'08 Royal Enfields - Are They Reliable?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by bikeosaurus2000, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. bikeosaurus2000

    bikeosaurus2000 the individualist

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    It seems like the older I get, the less impressed I am with big, fancy, hi-tech do-it-all bikes, and the more I miss the smaller, simpler bikes of my youth. With that in mind, lately I've been eyeing a couple of brand new '08 model Royal Enfields. It's important to note that, while I'm ready and eager to learn, I know next to nothing about wrenching at this point.

    So just how reliable is an '08 Royal Enfield? Is it something that's best left to around town commuting, or might I be able to do some out-of-state touring now and then? Speed and flash I do not need. Slow and easy works just great. But it's the reliability issue I'm concerned about.

    Thanks in advance, everyone! :D
    #1
  2. Brtp4

    Brtp4 Powdercoat it.

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    I don't know personally, but I love those things and want one. Or three.

    BP
    #2
  3. Big Augie

    Big Augie Transient

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    I've heard they are very reliable, low compression and HP helps with that. Heard bolts come lose from time to time, but Harleys do that to.
    I would like to get the military model with the metal saddle bags, I use that bike on my PS3 game Motorstorm, and they have caricter that would go well with our 1980 Wanderlodge bus.
    #3
  4. earthroamer

    earthroamer Stuck in Pindadesh

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    A search of this site will yield quite a few threads discussing the Royal Enfield. It was my interest in these bikes that got me back into motorcycling after a long hiatus. I've been to India many times over the years and always enjoyed looking and listening to these wonderful bikes. From what I've read, the older pre unit construction models were not very reliable. They required a lot work so you had better enjoy wrenching if you own one. The newer UC models have yet to be tested for reliability but the new owners state that they are committed to building such. There's a few very enthusiastic owners here on ADV, so look around.

    Good RE ride report

    RE thread

    RE thread
    #4
  5. bikeosaurus2000

    bikeosaurus2000 the individualist

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    I'm enjoying those threads and I plan to do more reading over at the official Royal Enfield forum. So far it's looking pretty good. :D

    ____________________________

    B2k aka Fred
    - '09 Ural Gear Up

    "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!"
    - M. Jagger
    #5
  6. Thumper500

    Thumper500 IACB Charter Member

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    Hi bikeosuarus2000, I bought a new 500 Classic back in June of '03. I can honestly tell you I have had more fun on this bike than any other I have owned, and there have been a few.

    It was shipped to me in the original crate from a dealer in Indiana (no local dealer). It really ran rough when I first started it up, but I broke in the engine just like the manual explained to do. I have over 3700 miles on it now and it runs waaaay smoother. Setting the valves was a constant chore for the first 1000 miles or so. Every time I filled the tank I would set the valves. The valve train was just seating itself and they got pretty clattery if you let them go too long. Got good at it quick though. Start to finish it was easily done in 5-10 minutes.

    The bike has never left me stranded. The only repairs have been a broken spot weld on the chain guard and faulty ground on the tail light. Both were pretty easy fixes.

    I take it out occasionally on the local dirt trails in the Black Hills (SD) and I don't feel worried that it will let me down.

    [​IMG]

    The pic is after a ride of several hours on said dirt roads.

    That is my experience with my '03. I can only guess that the '08's are even better, but to me this may equate to less charm and eccentricity. :lol3
    #6
  7. Rich Dubbya

    Rich Dubbya Pimpadimpolis

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    The new G5s are supposed to be awesome . No break in needed ( so they say), self adjusting valves , EFI ( that can get yanked out if desired ) and Brembo disc brakes . And the still get 70+MPG . Plus they're capable of up to 85-90mph top speed with a sprocket kit and air box removal so you won't get ran over on the interstate if needed to take.
    #7
  8. dharmaracer

    dharmaracer Lone Rider

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    Just a few thoughts to share on the Bullets (as they are called)..

    The come in both the 350 and 500 version (in India). The 500 version is what is sold in the US.

    The 500's that is being sold now have sorted out quite a few of the problems that plagued the earlier models. More importantly the quality of the machines exported to USA/Europe/UK etc are much better than what is sold in India (the indians can live with the poor quality:-))

    Technically these machines are no great shakes. The technology in them is still from back then. The valves are operated using a tappet rod mechanism as opposed to modern bikes with cam chains and other high tech stuff.

    From a riding standpoint, it entirely depends on what you want the bike for. If you are doing normal cruising/riding on paved and even broken tarmac/gravel etc the bikes are great. cushy ride,enough low end torque to get you out of sticky situations.

    But if you plan to rev the hell out of it, be prepared for some tappet adjustment (wrenching), possible seizures or worse. The bike isn't built for hard revs as you work the gears..

    From my experience of riding these bikes for the last countless years they have been a great riding machine. I have taken them to the Himalayas year on year and have had great experiences, all with saddle bags and tons of luggage..I did take part in the Raid-de-Himalaya on a 500 and it obviously packed up. (bottom end bearing gone)

    The new 500 EFI Classic are built on what RE calls a integrated unit and I believe these are quite reliable. Yet to launch in India but the news from Europe is that its a good machine.

