Tuesday, February 16, 2016

'Chasing the Bullet' film a fine tribute to Royal Enfield

Two riders on Royal Enfield Bullets approach in "Chasing the Bullet."
"Chasing the Bullet — a Royal Enfield Documentary" is filmmaker Chris Zahner's 22-minute-long Valentine's Day card to India's Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle.

The film, released Feb. 14, 2016, is "dedicated to those whom have dedicated their lives to this machine."

But the motorcycle itself is clearly the central character and obsession of the film and everyone interviewed in it. They talk of nothing else.

Zahner cuts between talking heads of those who know Bullets best: Indians who ride, customize and maintain them.

He's giving the true believers their forum to rhapsodize about the Bullet.

Between interviews, Zahner gives a taste of his own considerable skills — with the camera. In the mountains, two riders approach (good), they pass to either side of the camera (better), and then we see them riding away (best) in one seemingly seamless shot. It's clean, crisp and inspiring, without drawing attention to itself.

It's impossible not to wish there was more of this. "Chasing the Bullet" feels a bit too tight; too short. Zahner doesn't take time for the "GoPro style" we know he knows how to do. For pure fun and frolic, watch his "GoPro - Modified Royal Enfield Continental GT in Traffic in India."

"Chasing the Bullet" is not entirely a love song. The guys interviewed acknowledge that Bullets leak oil, don't stop well and often won't start at all — especially if your girlfriend is watching.

The Bullet is too heavy. Worse, it has too many moving parts and too many of them are adjustable, for better (and, too often) worse.

Prashant Kumar suggests that even the "mood swings" of the factory workers who built it are still alive somewhere inside a Bullet.

But there is nothing like a Bullet.

Of course they're talking about the "old Bullet."

The new one, with a more modern motor, assembled in a modern factory, is different — better, of course — and selling much better even in India than the old one ever did. This can not be bad.

The new machine is a tribute.

"People buy the new Royal Enfield because of the old Royal Enfield," Bobee Singh comments.

Lest we forget, "Chasing the Bullet" documents the importance of that simple fact.

You can watch "Chasing the Bullet" on YouTube.


  1. Great film. The guys say it as it is. I started on a 1970 BSA Thunderbolt at 20 years old and I had never ridden a motorcycle before and knew nothing about them. I drove that bike everywhere as it was my only transportation. Many bikes have come and gone since then and I have come full circle and bought a leaky, 10 step starting ritual, constant care required, proper side shifter, finicky, no electric start 2000 Royal Enfield Bullet. It's like raising a child. Sometimes you think they are wonderful and the next day you want to toss the into the river until you bite your lip and invest some time and get them on track again.

  2. I loved the film, it was amusing and I did wish for more. I have three of these machines and find that they are like riding a dinosaur.


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