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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Designer customized Royal Enfield but preserved its spirit

Royal Enfield Bullet 350 custom.
Here is a Royal Enfield motorcycle that shows how subtle changes can accomplish expressive results.

It is the work of Vaibhav Gadade, 32, an industrial designer who leads design work at Mahindra Navistar, builder of big, high performance trucks, in Pune, India. He calls this motorcycle "Dark Matter."

I commented when I saw the pictures that the subdued paint and markings tend to pull the eye toward the brilliant polish of the mechanical parts at the center of the motorcycle.

Just because the design elements are low-key doesn't mean they were easy to accomplish, however.

Horn covers and signals provide dabs of color.
Vaibhav was kind enough to share the story behind the certain something in the appearance of this motorcycle.

"I have always wanted to ride the Royal Enfield, for it is a cult bike here in India, especially the standard 350 with the right shift. Not everyone could kick start one, nor could everyone find their way out of the false neutrals. I looked up with awe and admiration to those who rode one.

"After a few months of savings, I picked up a used 1996 standard in decent shape with an OK engine. I did some cosmetic upgrades to it, got new rims and wheels and that served me well for a couple of years 'til I learned to ride it well and realized I needed an engine job. Changed the block and piston and that lasted a couple of more years.

Just a bit of paint outlines the front brake.
"Finally, 10 months back, I said to myself, I need to make this as good as new and better. I stripped it all, down to the last nut and bolt, and thought of applying some of my design skills to give it a new spin.

"But it is easy to go overboard with design. Some of these chopper-like mods done here in India butcher the soul of the Bullet. I knew one thing: that it had to look like essentially the same classic British thumper

"I thought of doing a pearl white metallic, but then decided to take the risk with flat black. Applying flats can be very tricky as touch-ups are impossible in case you get any dust or nick something while painting. I had a local painter with a paint shop but he had no experience doing a flat. I had theoretical experience developing flat black color for the bumpers of our trucks, so I took the risk anyway.

There's constant interplay between flat black and shiny parts.
"I thought of anodizing the engine covers, but to find a supplier to do a one-off job was proving time consuming. Hence I decided to keep it buffed and the rest of the parts, like the exhaust pipe, silencer, turn indicators, side stand, crash guards, etc. were kept chrome. One, this would give a rich offset to the flat black, and, two, all those parts would be easy to replace from the market in case of damage.

"The tail lamp is the phantom style and sort of popular as a mod job on Bullets here. Kind of takes away the bulk of the stock tail lamp and number plate cluster and adds sleekness to the rear end, especially if you are wanting to put on a solo seat.

"The seat itself was brought off the shelf and is well made and quite comfortable. The stickers were again purposefully subdued in color to blend in with the color and are sandwiched between the clear coat and base coats.

"It now also has a new block and piston and new bushes for crank and gudgeon pin. Any play between these components was removed and also new SKF engine bearings were put in instead of the OEM bearings. The SKF's were five times more costly, but then, I thought, if I am at the innermost component, and God knows I don't want to be here again for a really long time, then what the heck. The last item added was a new carb; all possible attempts to service the old one failed.

"All in all, I like the way it looks, and it for sure rides better than new. I have been stopped a couple of times by admirers during my daily commute to work and Sunday morning rides. Feels good. Big credit to my mechanic and painter.

Vaibhav and his customized Royal Enfield.
"You are right about the subtle changes that transform the bike so beautifully. It is all a matter of retaining the bike's spirit."


74 comments:

  1. I really like this RE which is probably not surprising since I ride a Harley-Davidson XL883N Iron which has a similar color scheme. I think some more aggressively styled pipes would improve it even more.

    Merry Christmas

    -Buddha

    Backroads Buddha

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  2. I like the use of Hella SuperTone horns... at 85 dB, they should be loud enough to get someone's attention!

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  3. Beautifully done! I like the subdued look and the black rims as well. From the photos, I initially thought the color was a dark navy or panzer gray, but regardless, this is really an excellent custom Enfield. Nice to hear all the fixes too.

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  5. thank you guys for all the nice comments and a bid thanks to David for sharing this with everyone.

