Royal Enfield......Why?......Educate me

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by 110Mike, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. 110Mike

    110Mike Lug in my Kop

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    Hi all.

    Coming from an airhead, why should I consider a "modern" (2000+) Royal Enfield?

    I have been thinking about one, liking the simplicity, supposedly good mileage.

    Please educate me.

    Currently I commute as well as take longer trips on my airheads.

    Thanks in advance

    Mike
    #1
  2. welder

    welder Long timer

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    My friend has a dealership and sells royal enfields. they are kinda neat but are pretty crude and old technology. They basically ride like a 40-50 yr. old bike. Sure they are fuel injected and have disc brakes but they will require more maintenabnce than a new bike and yet they are not old. nothing wrong with that really but more bike for the money can certainly be had. I am of mind that if you want an old looking bike then buy an old bike. If you must buy an old looking new bike, a triumph bonneville would imho be a much better bike and will out perform a RE, and be much more reliable. just my $.02 of course.
    #2
  3. vstromed

    vstromed Adventurer

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    I have a 2009 Bullet and really like the thing. Mine is the AVL with the separate engine/trans and carb. I really wanted an old British single, but trying to find one is tough and expensive. The Bullet is very much like a '50's bike but affordable. I have not had any problems with it nor has anything fallen off of it. It is, however, not a modern bike. I ride it as if it is an old bike. It will cruise comfortable at 55-60, and is very "charming" to tootle around on. I would not feel comfortable doing freeway speeds on it, as the engine does not give the impression of liking to rev too much. Some of the components are a bit low rent (rear shocks) but it does handle well and looks great. Many people think that it is a restored old bike, and that is what I like about it. I also have a '74 R75/6. The beemer is a totally different ride from the Bullet. My opinion is that if you like the looks of the RE and are willing to own a classic looking bike that does require a bit of tinkering to keep running well, then the Bullet is a great addition. I would not own one as my only bike.
    #3
  4. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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  5. Crazy_Dave

    Crazy_Dave Back'in it in

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    I love the way they look.
    #5
  6. Hawk Medicine

    Hawk Medicine Coyote's Brother

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    The easiest answer is this: You should buy a RE if thats the kind of motorcycle experience you want.

    The Enfields aren't throwback to another time, they're basically old bikes that have survived into a different age. As such, they require more maintenance that a modern bike, while performing moderately well in most circumstances. Not real well, I said moderately!

    Me? I've already owned a few vintage BMW's, so I'd be looking for something that performed better than an Airhead (Which would run away from an Enfield.) and required less maintenance, (Like a modern scooter.) but if you like it, buy it. The people who own RE's seem to like em!
    #6
  7. c1skout

    c1skout Been here awhile

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    I've got both an airhead (r100rt) and an iron barrel 500 Enfield. My Enfield is a 2000 that I bought new in 2005, I left it mostly stock and have ridden it over 13,000 trouble free miles. It keeps up with city traffic easily and has no trouble holding 60 on our hilly 4-lanes here in western PA, even 2-up. Maintanence is a killer though.. I have to set the points once a year and change the oil every few thousand miles. I'm due for a new drive chain too, and I may need a new drive tire to get through this summer.:D Mine has been a good and fun bike, easy on gas also, I average 72mpg on my 50 mile commute.
    My airhead I could leave in third gear and do everything the Enfield does.
    #7
  8. 11Bones

    11Bones Adventurer

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    Why you ask, brcause they look cool. Aint no cool like oldskool.:D
    #8
  9. OldAndBusted

    OldAndBusted Needs a little work...

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    interesting bikes, very cool looking, fairly simple, not japanese level reliability but not too bad, but they are nothing like an airhead BMW. very different riding experience. just FYI.
    #9
  10. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    The latest models are completely different animals than those up to about 2008 or so.
    Prior to that, they had the same engine that was used back in 1955, with the addition of an electric starter.

    I wouldn't have considered one of those as a daily rider or commuter (although it's probably been done successfully by many people, and certainly, in India it's done by everyone who owns one).
    The new ones are probably a lot more viable as daily riders. They have a completely redesigned engine which owes nothing to the old engine except for styling of the cylinder and head.

