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2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review

Friday, June 11, 2010
2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
The classic styling of the Royal Enfield brings back the charm of the 1950s coupled with a handful of modern upgrades.
When I heard the Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 was in our garage and needed a review, I was the first to put my hand in the air. Introduced in 2009, this bike had already made the rounds of most major magazines and I was anxious to throw my leg over one to see for myself if this vintage remake was as fun as most writers touted.

A Bit Of History
It was the early 1950s when India started ordering Royal Enfield Bullets from England to use for police and army vehicles, as they worked fairly well for the English during WWII. The British Enfield Cycle Company was a division of the Royal Small Arms Factory, a weapons manufacturing company that branched out into manufacturing bicycles, stationary engines, lawnmowers and eventually motorcycles - thus the Royal Enfield company was born in 1890.

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Madras Motors of India purchased the right in 1955 to use the Royal Enfield name to form Enfield of India. In 1957 the tooling was sold to Madras to start manufacturing components and by 1962 complete bikes were rolling off the India assembly lines. By 1971 Royal Enfield of England was defunct and the future of their motorcycle brand was now in the very capable hands of the Indian industrialists.

The original 1939 Bullets were single-cylinder 350s and one of the first bikes to implement a swingarm suspension. Sturdy and strong, the Bullet served as an excellent trials machine. It wasn’t long before the 500cc model was introduced and the British bikes were winning numerous races and receiving international recognition, especially from the Indian military.

2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
Vintage-styled motorcycles are becoming a growing segment in the industry; very few manufacturers have a history as rich as Royal Enfield to tap in to.
For more than five decades the Indian-made Bullet evolved very little with upwards of 30,000 bikes sold each year. Today, the Bullet Classic 500 EFI still retains the stylish looks and rugged demeanor of its predecessor, including the legacy of the Royal Small Arms Company with the logo of a small cannon and slogan “Made Like A Gun” stamped on every motorcycle.

Observations From My Garage
Weighing in at a dime over 400 lbs, the low center of gravity and the 31.5-inch seat height makes managing the motorcycle extremely easy. Don’t bother looking down for the kick starter as that’s been replaced by an electric-start button. And in today’s market, thanks to more stringent emissions requirements, electronic fuel injection is the only way to go.

Overall, the package looks strikingly similar to the 1950s version, including the thigh pads on the teardrop-style tank, the extended mud guard fenders and the short silencer (which came on our version and is available as an option). The single saddle seat with dual springs underneath is surprisingly comfortable. The air filter and tool kit are also neatly integrated into the frame and do not restrict leg movement.

2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
The simple classic gauges are easy to read. We only wish it had a proper fuel gauge rather than a simple reserve warning light.
Looking down at the controls, you will find the basic set-up. Throttle, run switch and start button are on the right, where you also notice the front brake reservoir sticking out above the bars. In the middle is the headlight casing which houses the speedometer, odometer, ignition key/switch, fuel gauge and, of course, the headlamp. Clutch, turn indicators, horn button and EFI Enrichment lever on the left. The EFI enrichment lever is there to help kick in the 02 sensor for those very cold mornings - similar to a choke on a standard carburetor. The fuel gauge indicator doesn’t display capacity at all times, it simply lets you know when you have reached reserve.

The side view reeks vintage motorcycle - in a good way of course. Anytime you can look through a motorcycle and see exactly what’s going on behind it, you know it’s not a 21st-century machine. The unit construction design of the engine incorporates both the external clutch and gearbox - a marked visual difference from the 1950s version. In the rear, the gas canister on the shocks is most notable and in the front the 280mm brake disc is difficult to miss - but you’ll be glad it’s there once you start riding. The electronics and battery have been smartly concealed behind sidecases that blend into the frame.

For an old-school 500, the new RE Royal Classic is a very trim combination of classic looks and modern-day technology. A tight, clean, vintage-style package.
2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
The Bullet Classic C5 easily catches people's attention and moves pretty quickly with the EFI 499cc air cooled engine attached to a 5-speed transmission.

Let’s Go Ride It
It doesn’t take much seat time to realize the Bullet Classic C5 is one of those bikes that draws a lot of attention... and is a lot of fun to ride.

