It's a bird, it's a plane, noooo ...
It is the Royal Enfield Bullet.
Originally made in England
, with the motto "Built like a gun" (Enfield used to make firearms), It is the only long stroke single cylinder motorbike
that's still being made today with the same 40 year old design.
In India, before the advent of the Japanese rice rocket
s in the 80s there were just three bikes to choose from, namely
- The Czech two stroke Jawa - Pure simplicity in design
- The Yamaha RD350 - too fast for street use, it was a real man-killer
- The Enfield Bullet - The heavy dependable thumper
Those who wanted to stand apart always bit (and bought) the Bullet.
It had class and an old worldly
colonial charm that the others lacked
All the people who rode it had an aura of authority and class; The military
, the police
, the village sarpanch
, and the macho heroes in Indian movies
too.It was even referred to as 'Raja Gadi' ( Kings vehicle )
In the 1970s the English factory at Redditch packed up and quit, leaving the Indian factory still churning out bikes by the dozen, (un)faithfully replicating the original design. Somehow, through sheer good fortune
, the market for the Bullet didn't die even with the onslaught of Japanese 100 cc tiddlers which provided reliable, cheap, transport for the masses
In fact, one of the 100cc bikes, the Hero Honda
Splendor is the bike which has sold more numbers than any other in the history of motorcycling.
Somehow, the company thrived and ramped up, introducing new models and better styling, while retaining the original classic model unchanged.
Over the years, It began to evoke quite the same spirit as the Harley-Davidson
does in the west and there are organized groups of Bullet riders in almost every major Indian
city. Many westerners visiting India discover this vintage bike and can't wait to take one back home
Its appeal lies in its deep thumping exhaust, low end torque
and simple design
. Some people joke that it can be fixed with a hammer and screwdriver. And unlike the modern bikes where it begins and ends with the ride, with the Bullet, you're bound to get your hands greasy and tinker around. Once the Bullet bug has bitten, it becomes part of your life and you can't get it out of your head.
It's no speed demon
( 70 - 80 mph tops ) and the brakes and handling are nothing to write home about, but whether you're at the traffic lights, on the highway, or in the parking lot, it commands attention.
It's a living legend, Hooray for it...
350 or 500 cc single cylinder air cooled
4 stroke pushrod
engine, 2 valves
4 speed gearbox
with unique neutral finder mechanism ( jump to neutral from any gear )
Dry weight: 160 and 180 kg
Power : 18 and 22 bhp
Max speed : 110 and 125 km/h
(for 350 and 500 cc models respectively)
There's also a 325 cc diesel engined model, which I believe is the only diesel engined bike being manufactured and used today !!