Friday, May 7, 2010

Royal Enfield rear wheel easy to remove,
thanks to clever swing-up back fender

It may seem hard to believe today, but post-war Royal Enfield motorcycles were known for advanced design features.

Swing-arm rear suspension, telescopic forks, cush drive, the neutral finder and spacious tool boxes were appreciated by motorcyclists. I purchased a 2006 Honda motorcycle and was stunned to discover that it had no oil filter, a feature Royal Enfield Bullet riders have enjoyed since 1939.

But one Royal Enfield feature always left me perplexed: the "quick detach" rear wheel. Oh, it's a terrific idea: take off one nut, slide out the axle, and the wheel is off, without affecting the chain or rear brake settings.

It's once you have the wheel off that you realize you can't get it out from under the fender!

Even if the tire is dead flat, there just isn't enough clearance.

The owner's manual of my 1999 Bullet helpfully suggests that you tip the motorcycle over on its centerstand and fish the wheel out from under the fender and muffler. I've done that. It's no fun.

Frustrating, too, is that you can just see the easy solution: if only the fender had a hinge in it, you could swing it up and away for clearance.

Not until I'd owned my Bullet for years did I learn the truth: the Bullet rear fender is hinged!

Plenty of room to remove the wheel.

Loosen one nut on either side of the motorcycle and it swings up and out of the way — assuming you have the solo seat.

Owners of machines with dual seats will have to unbolt and remove the seat; avoiding this is no doubt why the owner's manual suggested the Tip and Tug method.

I learned this trick from David Hill, of Franklin, Mass., who told everyone about it on the Royal Enfield Yahoo Message Group. He even noted that your spark plug wrench is the perfect size to loosen the nuts, just above the rear pegs, that hold the fender in place.

Spark plug wrench fits the nuts perfectly.

This method applies to the time honored Bullet, but what about the new C5 and G5 models? I wrote to Greg Stewart ("Scooter Bob"), technical services expert for Classic Motorworks. He replied:

"The C5 will do just that – but you’ll need to put the G5’s centerstand up on a piece of board and probably tip it to one side to get the wheel assembly out from under the bike. They still have the “quick hub” like ALL good Brit bikes should have – but they moved the drive chain to the right side."


  1. Excellent post! Super timely as I prepare to replace the stock rear Avon on my 2004 Bullet with a 400 x 19 Duro from DomiRacer.



  2. Chris Bartlett5/08/2010

    Yes, excellent tip David. I had no idea!

  3. Anonymous5/08/2010

    Brilliant!Also a handy way to tighten up mechanical and electrical connections under the fender,without being double-jointed,standing on you head,or swearing...looks like this will make it easier to put the 350 fender on my 500,as well...thanks,David!

  4. Now that my tire is all changed up I would recommend caution when pulling up the fender. I had to take off my saddle seat because there was far too little clearance, and when I pulled up the fender it rubbed against the saddle stays and nicked the paint. Luckily you can't see the damage ... user error!

  5. I documented the tire change on my website for anyone interested. A mechanic-in-training exchanges 501s for Dickies! David, your video (again) was fantastically helpful!

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

  6. Anonymous11/28/2010

    HI ..
    i have a doubt , how to do this for an electra ..?

  7. ToesNose3/15/2011

    Hmmmmm I wonder if some sort of stop could be added so the fender won't rub on the seat back? Possibly something that would hold the fender up too while pulling out/replacing the wheel and doing any bits of work under the fender =)

  8. Well, you could use a shop rag and a bungee cord. Note, in the video, that the darn wheel nearly rolled away from me when I lifted the fender? You only have to lift it momentarily to get the wheel in and out. It's really genius. Some motorcycles of the period had unsightly hinges visible in the fender. Royal Enfield's solution was just so elegant, you have to appreciate it. Along with the swinging arm, the neutral finder and instrument binnacle, this motorcycle was full of clever details.

  9. Anonymous1/01/2018

    is this hinged rear mudguard on the 2015 c5 classics?

    1. According to Scooter Bob, the C5 did include this feature at the time of the article. It will only take a moment with your spark plug wrench to discover if it still does. Please let us know!


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