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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Britain's Bullet got a new look after 1955

A Royal Enfield Bullet for sale on eBay provides a great look at the Bullet Royal Enfield built in Britain after the circa 1955 design went off to India.

In England, the Bullet got a new frame, smaller wheels and a new design for the trademark casquette.

The left and right tool boxes became one box running through the frame, with the right side housing the air filter, thus eliminating the separate air filter box.

In Royal Enfield, The Postwar Models, author Roy Bacon notes that this was an era of popularity for scooters, with their one-piece bodies. Perhaps the Bullet's new dashboard style cowl and the reduction in the number of boxes was a cleaning up of the design, in line with the look of a scooter.

Others may notice the frame or wheels, but to me the new casquette is the most eye catching change. This is the "face" of the motorcycle, it is what the rider ends up looking at most, and it has always seemed to me to be the signature feature of the Royal Enfield Bullet.

In the new version, the pilot lights almost seem to be at the end of tubes, while the rear wraps around the handlebars. To me this seems a bit awkward but at the time it might have looked streamlined and modern.

The new "diamond" frame came in 1956. Bacon says the 17-inch wheels came in 1959 and the new style of casquette came in 1960. (The Bullet on eBay is advertised as a 1957 but, if Bacon is correct about the wheels and casquette, it may be a few years newer than that).

More changes were coming. In 1962 Royal Enfield would "discontinue" the Bullet, bringing back the name in 1963 as the "New Bullet." The New Bullet had a unit constructed engine (engine and transmission sharing the same cases).

Meanwhile, in India, the older 1955-style Bullet would remain in production for more than half a century before it got a unit constructed engine of its own!

Thankfully, it retains an attractive casquette.

3 comments:

  1. The toolbox also housed the battery, allowing the engine to acquire -to use CMW catalogue's words-, "that much sought-after, clean see-through look".

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  2. The side stands looks like the poorly designed Indian-made piece of junk that CMW sold me a few years ago --- I'll never forgive Kevin & Co. for that. That damned thing made the bike so unstable that it fell over several times and ultimately caused several hundred dollars worth of damage.

    I can't believe that the folks at Redditch made an identical one available in the '50's! So its has to be an Indian import --- probably bought from CMW when they were trying to unload the reminder for next to nothing rather than placing them where they belonged --- in the dumpster.

    Al in Philadelphia

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  3. La pagina es exelente yo soy fanático de esta moto tengo una 750c.c. super constellstion año 1967 necesito comprar las tapas de cilindros completas son iguales a la modelo interceptor mi mail: joseluiscardoni@hotmail.com soy de córdoba Argentina los felicito es completa la pagina.

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