Friday, October 14, 2011

Royal Enfield guru fixes his Bullet while he rides

My 1999 Bullet: If you ride it you should know how to fix it.
Every long ride on a Royal Enfield Bullet, the old ones anyway, features times of joy and instants of sudden worry.

She's running great today! But what was that? A noise from the motor? A hesitation?

Any change in the sound or performance of an old Bullet triggers the rider's mental troubleshooting software. Owners of newer Bullets may not be able to appreciate this litany:
  • Is that the sound of valves, wanting adjustment? New Bullets have self-adjusting valves.
  • Was that hiccup a sign of fuel starvation at the carburetor? New Bullets have  fuel injection.
  • Do I need to pull over and wipe dirt off the points? New Bullets have points-free electronic ignition.
Never mind. If you're riding an old Bullet, you can fix whatever's wrong — or, at least, you can, if you're a true "Bullet-eer."

For more than a decade B.R. Gurunandan — Nandan, for short — has defined what makes a true "Bullet-eer."

The well known Royal Enfield Bullet guru of the East has provided advice and encouragement (and, sometimes, the lash) to Bullet owners around the world.

From his Bangalore shop, his Nandan Motors website and through his Bulletech Yahoo Group (founded in 2000), Nandan has encouraged Bullet owners to think, learn and master their motorcycles.

"Befriend you bike," is the title of a helpful series of articles he wrote for the New Indian Express in 2008.

Wednesday Nandan demonstrated how it's done in a very funny and very inspiring Bulletech posting, describing his own ride out of Bangalore for vacation with his wife. The item is entitled "Escape Velocity," and you must join the Bulletech group to read it (hit the "Join This Group" button and wait to be approved). It is Message 27451.

The Bullet chosen for the trip had gathered dust while Nandan was busy with other things. Tires were low and rockers needed changing, but then it was ready to go.

"I remove the speedo-cable and toss it onto a shelf along with my mobile phone. Haven't owned a wristwatch since a decade, or that would now go too. We are ready to roll at daybreak," Nandan writes.

Thus begins a heroic tale of smooth running interrupted by sudden uneven blips in the engine note — "brrrrrrrrrrbrbrbrrrrrrbrbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr."

"Dark thoughts" occur to the rider, but Nandan instantly diagnoses the problem and solves it by yanking alternator wires loose. Yes, that works.

But it leads to a hilarious tale of consequences that our hero meets cooly, one at a time, actually modifying the Bullet as he rides.

Only those with some understanding of the electrical system (not me, in other words) will understand exactly how it's done. But that does not make the story any less inspiring.

Recommended reading.

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