Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Royal Enfields are reliable builders of loyalty

The odometer on my 1999 Bullet reads 41,000 miles and counting.
New Royal Enfield motorcycles are designed to be reliable and light on maintenance chores.

Old-fashioned Royal Enfield Bullets were designed to rely on regular maintenance to keep them going.

Isn't it amusing that owners find something to like in both design philosophies? A recent conversation on the Royal Enfield Yahoo message board provided just such a testimonial.

"Bill" in Little Rock, Ark. wrote:

"I promised an update and here it is. The Enfield is up and running after sitting idle in my garage for the last three or four years and I had forgotten what an absolute hoot it is to ride. Once everything was addressed, it started on the first kick. Amazing!

"No, it doesn't go fast, it shifts only with sheer determination, it shakes like a minor earthquake, and it doesn't stop on a dime, but it is truly the most fun to ride. Yes, you've got to wrench the beastie regularly. And Loctite has got to be in your left hand (and liberally applied) as you reattach the stuff that has vibrated loose. Gotta an incline coming up? No need to down shift: just twist the grip and THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.

"Once I had everything working, my dear, understanding wife asked if I now wanted to sell it — ya know, since it now works. Without any thought I told her I'd rather keep it for putt-ing around on and use the Shadow for my daily driver.

"The Royal Enfield, at least in my version (2000 500 Bullet kick start), isn't for everybody. It really is for the dedicated; but all of you reading this know that. I'm just reaffirming my passion for this ride."

His message drew this response from "George":

"I can totally identify! My '95 Bullet is a treasure, though one that requires some regular attention. Nobody asks to borrow it 'cuz they're afraid they can't master the right-side shift. I'm happy to cultivate that since I know they're unlikely to figure out the secret handshake required for first-kick starting.

"I used to commute to work on it every day, but now it's in a rotation with my Honda Hawk GT and Guzzi V50. I have to tell you that I look forward to the days on the Enfield since nothing is as satisfying as that bike on one of its good days.

"It's probably the least practical thing I own, but it would be the last vehicle I would sell."

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