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Motorcycle travel in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India...

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  #16  
Old 14 Dec 2009
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Hi there "Nomadb", my pulsar friend is a french national, he has over 20 years riding experience, his daily ride is an 08 ducati Hypermotard 1100s, and has been racing at club level on and off for the last 15 years, his current race bike started life as a 07 suzuki GSXR1000--so 3rd gear power wheelies at 160kmh and braking into a first gear hairpin from 270kmh, is probably second nature to him. Touring in India 90% of his riding is done at 40 to 60kmh. The 5 speed enfield gearbox came on the Indian market around 2002 i think, and is more common than the 4 speed now, price is much the same. The problem alot of people found with the 4 speed box was, in the 40 to 60kmh speed range, you were not going quite fast enough to pull top gear whilst in 3rd it was reving a bit to high. The 5 speed solved that by a better spread of ratios. The Enfield was originally a 350cc and it is often said the 350 matched the 4 speed box better than the 500cc. Most Indians ride Enfields by short shifting to top gear as quickly as possibly, and just cruising, using the bottom end torque of the motor rather than the revs, which is the nature of a single cylinder 4 stroke motor, heaps better fuel consumption as well.
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  #17  
Old 14 Dec 2009
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Dear Redninja,
Thank you very much for the information. Interesting to hear about your friends experience level.

The best way would have been, to go to India and test both bikes for about a week and decide.

I guess with limited time and this is not possible hence we have to rely on opinions.

I will try to see leads to companies/agencies/ or people who sell or rent bikes around Delhi.

Regards.
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  #18  
Old 16 Dec 2009
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I did ~ 3500Ks on a 500 machismo and had virtually no issues. My front brake pads were depleted within a couple days of my start but that was more my fault for not inspecting the pads when I picked up the bike. And there were no brake pads to be had in the Himalayas so I did the entire trip with no front brake.

Still, I would have no qualms with renting another Enfield, and they look cool too.

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  #19  
Old 17 Dec 2009
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Redninja, there isn't anything wrong with Enfields. If you like old style bikes and the technology goes with them that's fine, enjoy. But quit with theory that they are absolutely the best bikes since sliced bread, they aren't, but they do have some serious plus points like some real soul.

The fact that Pulsars might be a bit weird on the front end probably has much more to do with rock hard dodgy Indian tires. I've found that tires are really and absolutely essential ingredient in developing countries as many commuters in developing countries want cheap tires with long life durability and puncture resistance. However these tires can be really dangerous in the hands of someone who is used to riding bikes in western countries or is riding hard, particularly when the road temperature drops or with rain or other contaminants on the surface of the road.

I've been riding in developing countries all over Asia, including Thailand, Indo and India but mostly China for over ten years and I've owned plenty of bikes, and rented even more. I'd say for the average rider a bike under 150KG with modern technology is really the safest option. If you are more experienced and willing to go slowly and have a soulful ride then an Enfield is a good choice. However if handling and pushing on on the emptier roads when you find them is what you like then a modern Japanese designed fuel injected single really is ideal.

Some people gotta ride a Harley in the USA, a BMW in Germany, a Triumph Bonneville in Britain, a Ural in Russia a Chang Jiang in China. Some of the bikes are good, some aren't that modern either. But for me bikes with old technology kill some of my enjoyment of the ride, and replace it with a feeling and an image and a badge.
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  #20  
Old 17 Dec 2009
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Originally Posted by ZMC888 View Post
Redninja, there isn't anything wrong with Enfields. If you like old style bikes and the technology goes with them that's fine, enjoy. But quit with theory that they are absolutely the best bikes since sliced bread, they aren't, but they do have some serious plus points like some real soul.

Some people gotta ride a Harley in the USA, a BMW in Germany, a Triumph Bonneville in Britain, a Ural in Russia a Chang Jiang in China. Some of the bikes are good, some aren't that modern either. But for me bikes with old technology kill some of my enjoyment of the ride, and replace it with a feeling and an image and a badge.
What old technology with current build Enfields scares you?
Wheels perhaps, they have been around (pun intended) for a long time, perhaps digital square ones will work better ?
Chains. those have been around for 150 years or so... perhaps you ought to have a shaft drive? No, that has been in use since ancient Greeks.
Spark plugs? they have been around for over a hundred years so perhaps bikes that use them are old technology.
Nuts, bolts and screw threads? again 2,000 year old technology, maybe only bikes with Tig welded together engines are up to the task ?
Take this as a light hearted scribble
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  #21  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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This may be a little off-topic, sorry for that... but I took part on a group tour with 350 Enfields in South India in 2004. We had an Indian mechanic ride with us. And later on, in 2007, I rode through the country 2-up with my girlfriend, coming from Europe with my V-Strom 650.

