Epilogue 1 - It was probably a Monday or a Tuesday. John and Peter are both in the late 20s. In a bar over a few drinks, they were having a discussion. John said "It’s always good once in a while to go back to nature, enjoy the country life and keep your big city office life out of reach. You know last weekend I got this retro classic bike from a friend of mine, drove it over the weekend to my uncle's ranch in the country side but by Sunday late night, had to give it back to him. It was a real nice weekend I had. Now that our routine life has started, I am back to driving my usual vehicle. I should do this more often, what do you think?" They both agreed and the conversation was overheard by a man in his early 40s or may be late 40s and the man came and said "How would you feel if you were to ride a classic everyday?" "Yup! it would be fantastic" said John. "No, hold wait, wait a minute!" exclaimed Peter, "Think about it, I mean for a working class individual, even the Bahamas would get boring after a week. It's alright for a weekend but fishing in the backwaters regularly, no internet, no HD TV, God! I miss my mundane life." John said he didn't think about it that way, but said Peter is right. "I know it is a classic bike but God! this is air cooled, a big lump of metal plus it has no gizmos, how can anyone stick to it for more than a day?". The man in his 40s picks up a question for them "But now it so happens that your Bahamas vacation has also turned out to be your office for the next few years and so you have to shift your base. How does that feel?" "Err... I am not too sure, I mean a weekend or a week at this heavenly place is absolutely a brilliant idea, but I am not very sure if I can really move out of my city." answers Peter The man in his 40 continues "Like wise if the classic bike has to become your regular commuting vehicle..." before John interrupts "Yes, I know where you are going with this, so No, I mean, let me think about it okay".
Epilogue 2 - The Royal Enfield Bullet Classic takes you back a few decades. At least it used to till a few years back until technology caught up with it and of course modern norms. The iron cast engine had to give away to an aluminum engine due to stricter emission norms, unit construction engine took over the old engine which had a separate gear box, one thing lead into another and now we have anew Bullet. How I loved the old guy? It was so different from any other bike. I absolutely hate technology sometimes for what it does to some of our most beloved things. Not too long ago there was a thing called radio where there were two round things, you twitch one and the volume increases or decreases and then you twitch the other and you get AM or SW or FM. How can Royal Enfield do this? Just naming a bike ‘Classic’ doesn’t make it a classic, does it? Unluckily, one of my friends got a new 500. Unluckily not for him, you silly, it was for me as he wanted me to try out the 500. I am genuinely not interested in starting a Royal Enfield with the flick of a switch and that is just for starter. But I couldn’t say no to my friend, after all he bought it just a few days back and I could see he really wanted me to have a go. Well, reluctantly (although at my face value, he must have thought I was very enthusiastic) I slung my leg over it and was just about to kick start it when my friend enthusiastically told me to go for the electric starter.
Epilogue 3 - You know the new Classic is not just a new version, it is a complete new design, the first one in more than half a century from Enfield and it is a good thing that despite being a completely new bike, it still looks like a RE, since it is! And the lookalike is just what a brand image should stand as. Everything in this bike is new. But that hardly does justice to the fact that the IC engine has been buried by RE for ever. Yes, RE has done their homework this time; they have added modern touches like fuel injection, hydraulic tappets, wet-sump lubrication and an exhaust catalyst to meet global emissions and the engine is more compact. They have retained the good looking rounded fuel tank and the finned engine, the very characteristics of a Royal Enfield. Once you ride the bike, you feel the difference from its predecessors, the throttle and clutch action are light and the bike has a brisk acceleration. Vibrations, which are very much a part of the RE image, is still there, although less. The legendary exhaust note, though muted, cannot be mistaken for anything else. Nonetheless, I still miss the IC engine.The paint job and finishing has improved by leaps and bounds and all the three available shades look fantastic. Seat is comfortable as always and of course the false neutrals are there. Surprisingly the new engine seems to be smoother than the previous one. I don’t know whether to appreciate it or condemn it since it has taken away some of the Bullet characteristics.Power output has increased to a yet low but reasonable 28 bhp but with a 5.5:1 compression ratio, you cannot expect it to zap ahead at the twist of the throttle. The brakes still need some ‘getting along’ with it. Power output at best is decent enough compared to new generation bikes. Halt! Halt! Halt! ‘Compared to…” did I write that?
Reality check – If you are John or Peter, you need not be reading this. You know after my friend offered me a ride on the 500, I actually wanted to ride it again… and again. Now that is different, what is ‘That’, I am coming to it. And most importantly, you never ‘compare’ a Bullet, you never did and neither will do for the new version, not even with the old one. If you are doing that, you are missing the whole scenario.After I returned the 500 to my friend, that night while sleeping, I really wanted to try out the bike in the morning. ‘That’ was different. You know, for any previous Bullets, the best thing about the bikes was the ride. After starting the bike trying to kick the engine to life with decompressing the choke, getting the ampmeter reading to the middle, getting a false first gear and what not, you tend to forget everything once you start crusing at anything beyond 40 kmph, the smoothness of the engine literally brings a smile to your face. It is so calm, you know driving above 80 kmph will bring you the vibrations and all, so you keep it between 40 to 80 and you enjoy something which no other bike could give. That was the old Bullet. You love to ride the bike, but it was not that you look forward to driving it every now and then, after all you have to go through all its niggles and hassles almost everytime, yet when you ride it, you forgive it all. But the new Bullet… it got me like a 20 year old with a new bike eager to get up early in the morning and get set for one more ride.I really don’t know what was it about the new bullet but I had to find it out. So I called up my friend and asked him for the 500 over the next weekend.