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    1. hi vaibhav i really liked your paint job as well as your work on the bike. if you can help me how you made that matte black paint it would be of great help.please let me know about the head lamps also . thanks .
      cheers
      sandeep

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    2. Sir i tried finding the colour from official dupont site.......i couldnt....please please post a link.......please sir......if could get ur mobile number.....mine is 09460470619......

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    3. Dear Sandeep, try the local paint dealers. Your mechanic or painter would certainly know a few in town. Also, if not Dupont, then there is BASF, Sikkens and Asian PPG all of which have matte or flat black for sure. It is a rare color and almost never used on production line for the reasons mentioned in the article. Hence finding one online maybe not possible.

      Best

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    4. Thnku sir.........will try and will be in touch with u..........i hv a tbts 350 cc 2012 ....so m planning to modify with single seater,vintage type looks......phantom light toh i found on ebay......and sir m frm jaipur......wahan par bullet culture is too dull.......thnku once again sir

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  6. vibhav...superb work mate...I liked it to the core..... rocking look....among all i liked the flat black colour mate....

    Cheerz

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  7. hi vaibhav, ur work over all is awesome, i feel that 350 is lucky to fall in ur hands. u have a great sense and taste on bikes. i love ur color selection flat back. actually past few months i am searching for a paint shop for this flat black. when looking at the finished bike, any can easily tell hw much u dedicated for this output.... hats off man..... if u have some more pics plz mail me " raki.nsv@gmail ".. it would be help full for customizing mine.... plz do it.... and thanks for the share.... :)

    with regards
    santhosh
    coimbatore(TN)

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  8. Beautiful is an Understatement... Hats off buddy to you and the team that went on to restore this beauty...

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  9. Replies
    1. hi vibhav...superb work .....
      i am searching for a paint shop for this flat black there asking the paint code .if u know the flat black or matt black code pls.. pls.. let me know .
      thankyou

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    2. dont have the paint code. i just asked for matt black and got it. its from dupont.

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    3. brother can u pliz tell me from wher i can that seat...pilz tell me my contact num is 09595476587 pawan kedare

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  10. Excellent job . If you dont mind who did you buy the flat clear from. I tried importing it from the US but it comes under hazadrous materials and india is not on the fedex list and fedex is the only company that will ship it out of the U.S.

    By the way I was thinking of John deere flat black paint which they apply on the chassis of the tractors but could not find anybody for the clear.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  11. Hats off dude.....

    I really like your dedication to yours RE..

    Please suggest me that should i go for new bullet or purchase old bullet' than modify like yours or what? pls rpy on prasadteli10@gmail.com

    Rgds
    Prasad
    Vasco - GOA

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  12. Excellent work man... im a great admirer of bullets myself.. im from kerala... it will look more royal if you put a headlamp cap too... have you thought about it???

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  13. sorry guys for the late reply. to answer a few questions

    color is dupont. no need to import. any auto paint shop has it. dont forget to get the matt clear coat.

    i dont have any other pics. david posted all those i had.

    old vs new is a personal thing. i did a old bike this time and will soon be buying a new one and stripping it open, hopefully on the same day of purchase and customizing it. want to build a cafe racer version of an idea i have in my head.

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    1. Hi Vaibhav. Any process on this goal of yours (stripping open a new Bull and customising). If yes please post pics :)

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  14. Hi vaibhav this is ashwin from mumbai.
    i to want to restore my 1996 std 350 to some wat same as u have done. it looks simple but it has a lot of work to be done with care.
    i have a good mechanic who can help me, but i need some suggestions from you such as where i need to be carefull and how shall i get about it. if possible do mail me( ashwin.karale@gmail.com )is my id or do reply here. thankz.would love to talk to you once so i dont make mistakes any where and get good work done at once only .+91 9892321987 is my number.

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  15. dear ashwin, glad to know that my bike inspired you to do up your own. be careful with the paint you pick and the painter. thats the most critical part. aslo ask your mechanic to be careful while assembling. nothing is more worse that a nick on a flawless paint job. also at the end what matters is how the bike rides. use original bore and bearings. trust me, that goes a long way even if it is a bit expensive.

    run it with stock carb and jets. they are designed for daily use. dont change jets during the run in period.

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  16. awesome job dude...where is this painter located in mumbai?...how much did this entire job cost u? approx??