    For the record, I'm a vintage Enfield enthusiast; I own two UK made twin cylinder models. One of them was my daily rider for several years.
    I'm still waiting for the factory in India to re-introduce the 750 Interceptor. It was rumored a few years ago, but never materialized. Supposedly, they have the tooling from the old factory in Redditch, England.
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  11. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    They aren't a patch on the original bullets for reliability or speed. Of course you do get the unique Indian build quality :D

    A friend of mine ordered a deluxe model at the start of the summer last year, he ordered one with the chrome tank with painted panels. The bike arrived with a standard tank fitted so the dealer promptly got onto the factory and informed them, no problem and it's on it's way. nearly three months later and a chrome tank turns up with beautifully painted panels on top of the worst chroming you've ever seen. dealer orders another one which turns up a few months later with perfect chrome and the panels painted on on the skew. He's now got three tanks and doesn't want any of them. The dealer has promised to have the tank with the good chrome painted at the dealers own expense. In the meantime most of the rubbers have dissolved so everything rattles and theres a bad vibration from the engine :eek1 it looks nice in the back of the garage though :lol3


    One of the guys I worked with travels in India whenever he can and always buys an Enfield when he's over there, 2nd hand they are pretty cheap. He does break down a lot but apparently you are nerve far from someone who will fix it for pennies, the repair will last a few miles before failing again, somebody else will then fix it for a few pennies and your off again.
    #11
  12. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    I love Interceptors

    They were never popular bikes when I was younger, had a poor reputation for being hard to start and vibrating.

    Nice looking bikes though

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. wmax351

    wmax351 Been here awhile

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    I had a '99 Iron Barrel, 4 speed. It was quite reliable, and the maintenance wasn't bad. The brakes sucked, it leaked oil, was pretty slow, but extremely fun. Also was very comfortable.

    It really couldn't do freeways. Its not just power, but brakes and handling. Its very comfortable at 50-55 mph. Cruising Highway 1 is amazing on it. Its a 2 wheeled time machine.

    As long as you think of it as a new bike from 1955, you'll be fine. They were quite reliable in their time. The newer ones have better solid state electronics.
    #13
  14. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    That's a 1967 or 1968 Series 1A. Note the chrome tank, and barely visible behind the magneto drive section of the timing chest is the points housing instead of the Lucas K2F magneto. Oh, and the concentric carbs. Enfield used them a year before most other British manufacturers.

    My experience gained over exactly 40 years of Interceptor ownership (bought mine in 1972) has been that they're very smooth for a British 750 twin (smoother than most 500cc twins), and very easy to start.
    Mine has always been a one-kick starter, and Interceptors were the only British twin to be dynamically balanced by the factory.
    If you rode one (or more) that wasn't smooth, and was hard to start, that says more about the previous owners of the bike(s) than it does about the bike itself. Like all old British bikes, they've often been subjected to some serious bodging and misguided re-engineering. A rebore and oversize pistons could easily upset the balance factor, and a weak magneto can easily account for hard starting.

    #14
  15. JBMorse

    JBMorse Been here awhile

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    Some great replies so far. A modern Enfield is not for everyone, but for the few who can live with them, they're very rewarding.
    My dad bought a new one in 2004. This is before the AVL or fuel injected engine. It's an iron barrel, 4 speed bike. I love his bike. He changed a few thing like the goofy seat and rear light assembly, and it looks pretty nice. Fit and finish is nothing like a real British Enfield, but it's not terrible. My dad's bike has a nice patina and looks better dirty in my opinion.

    This bike is an absolute blast to ride though. We live in the country and nothing beats it for bumping around on the back roads. It handles easily and has ample power up to 60 mph. It's not fun on the highway; the most fun is riding around 45 on the back roads. I love the clackety sound of the valve gear, and you can hear every breath the engine takes. Mileage is in the 60s, sometimes higher. It does leak oil, but not very badly after having a top end rebuild. He has 20k miles on this one and rides it regularly both to and from work and for fun.

    It is indeed simple, but maintenance intensive. You've got to check things often to be sure they haven't loosened up! It's all simple stuff though and if you consider maintenance part of the ownership experience that helps.

    There are some quality issues that you can overcome with some upgrades. For example, the carb manifold rubber on dad's bike wore out. I think he replaced it three times. It seems they don't use fuel proof rubber for that part, so we replaced it with a little chunk of radiator hose the same size. Things like hand controls are low quality, and of course you'll read about the starter sprague clutch going bad. My dad never fixed his, and after becoming used to Honda electric starting, kicking that old beast is a workout!

