Royal Enfield Classic 500 review

A new heart for the good ol’ Bullet

Picture this: You get ready for office and start your trusty old Bullet… or rather you try. A few score kicks later it does not respond. The bike really needs you to want it to start with your heart. With engine oil markings all over the place, it does not spare you the cost of consumables either. Now, these are things of the past.

In comparison, the new Royal Enfield Classic 500 is from a whole new world with the unitary construction engine, electronic fuel injection, self start and front disc brakes. This bike retains the character and charm of the old Bullet, but without the niggling hassles of owning one.

After 56 years, Royal Enfield has integrated technology with the same 1950’s styling the Bullet has always had. The Classic 500 comes with the British classic World War II look that gives it the unique charm.

It is available in 4 colors: Green, Maroon, Silver and Black

This bike uses a new aluminum unitary construction engine (UCE) which Royal Enfield had introduced a couple of years ago. The engine that was available in India was originally a 349 cc twinspark, and now Royal Enfield has increased the cubic capacity to 499 cc. The old cast iron engine had the gearbox and the clutch assemblies as separate units attached to the engine. The new UCE has integrated these within the common crankcase space, leading to a reduction in transmission loss and increased reliability. The new engine is euro IV compliant.

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 road test / review: Quick takes

  • Price: Rs. 1,30,276.00 ex showroom Delhi
  • 499 cc, 27.2 bhp, 41.3 Nm torque
  • Brake and gears on the ‘right’ side
  • Euro IV compliant
  • Mileage: 28 kmpl (as tested)

    Royal Enfield had launched the Classic 500 in November 2009. Currently there is a waiting period of three months and the price is Rs. 1,30,276.00 ex showroom Delhi. RE also has a Classic 350 variant, but that does not have the electronic fuel injection system.

    With 499 cc and 27.2 bhp, it does not feel short on power. In fact, the new electronic fuel injection system from Keihin Japan does a very good job of giving instant power with minor throttle inputs.

    The combination of the tyre size 90/90 in the front and 110/90 at the rear gives it excellent handling. This bike goes exactly where you point it. The disc brakes in the front are a God send, and those who’ve ridden Bullets will know why. You no longer have to plan your braking; one squeeze of the brake lever is enough to stop the Classic 500. Getting a self starter motor from Denso is a smart move by RE. It makes cold weather starts quite easy now.

    Once you start the bike and get on the road, you start getting used to the new thump rather than the old thump the Bullet used to have. Because of new emission norms and the new aluminum UCE the sound has changed a bit, but the bike still has its “don’t mess with me” character.

    The gear lever and brakes now are in the conventional position (brake on the right foot). The gear ratios are similar to the old Bullet, though it’s a five-speed, but because of increased throttle response you find yourself propelled from 0-60 kmph in no time. The Classic 500 is an all out highway cruiser bike. It is comfortable to cruise in the 80-100 kmph range although it can go up to 128 kmph when the need arises.

    The best thing about this bike is its off-road mannerisms, when faced with tough terrain. Although it is a heavy bike at 187 kgs kerb weight, it still delivers 41.3 Nm of torque, which is substantial to pull it out of tricky situations.

    We recently took the bike to Rajasthan and the Classic 500's performance around the sand dunes of Sam was outstanding. Royal Enfield has come out with a special off-roading exhaust (at an additional cost of Rs. 1,970 plus taxes), which not only adds style to the bike, but also gives it extra ground clearance.

    The Classic loves corners. You can actually lean the bike till the foot pegs almost scrape the asphalt and the MRF Zappers will not let you down. The vibrations are also a lot less as compared to the old cast iron engine, although there are some false neutral shifts between gears that can get a little annoying.

    The bike returns a mileage of 28 kmpl in city traffic and 34 kmpl on the highway. In stop and go traffic the engine tends to become hot and constant downshifting is a little tiring.

    Royal Enfield has kept the looks of the bike as retro and classic as possible. The instrument panel consists of a speedometer, an emergency fuel light and an engine malfunction light. The white background speedometer is similar to the original Bullet, but has a yellow glow when you switch on the lights. The speedo also incorporates the Neutral and turn indicator lights.

    As soon as you switch on the lights, you are greeted with “Royal Enfield” which glows in red on the panel, adding a bit of egotistic style to the bike. The handlebars are not sporty, but are at a comfortable level. The single-saddle seat has a good riding position, although it is a little hard and uncomfortable for long journeys. It does lend a lot of character to the bike. The switches on the handle bars are big and easy to operate.

    The Classic has the traditional tiger-eye 55/60 watt headlamp, which has always been powerful. The thigh pads on the fuel tank not only help in gripping the tank, but give the bike a retro look.

    The tail lamp cluster consists of an oval stop light and the number plate integrated on the mudguard. RE has painted the frame of the bike in the same color as the fuel tank. This gives the bike a clean look and the paint job is of good quality.

    The Royal Enfield Classic 500 is the true Indian all-weather, take it anywhere bike. It is sturdy, handles well and accelerates like a rocket. Even if you are not a Royal Enfield fan, after riding this bike you will realize that there is that something special about this bike.

    This bike takes the old heritage and culture of Royal Enfield and fuses it with the present. All things said and done, one thing remains the same  - “Everybody makes way for the Bullet.”

    Royal Enfield Classic 500: Technical Specifications

    Engine4 Stroke, air cooled, single cylinder, OHV, SI engine, fuel injection
    Capacity499 cc
    Bore84 mm
    Stroke90 mm
    Compression ratio8.5:1
    Max power27.2 BHP @ 5,250 rpm
    Max torque41.3 nm @ 4,000 rpm
    Engine oil capacity2.75 litres
    LubricationForced lubrication, wet sump
    ClutchWet multi-plate (7 plates)
    Primary driveDuplex chain
    Primary drive ratio2.15:1
    Gear boxConstant mesh 5-speed
    Gear ratios1st: 3.06:1
    2nd: 2.01:1
    3rd: 1.52:1
    4th: 1.21:1
    5th: 1:1
    Secondary drive (FD sprocket)18 teeth
    Final ratio2.11:1
    Length2160 mm
    Width800 mm
    Height1050 mm
    Wheel base1370 mm
    Saddle height800 mm
    Ground clearance135 mm
    Tank capacity13.5 litres
    Low fuel warning2.5 litres
    Front suspensionTelescopic, hydraulic damping stroke 130 mm
    Rear suspensionSwing arm with gas-filled shock absorbers, stroke 80 mm
    Front brakesHydraulic 280mm ventilated disc
    Rear brakes153mm single lead internal expanding
    Tyre size (front)90/90 -18” – 51P
    Tyre size (rear)110/90 -18” – 61P
    Kerb weight187 Kg
    Max pay load178 Kg

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  • Posted On:   Monday, 01 Nov 2010Source:   DWS Auto