This later trip, a lot of people kept saying, that Enfield is ´the right way´ to do it, but I don´t think they had had the chance to compare both these bikes. If they had, I think most of them would´ve kept their mouth shut. They are two very different worlds - two different eras - and when loaded up with 2 people, and luggage for a 6-month trip, the difference became even more crystal clear.

Surely a 180 or 220cc Indian-manufactured Jap bike will not offer as much power or carrying capacity. But its still thoroughly more modern technology, requiring less maintenance. And its lighter, which can be an advantage in many situations. These normally go for 5-6000kms between oil changes, and unless you do something stupid, usually you do not need to touch them at all during these intervals (except refuel and ride). We never needed to fix a single thing on our V-Strom in India, or anywhere else for that matter, on our 6-month, +30.000km trip. Only keep changing the oil, filters, plugs, brake pads, etc.

Most Enfields´ (except the very newest ones) technology dates back to the 50´s or 60´s, an era, when machines simply required more mechanic skills from the rider, to keep them running. Nothing to be scared of, but that´s just the way it is.

It´s true that Enfields can be fixed all over India, but these smaller Jap bikes aren´t so complicated either. Asia is full of small japanese 4-stroke engines (or their copies). And their strong point is they seldom need any fixing, unless you crash, for example.

I do like the Enfields - a lot actually - and if I sometimes go for a vacation in India again, I´ll have nothing against renting one there, for example. They are fun in their own way, when it´s fine to go slow, and just enjoy the views (also plenty of reasons not to even try to go very fast anywhere in India!) But there are reasons, why they are sometimes called "time machines"... I think its just naive to claim their technology would be fully on par with their competitors.

One thing that confuses here I think, is the fact that people have very different levels of technical skill. So if a machine often needs a little attention, (and you don´t have a mechanic riding in your group, or perhaps you´re riding all alone), whether this really becomes a problem or not, depends greatly on your own ability to fix it, and this may vary a lot.

Just my 0.02 cents, and I probably do not know everything about riding in India, so everyone is free to disagree.
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  #22  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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Originally Posted by pecha72 View Post

Most Enfields´ (except the very newest ones) technology dates back to the 50´s or 60´s, an era, when machines simply required more mechanic skills from the rider, to keep them running. Nothing to be scared of, but that´s just the way it is.

I do like the Enfields - a lot actually - and if I sometimes go for a vacation in India again, I´ll have nothing against renting one there, for example. They are fun in their own way, when it´s fine to go slow, and just enjoy the views (also plenty of reasons not to even try to go very fast anywhere in India!) But there are reasons, why they are sometimes called "time machines"... I think its just naive to claim their technology would be fully on par with their competitors.

.
Clearly I did not explain my point well. Why do you HAVE to compare a 1949 Enfield with a modern Jap bike. I am sure if you were to compare a 1949 Jap bike with the latest Enfield it would not fare so badly.
My original proposition was that Current build Enfields are on a par with any other bike. Where is the technology from which you have to run.

It's a bit like me writing off Harleys as old technology because I don't like side valve engines. I can't even think of any Jap bikes from 1949.

To be fair you have to compare what is running off the production lines now from both manufacturers and not compare a 60 year old model from one and a new one from the other.
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  #23  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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I was referring to the 2nd hand bikes, that are usually at least a few years old, as these are the ones a regular tourist is most likely to encounter, if looking to buy or rent a bike in India. I´m not talking about a 1949 Enfield, I´m talking about the technology, that is currently in circulation.

And I haven´t tried the new fuel-injected Enfield, so I cannot be 100% sure, but I doubt it will be thoroughly modern. Everyone needs injection now, to meet the newest emission standards, otherwise they´d still use carburetors. Fuel delivery system is still just one small, even though important part of an engine, let alone the whole motorcycle.
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  #24  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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oldbmw,

I'm sorry but the Enfields compare poorly to Indian made Japanese bikes.

For example a 2009 350 bullet weighs 168KG dry and probably nearer 180KG wet. Yet it only puts out 13KW. Yet a Karizma is 150KG wet, almost the same power at 12KW, yet the Jap bike is 30KG lighter. The 500 is a little more powerful at 16KW, and weighs about the same as the 350.

Most of the time in developing countries it is essential to be able to take sudden avoiding action, due to children, animals and so on the road. This is much easier and safer to do on a lighter bike.

Logically the Jap bikes are better, but riding isn't always about logic, it's about passion too.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to ride one of the cafe racer style Enfield 500s, they look beautiful, I'd ride one happily all day.

Get an Enfield 500 and a Karizma, put them on a small race track or on a large karting circuit, ride both the bikes until you are going as fast as you can and get your knee down both bikes. Time the laps. You will notice that the Karizma is faster and also more fun to ride.

It all comes down to weather your passion is riding the bike or the bike, nothing wrong with liking either, but my passion is riding.
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  #25  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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ahem..
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  #26  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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Originally Posted by Misery Goat View Post
Thanks
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  #27  
Old 20 Dec 2009
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Originally Posted by ZMC888 View Post
oldbmw,

I'm sorry but the Enfields compare poorly to Indian made Japanese bikes.

