Royal Enfield Classic 500 Test Ride Review
Royal Enfield Classic 500 – Click above for picture gallery
Bike tested: 2011 Royal Enfield Classic 500
Price OTR Mumbai: 1,50,600/-
If you delve deep into the history of Indian motorcycling, you are sure to come across the name of one such company that has delivered some of the most iconic and respected motorcycles. It is the “Royal Enfield”. I am sure giving any kind of introduction about this company is absolutely pointless so we come straight to the topic.
This company has launched the Classic 500 and the 350 and we decided to test the 500 to check out if this machine has the same vibrancy like the old icons and also does it make sense in the current Indian era.
Styling – The advent of many Japanese and European motorcycles in India in the past decade has changed the styling game of the industry. Bikes that used to look simple have grown to look mean, fast machines oozing performance from all their recesses and design cues. This bike, the Classic 500 however, is not worried about these changes of time and continues with its same design philosophy.
If you have seen the Bullets of the past, then you will agree that one look at this bike, and it looks no different than the earlier ones. The rounded headlamps, large fuel tank, magnificent wheel arches, rounded tail lamp all reflect the same retro design philosophy which can get you into a state of nostalgia (if you are a true bullet fan). So, the point that I am trying to make here is that you don’t start looking at this as a new bike but an evolution that has maintained the same genre of the past with a fusion of the present technology.
Performance – The Classic 500, as you can guess from the name itself, is propelled by a 499cc petrol engine that churns out 27.2 horses of raw power @ 5250 RPM and a meaty 41.3 Nm of torque @ 4000 RPM. One of the things worth mentioning before talking about performance is the engine. It’s a unique Unit Construction Unit, meaning the entire engine and gearbox is enclosed in one single casing.
This actually reduces the friction between all the movable parts, thus resulting in lower transmission losses. Thumb-up the bike to life and instantly the sound of the low thumping exhaust fills the air around you. It makes your heart do a travel across time with this musical exhaust as the background score.
This is due to its big bore (84 mm) and long stroke (90 mm) design and provides you with oodles of grunt.
Hop on to its single piece saddle and you start to feel like the “King of the Road”. Twist the throttle, rev the engine and you will notice the amazing co-ordination between the throttle and the engine thanks to its Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system (developed along with Keihin, Japan). It features a 5 speed constant mesh gearbox that is equally smooth both in up-shift and down-shift.
You can rev the engine hard and it won’t let you down. But it’s not meant for that. You just take it to your comfortable speed, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride while the bike is there to do the rest.
But don’t think it’s a piece of slow machine. It does a 0 to 60 km/h sprint in 4.5 seconds and goes all the way up to 130 km/h. Don’t think it’s a gas guzzler either. It returns a fuel economy average of around 30 kmpl under mixed driving conditions.
Now, that is a mind boggling mileage figure for a motorcycle of this stature!!
Handling – The moment you sit on the bike, you feel something different about this compared to the other Enfields. It’s the saddle height. The seat is positioned at 800 mm.
Quite low slung which makes you feel closer to the road and the machine. It has telescopic forks at the front and swing-arm with gas-filled shock absorbers at the rear to give you that classy ride comfort. The shock absorbers take good care of the bumps and potholes omnipresent on the Indian roads. The riding position is also fairly good.
It gives you a “lay back and enjoy” kind of feel while driving.
Along with Vepro of UK and Engines Engineering of Italy the Royal Enfield Engineers have designed a marvellous chassis. It has got the perfect weight distribution and doesn’t feel heavy at all even when you are putting the bike on and off the main-stand. Also, when you corner (not like a MotoGP cornering), the bike is planted on to the road with firm solidity. The bike has a kerb weight of 190 kg and somewhat helps this but at no point feels sluggish or unresponsive.
The brakes, 280 mm front disc and a 153 mm drum brake at the rear give you enough stopping power. Enfield Engineers, can we have a disc at the back too??
Instrument Cluster – The instrument cluster is nothing much to be talked about. No snazzy design or digital revolution here. It’s plain, simple and precise.
The speedometer located at the top which comes to your view first occupies most of the area. Below that on the left is the ignition key and on the right is the fuel level indicator and engine malfunction light. The speedo also houses the indicator signals, neutral gear indicator and the high beam light indicator.
Conclusion – Finally, just for 1.51 lakh, you get so much of good stuff. You get a piece of the technology and exquisite design of one of the iconic motorcycles on Indian soil and loads of nostalgia with it. It makes you feel like you have conquered a milestone of your life and you can proudly boast about it for the rest of your life.
With more and more stringent norms and consumer demands, it has incorporated many new electronic technologies but that has not changed the very heart and soul with which each bike rolls out from the Tiruvottiyur plant near Chennai.
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