (literally) harder and harder each time. Eventually the Bullet bit back, and down I went – as though I’d been shot in the leg.

Back then the venerable Bullet didn’t have electric start, or a unit construction gearbox, or fuel-injection, or a front brake that offered any form of respectable retardation. How times have changed.

The Bullet dates back to the ’30s, when the UK-built 500cc four-stroke single was used by the Indian army. So popular was the bike on the sub-continent, a factory was built in Madras – and the Bullet’s been produced there non-stop since 1955.

Unfortunately what was acceptable at 6000 metres in the Indian mountains or along unmade border tracks didn’t translate to what the rest of the world wanted in a motorcycle. That original four-speed gearbox was like putting your foot in a bucket full of jelly and ball bearings.

This history lesson is important for understanding just how much better the C5 is. A change of factory ownership in 1994 has seen investment in RD and quality control upped substantially, with the result being a motorcycle that is now a viable everyday steed – and one suitable for export markets.

My re-introduction to the Bullet came via the $8995 (plus ORC) C5 Classic, a Bullet with a front disc, electronic fuel-injection and electric start. Yep, 1930s meets 2010.

This latest Bullet is a fun ride. It’s learner-approved, will cruise on 110km/h, and has respectable handling that holds no nasty surprises. I can see it finding favour with ‘senior’ returnees to life on two wheels who desire a LAMS bike they can keep.

The Classic C5 test bike sported a solo ‘tractor’ saddle, which made luggage attachment impossible. However, a pillion pad and saddlebag option is available.

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Army

The latest Enfield is no arm-stretcher in the performance stakes, but all who rode the Bullet Classic C5 jumped off with a smile on their dial.

The Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 is well finished, has more steel than plastic and has a gearbox approaching Japanese standards. It still looks pretty much like the Bullet I rode 10 years ago, but believe me, they are worlds apart.

Check out for your piece of modern history.

Engine Single Cylinder, 4 Stroke, OHV, SI Engine, Air cooled, and Fuel Injection

Capacity 499cc

Bore x stroke 84 x 90mm

Compression ratio 8.5:1

Fuel system Electronic fuel injection

Transmission Five-speed

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Army
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Army
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Army
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