Rough and Tough: Royal Enfield Classic 500
The 150-250 CC bike riders (and even car owners) letch at a Royal Enfield machine just like you letch at pictures of the Girl Next Door and Access Girl that we publish each month. Right? So when the big daddy of Indian bikes rolled out the Bullet 500, we knew it would make heads turn, and it did just that. Is that all that you need to know to buy the new Bullet 500 when there are other models that look much jazzier (Thunderbird 500) and ride better? Well, if you don’t then read on.
The traditional Royal Enfield owners are so loyal to their kick-start engine that even the thought of an electric start pisses them off, but is their annoyance really a factor you should consider while buying the current Royal Enfield two-wheelers? You would if your dad is paying for your new bike and he himself is a kick-start fan. But for everyone else, the fact is that kick-start engines aren’t practical anymore because you really don’t want to struggle with the ignition while you are already struggling with insane traffic, potholes and diversions where the engine, no matter how good or bad it is, might just turn off erratically, and by the time you kick-start it again, the drivers around you would pump your ears with so many abuses that you will start cursing your bike for not having an electric start engine. It’s undeniable that they are easier, quicker and dependable. Back to the review, so the first time we put our machine in first gear and twisted the throttle, we kind of lost control of the bike because of the sheer power it unleashed and ended up performing an unintentional inch high rear-wheelie. It was at that moment that we realised this 500CC bike is not for fainthearted riders and has indeed been made like a gun shooting out a bullet. It’s this power, if you are not used to it, that might make handling a bit tricky in congested areas and gullies, but once you get used to it, the bike rides smooth as butter.
On highways, the bike is a bit shaky, and it worried us a bit because we felt this glitch at the speed of 60kmph, which is quite a decent speed to ride on highways. We couldn’t even blame it on the weather because it was not windy at all. However, the real magic of this man-machine is on bumpy roads. We say that because to test its suspension, we picked a road so bad that you could do off-roading on it, metaphorically. At the beginning of this four-kilometre stretch, when we looked at the deep potholes, we were kind of scared to zipping around them, but we gave it a shot anyways and rode through them as harshly as we could. Fortunately, our bones didn’t cry out in pain, all thanks to the twin gas charged shock absorbers at the rear and the front telescopic suspension that absorb all the backbreaking and shoulder numbing pressure that potholes exert on a bike. The bike picks up really fast, faster than any other cheap cousins of CBRs and R15s, and it’s definitely easier to sustain the speed for a long stretch because of its weight.
The seat is comfortable because it’s wider and has a curve that somewhat supports your lower back and for pillion riders, there is a grab grill with a cushion end. However, one thing that we really missed is a fuel meter. It’s high time they have one on all their bikes, which we realised when the machine suddenly switched off right in the middle of a road with speeding cars and bikes on both sides. Could be a bit unsafe, no? Now the big question – is this bike worth its price tag? Yes, it is because if those girly 250 CC bikes can cost over a lakh and a half, the Bullet 500 is genuinely priced even at two lakhs.