The Royal Enfield Bike company folded up in England. But it found a home in India at Chennai where the Royal Enfield brand motorcycle is now manufactured. The company has been manufacturing the Royal Enfield bike for more than 50 years at their plant in South India. The basic model is the 350cc Bullet that has carved a niche for itself in the field of motorcycles.
The Royal Enfield bullet was introduced in India in the early fifties of the last century when the Indian government bought a large number of these bikes to patrol the border with the newly formed state of Pakistan. Subsequently the bike was given the licence to be made in India. Initially the bike was only assembled from CKD kits imported from England, but over the years the bike is now completely indianigised.
The basic model of the bike on the road is the 350 cc bullet. There is also a 500cc model available but its popularity is limited. The 350cc bullet is a rugged machine and is powered by a 4 stroke engine which churns out 18BHP. Most of the models available are with a kick start, though a self start version model the Thunderbird is now on the roads as well. The Royal Enfield bullet is a versatile bike and easy on maintenance, but not that economical as far as mileage is concerned. The bullet in comparison to the Japanese bikes like Honda and Suzuki, so easily available in India returns poor fuel economy figures.
The bullet starts easily with a soft firm push of the start lever with your foot. Place the bike on the stand and give a firm push to the starting lever with your leg and the the bike will start with a purr. The engine is smooth and the 4 stroke of the motor can be clearly made out as the bike engine pulsates. It is important to keep the bike properly tuned and have the battery in good condition. Once the bike starts ensure that the battery is charging from the meter on the front of the bike.
The bullet has a basic instrument cluster which is affixed to the front of the handle bar. It has a speedometer, odometer and fuel gauge with a battery meter for ease of reference. The seating of the bike is comfortable and the gear shifts are smooth. The bike has 4 gears with a separate lever that brings the bike to neutral. This is quite helpful in high density traffic conditions.
The hall mark of the bike is its ruggedness and stability. It is the only Indian Bike that can work its way up the Himalayas or the desert trails of Rajasthan. In addition, it has a solid built and hitting a pot hole at 70km an hour is no trouble for the rider and the bike. The bike revs smoothly and once you hit the highway it is very comfortable to ride. The bikes acceleration is not at par with the Japanese bikes, but it more than makes up with its stability and endurance. The bike can be ridden for a thousand miles from Mumbai to Delhi and it will be none the worse for it.
I for one have driven the Bullet for 30 years and can vouchsafe for the bikes reliability and ease of riding. It is definitely a machine that will last you a lifetime. Thank god the bike has not become obsolete and is alive and kicking in India.