Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Royal Enfield C5 vs the G5:
The C5 is the better motorcycle

Royal Enfield C5, foreground, followed by a G5

The Royal Enfield Experience at Daytona Bike Week gave me a chance to ride the new Bullet C5 and G5 motorcycles one right after the other, for the first time.

Riders traded machines half way through the gentle cruise around "The Loop" in Ormond Beach, Florida. I got off the classic green G5 I started with and took over the deep black C5 from Ed and Susan O'Brien of Winter Springs, Fla.

Everyone was smiling when we returned to the Scooter Superstore, headquarters for the demo ride and now the Royal Enfield of Daytona Beach dealership.

"Which one did you like the best?" I asked Susan and Ed.

"This one!" Ed said, indicating the G5. I laughed.

The Royal Enfield Experience: Which one do you want?

"I was about to say exactly the opposite," I said. To Ed's surprise, Susan also expressed a preference for the C5.

"I can't believe how much more comfortable this one is," she said, indicating the C5, and pointing out that its accessory pillion pad is bigger than the passenger's share of the dual seat on the G5. But it was more than that: there was something else about it that made her feel good and she didn't seem to know quite how to put it.

She did add: "And I like all the retro stuff."

She has a sharp eye. The C5 is the newer design, and the top of the line, but designers patterned it after a 1951 Royal Enfield. The G5 still shares the appearance of the 1955-style Bullets manufactured for half a century in India. Thus, the newer design looks even more retro.

Both have modern Unit Constructed Engines and fuel injection, with a disk front brake and electric start.

The G5, to its credit, retains a kick starter, which won the approval of everyone who commented at the Rider Experience.

"I think the market really wants the kick start," Royal Enfield USA president Kevin Mahoney said. Whether the C5 will get a kicker (those sold in India have them) from the factory remains to be seen. Adding one isn't a do-it-yourself project, Mahoney explained. Much of the motor would have to be changed.

But nevermind that. The C5, in my opinion, is "The Motorcycle." I've never ridden a Royal Enfield motorcycle that instantly felt so right and inspired such immediate confidence. Perhaps it is the smaller wheels of the C5, or some Italian witchcraft massaged into the frame design by consultants.

Sue was right: I just can't believe how comfortable it is, and not just to the fanny. I honestly can't identify why it felt so good. But it did.

Disclosure: the C5 on the rider experience had the upswept after-market exhaust that looks so nice, sounds so nice and probably adds some power. Power always feels good. Could this alone have made such a dramatic difference?

That's the wonderful thing about the Royal Enfield Experience. You get to try the motorcycles for yourself. Spec sheets and pictures can tell you only so much. The Royal Enfield Experience will be touring the U.S. If you can get to one, I recommend it.

The Royal Enfield Experience tour plans stops at the Americade rally June 7-12 in Lake George, N.Y.; Laconia Bike Week, June 12-20 in Laconia, N.H.; and Sturgis, S.D. Aug. 9-15.

Not as close as it looks, but the C5 did inspire confidence.


  1. Dan Mullins12/05/2010

    The C5 is a brilliant motorcycle, I totally agree with the riders in this article!

  2. Anonymous2/01/2013

    every bullet must have a kick start

    1. All new Royal Enfield C5s now come with the kick start as well as electric start. In the U.S. it seems to be only the 2009 model year that lacks the kick start but if it is important to you make sure the machine you're buying has it.

  3. A quick related question. I like the double seat(like the one on B5). Can I fix the B5 or G5 double seat to my C5? I guess I may not be able to find the spots to attach the rear two nuts on C5 for the B5 double seat. Is it safe to leave them open by just attaching the front two bolts only on C5 ? I currently had a Corbin double seat(without rear seat rest) attached with the front two bolts only) Thanks

    1. Chatter on the Internet seems to indicate that a dual seat can be fitted to the C5, without modification, but using hand-made brackets. I note that Classic Motorworks sells an English style dual seat for models including the C5. You have to specify your model, but the B5 and C5 are the same spec choice in the dropdown menu, suggesting they use the same seat as the AVL (but perhaps with supplied special brackets?).

    2. UPDATE FROM Tim Hirdler of Classic Motorworks (now Baker Motorsport Co.): "None of the OE seats (B5, G5, or Electra) will bolt directly on the C5 model. If the reader is up to fabricating we can supply a gently used dual seat at a bargain price. The other option would be the English dual seat upgrade. As far as safety is concerned; it’s always a good idea to firmly secure all components of your motorcycle."


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