A simple push on the e-button and the Bullet comes to life. The standard one down, four up shift pattern works effortlessly and the clutch lever pull is fairly easy. While shifting through the gears you’ll notice the Bullet has quite a bit of torque and pulls very strong in third and fourth, especially up a grade. The EFI responds very well throughout the entire range.

Fifth gear comfortably topped out at about 65 mph, urging me to continually search for the elusive sixth gear - which of course, isn’t there. It would be interesting to experiment with the rear sprocket - maybe drop it two teeth and see how that affects the overall performance and top speed. The goal would be to cruise at 70 mph without having the engine rev as high.

2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
Despite how it looks, the suspension handles much like any modern street bike. It flows well through corners at just about any speed.
I found aggressive downshifting would occasionally locate a false neutral between fifth and fourth gear but that is easily eliminated with a bit of patience and not relying on the downshifting for braking until you’ve backed the speed down a fuzz.

Riding the Bullet reminded me a lot of riding one of those beach cruiser bicycles - only with an engine. You easily flow through the turns both down and up hill. The low center of gravity makes it easy to balance and the Bullet turns exceptionally well at any speed. You instantly see why it was once a popular choice for a trials bike.

The brakes do a fine job of slowing - especially the front disc. The rear drum brake feels a bit mushy, as most drum brakes do compared to a disc. The rear brake pedal is fairly large - a bit funky looking just as they were in the ‘50s - so you don’t have any problem locating it with your foot. I adjusted the pedal down so it would not interfere with my foot while resting it on the peg.
2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
The bike captures the style and feel of a bygone era with its fender plate, beefy seat springs and classic logos. It is truly the best of both worlds when it comes down to vintage-styled motorcycles.

When you have a 31.5-inch seat height, you can pretty much guess you’re not going to have a lot of movement in the suspenders. The front forks sport about four inches of travel and the rear shocks provide a bit less - but when you include the springs under the seat - they add up to a comfortable ride.

2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
As I said earlier, this bike is a lot of fun to ride and sounds great. The short silencer pipe delivered the unmistakable “Bullet Thump.” The engine is potent enough, the bike handles well and the overall vintage package is very cool looking. As a cross-town commuter the Bullet is the perfect companion, especially if you enjoy strangers coming up and asking questions. I wouldn’t even hesitate shoeing up a pair of dual-sport tires and taking the Bullet Classic fireroading.

From other sources we spoke with it sounds as if this Bullet Classic is, well... fairly bullet-proof also. You never know how dependable a motorcycle is until you log a couple thousand miles. I’ll be able to report more on its reliability once mine arrives. Yes... I’ve ordered the teal color. I warned you, the Bullet Classic is a lot of fun to ride.
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2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Highs & Lows
  • Classic Looks
  • Extremely easy to ride
  • Low seat height
  • Disc brake in front
  • Easy entry level price
  • Gigantic old-style brake pedal?
  • Finish work could use better detail on bolts and nuts
  • Gas gauge is cute but not functional
2010 Royal Enfield Bullet C5 Tech Specs
2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5 Review
2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5
Engine: Air Cooled Single Cylinder; 4-Stroke, OHV, SI Engine
Displacement: 499 CC
Bore x Stroke: 84 mm x 90 mm
Compression Ratio: 8.5 : 1
Fueling: Electronic Fuel Injection
Maximum Power: 27.2 bhp @ 5250 rpm
Maximum Torque: 41.3 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 5 Speed
Air Cleaner: Paper Element
Ignition: Electronic Ignition
Electrical System: 12 Volts - DC
Battery: 14 AH
Electric Starter Motor: 0.9 KW, DENSO
Head lamp: 60 W / 55 W, HALOGEN
Tail Lamp: 21/5 W
Ground Clearance: 5.5 in.
Wheel Base: 53.9 in.
Length: 83.86 in.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Front Tire: 90/90-18
Rear Tire: 110/90-18
Front Brake: 280mm Hydraulic Disc Brake
Rear Brake: 153mm Foot Operated Drum
Front Suspension: 130mm Telescopic, Hydraulic Damping
Rear Suspension: 80mm Swing Arm With Gas Shock Absorbers
Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.56 gal. 13.5 ltr
Curb Weight: 411.4 claimed 187 Kg (with 90% fuel & oil)
Available Colors: Black, Teal and Red
MSRP: $6395