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  17. the entire bike was done in Pune. i never made an account of the cost. the bike took nearly 8 months to be restored. i think it cost me a lot. but it has been over one and a half year, and every time i take it out even today i receive at least one compliment from a stranger and i think to myself, its all worth it.

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  18. How do I post a pic of my (RE) bike? I've done something I would like you guys to see. Can I?

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  19. To contact the writer of this blog (me) you can email david@royalenfields.com

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  20. very nice bike - have just bought a 1974 and will do it in the same color. I'm not sure if you described it already in the article, but could you please describe how you made the "logo" on the tank and tool cover?

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  21. hi Mette, thanks for the compliment and congratulations on your purchase. the Logo is basically a sticker that's sandwiched between the base and clear coat. i had to collect the tank, rear fender and tool covers after the base coat and take em to the sticker guy who cut em out on the vinyl i had selected (a dark gray color) and stuck the same to the parts. then took the metal back to the painter for the clear coat over it that sealed the stickers. you could google the curves for the stickers. my sticker guy fortunately had em with him.

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    1. Hi Vaibhav,
      Thanks a lot for the quick reply - You mention that you had the bike done in Pune, where I stay as well. Hope I could see the bike in real life one day.. Could I as a start get the number of the painter? It seems that part is very important.
      You could also text it to me on 8087000596
      BR
      Daniel

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  23. Where did you get the black wheels and the seat?

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  24. at one motorcycle seat shop in Pune, nana Peth. the springs are a part of the seat.

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  25. Nice work Vaibhav, tough look, were can I find this paint.

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  26. Your bike make me stay off facebook, it got in my brains, i sat infront of the computer for hours just looking at these 5 pics and when i go to bed, they appear in my dreams, im saving money so that i could buy RE350 by the end of this year, hope i'll be able to customise it as good as you. Hats off to you..

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  27. @alanthilak, thanks, the paint is dupont. chk previous comments and you will find some more info.

    @littlewing, thanks. competing with facebook would be a tough task, but i am glad you like it. hope you ride one soon.

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  28. Well done... nice.. I will be copying some of ur ideas :-).. sorry.. but thanks a lot for uploading..

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  29. your bike is the best matt finish ever seen for a bullet.i am totally inspired by same and decied to restore my 1970RE very close to your detail.I saw it first on ebay add for phantom tail lamp before few months.its a unique beauty, well done and heartly thanks.

    raj

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  30. hi,really great job done...beauty it is...could you please tell me about the Logo (stickers), Tail light and the Seat of your dark matter..is there any shop around pune or did you arranged it on our own...

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  31. Dear Shek,

    thanks for the compliment. The logos were cut from an artwork and the tail lamp called as phantom light is available in the market. so is the seat. you can source them from nana peth in pune.

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  32. hi Vaibhav
    liked your bike.please provide your contact no.

    Rishi
    08901229296

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  33. hi vaibhav.. you bike really look nice. i notice an rubber in the end of exhaust part. what for it? whether it gives good thump and were it is available.

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  34. Thanks Prabhakaran. the sleeve is just an aesthetic one. it doesn't change the silencer note. It is available at any RE parts supplier.

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  35. Hi vaibhav...good work...although the rear mud guard is not my taste..i will suggest the small one and the seat and battery box has to be changed with the new model.
    I am also planning to change the color of my C5 and when i saw your vehicle i finalized that i will go for your bike color. can you give me details of the paint which you have used in your bike.

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  36. This is the best "matte black" work i have ever seen on a Royal Enfield..

    I own a RE 350 since 8 years & offlate i started using car more than bike... At one stage i was planning to sell the bike..... But trust me..........The day i saw this bike & the pics... i decided not to sell it & to restore it...

    Now my bike is getting done & YES iam going for matte black paint... But your paint job will remain unique.....

    I have taken this pic & posted as my cover photo in facebook :) :) That much i liked your bike..

    Thanks for the motivation.............

    Awesome !!!! No comments !!!

    Hope i get my RE 350 done soon (2 months time as per mech)

    Shine

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    1. Thanks. People who sell their Enfield's do regret at some point later. Glad to know you are keeping yours.

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  37. Hi brother , awsum look
    I have matte black on my 1998 bullet , just want to know which clear coat you used
    Flat clear
    Or
    Satin clear ???

