Monday, August 18, 2008

10 bad things other people do to your Bullet

Not every Enfield owner can or will do all his own mechanical work. Those of us who sometimes pay for big jobs endure little annoyances. Among them:

1. No (or very little) oil in the motor after servicing. This may happen because the shop adds enough oil to reach the dip stick but then does not run the engine and re-check the level. Always bring a paper towel in your pocket when you go to pick up the motorcycle and subtly check the oil level yourself before riding off.

2. Missing parts. Shops take off little items and then forget to put them back on. Before you leave with your bike, take a few long moments to admire it. If the shop took off the rear wheel don't be surprised to find the clamshell adjusters or the chain guard gone.

3. They have your Bullet warmed up and even start it for you when you arrive. Great. But will it start with your own starting routine? Shut it off, let it sit a bit and try to restart it your way before you leave the shop. If you can't get going, something's wrong.

4. Tire changers will always firmly tighten the inner tube retaining nuts. Pete Snidal advises leaving them loose, so the first notice you get that the inner tube is slipping is a slanting valve, not an instant flat when the valve rips off.

5. A shop will glue down the value adjuster cover. They just want to make sure it doesn't leak oil, but attaching it permanently is not the right answer. You need to get to the valves, sometimes on the road, to keep them set right. Removing the glued cover probably will destroy the nice rubber gasket (as shown above).

6. Cables re-routed so as to cause problems. I once had my clutch cable re-routed so the metal mid-point adjuster shorted out the contacts on the horn, causing it to sound softly. I rode miles trying to figure out what THAT noise was.

7. Sump plugs re-installed by a mechanic with King Kong muscles so you can't remove them. Again, they are just trying to prevent leaks, but witchy tight plugs are not the solution. Rub the threads across a bar of soap and put the plugs in with normal strength.

8. Oil filter parts re-installed in the wrong order. Yes, it does seem odd that the spring in the cap bears on a fiber washer, but that is the way it's supposed to work. Putting the metal washer between them instead of on the other side of the fiber washer means an oil leak for certain.

9. Broken taillights. The plastic arms that hold the Bullet's taillights are surprisingly delicate and they are attached to the thin metal of the surprisingly delicate taillight assembly. In the shop, these things will be bumped by passing legs and yanked as they catch on clothing. Once snapped, they are virtually impossible to repair. They must be replaced.

10. Burnt out pilot lights. Don't ask me why, but I always have to go shopping for new pilot light bulbs after a visit to a shop. Coincidence?


  1. Anonymous12/27/2008

    You're wrong on point 8,it's spring,washer,felt washer then cup washer.

  2. Anonymous5/31/2009

    This makes the Enfield sound like a lot of work . . . Just the reason I want one!!

    Thanks for the tips


  3. Anonymous3/15/2014

    You really need to change the place where you get your bike fixed bro .!

  4. I would like to second the above comment. Change the shop you take it to.

  5. Anonymous10/10/2014

    This happens in England too, I took my 500 for its first service and after riding it it developed a very noisy vibration which I eventually traced to a bolt on the rectifier holder vibrating against the frame, always check things out and lear how to use a manual and spanners, it saves money and is fun if your careful, Neil in uk

  6. Anonymous3/22/2015

    As for lights burning out, have changed all over to LED with great improvement in illumination and longevity.

  7. Anonymous2/24/2017

    That's why I do all my own servicing and repairs. If I ever need a pro, it will have to be someone who is very familiar with Enfields, or at least similar British bikes of the same era...
    Great site btw :-)
    Gary (Aus)

    1. I agree 110%. These machines are alien beasts to modern mechanics. You will rapidly go broke training someone else to maintain your machine. If you are unwilling to dive deeply into 1940's maintenance arcania, you will be way happier with a Suzuki TU250 or Kawasaki W800 and a picture of your favorite antique motorcycle. Jay Leno is the only guy I know of that can have his cake & eat it too...with the benefit of a 50,000+ square feet of garage space & fleet of paid mechanics and a 9 figure income.


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