For example a 2009 350 bullet weighs 168KG dry and probably nearer 180KG wet. Yet it only puts out 13KW. Yet a Karizma is 150KG wet, almost the same power at 12KW, yet the Jap bike is 30KG lighter. The 500 is a little more powerful at 16KW, and weighs about the same as the 350.

Most of the time in developing countries it is essential to be able to take sudden avoiding action, due to children, animals and so on the road. This is much easier and safer to do on a lighter bike.

Logically the Jap bikes are better, but riding isn't always about logic, it's about passion too.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to ride one of the cafe racer style Enfield 500s, they look beautiful, I'd ride one happily all day.

Get an Enfield 500 and a Karizma, put them on a small race track or on a large karting circuit, ride both the bikes until you are going as fast as you can and get your knee down both bikes. Time the laps. You will notice that the Karizma is faster and also more fun to ride.

It all comes down to weather your passion is riding the bike or the bike, nothing wrong with liking either, but my passion is riding.
The enfield is not about power to weight ratios, although it is easy to alleviate. Just by Changing the air filter, carb and exhaust pipe ( pipe only not silencer) will increase power by 40% They are optimised for MPG, and mine has returned an average of 94mpg over the last 3000 miles.
On your basis, the london taxi cab drivers ought to ditch their taxis and use ferraris or lambourghinis as they have higher power to weight ratios and are faster on a race track. Sadly I suspect most would fail to earn a satisfactory living. Maybe the reason there are so many OLD Enfields is because they are maintainable and remain economic to repair. Since changing from My BMW which had double the power of my Enfield (and a third heavier) I have found very little difference in daily riding distances. The miles per day are about the same. Next year I will have more information on that if all goes according to plan.
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  #28  
Old 21 Dec 2009
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Hello, earth calling oldBMW!

A Karizma is a 220cc fuel injected single. Please do not use fuel economy argument, the Enfield will lose every tiime.

I've ridden an Enfield 500 admittedly it was over 10 years ago, all over India. I enjoyed it, but I have recently owned a bike similar to a Karizma, I can tell you that it is more fun to ride. Have you ridden both bikes or do you stick stubbornly to old technology, putting down new technology, and never trying it?

Misery Goat, Ahem? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Oh, the photos speak louder than words? Is this presuming that I haven't already ridden in the Himalayas on an Enfield or something?

You never find cyclists clinging on conservatively to old technology;

We rode around India on these because it seemed right, because this is what we think about, when we think of an idealized cliche version of a bicycle in India.

We could have ridden on this:...which other people tell us is much more suitable. But we won't listen, ever or even ride on one to ever be able to tell the difference!
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  #29  
Old 21 Dec 2009
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Originally Posted by ZMC888 View Post
Hello, earth calling oldBMW!

A Karizma is a 220cc fuel injected single. Please do not use fuel economy argument, the Enfield will lose every tiime.

I've ridden an Enfield 500 admittedly it was over 10 years ago,

You are right, a modern fuel injected 200cc bike may well give more mpg than a 500cc Enfield. But then so would a 1950's 200cc Triumph tiger cub. So no progress there
However I am not aware of any current 500cc bike having better mpg than the Enfield, maybe you know better
But you cant have both high HP and low fuel consumption. The New Enfields were optimised for mpg, not mph. I just pointed out that this was easily reversable. However their miles per day is about the same for me. I think miles per week is higher for the Enfield, but I wont know for sure until next year. Partly because I dont have to stop for fuel so often, partly because I find it more comfy than my BMW. YMMV.

I do think you should try riding a newer bike than something from 10 years or so ago before you can really compare it to anything else.

This is the trouble, we keep getting people saying I rode a 1955 Enfield that was a hire bike in India for 30 years and it is not as good as a new jap/german bike. We need more up to date information... I could just as easily write off ford cars because of their old technology using sidevalve engines and 3 speed gearboxes. I have driven such things when they were new. (Most Brit cars at that time had overhead valves and 4 speed gearboxes).
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  #30  
Old 22 Dec 2009
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Oldbmw,

Maybe an Enfield 500 is very economical because it is restricted, maybe it isn't, I think that they have just been tuned for torque and there is nothing missing from the engine power at all. Maybe Enfields have improved massively in ten years, maybe not so much. Maybe many foreigners end up renting old bikes anyway. These are side arguments.

The basic facts are that the Enfields are much heavier bikes than the Jap bike competition. This makes them less safe for new riders, many of whom rent bikes with no previous experience or license, and by the same way less usable for experienced riders that want to have fun. With cheap suspension, brakes and tires this is a profound difference, especially with the need to be able to suddenly avoid things in India.

Of course with the extra torque from an Enfield 500 they are obviously better for touring than the Jap bikes, although there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't try touring on a Jap bike if you were willing to travel light.
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