Friday, February 21, 2020

Author takes on a project Royal Enfield Bullet and...

Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle.
Author David Wittlinger details his struggles to restore a Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle.
Author David Wittlinger and I share a vision:

"As I rode along an empty two-lane road I watched my silhouette float across the field next to me. If not for the outline of my full-face helmet the profile I saw could easily have been of a younger man motoring along a narrow English lane astride his 1955 motorcycle..."

I've seen that ghostly image while riding my own old Royal Enfield motorcycle, and felt its inspiration.

The same is true of much in Wittlinger's new book "Dodging Bullets," available through Amazon in paperback or digital format.

Subtitled "Resurrection of a Motorcycle," the book describes Wittlinger's decision to buy a used and inoperable 2007 Royal Enfield Bullet. He took the chance he might fail to get it to run, hoping to hone his mechanical skills and have fun doing it.

Cover of book "Dodging Bullets."
"Dodging Bullets"
He didn't fully know what he was getting into, but he was willing to face the challenges as they came. The plot deepens when it turns out that the Dreaded Previous Owner had attempted fixes that made the situation much worse. In effect, booby traps had been set for Wittlinger at every turn.

The fun is in being along for the ride as Wittlinger slams into one road block after another, meeting each one with ironic humor.

"Dodging Bullets" is a slim book and you sometimes expect it will end suddenly with the words "And then I gave up."

Of course, it doesn't. As the author points out, getting there is often more than half the fun.

Wittlinger credits the online forum members who helped him along the way, Hitchcock's Motorcycles and Pete Snidal's excellent manual on the old Royal Enfield Bullets. He even gives my blog a nice plug. (I have no connection to sales of the book.)

A sidelight for me: Wittlinger doesn't dwell on it, but particularly aggravating is that he can't find the Previous Owner.

Convinced to buy the motorcycle, he finds himself handing cash to a seller whose name isn't on the title. He is left with only an out-of-state title carrying the name of a person he never met . He was unable to track down this unknown woman, with a common name, who no longer lives at the address on the title.

It's hard enough that we live in a country with 50 different ways (51 counting District of Columbia) of keeping track of who owns a motor vehicle. Worse is that everyone seems to have their own way of cheating these systems.

I speak as a man once accused of selling a dangerous car to a teenage girl I'd never met, because the title date was altered by a man who pretended to be me.

If you own a Royal Enfield Bullet it's likely you too will find things in "Dodging Bullets" that make your ears burn with recognition. And appreciation.


  1. Read the words "And appreciation," ordered the book! Thanks, David!

  2. My favorite sentence: "If you downshift into Gear Purgatory (Note: a stubborn neutral between gears) while trying to slow down with what they laughably call brakes on this contraption you'd best have your need for stopping somewhere far on the distant horizon."

    This sentence and the next, describing sphincter clenching and a certain shrinking "down there" are priceless! Thanks again, David!

  3. Speaking as a former ADRA District 37 Desert racer, sometimes that little cone shaped seat pucker is the only thing keeping you attached to your machine! Well, if we'd wanted easy we'd all be riding Hayabusas, right? I'm interested in seeing how much the Hitchcocks sticky compound front brake shoes actually do for this olde beastie. I do like being able to fiddle with the valves, clean & adjust the carburettor and make the sparks appear via good 'ol points & coil vs. relying solely upon voodoo electronics. It's a lot of fun to see the current generation of wrench turners baffled by this archaic but user friendly (sort of) tech. Seriously, grease in the gearbox...?!? ;=)

  4. Any Bullet owner who's ever wrestled with one with "issues", or who is thinking of taking on a "fixer-upper" would do well to read David's book.

  5. Super book, needs to make the history of the marque accurate as it is a little "off", but it encompasses the true "pleasures" of RE ownership. When I started I wondered when various people and companies would be credited and sure enough they all came up.


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