And then, came Saturday and in the early morning, when I actually started the bike and rode for a few stretches, it occurred to me. You do not compare a Bullet. Comparison is between similar things and there is no other bike in the world like a Bullet. If you think, the Japanese bikes are much better or you know smaller engine bikes are more efficient or anything in those lines, you are not fit to ride a Bullet or you probably should not ride it. First of all again I am saying, don’t compare it with anything. Yes, I know a 250cc bike can outrun it in seconds and all that but again if I say so, I am comparing it with a 250cc and so I am completely off the picture.So what is the new Bullet – Although you have to ride it to actually know what I am trying to say, let me try to put it in words. When you look at it from 2 feet away, the styling will take you back to the swinging 60s, don’t worry even if you were not born then, you will feel exactly as if you are in an Austin Powers movie. Everything around the bike seems so vibrant. It is as if innocence is back in this dog-eat-dog world. And then you will feel like pulling up a leg on the single seat. Once you do, you sit on it that upright position, so relaxing that will make you feel ‘What’s the hurry! Just relax!’ I normally use a Yamaha sportsbike with clip on handlebars and the stance is such that you feel like zooming past everyone. And moreover in this age, time is money, there is no second to lose. Change that! Over the Bullet, even before you roll it on the road, the feeling comes ‘let the world go wherever they feel like, this is me and I answer to nobody.’ You know being a a man, occasionally it happens that if another rider passes you by, you feel like catching him up and showing who is the man, in the Bullet you couldn’t care less even if your ass is on fire, okay, maybe not your ass on fire, but you get the picture right? It just seems so obnoxious to thoughts like racing ahead or speeding up. And all this when the bike is just standing.
And then with the e-switch, you leisurely start it up. The exhaust will widen your grin, you put your put down on the gear to lock the first gear. Slowly it starts rolling. Buy this time, maybe hundreds of bikes might have zapped besides you but you won’t notice a thing. But the other way round, everybody will notice you. The new 500 is not something if you like to play dormant, because even without trying, everybody will notice it. Don’t believe me, go to your nearest showroom and see for yourself and I betcha you will come back agreeing with me. Anyway when you ride it on the road, the only bad thing is that you won’t even notice the pretty lady staring at you and she just might think of you as a snob. But who cares, it is as if the world has moved back a few decades, where there is more pollution due to smoke from hasish and ganja than from vehicles. The new Bullet is very very addictive, something which I didn’t find in the earlier versions. Certain things are definitely missing, but I guess better things have replaced those. It doesn’t have a disk brake at the rear, it is not water cooled, it cannot go like modern cruisers and it cannot do a lot many things, if you want those things, there are a hundred bikes out there. This bike is not meant for those. This bike is meant to be ridden exactly in a way it expects from you and it will deliver just that. The experience of riding a Bullet is different altogether and I eat my own words humbly when I said that the IC engine was better. No the new Bullet 500 UCE engine is definitely better. This bike without a shadow of a doubt is a ‘Classic’ in every sense.
Different versions as found in UK and US
For example, if you want to start the bike in a ‘classic’ way, here is what you do. First, the fuel tap needs to be turned on followed by the choke lever which needs to be depressed and then the decompression lever needs to be pulled as you kick the piston through its cycle to the correct place. And how do you know which is the correct place? This is a little amp meter located next the speedometer where the compass will show you straight ahead which means now the bike is ready to be kicked in motion. But before that, get the kick start lever back to the top, take a good swing and in half a kick, the beast will growl. Or else you can just e-start the bike in normal mode. The looks are oh-so-classic, including the thigh pads on the teardrop-style tank, the extended mud guard fenders, the round headlamp, no digital thingy on the head, two sweet parking lights and a naked metal heart besides your legs. Of course, don’t forget the single saddle seat with dual springs. Even if you somehow don’t appreciate the look of a classic bike, don’t fret, you can get the same machine in many different models in the UK and US disguising itself as the Enfield Bullet Military, Bullet C5, Bullet Sixty-5 among others. All of them carry the same heart with different clothes and shades. There is another good piece of news. It is that the Madras plant is planning on a bigger 600 to 750cc twin Café Racer and this bike also made an appearance at the 2010 New Delhi Auto Expo albeit with the single 500cc engine. All in all, you need to ride the Bullet 500 to know exactly what I am saying, no magazine overview, riding impressions or first ride can jot down what this bike will let you feel. All I can say is that the Bullet 500 is ‘Classically Addictive’