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Royal Enfields?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by MeltingDOg, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Hi all,

    So my quest to find the ever-so-rare, affordable, reliable, modern classic has lead me to Royal Enfield.

    I was wondering if anyone here had experience with these bikes (Electra, Bullet, C5)? Would you recommend them? Are they reliable? Would, say, a 500cc Bullet thumper be capable of making long trips with a pillion as well as being a daily rider?

    Any advice is appreciated!

    (ps: went to the local Triumph dealership with almost the full intention of buying a Bonnie. Honestly I was quite disappointed. Every thing that I liked about the older models - the metal guards, chrome lights, etc - have been replaced with plastic and APC. The wire spoke wheels are only now available on the 'Special Edition'. Am I the only one who likes metal anymore?)

  2. Mattb has an older RE and someone joined up in the just the last few days with one of the newer ones...

    Matt also has a W650 Kawasaki: if you hate plastic why not have a look at the W800??
  3. Yeah, W800, modern reliability and performance with old school looks and design.
    I reckon one would make a great second bike for cruisy rides in the country.
  4. Definitely look at the W800, I rode one a few weeks ago, it's a fantastic bike, all metal bits, rides beautifully and has massive after market support.
  5. Lowest priced W800 on bikesales has only a tick over 2,000 Kms at $8300. (New RRP is $11,990 ride away)
  6. I had a 2011 C5 in the military trim for a year, lovely bike if you don't mind the low top speed (~130ish). Only issues I had with mine over 5000kms were a slight oil leak from a bottom gasket, the battery was pretty rubbish for the first six months (either replace it or buy a trickle charger, ~$100ish), and a bolt came off the exhaust causing the muffler joiny bit to crack letting a little air into the exhaust that made a whup whup noise (all fixed under warranty). It's a gorgeous bike of you don't have the urge to speed, but still quite nimble up to ~$1.20. Considering I'm around 125kgs, the power was most acceptable.

    All that said, it was my first bike, so it's not really compared to anything else, as I've not ridden anything else.
  7. Gurba can I ask why you sold it? I was looking at getting the same model, the military. It looked quite decent in the new ride thread.
  8. The car I had was company car from my fathers' business, he sold the business and the car with it, so I was without. Just found only having a bike to be frustrating at times, and I didn't like the burden it put on others (read: girlfriend) to have to drive everywhere. So I had to sell the bike to finance a new car. I had intended to get another one a lot earlier but never got the money together. Honestly, I also got a bit bored, caught the bug of speed and wanted to go fast, which the Enfield isn't made for. You can read my bitchings in another thread called So I'm Not Sure Riding Is For Me or something along those lines. I honestly still think it's a great bike, but if I had my time over I would've gone something else, just to get the reckless speed out of the way before settling down to something slower.
  9. ahh fair enough
  10. Hi there! I've got a 2012 Bullet C5 Chrome. It's my first bike, and I think it's great. It's got a lot of character, turns a lot of heads, isn't too fast for a learner, but also has enough kick to keep up on faster roads. From a reliability perspective it's ok - It's done 6,300 km in about 4 months (I've been riding it a lot to get my skills up). The idle has started to get a little inconsistent when cold lately, but there's nothing that seems to be of great concern.

    I've got nothing to compare it to, but I do enjoy riding it. It's been quite comfortable on the longer rides I've taken it on, and there's a great group of people in the Royal Enfield club who are happy to help out (most of their bikes are older - Electra or earlier. Some of the older bikes seem to be a bit of a labour of love, but it means there's a lot of know-how amongst the club members). The Royal Enfield club gives free memberships to people buying Enfields from dealers, so there's that too.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, and I'll do my best to answer.
  11. Are you using the...the little lever thing on the...right? handlebar? the manual choke-thing? I found it essential for cold day start ups.

    :edit: the bi-starter I think it's called?
  12. #12 mattb, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
    The W650 / W800 not only looks better than the Triumph (I mean Thai-umph - don't pretend they're British-made) and is easier to service, but it definitely has more twin-cylinder character than the rather four-cylinder-feeling modern Bonneville. Open these pages each in a new tab to read this fascinating comparison of between a Hinckley Bonnie, a W650, and a Meriden Bonnie http://contemplativemotorcycling.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/bonnie-and-pretenders.html

    Regarding Bullets you're looking at four types and/or periods.

    1.British Bullets, which almost all 350cc. They can be quite reliable compared to the Iron-barrel and 2000s Bullets - the British didn't make that bad a bike. They typically cost a couple of grande, at least, more than their 500cc Indian counterparts. They are about 15kph slower.

