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Bike Profile - Posted 17th June 2011

Royal Enfield EFI Bullet 500, Part 6
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Jonathan Roy bought his big single last year and has now clocked up 6000 miles on it. It's surviving quite nicely although some brackets and bits seem to have suffered when riding on rough roads...

'Ruby' my Royal Enfield EFi is now moving nearer to the 6,000 mile or second service stage and is probably just about run in. During the 3,000 miles that have gone under her wheels since I last put fingers to keyboard, I've enjoyed a mostly happy riding experience -- although the ever-worsening state of Kentish roads and the selection of unrepaired potholes have been causing some irritation, especially since they are at their most dangerous on the B-roads that are the natural habitat of the Bullet.

Nice daffs... 2009 Royal Enfield EFI Bullet 500

An Easter Monday ride out to the Ashford Classic Show and Jumble with other riders from the REOC was a good way to start the season even if it was hampered by punctures to friends' machines; one repairable, one not. (A shame since Chris Dutton was looking forward to giving his Interceptor twin a decent run out).

Since the first service, I've noticed that the Enfield's engine feels less tight and that indefinable sensation of mechanical matters being well has continued. The false neutral nuisance has also become far less common and fuel consumption is frugal when sustained speeds of over 60mph are avoided.

Chain adjusters, failed through vibrating so much that they're still out of focus...

My opinion of the rear shock absorbers has not changed however. A set of chain adjusters that I bought from Hitchcocks to make chain adjustment more accurate than the standard 'snail' items broke inside 1,500 miles. I think that this was partially down to the harsh action of the shocks not taking enough force away from the swinging arm. The original adjusters are now back on and I am looking at aftermarket rear springs; possibly Girling or Hagon. Ironically, with the added weight when carrying a pillion, the ride is improved and the shocks don't 'kangaroo' so much.

Chain wear is relatively slight, I do oil it regularly and when I do replace it, I'll record the mileage and make a comparison with whichever make I have fitted. Sprocket wear again is very negligible, I can't see any sign yet of hooking to any of the teeth. The sprockets will outlast the chain, which is what you'd expect under normal circumstances.

The most disappointing 'failure' on the EFi has happened only recently and was the mounting bracket on the rear light unit. This can only be attributed to vibration and/or poor metallurgy since it snapped clean through leaving just the wiring holding things in place. To their credit Watsonian could not have been more helpful and very rapidly sent me an entirely new one under warranty. I would be interested to know if this has occurred on any other EFi models. Having just one mounting bolt passing through the rear mudguard to support the weight might be an area for improvement. Using two bolts, and rubber mounting them, might give greater rigidity and spread the load.

Remember 'Ask the Family'? This one is for mother and youngest child; five points to the team who can identify this photograph...

Not long after the 3,000 mile mark, I was returning home on Ruby and became aware of an increasingly intrusive rattle from what sounded to me like the cylinder head area. Since I was quite close to Roadstar Motorcycles (a small but dedicated business near to Dover Castle), I decided to be cautious and stop by to have either John or Steve check things out for me. I did my best to sound calm and to describe the sound and John agreed to run it up the road to hear it for himself.

Back inside five minutes and with what might have been a slight grin on his face, he took one spanner from the workshop and (back to me) tightened something up. Now sometimes a cup of tea could be available but not usually humble pie which is what I felt was needed when the mystery rattle turned out to be .... a loose petrol tank mounting bolt. Hopefully my ignorance gave them a laugh. At least there were no other witnesses to add to my embarrassment!

Going back to general wear and tear, the front tyre looks virtually as new and the rear one, whilst not passing for 'just fitted', does have a long way to go after already travelling 6,000 miles. The clutch cable has not yet required an adjustment and the front brake pads have loads left in them. Personally, I think the front stopper is excellent for this bike and combines nicely with the rear drum to give a balanced braking set-up.

No oil is being used (perhaps not surprisingly on a new engine) and certainly none is leaking. The bright bits are still bright and untarnished but have not been exposed to council road salt. Paintwork comes up well too; just a blob of wax brings a shine up on the tank/side panels and the plastic front mudguard has not faded which can sometimes happen.

Ah! I know what this one is; it's an engine...

I will be using Rockoil semi-synthetic for the next service since as a result of a scrounging exercise, these very nice people gave me a three-litre sample to evaluate in my engine. Silkolene was used last time.

Bullets on Right Now......

The Bullet continues to attract plenty of interest when I'm parking up or preparing to ride off. Usually an older male voice can be heard saying something along the lines of 'I used to have one of those' or 'you don't see many of those nowadays', which is great because you get talking about old British iron. Most of these old motorcyclists don't seem too bothered when told that the bike is in fact made in India.

The electric start is still slightly temperamental but probably works 19 out of 20 times. It does provide the chance for me show that I can still kick start a four-stroke single but I do get self-conscious if there are watchers!

I have also whinged a bit before about the fuel injection which affects tickover by idling faster than I'd like, especially in neutral once warm, but this may be something I will just have to accept and get used to.

Overall then and despite the rear light incident, I am still very pleased with Ruby and have no regrets about buying a 'modern' Royal Enfield. They make even more sense now that fuel prices have reached the insane level that they have. If you are the type of rider who does not always want to be going at massive speed then the pleasures of country laning on a big single are well provided for by this motorcycle.



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