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jeffzekas   November 23, 2011 12:44 AM
So, Cindy, do you still own your Royal Enfield? How is the reliability?
raman24   March 17, 2011 08:19 AM
I still remember when i was young,a guy with beard used to ride royal enfield standard 4 shift.He use to hit the roads on evenings with thumby noise from his silencer.From that time to now,love for royal enfield has just grown and grown.I am an indian and bikes here are very much lean and light.But royal enfield which is 60years old and unchanged by technology till 2010 in india still manages to roar n rule the roads in a hunky way. I purchased one when i was in college 2006(happiest moment of my life). I have a royal enfield bullet electra 5 shift 350 cc.Its pure metal and barely made from plastic.I have had customized it by putting up chrome eye lashers, chrome alloys, chrome side gaurd, and chrome bulky horn. I know this bike lacks some technology but the joy and feel I get every time I ride it is unmatchable. Thank you Royal Enfield for giving us such pleasure.
George Penney -A memory come alive  January 29, 2011 01:20 PM
I'm glad to see that the Enfield name is still alive. That was my first motorcycle in 1951. I have soooo many good memories of it and would gladly exchange my current Harley for a new Enfield. At 79 years I could finish off where I began...with an Enfield
Pete -Pure Motorcycle  January 2, 2011 02:59 AM
I can simply say, rather than wasting time reading few inferior comments, go and check the Pure Motorcycle. This is the fun motorcycle I've ever ridden. I cannot compare the enjoyment I got even with modern hitech bikes. Its pure METAL machine, and no plastic, Completely hand made, so that it preserves the natural beauty, (You can not and should not compare at all with Japs or other plastic/polished motorcycles). I felt like Royal Enfied commanding the road with more pleasure in moderate speed. I saw number of people looking at me curiously about this legend. Try and then post your thoughts. Have fun with WWII living legend.
satheesh.chikakula -electrical  December 7, 2010 01:13 AM
the charging of the bike is more problem due to damage of electrical wires and the oil is also comming out of the engine
Paul -Atomic Bomb Relic  December 1, 2010 04:11 PM
Bought a G5 this year and am totally pleased with this "old school" ride. She's a blast & 90mpg for a 500 is awesome!
rahul sharma -rocking  November 20, 2010 06:38 PM
hi..........i liked him so much thne he enfield was launched in jaipur i will purchased this 500 cc bike
paul gorton -awesome motorcycle  November 20, 2010 04:58 AM
this is the most awesome motorcycle in the world !!!!!!!!!!!
Adam -One More thing...  November 5, 2010 02:31 PM
It's hard to accessorize the Bullet (and I have the 2010 version of the article, same color scheme) because it is already so damn beautiful the way it is, but I do suggest two things: the larger, 7" Halogen headlight and the chrome eyelash. The Halogen light makes night riding possible (the original light is just too dim even with the brights on) and it gives the front end a beefier look. And the chrome eyelash...well, the bike is just incomplete without it.
Adam -Love it!  November 5, 2010 02:14 PM
I recently got my RE as a 20th anniversary present from my wife (I guess Ill keep her!) and I absolutely love it. The reliability factor is, as she writes, pretty "bullet" proof. A couple small issues, but it always fires everytime, right away. I was originally looking at the Triumph Bonnie which has twice the horsepower and is still great looking and nostalgic, but I am really glad I received this bike instead. The Bonnie looks nostalgic feels very much like a Japanese bike and performs like one also...it's only fun above 4k. What's great about my Enfield is that it's still rides like an old english bike and it is most fun under 4k, so shifting through the gears is a blast! Sure, they are a little sticky sometimes and downshifting is...well, gappy at moments. But I live in a place with a lot of great country roads and the RE handles like a champ and always makes riding through them a romantic, nostalgic kind of experience. Sure, I would love 10-15 more hp but then it would need to be a different bike. I think of the RE 500 as the long board of motorcycles - it's not about going fast or carving up the wave, it's about going slow and enjoying the ride.
Doc -Name Plastering  June 30, 2010 04:10 PM
Dean, in the olden days, in many countries, that front fender name plate was actually the location for a license plate. Considering that one can't display a false license plate, I don't have a problem with the manufacturer displaying their name upon it.

