2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic Efi – Ride Review
Anybody who knows me knows that, I’m not that much inclined towards choppers and cruisers. Bullets have remained a bit out of my predilection, but at the same time I must admit that I had no solid ground to justify my behavior. The years of reviewing motorcycles has taught me to keep an open mind while looking towards a motorcycle because these two wheeled wonders never stop to amaze and surprise you and this was proved true when I reviewed the Apache RTR 180.
A similar opportunity came beckoning my way when my friend Raj came to meet me on his brand new 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic Efi, and surely I was for a big surprise.
Thumb the starter and the engine bangs to life with that classic, un-adulterated, Enfield Bullet note. At first, it might sound a little uncanny, but rev the engine and you start falling in love with it. It feels like you can keep on revving the bike all day long and still not get bored doing that.
The big 499cc power plant has a strong visual presence of it’s own and is complemented by it’s strong on road performance. My first doze of surprise came in the form of the clutch lever, which felt ultra light for the class of motorcycles the Bullet 500 Classic represents, which in my opinion is a very good thing for a mile muncher cruiser class motorcycle.
Engine – Air Cooled, four Stroke, single Cylinder, OHV,
Capacity – 499cc
Bore x Stroke – 84 x 90 mm
Compression Ratio – 8.5. 1
Induction – Fuel Injection
Ignition/Starting – Electronic Ignition/Self and Kick
Max Power – 27.2 hp @ 5250 rpm
Max Torque – 41.3 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Transmission / Drive – 5 Speed (left foot gear shift)/chain
Engage the first cog and I was in for my second doze of surprise on the bike. Even though the peak torque output of 41.3 Nm comes @ 4K rpms, there’s a meaty torque available at your dispense right from the word go. Just a slight flex of your left palm unleashes an immense package of torque and bike just leaps into motion.
Really I was not expecting this from such a heavy motorcycle and that also from a Bullet which is known for their relaxed character, but this was anything but relaxed. At the same time, the torque is so managed that I pulled the bike from as low as 11 kmph in fourth gear. Clearly it’s one torque happy the engine.
One should really tread through respect aboard on this motorcycle for sure.
Since the bike was new and was in it’s break in period, so didn’t push the bike beyond 40kmph in any gear, but boy the 499cc pounds the tarmac hard, real hard so to speak, a real thumper in it’s truest sense. Talking about the thump, it’s really an integral part of this package and you feel it all over you from the very first inch the bike moves.
So, if you are in for some feedback to you palms while you make a mockery of most of the moving objects on the road, then the Bullet 500 Classic is the machine for you. It’s attitude written all over it. It might just, that I found that the thump gave greater feedback to my palms at lower rpms, but as I climbed on the rpms, both the engine and the bike, smoothed out dramatically.
The gear shift was extemely smooth and precise and operated like a hot knife through a cube of butter. Again, this is very good sign, specially for a cruiser, as it’s again a key ingredient when it comes to long hauls.
The only thing which concerned me a bit was the hit. After the just a quick short ride, I could feel the heat of the engine up to my thighs (I was actually riding it in my bermudas. not a clever thing to do, but could just waste the opportunity in hand)
Ride and Handling
Well, with 187 kg of wet weight, the Bullet 500 Efi is one heavy block on two wheels in motion and no marks for guessing, the handling of the bike takes it’s toll. As for me, I wasn’t expecting much from it and therefore I guess I wasn’t dissapointed from it’s handling. It’s heavy, it’s a bullet, it’s not supposed to have razor sharp handling like the other cats of it’s species.
Front Suspension – Telescopic, Hydraulic Damping, Stroke 130 mm wheel travel
Rear Suspension – Swing Arm With Gas Shock Absorbers, Stroke 80 mm wheel travel
Front Brakes – Single 280mm disc
Rear Brakes – Foot operated, 153 mm drum
Front Tyre – 90/90 – 19
Rear Tyre – 120/80 – 18
Seat Height – 800 mm
Wet-Weight – 187 Kg
Fuel Capacity – 13.5 Litres
But that in no way means that it’s a sluggish mover and does not provide any feedback. The front and rear offer enough feedback to keep you interested and though heavy, with a little getting used to, I was able to happily negotiate through pot holes. Speaking of pot holes, I deliberately took the bike to some of the nasty ones, I was happily and leisurely negotiating them with a big grin across my face. My back and fore-arms were completely at peace.
Both the front and rear suspension have the ideal setting required for Indian roads and for curising.
The trade mark upright position, is very rider friendly and complements it’s macho look.
Since I knew how the bike’s gonna be handling, I didn’t complain the riding posture either, plus I was sure after riding it that it’s gonna be one hell of a commuter in the bumper to bumper traffic conditions. Another positive feature of the motorcycle from commuting perspective were the brakes. The 280mm disc up front and the 153mm drum back rear provide enough bite that’s needed in normal riding/commuting conditions.
But at the same time for doing high speed highway long hauls, I found the rear, tad soft for my taste and felt that it surely needed some adjustments.
The instrumentation is standard as is on any bullet. The fuel gauge is missing and as per the feedback from my friend, one has to be very watchful for the low fuel indicator, you miss it and you might find yourself manually dragging one heavy metal butt towards the gas station. The wiring and all are also neatly tucked along the handle bar and overall, there’s nothing much to complain about.
Quality and Reliability
The paint and finish is good, if not top notch, but at the same time, the pressure to keep the pricing down is also visible. The choice of plastic for the switches, the fitment of parts like the mirrors could have been better. But the thing that shocked me was the choice of battery that been plonked into this very premium Bullet.
The battery was already leaking fluid and corroding the bolts. I mean that’s blasphemy to say the least.
The Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic Efi, is easily the best and the most sophisticated Royal Enfield that has been made till date. If you have the kind of money and are a Bullet fan, then the Bullet 500 Classic Efi has been custom made for you. As per Indian norms (which make very less sense to me), the bike rolls out of the showroom with a mandatory saari guard and straight exhaust, but get the bike registered, unscrew the saari guard out of it’s pathetic existence, plonk in the upswept exhaust and fit the single bi-cycle seat, and you have an envious heavy duty Bullet to feel proud of.
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