Royal Enfield Classic 500: Thanks for giving it back

Royal Enfield names their motorcycles with different names but here each and every model is called the “bullet” and the name rightly suits the bikes. Royal Enfield in India has a very special place. No matter how new models Royal Enfield get into the market place all of them retains the genes of the Bullet. And the Royal Enfield Classic 500 comes closest to the heroic character. Bullet was a bike that was meant for males who had no problem greasing their jeans and were ready to carry leaking engine all over the place with nothing to regret. This was all changed when Royal Enfield brought in the old yet new Classic 500 with engine that’s run with latest technology.

It was November 4, 2009 when company announced the return of the classic. Its very challenging to get a bike that looks coming from the fifties but at the same time carries advanced engine. The romance of the fifties with latest engine development brought the Classic 500. 500 in 2008 was introduced to the European market and preceding year in India. To make the ride suit most in India, company brought the 350 version of the Classic in addition to the 500.

The design

The Royal Enfield Classic 500 is powered by a 500cc single cylinder engine, this sounds normal but the refined engine is added with lots of technological goodies. Its 500cc engine is Unit Construction Engine (UCE) that depends on fuel injection rather than a carburetor. UCE means there is an integrated assembly for gearbox, clutch and the engine, this reduces the friction happening from movable parts and this lowers the transmission losses. To retain its classic look the engine looks borrowed from the post World War II period, but it uses the latest technology. The engine is with electronic fuel injection system that keeps working on to get the best possible mixture of air and fuel depending on ride condition and speed levels. Thus the Royal Enfield Classic 500 is in its best mode at the cruising speed of 100kmph without worrying for fuel efficiency.

The looks and the styling of the Royal Enfield Classic 500 in India cues to the J2 a Royal Enfield model from the early fifties. Also the classic green colour on the 500 reminds highest development in the British motorcycling era. According to the company the green colour also reflects company’s commitment towards greener environment.

Every single detailing from its well design front and rear fenders, exhausts fins, oval tool, its fuel tank, headlight cap to its split seats spring saddled, every thing seems taken from post World War II period. And if not its body frame, air-cooled engine and body paints confirms that the ride is surly a classic to roam around in the 21 century.

When Royal Enfield brought the Thunderbird it gave vibes that the company is moving away from its original design. But with the launch of the Royal Enfield Classic 500 in India we all got our Bullet back.

Engine and Performance

The note coming out from the Thunderbird doesn’t feels like an Enfield but the Classic 500 gets its voice back and it sound is comparable to those coming from iron cast engines. This means the model is a justice to the Royal Enfield character. The ride looks and sounds to be coming from the fifties, but underneath its lot more than that.

It completely new 499cc fuel injected UCE generates 27.2 bhp @5250 rpm and churns out 4.21 kgm @4000rpm. The engine feels smooth and at no time the engine feels strained.

Fuel injection and integrated gear box with twin spark plug takes the engine to completely different level that was no less than alien to the Bullets earlier. Throttle response is much more improved feels precise and up to date.

Its early power generation lets its powerplant to produce hp right from the start and is torques enough to mark the tarmac with rubber. It’s true power for a 27bhp motor. 0-60 comes in only 3.6 seconds and the needle reaches the 100 keeping in 10 seconds. Reaching speed comes with no effort and more importantly the bike has no drama to perform doing high speeds. 140kmph comes easy and if I had tried doing this on the old Royal Enfield, the bike would have had disassembled its self.

Riding Impression

Along with the engine the gear box too feels upgraded. Shifts are now quicker and has more positive feel than ever before. The gear box feels positive as an English Willow bat over the ball. The ride is not that smooth and also the gear conveys false neutral message. I believe the engine still retains the negatives from the past; it’s negligible for something so classic.

Handling is always a fun factor on Bullets and the Royal Enfield Classic 500 in India is no exception. 500 is with 90/90 front tyres and 110/90 on the rear. MRF Zapper holds the tarmac quite well. The reduced wheel diameter makes the Classic 500 flickable keeping stable. The ride quality is the best among the latest RE offerings, but it’s not an ideal one.

In the front the Classic receives 280mm disc works well on the bike but for rider it gives a loose lever feel. The front forks also are too free for the size of the bike, it should have been hardened.

Other areas of distress are its vibrating mirrors and wide footpegs. At high rev the mirrors vibrate madly making them almost unusable. Its footpegs feels too broad to rest legs on the round. But these things are very little when you look at overall ride.

Fuel Economy

It’s hard to believe but yes the Classic 500 runs 26 kmpl in mixed condition and should run more on highway.

The Bottom Line

Royal Enfield Classic 500 price in India settles at RS 1,46,500 on road Mumbai. It’s the best set of wheels you can get after paying for that price tag, total valve for money.

The bike is the only ride that will remind people about the past and specially the British motorcycling era. Looks are right and even more importantly it performs as beautiful as it looks. Its single spring saddle gives the feeling of riding the oldest Bullet which we’ve all missed.

It’s a good thing that RE did this other wise I was happy greasing my jeans and oiling the road all the time with the old Royal Enfield Bullet.

Royal Enfield Classic 500 Specification

Engine: Single Cylinder, 4 Stroke, OHV, SI Engine, Air Cooled
Displacement: 499cc
Maximum Power: 27.2 Bhp @ 5250 rpm
Maximum Torque: 41.3 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Gears: 5 Speed
Clutch: Wet Multi Plate
Bore x Stroke: 84 x 90
Weight: 187.00 kg
Ground Clearance: 140.00 mm
Fuel Tank: 13.50 ltrs
Wheelbase: 1370.00 mm
Wheel Size: 90×90-18”/110×90-18” mm
Suspension(Front): Telescopic, Hydraulic damping
Suspension(Rear): Swing arm with adjustable Gas filled shock absorber
Brakes (Front): Disc brake 280 mm
Brakes(Rear): Drum Brake 152mm

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Posted On:   Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011Source:   Indian Drives