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    1. Flat, matte and satin in color terminology probably means the same thing. I have used flat clear. Any premium automotive grade paint and clear will do the job.

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    2. Flat, matte and satin in color terminology probably means the same thing. I have used flat clear. Any premium automotive grade paint and clear will do the job.

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  38. Just one word...

    A.W.E.S.O.M.E......!

    I'm going to make my Electra an exact replica of your RE... Thanks for such a neat job of Dark Matter; so understated yet elegant...! Kudos, Bro...!

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    1. o m g your wrk is really great. i need to your num :-)

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  39. Really good work bro.. I want to know the RE sign in the tank was decals or stickers as in RE classic dessert storm?

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  40. Well, in automotive world, decal is just a fancy name for sticker and thats what it is. Though in this case it is sandwiched between the base and clear coat. On the production line, decals would be put over the clear coat. The reason it is sandwiched it so that the sticker stays protected and never peels off.

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  41. Awesome piece of work. Engineered to minute details. Lovely bike. Just thinking of picking up few threads from your design.

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  42. Hey hi vaibhav i love ur bikes colour man such a beautiful job u have done after seeing ur bike man i got an RE std 350 1976 for me, right now it is undergoing engine work i dont wanna taunt my mechanic for that, but i was thinking about painting it matte black but after visiting this post i cant take my eyes off of that bike. It has that effect in a picture what it must be doing on road man..well i actually wanted to know that have u added some blue shade with tha flat black or is it colour itself if possible please give colour vode of it too man that would be appreciated thank you

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  43. Well...the colour is amazing...it really is.

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  44. Thanks you both. The black is indeed on the cooler side. So yeah it is more blue than red. I don't have the colour code for it though.

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  45. Color is awesome! I want to paint like this. Which color it is? off color I guess.

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  46. Hi Vaibhav really inspired by your masterpiece, getting my RE350 1987 model to be restored as same as yours...I got to know from ur previous post that the color is dupont flat black but wanted to know more how to guide the painter to get the same finish? Also wanted to know will get the same finish only by applying flat black paint or need to do something else?

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  47. Thanks Piyush. Just flat black with flat clear. The painter just gets one chance to lay the color. If there us a nick or say a dust particle, then no touch up is possible with matt paint. The entire surface will have to be painted again.

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  48. hi vaibhav, i know its a very late comment. i read about your bike long back, the reason why i searched your blog today is to ask about the mechanic who helped you build your bull. i have 1984 Standard Bullet, which i have customised as latest classic model. Everything is fine but seating is not that perfect. I found your bike's pic in just dial in add of one garage called St. jude in wanaworie. when i called he accepted that he did this job. Can You confirm he is the mechanic who worked on your bike or it's someone else. If its someone else then let me know his name and details. Thanks and Regards

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amit, The st jude mechanic is lying. My bike was built at the garage of munna sheikh next to saras buag on the road that connects to sinhagad road. you will locate his garage as the one with many bullets parked outside.

      Hope this helps.

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  49. are the stencils/decals hand cut? are they available from the enfield dealership?

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  50. Best of works..

    One question ...
    How do you get a matt navy blue finish by using flat black paint

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  51. hey vaibhav, awesome job and a great piece of machine kudos to you and your team. i am also thinking of converting my re with dark green matt finish. you didnt mention about the fuel tank is it the original one or you have changed it?
    tia
    KK

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  52. Love the matte black color, looks awesome

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  53. aasim: the decals are laser cut. any number plate fella would do it.

    krishna: it is best to use matt navy blue colour itself if thats what you want.

    anon: the fuel tank is stock. everything on the bike is stock, except for the tail lamp. which frankly I will replace with the stock one soon.

    Maya Stickers: thanks :)

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  54. Awsome look bro. Bull looks majestic.
    Could you share exact address location for customization.

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  55. Excuse me ??
    Is there any more of the same one left ??
    Please...really needed to know..I love it

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  56. This was just a one off custom job. I designed it and was built at munnas garage at Saras baug, Pune.

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  57. Hi vaibhav! nice job on your RE, could you please share with us where you found your crash bar? I'm looking to fit one on my RE and I like the shape of yours. I am between the oval and yours... Will also need to get it shipped to Europe... any info will be helpful, thanks!

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