This isn’t a review, not a rant, not an argument. It’s sort of a discussion, and I ain’t even sure if discussion is the right word here. I’m gonna rule out the people who buy the Himalayan and the Continental GT, because these two bikes are in a different league altogether. A person who shells out money for Himalayan, buys it for riding into the unknown (thanks to its off road prowess) and the one who buys a Continental GT? It’s the cheapest proper cafe racer available there is, enough said! I’m gonna rule out those people too, who buy an Enfield because of the legacy it brings to the table, or who think that it’s the purest form of motorcycling. There’s no other bike in this price segment which is as retro as an Enfield.
If you keep up with the indian motorcycling scene on the internet, you might have come across a news that the Classic 350 outsold the pulsar series. The company claims that they sell a total of 50,000 units per month, out of which, the classic 350 has the most share. So the specifications and the character of an Enfield which is taken into account in this article, would be largely based on the classic 350 and the Thunderbird series too, to some extent.
This article is mainly composed to answer each and every argument which surrounds the Royal Enfield. We will go down this road in the form of a discussion. Feel free to comment below.
The other evening I was thinking of the format I should write in, whether it should be in points, or in the form of an essay. But the appropriate format would be an open minded discussion because “Royal Enfield” is probably the most polarized topic in the indian biking scene.
One foggy morning, yours truly and my other biker friend Chirag met for the same and some coffee. We rode a bit on the highway and took a hault at a dhaba. Coffee, highway, bikes, a chilly winter morning, can it get any better to discuss such a hot topic like this?
Decided to think of the most desirable things of a Royal Enfield, or, why should one go ahead and shell out 1.5 lakhs to get himself a bullet. Here’s what we concluded :
The retro looks. It’s sort of a relic, which takes the rider back in those good old days of thumpers. Round headlights, chrome garnishing all over, analog instrument cluster, bulky tank and brute silhouette, these all things ooze retro charm. The legacy which the brand Royal Enfield brings to the table, is commendable too. Since its inception in 1901, the overall design of the classic series, hasn’t gone into much overhaul. If retro is your thing, or if you’re looking for some old school charm, grab an Enfield. As no other bike, atleast in this price category, brings such a legacy with its name. If you decide to get one, you get a brand which has survived for more than a century, has gone through a roller-coaster ride and is still going strong.
It looks masculine, and defines “macho” nowadays. The reason why a bollywood actress riding a bullet can make it to the front page of a daily.
The stock exhaust note of an Enfield is unlike any other bike available in the market today. The trademark “dug dug dug” is music for the old veterans of motorcycling and some new riders too. But I absolutely hate the modded exhausts, or “dholkis” as some people call it. It kills off the originality of the stock exhaust note. It transforms the note into exhaust noise.
The upright sitting posture, front biased footpegs, comfy seating and the soft suspension setup define the word “comfortable”. You can just crash the bike into the potholes (not advisable though) without the fear of breaking down the rims or damaging the suspension. The rugged character of the bike can deal with almost each and every adversity you throw at it, even the famed Leh and Ladakh. There’s a reason why people prefer to take a Royal Enfield to ladakh, as compared to the other bikes.
As there’s not any fairing or fibre parts for that matter, you can’t expect the bike to rattle over uneven surfaces. The engine’s character is laid back, with ample low end torque. Perfect for those who hate the frantic character of the KTMs. You can comfortably cruise at 80 km an hour without any worry of the world, while enjoying the beautiful landscape. This speaks of the cruising ability of the bike. It can do 80 km/h whole day long, without putting any stress on the engine, while the highway gets filled with the dug dug dug of your beloved.
If you’re obese, or fat (I ain’t body shaming here, just stating a fact), you won’t look out of place while sitting on an Enfield. But if you sit on any other bike, take the Duke 200 for an example, you’d look like a baboon on a bicycle.