In the olden days, brand names were proudly displayed, all over the bikes. The same was true of automobiles. You'd find the brand marque upon the front, sides, and rear of the machine, no matter if it had two, three, or four wheels. It was capitalism at work! And God Bless capitalism! If not for capitalism, we'd have just one brand of motorcycle, a generic, wimpy, beast that gets 100mpg and available in only one color.

The Bullet is on my wish list. It is a faithful reproduction of a long gone era's top performer. Of course I'm prejudiced, after fifty years of riding and having owned over fifty motorcycles, and three scooters.

My first two-wheeled conveyance incorporated a washing machine motor (Yes, washing machines originally had two-stroke internal combustion motors) which I shoe horned into a Schwinn frame. The next year, I had a Vespa, then an HD Hummer.

Guess you had to be there to appreciate the freedom two wheels could give to a hard working farm boy.
Jerry -Six grand for Junk!!!  June 27, 2010 01:02 PM
Nice looking bike, but way too much money for what your getting. Some of the cheap chinese twin cylinder bikes have this beat in price and looks. Paying near 6000.00 for the Royal Enfield, compared to 2000.00 for a jap or chinese bike doesn't make economic sense. Your paying an extra 4000.00 for the name only. The Royal Enfield looks just a cheap as the chinese bikes in quality and workmanship. I checked one out over the weekend and to me it looked and sounded like a glorified mo-ped. I think I could do alot better for 6 grand. Also being that the engine is mounted directly to a single banger, your literally beat to death at any speed.
Blue Ron -Intrigued  June 21, 2010 10:47 PM
I am interested in the Bullet's fuel economy. British magazines have made seemingly outlandish claims of nearly 100 mpg for these bikes. Admittedly the British gallon is one eighth bigger than the US gallon, but that would still mean 85+ mpg at careful cruising speeds. Has anyone carefully calculated what the bike does in the way of fuel consumption at a steady, say, 60 mph? I am not just cheap - I'm interested in alternative transportation that gives us MUCH better fuel mileage than we are already used to. BR
Debashish Paul -look bold and give full satis faction in long drive.  June 17, 2010 11:59 PM
I have two bullet four two wheeler in which one zing other TVS Centra and other two are 350 CC royal enfield 1985 model and one machismo 2001 model and also I have ride so many other two wheeler but I havent got satisfaction in riding those two wheller. I can only suggest the people that dont go on milage ride like a perfect man and perfect bike like BULLET ( ENFIELD)
andy -awesome  June 15, 2010 02:45 PM
Sharp looking retrobike...!!
EAB -So, EAB, what SHOULD a cruiser be??  June 13, 2010 06:00 PM
This is what a nostalgic motorcycle should be. Not some tarted up ego machine, but a fun, small, light motorcycle that gets looks and encourage conversation without pirate outfits or egos. I want it.
Biker Bill -G5 Owner  June 13, 2010 01:01 PM
As far as reliability goes - read the posts by ACTUAL owners (not theorists) on the U.S. Royal Enfield forum. Don't confuse this bike with the original iron barrel - it's a different animal. I've had mine (G5) for eleven weeks. 3000 faultless miles so far. Gorgeous bike. Got Royal Enfield written all over it........ Love it.
Michael --Another enfield owner  June 13, 2010 09:35 AM
Three comments to add. I believe a typo was made in the article, stating a top speed of 65. It should be 85. After the EFI was mapped from below seal level to 18,000+ feet the factory sent the engineers to ride the bikes through the highest navigable pass in the Himalayas ( and the world ) to test the mapping. The EFI Bullet I briefly tested had more gitty up go than my older Iron Barrel engine powered Bullet which does extremely well on fire and logging roads. Something to be said for low center of gravity coupled with good frame geometry and useful torque. I think the EFI bike would be even better off pavement than mine.
Dan Mullins -C5 Rider  June 13, 2010 09:16 AM
