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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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Old 1 Nov 2010
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Royal Enfield Bullet 500, which year?

Hi there,

I am new to the forum but have been following it with avid interest for quite some time! Having been well and truly bitten by the bug after driving through Asia from the UK last year, I have decided it may well be time to swap four wheels for two.

Those two will be sitting under a Classic Royal Enfield Bullet 500, a bike which it has been a dream of mine to own and travel with for quite some time! Having looked around a bit, and I know there are simply hundreds of dealers there but has anyone had much experience with Indian-based company bulletwallas?

I have had a look at their facebook page and some of the bikes they produce look quite formidable and after a couple of emails to them, they appear to be able to 'customise'/restore a 500 to something that is a bit tougher ( shinier, of course ) and a bit more ready to head overland.

Before I do open the can of worms about their reliability, I am aware of the TLC that is required to run them but it seems that no matter how many Yams or KTM's I see I simply cannot seem to shake off the idea of an enfield, and, in my opinion part of the charm of running them..........

After some correspondence it seems I will be able to get one over to the UK, completely built up and customised for around £2600. I have had a look around in the UK and a comparative model appears to set me back a bit more, without the customisations ( 21 Litre Tank, 18 Tooth sprocket, Gas shockers, enduro tyres and more ). Does this appear to be a worthy option?

Which brings me onto my next question, I would like something tax exempt, but which isn't going to fall apart, are there any particular years I should avoid? Ok so they've been made roughly the same for the best part of a century, but post 1970 are there any shockers?

I know, of course, I could buy one for 50p, restore it and customise it to perfection, however, I do lack the necessary money to grab all the modifications in the UK and the price from Bullet wallas appears very decent.

So, Bullet Wallas, good? Which year ( 1970-onwards ) ? (Anyone have one fully equipped for overland and for sale in the UK?!?!)

I do intend at some point to ride it back to where it was made, but in the meantime the West coast of Norway is in my sights......

Many Thanks,
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Old 1 Nov 2010
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I have been for some years a proponent of the later Enfields.
Sadly my 10K mile electra died with big end failure on the way back from Poland this autumn.
You need to have the bike well prepared using quality components. Those components available in India are frankly crap. Even a new Indian chain was more worn when new that the elite chain I had run for about 2500 miles.
the bearings are poor. Both bushings and roller/ball.
If it were me I would rebuild a worn bike here and use all european bearings and also change a few critical parts. Those parts will vary with the model of bike. For instance the electra has a roller big end and a high volume rotary oil pump. Great! BUT, the bearing is really needle rollers and they run direct in the aluminium of the conrod. So the conrod deforms and the rollers break up.
there is no way to check if the pump is actually working properly until the big end fails and you can hear the noise. The pump drive has always since the 1940's been a weak point and is still uncorrected.
Watsonian assure me the big end failure I had is unusual and the same arrangement is used in the later unit construction efi models. Odd thing though, both Watsonian and Hitchcocks have both run out of the non failing big end assemblies
These engines CAN be made reliable, but only by fitting very expensive third party parts made in UK. they include crankshaft assemblies.

I think I will be changing my bike next spring when it is fixed. Sad becaus e it is lovely to ride along the local by roads, but I can't live with the 7-12Km life of crankshaft assemblies. Which seems to be the norm on the Enfield forum website.
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Old 2 Nov 2010
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"After some correspondence it seems I will be able to get one over to the UK, completely built up and customised for around £2600. I have had a look around in the UK and a comparative model appears to set me back a bit more, without the customisations ( 21 Litre Tank, 18 Tooth sprocket, Gas shockers, enduro tyres and more ). Does this appear to be a worthy option? "

21 litre tank ?!? my bullet was doing 95 mpg, so the standard tank was fine, through west africa. only once did I need 500+ miles, which I just carried a plastic container with extra fuel. I snapped the rear subframe a couple of times though, so would agree with the uprated shocks.

my knowledge is only from a few years ago (I had to buy the bullet in a hurry after my africa twin was nicked). Hitckcock's motorcycles have a notice board on their site, which has some very knowledgeable enfield people. Mine was a UK version (2004).

I bought it from Reg Allen in London (Northfields), and a two weeks later (after fixing a bad earth connection) rode away. mods were, um, fitting a rear rack and new tyres. you don't need to get into the 'overlander mentality' of spending as much upgrading the bike as the bike itself costs.

they are good fun, and if looked after (moderated throttle hand) can take you quite far from your home.

I would try and find a UK imported version though.
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