    2.Iron-barrel Bullets, sometimes called Bullet Classic. This is what I have:
    They are the Bullet that was made in Chennai to British specifications, with British tools, largely unchanged till the turn of the century. The barrel is iron. The gear and brakes are on the British sides (as God intended them to be) with 1 up and 3 down. Kickstart only. Drum brakes. These are considered to be the worst period of quality control (however NB below re Electras) but I have been commuting daily on mine for a year and doing 300km long-duration stints on the weekend for a year with no reliability issues, and I'm hardly alone in that. I prefer these because it's the best way to get the British experience, and enables you to jump on other British bikes and ride intuitively. Such Bullets are happy doing about 70-75kph tops, though they can top 100kph but you wouldn't want to cruise there for long.

    3.Bullets from 2000 - 2009. This is the period when Enfield, now known (since a court case finished in 1995 for the rights to 'Royal') as Royal Enfield, focused on the improvement of their product for world export, and focused also on emissions, which means they began changing a lot of things. Alloy barrel (which has precedent as a performance item in the 1950s, and which disappates heat better), Japanese brake and gearbox set-up, and new engines such as the Electra, or Hellectra as numerous owners called them, as they stared at their blown-up motorcycles, for which there was no over-bore pistons available etc. There was also the Classic which was much the same as the old engine expect for the mentioned changes to the barrel, gears etc. A quite unreliable electric start was also introduced, which meant cases were reshaped which I don't like. But the Classic are more reliable, as according to some people are the Electras, and it appears that now Hitchcocks is making replacement parts to fix Electras. Still, I would choose a '90s or 2000s Classic over an Electra, but others would disagree. NB emissions strangled the bikes and redesigned the1950s exhausts spoiling the sound, but that's stuff that can be easily dealt with.

    4.UCE - Bullets of a better quality with newly designed Unit Construction Engine brought the model into the 1960s, with the reliability of say a 1980s Italian engine (ie not Japanese standards, but still quite livable unless you're unlucky). These are EFI, about which some early models had minor problems. But most of the problems with these bikes are negligible. Yanks have done 1600km days running the bike at 130kph and the engine has taken the challenge, and I've seen guys ride from Sydney to Broken Hill at the speed limit, two-up, no problem. The internet shows that they are standing the test of time, a few years in, as reliable and capable real world, light-weight, bikes. Watch out for the very early C5s as they had some handling problems above 100kph which resulted in a tweaked frame for the later ones. The UCE Bullets are light years ahead of the older bikes in terms of reliability and power. I strongly recommend a UCE over the earlier bikes for what you want (touring, commuting).

    If you buy an older Bullet, watch out for imports from India that cannot be registered here. Some claim to be older than they are, and historic rego scrutineers will not be fooled.

    Hitchcocks in England produces modern high spec parts for the whole Bullet range, including all the parts to make an engine very robust.




    There are Brisbane members of the Royal Enfield Club of Australia - it is $30 to join which means you could post up in the RECOA forums for a bike and get advice.

    The W650 / 800 is especially reliable even by Japanese standards and excellent for touring. It handles and accelerates like a superbike compared to the Bullet.

    The Bullet has more character than just about any bike out there, in my opinion, and will encourage you to slow down and smell the roses, which opens a new dimension to touring and commuting - I feel so chilled when I get about on my Bullet.
  13. Gurbachen - yep I do sometimes to start it, but I don't leave it on for too long, maybe that's what I should be doing? Leave it on while running for a few more minutes.
  14. If the problem is getting worse in summer then using choke is just covering the real problem. And this is especially so on an EFI bike. I'd have it looked at and search the US forum linked above.

    Hitchcocks sell carburetor conversion kits for the UCE if you ever decide there's some eradicable gremlin in there.
  15. Yep, I'm going to mention it to the guys who service the bike this week.
  16. Well if it's only-ish when cold like you said it's perfectly normal (from experience with my own). You need to hold it on until the revs smooth out, then when you let it off it'll idle normally. Provided there actually isn't anything wrong with it. Mine rarely did it on non-cold days so if it does do it on hot days too maybe something else is wrong.
  17. Thanks for all the advice guys! Gurbachen and milligna - how do you go living with the top speed? Currently I have a VTR250 which has a top speed of about 140. Ive never taken it that far but its great at overtaking - jumping up from 100 to 120 really easily. Is the RE capable of this? Also, is it possible to pillion on the highway?

  18. I didn't find it to be too big an issue, the bike was still pretty nimble and fast up to about 110-120, but obviously it wouldn't compare to a sports bike so I'm not sure how much worse it would be than your VT. The top speed of 130 was one of the reasons I ended up selling, though not the primary reason.
  19. It's not a bike you buy if you want to overtake anyone, in my opinion. I'm just happy to thump along at 100k on a freeway and enjoy the scenery. That said, I'm still a learner, and don't find myself on roads like that very often. It's got a good bit of pickup around the 70-80kmh mark which is good for overtaking on smaller roads if necessary.