I have a '09 C5 like the one in this article, it's a brilliant bike. it came with a nice tool kit and after riding the bike for a year I still haven't even looked at it. It's the best of Vintage and modern motorcyclig combined.
jon -an Enfield owner too  June 13, 2010 12:04 AM
I have a 2007 Royal Enfield 500 Bullet I bought new in Dec. of 2007. It's the loder "iron barrel" engine with a carb, points and condenser ignition, non-hydraulic valve lifters, kick and electric start, separate engine and trans etc. The shifting was a might quirky at first, but as mine broke in (and the early ones need a LONG break in-like 3000 miles total) it shifted better and better until now, it's almost as good as a Japanese designed trans. There's just something about an old design British long stroke thumper that makes for a fun back road cycle.I have two other motorcycles (a 2007 Yamaha XT225 dual sport and my 2006 HD XL883 Sportster), but when I want to just go for a fun ride on country back roads, often as not I'll boot that kick starter (I almost never use the starter magic button) and thump along getting 70-85 mpg. The Bullet is way lighter than my overweight Sportster (that gained something like 80 pounds in 2004) and handles quite well actually. I seldom push the Enfield any faster than about 50 mph. But that's just fine with this 56 year old rider that has never been without motorcycles since my 8th birthday. I rode a 1964 BSA 500 twin to high school (class of 1972). I know the Enfield on this review has a totally redesigned engine, and may it live a long life. I believe the engine in my '07 is the longest run of any production motorcycle. The new one will certainly be lower maintenance than my Bullet.But you know, some people don't mind tinkering with their motorcycle. It speaks volumes that Cindy, after the review, bought herself a new Enfield Bullet. There is still room for a great looking, modestly powered, wonderful sounding mid sized street thumper for those of us that still appreciate the attributes of such a machine. jon in Puyallup, Wa.
Mcguire -sewer rat  June 12, 2010 05:06 AM
I keep expecting these guys to come out with a twin. I saw a story a while back where this guy machined a new bottom case and mounted a second cylinder v twin style. The company was involved in the experiment too so Its not far fetched that Enfield would do it. Id like to see some high performance street singles other than the 250 sm's that are around. I hear the Husky is a good one.
MR.ROBOTO -FEELIN FRESH AIR  June 12, 2010 05:00 AM
I love high tech, but as a motorcyclist I like purity. I welcome the Royal Enfield because it represents what a motorcyclist is. We are mechanical. . . . . , we love to see an exposed air cooled engine with its fins shaping and announcing the unspoken message, moderate compression, a thump rather than a bang emitting from its chromed pipes. I'm feelin the fresh air of change.
Jorge Pullin -history  June 12, 2010 03:53 AM
Great article, but it contains a couple of small historic inaccuracies. Royal Enfield was never a division of the Small Arms Factory. A bicycle company in Redditch called "The Eadie Manufacturing Company" at the time, they won an order of small parts for the Royal Small Arms factory in Enfield, near London, in 1892. Inspired by that, they decided to call one of their bicycle models Royal Enfield and in 1893 they incorporated the Enfield Cycle Company. The first motor vehicles (a quad and a trike) appeared in 1898 and the first motorcycle in 1901. Enfield India was incorporated in 1955, and as you state, started manufacturing complete bikes in 1962. Their bikes were called "Enfield", without "Royal" in front. Finally they acquired the name Royal Enfield in the mid 1990's and started branding their bikes that way around the year 2000. Regards Jorge http://myroyalenfields.blogspot.com
gasoline enema -taking the retro idea just a little too far  June 11, 2010 10:04 PM
i can't believe they still make this thing. at least they gave it a disc brake, electric start, and fuel injection. as far as reliability goes... i'd still recommend taking a good tool kit wherever you go.
Dean -overkill  June 11, 2010 12:10 PM
Nice looking bike, but they went a little overboard in plastering their name all over it.