    Now for your purposes, an Enfield will be great if you are willing to take it slow and keep up on the maintenance. There's no reason not to use one for commuting or trips, but you've got to know the machine well and be prepared for things that could happen. The aforementioned carb rubber, for example, gave out on me once and so I was riding along and suddenly the carb came off. Fancy that.
    Now, I think an airhead is probably a few leagues beyond an Enfield, but you'd probably enjoy one. As others have said, new ones no bargain as you can get a Bonneville for what seems like not much more. My dad paid around $4000 new in 2004, and obviously they're not quite the bargain they used to be. Used would be the way to go for me, though, as I really like the iron barrel and I am not yet sure I'd trust Indian fuel injection or disc brakes.

    Here's a pic after I borrowed it for the weekend this summer:

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. 110Mike

    110Mike Lug in my Kop

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    Thank for all the responses guys.

    Think I will give them a pass as I have enough other vehicles requiring constant maintenance.

    I like my Highway speed too.

    Nice old school bikes though

    Mike
    #16
  17. Eamon Nordquist

    Eamon Nordquist Adventurer

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    Note that the new Enfields ARE highway capable and are no more maintenance intensive than your typical new bike. My brother has one of the first ones with the new motor (2009 model) and in 10,000 miles he hasn't done anything but clean/adjust the chain and change the oil every couple thousand miles. I believe the fuel injection is by keihin, by the way, not indian made. I have a 2006 model with the old style motor, and it does require staying away from freeway speeds, needs the valves checked periodically, etc, but the new bikes are solid. Good dealer setup matters, and it is a big single, so you have to be ready with some loctite and watch for things coming loose during your shakedown period. If you're interested, you should really check one out. The new bikes have been around long enough now that they can occasionally be found used.

    Eamon
    #17
  18. JBMorse

    JBMorse Been here awhile

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    Cool. I honestly haven't heard anything bad about the new fuel injection setup. The problem with my dad's Enfield is that the stuff developed in India just isn't very good. The engineering from the original design (which is most of the bike) is fine, but as I mentioned things like the electric starter are not up to par.
    I haven't heard any horror stories from the new models, so I'm sure quality has come up quite a bit.
    #18
  19. Rango

    Rango Phaneropter

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    Caponerd (post #10) is right on the money, imho.
    The new owner of Royal Enfield (Eicher) is working very hard to bring the brand up to western standards and with success. The new models (starting 2010) are a different ball game. It is unfair to ascribe issues of earlier models to them.

    [​IMG]

    Let me introduce you to my 2010 Bullet Electra.
    It is one year old with 10,000 miles on the clock. I ride it rain or shine, on whatever terrain.That's where they were built for. Endurobikes they are and grass, mud and gravel haven't changed in 60 years, afaik. I avoid highways but if the situation calls for it I'll take them. Can cruise at 70mph easily. Top speed 82mph is way more exhilarating than on a modern bike albeit not for the fainthearted. Anyway highways are boring.

    Maintenance: I replaced the chain and put in a new airfilter.
    Loose nuts and bolts: none.
    Oil leaks: none.
    Electronic Fuel Injection makes it basically maintenance free.
    Still using the stock spark plug. Engine starts on first kick. Electric start is fine but is hardly used: way cooler to kickstart.

    A few issues in the first months were promptly adressed. The motorcycles come with a full 2 year warranty, all included, no mileage limitations.

    Had a rearwheel flat earlier this month. I pulled out the innertube, patched it up and was good to go. Some call it the AK47 of bikes: will work anytime, anywhere and in case of trouble solved on site. This has been my experience so far.
    The Royal Enfield is not a modern bike with a vintage look as the Bonneville but a vintage bike fitted for modern time. But all things said and done it's up to you: if you like it you'll love it. I hope you like it. :wink:
    #19
  20. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    They seem very expensive for what you get.
    I equate a TU250 as the same performance, but with the ability to run at top speed all day long without issues.
    About $3000.00 for a low mile used TU.
    I thought the Enfield was around $7000.00 or more...

    The old ones were about 18 hp, the new ones seem to get up to 27.
    #20