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Bike Profile - Posted 2nd June 2010

Royal Enfield EFI Bullet 500, Part 3
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As winter turned to spring, so Jonathan Roy went pot hole-dodging in south-east Kent, and Dave D offers useful advice on curing false neutrals...

The mileage on my Bullet EFI has now reached just under 1500 as I was tempted out by the winter sunshine on a few occasions. The cold weather played havoc with the local road surfaces but the Enfield's suspension has so far survived the minefield of potholes that make motorcycling a sometimes painful experience if you don't see them coming in time. Adjusting the rear units to a softer setting in an attempt to combat these nasty craters has not made a difference to the judder that hits the spine when you can't avoid them…

Harking back to part two and my nipples (or at least those on the wheels of the Bullet); a ten minute session with chrome polish has done the trick but keeping rust off before it turns any colour other than orange looks like being a regular task. The area behind the heat shield on the silencer is also a potential dirt/rust trap and will have to be periodically removed to allow rust-preventing cleaning here. Dependant on advice from the importer, Watsonian Squire, I would consider replacing the pipe with a more traditional and less restrictive one. Perhaps that's a plan once the engine is fully run in and the warranty has expired.

A bike of light and shade? 2009 Royal Enfield EFI Bullet 500

I've found that 60 to 65mph is the speed which best suits the lean burn Bullet, if a dual-carriageway or motorway has to be used. Getting past a slow lorry at 70 to 75 does feel more vibratory and I don't feel that staying at this speed for very long can be recommended.

It's better to find routes that take the rider on those A- and B-roads which are the natural habitat of the Royal Enfield. That's where the light weight can be enjoyed, going through bends and changing up and down the gearbox. The gears have to be fairly positively snicked home, especially on down shifts where I've found that an occasional false neutral has to be avoided, usually between third into second.

Once hot the engine has also shown a tendency to go hunting for revs when it's left in neutral at traffic lights and at junctions. Interestingly, if it's left in (first) gear with the clutch pulled in, then this doesn't happen. Whether or not this is down to the fuel injection might be possible but it's only a minor quibble; I'll mention it when the Bullet has the 3000 miles service.

Cherry Red, or Ruby Marray? 2009 Royal Enfield EFI Bullet 500

Hopefully, the weather will continue to improve and tempt other Enfield owners out of hibernation and I'll get a chance to ride an earlier version of the Bullet, without fuel injection, for comparison. I'm already aware that the earlier Bullet 500s can be tuned or fettled to be pretty rapid but the thinking behind my model was probably to have greater reliability and sophistication making the EFI more rider-friendly at the expense of rortyness.

On the maintenance front, I've cleaned the chain although I didn't need to adjust it and checked the oil level. None has been used or leaked. Nothing has worked loose or rattled off and fuel consumption is averaging about 80mpg on unleaded.

More to follow if my spine will put up with it…

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Meanwhile, Dave D owns an earlier version of the lean-burn Bullet, and he has suffered similar gearbox problems:

The false-neutral situation had become worse on my machine, and was rather destroying what should have been a very pleasant ride. Rather late in the day, therefore, I decided something had to be done about it. I searched the web for info, coming across a number of threads containing comments from folk who, like me, were still having gearbox trouble, but found no sensible remedies. Yet some folk praised the box, I noticed.

So I emailed the importers late last Sunday: by 9.30 on Monday morning I had Mike Williams on the phone! Once I'd explained the problem he confidently forecast a total resolution after just a couple of minutes with the toolkit. He said many bikes suffered from the same malfunction, but that it was very easily cured. I listened politely, and carefully, suppressing any cynicism as best I could, and toddled off up to the garage, where I performed as directed.

I'm now back from a three-hour ride, and where before I would have suffered dozens of unwanted neutrals - always when changing down from top to fourth, and from fourth to third - I experienced no missed gears. Not one. Wow! To say I was impressed... well, I've rarely been more impressed about anything.

'5-Speed' plate arrowed
Bullets on Right Now......

So here is the solution straight from the expert (no, not me; Mike Williams). Slacken off the clutch cable. Remove the oval plate on the gearbox front (where it says '5-speed'). Loosen the pushrod locknut, then screw the rod in until resistance is just felt. Mine screwed in just one quarter of a turn: thus taking up 25 thou of unwanted slack. Tighten up the locknut. Adjust cable to give a modicum of free play. And that's that.

NEVER have I had so much gain in performance for such little work. I can still scarcely believe how effective this tiny adjustment was. And unexpected; after all, my clutch seemed to be operating perfectly, so I never suspected it. And of course my bike was new, so I never suspected the clutch of being maladjusted anyway.

The real problem, which Mike acknowledges, is that the Rider's Handbook that comes with each new bike makes great play of adjusting the clutch with the cable (which Mike says is the absolute wrong way to do it), and completely ignores the correct way: an amazing omission, when you consider what can go wrong unless the exact clearance is allowed. There are hundreds out there who probably don't know how to set up the clutch. There are still a lot of people unfairly cursing a badly designed gearbox (as I was).

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Info on the full range of fuel-injected, unit construction Royal Enfield models is available from: www.royal-enfield.com


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