Friday, July 3, 2009

Who'd pay $18,000 for this Royal Enfield?

Eighteen thousand dollars for a Royal Enfield Bullet built in India? That's the starting bid for a pretty Royal Enfield Bullet advertised on eBay. That's three times what a new Bullet would cost. Why so much? Is this a rare motorcycle?

The seller, in Toronto, Ontario, lists the motorcycle as a "1969 Royal Enfield 500cc. Mint condition. Completely restored, with 125 km. One of the last motorcycles built in India under the original British company. Must see and ride to appreciate the craftsmanship of this machine. Serious inquirers only."

The pictures show a nicely customized Bullet, with big turn signals and a variety of nice options, including a sprung pillion seat and oversize passenger grab bar. No doubt the restoration was well done. But what does the seller mean that it is "one of the last motorcycles built in India under the original British company"?

I asked him to clarify and he kindly responded:

"I can clarify as far as my knowledge. I shipped this bike back from Delhi where it was restored. The only way I could get the bike into Canada was for it to fall into the vintage classification. I was told the British company closed its doors in 1971. I had to hand over the original tattered, yellow ownership to receive my Ontario licence for the bike."

So, what the ad copy means is that this is a motorcycle built in India in 1969 before Royal Enfield went out of business in England in 1971. That's an awfully technical point, and it is a stretch to say that it was built "under" the original British company, since Enfield India and Royal Enfield in England had long gone their separate ways by 1969.

Like all the many thousands of Royal Enfield Bullets built in India over more than 50 years, this one is a tribute to the original British design; but that does not make it more valuable than any other.

And then there is the question of whether it really is a 1969 model. Enfield India did not begin building a 500cc Bullet until 1989. But perhaps this was built as a 350cc motorcycle and converted to 500cc at the time of restoration or before.

Or, perhaps, given the need to fit the motorcycle into the "vintage classification," a motorcycle of recent year was given paperwork identifying it as a 1969 model.

It doesn't really matter, as far as the price is concerned. It's just too much.


  1. Maybe because it is in Canada, where one cannot buy a new Royal Enfield nor import one without incurring enormous expenses? But even then, $18k...

  2. It's a sad fact that Bullets are sold by unscrupulous dealers in India as old, when theyre nothing of the type.

    I bought a 350 from a fellow in England here last September. He had bought the bike in around 2004, as a supposed 1958 Bullet from a dealer in New Delhi. In fact I dated it at more like 1986.

    His freind was into old bikes, but BSA's and Triumphs, and didnt know jack about Bulls, was also took in. The bike was very poorly restored and a mechanical basket case. The poor fellow paid well over a £1000 for this bike, it was not worth it.

    The bike was a ringer, and had false engine and frame numbers. These were easilly seen by close up digital photos. They had sanded the old longer number off, but not so well that digital large image could be fooled!

    Also, the paperwork was insufficient to get an age related number plate. I bought the bike from him to restore. But decided against it and sold it on, informing the buyer everything, but since he wanted a trials bike, he was unconcerned about it's provenance.

    There aint no way I'd buy one of these restored bikes out of India unless I could afford to go over there myself and scrutinise it myself.


  3. Malc, thank you for an important cautionary tale. Of course, we don't know what's up with this one, and Jorge's point is valid: if it is the price of someone getting what they want, and they can afford it, the price is right. But look before you leap!

  4. Hi there,
    Wondering if any of you would know what to price a 1969 350cc Enfield Bullet? My friend lives in India and shipped it over to me about 5 years ago. It's titled and the speedometer says 1049 km. It hasn't been restored but it's in good shape. Just needs a tune up as I haven't ridden it in a few years. Thanks!

  5. Erik, please see my answer to your question in today's blog item for Wednesday, July 22 in

    Best of luck.

  6. Anonymous8/25/2009

    Well apparently nobody. The price is down to $10,500

  7. Anonymous3/01/2024

    I would offer him 50 bucks


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