    Anand
    www.indimotard.com
    "motorcycle journeys through India'
    #8
  9. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

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    Yesssss, the bottom end bearing.... I was in Bhutan on tour with the older 500's & one of them packed it in. The mechanic traveling along with the group had the spare parts & changed them out in a parking lot.... not the first one either.

    [​IMG]

    So all new engine... I'm told the unit design engines have different bearings than the the older one... is that true? More important I think is why do they fail... is it a design problem or a bearing manufacturer problem. I do not know.
    #9
  10. dharmaracer

    dharmaracer Lone Rider

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    I could chalk that up to an advantage..being able to fix a bullet anywhere..esp in India and if you can't fix it. lean it on the nearest wall and catch a ride to the nearest town, village etc...

    ..you cant do that with a beemer...:-)

    i think the bottom end going wrong is a combination of both old tech-engineering and bad quality bearings....

    Anand
    #10
  11. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

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    It's not 1974 and Harley's don't do that. I put over 40,000 miles on an '04 Ultra and never had a bolt come lose. I thought the subject was Royal Enfields.
    #11
  12. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

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    Umhh ... got a friend with a '07 Sportster and the vibration caused a bolt to saw through a wiring harness.
    #12
  13. Big Augie

    Big Augie Transient

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    Sorry lfmn, that wasn't really a cut on Harley's.
    #13
  14. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

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    umhh I had a Valkyrie and the bolt on the windshield bracket came loose so I guess Hondas have the same problem.
    #14
  15. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

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    It doesn't sound like a compliment, but this is a forum where people are free to post what they want. On an Adventure bike forum dominated by BMW I don't expect to win this battle. I'm not sure why I'm fighting the battle since I don't even have a Harley anymore.

    Ride Safe
    #15
  16. Mad*Sparrow

    Mad*Sparrow NoMadic Wanderer

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    It always amazes me at the sensitivity of some people with vehicles that they own or had owned. It's like they have made the object into something perfect that cannot have any flaws and will defend any criticism of it needlessly. We all know that all bikes have problems and sometimes comparisons although maybe inaccurate are part of the subject at hand. Anyway, I have a lot of Indian friends that will account for the RE's with an almost part of the family type sentiment and have asked me if I have ever had any experience with them in the states. No matter their flaws they seem to love them and as they state to me that the new ones (in India) are very reliable. I've always wanted to get a diesel RE for the very reason you describe. Simplicity is sometimes worth it's wieght in gold, in my opinion.
    #16
  17. bikeosaurus2000

    bikeosaurus2000 the individualist

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    I had an opportunity to ride an early '09 AVL Bullet Classic yesterday, and I absolutely loved it! It's a nice light bike with quick steering, spunky pickup, great transmission, the lovely sound of a single cylinder engine, tons of cool retro vibe, and surprise of surprises... I was totally impressed by the effectiveness of its drum brakes, too. I found it a great bike, providing more than enough capability to enjoy years of great rides.

    It's a mystery to me why some people are so fixated on hi-tech road rockets which easily out perform every highway restriction in the book, making it more likely that you'll not only rack up a list of traffic violations, but maybe take a trip to the ER, too. Go figure.

    Thanks for all the input, folks. I seriously have the feeling that I'll be wheeling a new RE into the garage soon, parking it next to my '09 Ural Gear Up. Woo-Hooooo! :D

    ____________________________

    B2k aka Fred
    - '09 Ural Gear Up

    "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!"
    - M. Jagger
    #17
  18. Brtp4

    Brtp4 Powdercoat it.

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    Now I really want one.

    BP
    #18
  19. Birdmove

    Birdmove Long timer

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    I have a 2007 Bullet 500, which has the earlier "iron" engine.I bought it about a year and a half ago in December. The bike has been fine.I have two other motorcycles also, so it doesn't have high mileage. Its at about 2300 miles.It sounds great, looks great, is a load of fun to ride-even though it is not fast.It can cruise fine up to about 50 mph, which I consider about the limit for a cruising speed on my bike.Mine shifts quite well, starts really easily with the kick starter, and I don't use the electric start unless I stall in traffic.Gas mileage varies from mid sixties to into the eighties.You can check the valve clearance in maybe thirty seconds, once you've done it once.Although it will take a bit longer if it needs adjusting.The bike is very comfortable, handles well, and gets a lot of attention. One day I took about a 40 mile ride and stopped at a Starbucks for coffee when it started raining and I didn't bring my rain gear.Three different guys seperately stooped to look at the Bullet. Two of them came inside and searched me out to ask me about the bike.I told each about the history on Royal Enfield, and told them where the dealer was (Vinces in Olympia, Wa. USA) etc.
    The older Bullets are not freeway bikes. The newer ones are faster and maybe freeway useable.

    jon in Puyallup, Wa.
    #19
  20. wantok

    wantok Been here awhile

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    I've got 2 mates who are real Enfield fans, having owned a number over the years & doing many staggeringly long trips on them around Australia. They both now have the updated models (efi etc) & these are proving to be pretty bulletproof. They're a more practical day to day ride, but some think they don't have quite the restored classic look of the earlier iron heads but hey, more power, better suspension & brakes etc can't be a bad thing?
    Cheers:1drink
    #20