Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Chandler, AZ
You would think that a motor with a compression ratio that low, and a power output that low would be very understressed and last forever. And If it were built right, it probably would. I have not had any experience with the new UCE, I did sit on one at the local dealer. An interesting thing is the salesman told me that if I wanted one, I should buy it soon, as he did not believe they would be selling them much longer. I don't know if that was just a sales pitch, or if they really are giving up on them. Three other local dealers sold RE briefly during the past 10 years of so, but they all gave up on them.
One thing about Chinese bikes, is that while they are very poor quality, and tend to fall apart fairly quickly, they are also dirt cheap. Not so with RE. When you pay that much money for a motorcycle, you expect quality.
I also own an '09 Genuine Stella, made by LML in India. Have had it for 3 years, and put close to 7,000 miles on it. It is a mixed bag. The only failure I have had so far is the starter switch, which failed shortly after buying it new. I just removed it and wired the kill switch to work as a starter switch. The electrical in general is pretty crappy, but there is not much of it, and it can be upgraded. The good part is the body/frame is solid as a rock, probably built better and stronger than the original Vespa. Just like the Enfield, the engine is where it comes up short. Very few Stella engines have made it past 15,000 miles, most average closer to 10,000 miles. But the Stella basically IS a P series Vespa, and Vespa parts fit it. When my engine fails, I'm going to build a new one, using a Malossi crank, Polini top end, and a few other high dollar parts. Performance wise I am keeping it stock to make it last longer. 50 mph is as fast as I need it to go. The Stella will last forever, because it can be rebuilt forever. It has a parts availability almost as good as Harley, and is well supported by the aftermarket.
The big difference between the Stella and the Royal Enfield is price. I got my Stella brand new for $3000 OTD. My local dealer wants $8000 OTD for a Royal Enfield. Huge difference. There are tons of aftermarket parts for the Stella, because it is basically a Vespa. I am not aware of any aftermarket support for the RE. The parts I have replaced on them had to be ordered from RE. I remember them being very rough looking, not like the finely machined parts in a modern Japanese bike.
I find it interesting that a Japanese 250cc bike, like the TU250, can run all day long at full throttle, with no ill effects, and cruise at 70+ mph, while the 500cc RE can't. And as the former owner of a couple of Japanese 500cc singles, they never had any reliability issues either. No one is going to question whether a Japanese 650 dual sport can maintain freeway speeds all day. The Suzuki DR650 and S40 are about as simple as big singles get, both still use carbs, and neither have any reliability issues (well, there is that cam chain tensioner problem with the S40, but it is easily fixed) I take that as pretty much proof that RE has a long way to go. If they cost half as much, I'd most likely buy one.
If someone wants to provide me with one, and come and pick me up when it breaks down, I'll gladly take it out and see how long it will cruise at 70 mph.
I'm not really putting down RE, I actually would love to have one. The ridiculous price is what I have a problem with. For that kind of money, you should get a LOT more reliability. That is Triumph Bonneville territory.
2002 Vulcan 750, 2013 Royal Enfield B5
2001 XT225, 2009 Genuine Stella
2012 Zuma 125, 1980 Puch moped