Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to buy a used Royal Enfield

Buying a used Royal Enfield is a bit different. For one thing, you probably don't have a dealership close by and, if you did, it may not have a used motorcycle in stock. If you buy used, you are almost certainly going to have to buy from a private owner and that means "as is," and "where is." No warranty.

Furthermore, just about everything on a Royal Enfield can be fixed or replaced. There is no such thing as plastic side covers they don't make anymore. That is one advantage of a design that has changed so little over the decades.

Even items that are rare (some switchgear from some years) can be replaced by aftermarket goods. So, finding a Royal Enfield with a few counts against it may not rule it out if the asking price leaves room in the budget for some parts and repairs.

Obviously, you will want to avoid major engine or transmission work, out-of -round wheels and damaged wiring looms. If the motorcycle runs well, rides well and makes no disturbing noises, you may have done all you can to protect yourself from these sorts of unseen problems.

For the rest, a bit of detective work may be necessary. My Bullet has many miles on it. If I had been a potential buyer looking at it over the years, here are few things that might have bothered me:

1. Noise. My main bearing went bad at 40,000 miles. The noise it made was not loud, but it was distinctive and the key was this: the knocking came when I let OFF the throttle.

2. Sprockets. Look carefully for wear. My rear sprocket wore out at 30,000 miles. You can't see the front sprocket but take my word for it, it will need changing at the same time and it is a far more difficult and, thus, more expensive a job. If you see wear, ask for a reduction in the selling price.

3. Cables. They are not terribly expensive to replace but they do have the potential to strand you immediately. If you detect a weak clutch cable (I could when I bought mine), gently ask the owner if he has a new spare cable to throw in.

Finally, consider why someone sells a Royal Enfield. In many cases it will be because they thought they were buying a motorcycle that could cruise with their faster friends. Ask if they tried keeping up with their buddies, perhaps before the Bullet was correctly broken in. If they did, you will have to decide for yourself whether this motorcycle was abused.

A Royal Enfield that has been cared for and well sorted out by a previous owner could in fact be a better machine than it was when it left the factory. Items like better after-market mirrors, conversion to right-side shift, sprung seats, 18-tooth front sprockets and retro-fitted exhaust systems are often made by the first owner. They improve the Bullet greatly. By buying used, you may pick these things up at a fraction of their cost and the none of the trouble to install them.


  1. Anonymous3/18/2009

    Hallo, I need a price list for spare parts (complete front wheel).
    Can you pease sent me one?
    Thanks in advance,
    best regards
    Kurt Ruggaber

  2. Kurt, if you are in the U.S., contact Classic Motorworks. You can shop on line at their website
    or call their toll-free number

  3. Hi,

    I was wondering whether there is an easy way to know if a bullet has an AVL or a cast iron engine? I am posting the answer I received from a Ebay seller about his bullet.

    Q: Hi, Could you please tell me whether the engine is AVL or cast iron? Thnaks Oct-04-09

    Seller: What are you talking about??? That's a new never ceases to amaze me the questions people on eBay can come up with??? How the hell am I supposed to know what metals (I assume AVL is a metal) were used in manufacture???


  4. Rap, the motors look different. If the two oil lines enter the head on the side of the motorcycle, it's an AVL. If the lines enter the head more around to the front and rear, it's an iron barrel.

  5. DAVID HELP!!!


  6. Jp, you can watch this blog for a used Royal Enfield to come up in the area or nearby. Or contact a Florida dealer and buy a new or nearly new Royal Enfield. Here is a list of Florida dealers from the website of Royal Enfield USA.

  7. Anonymous2/14/2011

    David, Im waiting on "The One" to come across this page so I can bring it home. While I wait and read as much as I can from any source that writes about RE, Its come to my attention that I havent found a source that spells out what year RE offered what on their bikes to the US.

    My understanding is pre June 99 is for the most part pure RE (kickstart and carb)but I am at a loss as to what stock engines have been offered.

    Thank you and keep up the good work

    Army Guy

  8. Army Guy, see my post in which I try to lay out the evolution of Royal Enfield models in the U.S. in the modern era.

  9. Anonymous4/04/2011

    Hello David,
    I am eyeing an Enfield that someone is clearing out of storage. In addition to wanting to proberly identify it so I can do some research, I do plan to move to CA at some point in the next year or two.

  10. HI David,
    my name is Rohit and I am from Mumbai, India. I am looking to buy a used RE which i can work on and build to suit my taste. I can't figure out how to judge a good used RE and what to look for. I am a complete rookie.

  11. Anonymous8/12/2011

    Buying from India... is it really worth it?

    ...So I did some digging to see what it would take to import one of those nicely rebuilt REs from the 1960s one often sees for sale for about $2200-$3000.

    You pick it up at a large shipping port, LA for me. Drag it through Customs. Show a Bill-of-Sale Written in english, a manufacturers Certificate of Origin, pay the $350-500 import fee and away you go.

    That's the easy part. So I thought I would do it.

    Getting the vehicle accpetable for registration in the US is quite another matter. It's complicated and the best I can determine, the process will cost much more than the vehicle is worth.

    If you're considering it, do the homework. Visit and then call your Motor vehicle Dept. And then decide if the price offered for the bike is really worth it.

  12. Anonymous8/19/2011

    Looking for the year model for an RE 500, serial No. 9B58269B.
    Possibly an Indian import. Any one?

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