The simple mechanism of the engine makes it easy for any roadside mechanic to sort out any basic issue which comes up with the ownership of the bike, such as snapping of the clutch or the throttle wire. Being a carburetted and air cooled bike, it isn’t a hard task to deal with basic issues.
The last thing, which many bullet owners brag about, if you take care of the maintenance of your Enfield, chances are, that you might pass on your bike to your son or daughter. And even after 15-20 years down the line, it won’t look out of place.
Now, the flip side of the coin or putting it the other way, the not so desirable things of an Enfield :
Vibrations. One of the biggest reasons why it shouldn’t be tagged as a proper cruiser. Try going above 80 km an hour, and you will see the handlebar transforming into a fucking vibrator. And if you’ve got balls of metal, just like your Enfield, try hitting the triple digit mark. The whole bike would start vibrating so much that you’d start feeling that there’s an earthquake in your pants. And if you argue that going above 80 km/h isn’t safe in India, I’ve ridden on highways where even cruising around 100 km/h feels like you’re underspeeding. There would be instances when you’d want to speed up a bit, but the bike wouldn’t feel at home. Sure, it can go well above 130 km/h or so, but would you be comfortable with anything above 90 km/h? I think not.
The bike handles like shit. If you come across any ghat section and you want to hit the apex, getting your knee down, look somewhere else. The 200 kgs of weight, soft suspension setup accompanied with narrow tyres would scare the shit out of you as soon as you try to lean the bike into a corner. You’d kiss the tarmac, quite literally. And if you argue that it’s a cruiser and not meant for cornering, there are other bikes too, which can munch the miles more comfortably than the Enfield and wouldn’t feel out of place while leaning in a corner. Take Baja Dominar 400, Mahindra Mojo, or the good old Honda CBR 250R for an instance. Enfield and handling = Salman Khan and script. They just can’t go hand in hand.
350 cc, churning out just 19 bhp, with 200 kgs of weight to drag along. Doesn’t sound impressive by any standards.
As far as performance or handling goes, any modern 150 cc bike can smoke the RE.
Technology, or the lack thereof. Forget about digital instrument cluster showing shit load of information, or ABS, or slipper clutch. It doesn’t even come with a fuel meter. Enough said! And if you think that dragging an empty bike on the highway would increase your masculine quotient, or would make you “macho”, LOL.
With features of the prehistoric era, it’s a relic which belongs to the museum. The only reason why it’s out there on the road is because it functions.
A few years ago, the guys at RE decided to bless the behemoth with a much needed front disc brake, but forgot to add the bite and feedback. The front disc brake feels wooden and the rear suffers to make its presence felt. That, accompanied by the not so sticky MRFs, don’t allow you to commit any sort of a mistake, especially during the rains.
It’s going the same way as pulsars. Squids and hooligans own a lot of them now. They don’t even keep the bike stock. The original dug dug dug is getting replaced by the modded exhaust’s phat phat phat and the occasional phaaaads! Don’t forget that it takes a toll on the fuel economy too. What once was a lifestyle vehicle, is losing its charm.
Though the bike is known for its ruggedness, some build quality issues have cropped up in the past few years.
Fuel economy is something which is completely subjective here. It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t put a smile on your face either.
Now comes the biggest drawback of an Enfield. Value for money, or the complete lack thereof. You spend 1.5 lakhs, and you don’t get performance, handling or any advance tech. If RE demands such a huge sum, just for the legacy and the old school charm, my money is off the table. I’d rather go ahead and buy a Dominar 400, just like any other rational biker would. It trumps the Enfield in almost each and every concept.
Verdict : You can’t come up to a verdict when it comes to judging an Enfield. And this wasn’t a review in the first place. The views regarding a RE are completely subjective. I tried to answer each and every argument which surrounds the bullet. If I might have missed something, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. The fanboys might get a little pissed after reading the negatives about their “bult”, and if you are going to hand me a part of your hatred, atleast try bringing logic with you. I’m standing here like a matador waiting for a raging bull, but please, don’t forget the logic while charging at me.