The Royal Enfield Bullet 500 is a throwback motorcycle that leans heavily on tradition, both in its styling and its manufacture.
Akin to Harley Davidson in the United States, India’s largest motorcycle manufacturer churns out machines that dwell more on stylistic touches and proven technology, rather than embracing new-fangled gadgets. Gadgets like ABS, a rear disc brake or a tachometer.
The Bullet brand is the oldest in continuous production, dating back to 1948. Engine displacements have changed over time and the latest iteration is a carbureted 499 cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder lump that churns out 26 horses at 5,100 rpm with 40.89 Nm at 3,800 rpm. An electric starter is standard. The Bullet 500 Efi comes with electronic fuel injection.
Weighing in at 425 lbs (192 kgs), the bike comes with a disc brake up front and drum at the rear, tubed non-radial tires and a 31.4″ (800 mm) ride height. The instrument cluster is all-analogue, with a gas gauge, speedometer, low oil and low battery indicator. It’s all very basic; no clock, no alternator for plug-ins, no trip meter, no tach, no shift light. Seats include a sprung single, a separate front and back, and a continuous, stepped, front and back.
The pleasure in a machine like this is to be found in a return to basics, if you will, with no need to hurry. You couldn’t anyway, top speed is officially listed as 68 mph (110 kph.)
The Bullet 500 comes in a variety of paint schemes, clearly named with marketing in mind. There’s Desert Storm, Squadron Blue, Battle Green and Gunmetal Grey amongst others.
One thing the Bullet 500 can boast is a moderate price tag. Depending upon which iteration you choose, in the United States a Bullet will set you back anywhere from $5000 to $5800.
Old fashioned bike, with kind-of an old-fashioned price.