Royal Enfield C5 vs the G5: The C5 is the better motorcycle
Royal Enfield C5, foreground, followed by a G5
The Royal Enfield Experience at Daytona Bike Week gave me a chance to ride the new Bullet C5 and G5 motorcycles one right after the other, for the first time.
Riders traded machines half way through the gentle cruise around "The Loop" in Ormand Beach, Florida. I got off the classic green G5 I started with and took over the deep black C5 from Ed and Susan O'Brien of Winter Springs, Fla.
Everyone was smiling when we returned to the Scooter Superstore, headquarters for the demo ride and now the Royal Enfield of Daytona Beach dealership.
"Which one did you like the best?" I asked Susan and Ed.
"This one!" Ed said, indicating the G5. I laughed.
The Royal Enfield Experience: Which one do you want?
"I was about to say exactly the opposite," I said. To Ed's surprise, Susan also expressed a preference for the C5.
"I can't believe how much more comfortable this one is," she said, indicating the C5, and pointing out that its accessory pillion pad is bigger than the passenger's share of the dual seat on the G5. But it was more than that: there was something else about it that made her feel good and she didn't seem to know quite how to put it.
She did add: "And I like all the retro stuff."
She has a sharp eye. The C5 is the newer design, and the top of the line, but designers patterned it after a 1951 Royal Enfield. The G5 still shares the appearance of the 1955-style Bullets manufactured for half a century in India. Thus, the newer design looks even more retro.
Both have modern Unit Constructed Engines and fuel injection, with a disk front brake and electric start.
The G5, to its credit, retains a kick starter, which won the approval of everyone who commented at the Rider Experience.
"I think the market really wants the kick start," Royal Enfield USA president Kevin Mahoney said. Whether the C5 will get a kicker (those sold in India have them) from the factory remains to be seen. Adding one isn't a do-it-yourself project, Mahoney explained. Much of the motor would have to be changed.
But nevermind that. The C5, in my opinion, is "The Motorcycle." I've never ridden a Royal Enfield motorcycle that instantly felt so right and inspired such immediate confidence. Perhaps it is the smaller wheels of the C5, or some Italian witchcraft massaged into the frame design by consultants.
Sue was right: I just can't believe how comfortable it is, and not just to the fanny. I honestly can't identify why it felt so good. But it did.
Disclosure: the C5 on the rider experience had the upswept after-market exhaust that looks so nice, sounds so nice and probably adds some power. Power always feels good. Could this alone have made such a dramatic difference?
That's the wonderful thing about the Royal Enfield Experience. You get to try the motorcycles for yourself. Spec sheets and pictures can tell you only so much. The Royal Enfield Experience will be touring the U.S. If you can get to one, I recommend it.
The Royal Enfield Experience tour plans stops at the Americade rally June 7-12 in Lake George, N.Y.; Laconia Bike Week, June 12-20 in Laconia, N.H.; and Sturgis, S.D. Aug. 9-15.
Not as close as it looks, but the C5 did inspire confidence.