Friday, May 8, 2020

A look in the mirror tells Royal Enfield owner he's cheap

Photo from front of motorcycle with left and right mirrors visible.
Mis-matched mirrors on my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet.
Rusting after-market on the left in this photo, limp stock one on the right.
Paul d'Orleans, author of the respected Vintagent blog, recently rhapsodized at length about his 1965 Velocette Thruxton motorcycle. (Sidelight: I love the sound of the name "Thruxton.")

What surprised me about his article: he used his prized motorcycle, with its glam fishtail exhaust, as his sole transport and daily commuter for two years. So it was no pampered baby.

I racked up the miles commuting to work for seven years on my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet. It's no Thruxton, but I know what it's like to abuse an old-fashioned motorcycle in rush hour traffic day after day.

There was the time vibration fatigued the horn bracket to death, dropping the horn onto the pavement. By the time I'd gone back and picked it up it had been flattened by traffic. I bought a new horn.

There was the time the gearshift lever, lubricated with warm oil from leaks vibrated off and skipped along the pavement. I went back, picked it up, and put it back on. It immediately came off again. I went back, etc.

And then there was the time one of the stock mirrors started refusing to hold an adjustment, obviously worn out by vibration. I bought a set of after-market mirrors to replace the stock units and threw the one stock mirror that hadn't worn out completely onto a shelf and forgot about it.

Recently, one of my after-market mirrors, no doubt weakened by the fatigue of vibration, snapped off in my hand. My attempt to repair it failed. I had resigned myself to having to shop for replacements when it occurred to me that I still had the other, original, and still slightly functional stock mirror on the shelf.


I was stunned to find it in the first place I looked, stuffed in behind more recently replaced bits and parts. It even had its mounting hardware, and went right into place.

It went right into place loosely, unfortunately. They'd always been like this. On a ride, vibration would eventually loosen the stalks to the point that they flopped forward limply at every stop and swung back — uselessly — in line with the tank on acceleration.

It had been embarrassing. I now resolved to put up with it, as having another mirror contributing to my view to the rear is so much better (and safer) than nothing.

I'll replace it as soon as I can find and fit new after-market mirrors. Right? Well... no.

In reality, I am committed to riding around like this, with mismatched mirrors, one of which is one of the stock mirrors I once derided on this blog as so big and ugly they reminded me of Mickey Mouse ears.

Have I no pride?

Well, this brings me back to Paul d'Orleans' proud paean to his Velocette Thruxton.

My Royal Enfield Bullet will never get "cracked across the Golden Gate Bridge at 4 a.m., at over 115 mph." But like his beloved machine, my Royal Enfield Bullet will continue to be ridden.

Which means all the mirrors will fall off, eventually.

I'll buy new ones then.


  1. An exaggerated sense of frugality is no reflection on you...

  2. Thruxton apparently metamorphed from Turkilleston, according to Wikipedia.

  3. Your Enfield sounds like it's comparable to a well-loved book: a bit dog-eared, a couple of loose pages, faded and rough around the edges. This just proves its used and has a story to tell. It undoubtedly has lots of character! What's the magazine say, "Ride em, don't hide em"!

  4. You could try Loctite on the threads, it might help. Or rectify the vibration source......... not an easy job on aging Enfields!

    1. Indeed. Loctite, or at least its Harbor Freight "Medium Threadlock No. 42" cheapo equivalent, keeps my 2005's formerly wayward right-hand stock mirror well in place.

  5. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!" -Anon
    I figure that until as the "Fashion Police" start handing out cheques for pretty, THEN I'll start worrying about appearance. Good job using what you have!

  6. Hi David,
    A related comment. I was trying to find a clutch center for my 2002 Enfield on Ebay.
    All the listings were for UCI engines, and later models.
    Even after specifying Iron cylinder, 2002, old enfield,
    Couple years ago, most listings were for the old bike.

    By the way I do not see anything amiss with your mirrors

    - Charles

    1. Given the shipping lockdown for eBay's Indian vendors on account of that Wuhan Flu, you might do well until it blows over to contact Tim at Western Cycle Supply ( ) or Hitchcocks in England ( ). Either should be able to help you get your clutch squared away properly.

  7. Sounds like a lovely old Bullet happily going about its daily business 20+ years on to me. Mismatched mirrors are just badges of honor and "character." I'd love to see a few more pix.


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