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Friday, January 20, 2017

A close look at Royal Enfield's diesel motorcycle

Royal Enfield sold this diesel powered Bullet in India.
An original Royal Enfield diesel motorcycle for sale on CraigsList in Austin, Texas, offers an especially good look at this motorcycle, which is very rare in the U.S.

It has a 325cc Greaves Lombardini motor, said to be good for about 6.5 horsepower, half that of a gasoline powered 350cc Bullet.

With its separate gearbox, the old Royal Enfield Bullet has been a popular candidate for private conversion to diesel power. But in the case of this motorcycle, Royal Enfield India itself got into the act, selling its own diesel Bullet, often called the Taurus.

Dieselbike.net once referred to it as "probably the most massed produced diesel motorcycle to date."

The Royal Enfield Taurus diesel motorcycles came with either a 325cc or 436cc single four-stroke Greaves engine, according to that website.

This Royal Enfield diesel isn't labelled a Taurus but graphics are unmistakable.
"Mine does not say Taurus on the tank. I used that in the listing for reference to the diesel model," the Texas seller wrote me in an email.

"I haven't ridden it for three years. It now is hard to start (kick only). When it was running it got a lot of miles per gallon. I don't know what it was but a gallon of diesel would last a long time.

"I have never run it on processed French fry grease but the previous owner did. I think 55 was max speed."

This Enfield diesel has a neat, factory built look.
Although not labelled "Taurus" on the tank, it's apparent from photos on the Internet that his diesel Royal Enfield shares the look and graphics of the genuine Taurus. Perhaps the Taurus name came along as marketing efforts picked up speed.

Although licensed as a 1969, the Texas motorcycle has the rectangular turn signals (sprouting from the nacelle in front) that mark it as a Bullet of the early 1990s.

Diesel motor is air cooled and kick started.
BikesIndia.org says the Royal Enfield Taurus with 325cc Lombardini motor was launched in 1993.

Motorcycles with similar graphics offered for sale around the Internet are said to date from as late as 2002. That's apparently when air pollution regulations in India killed the diesel motorcycle.

Not everyone liked the industrial look of a diesel motor.
Prior to that, the low cost and good quality of diesel fuel, and familiarity with small diesel motors in India would have made even such a low powered motorcycle appealing. They were criticized for vibration.

Jorge Pullin has an extensive article on Diesel Royal Enfields on his My Royal Enfields blog.

Catalog style photo of a later Enfield diesel with Taurus on the tank.

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