The 50s charm of the Royal Enfield Bullet

Royal Enfield Bullet 350

There are quite a few off-the-shelf retro bikes, combining old world charm with the modern amenities that make motorcycling a pleasure. But what if you want a 50s bike just as it was, 50 years ago? With all the original parts?

Well, there actually is such a bike—the Royal Enfield Bullet 350. It’s the only bike in the world that is still produced just the way it was half a century ago. The modern Enfield bikes contain updated technology, from EFI to gas shock absorbers, but the Indian-made Bullet 350 sticks with the original 350cc air cooled thumper, and still uses a contact breaker ignition system. (I don’t know if any other production bike in the world still runs on CB points.)

The 350 also has a sturdy cast-iron engine (again, probably unique amongst production bikes) and the gearbox is a separate unit. The icing on the cake is that it has the gears on the right, and the brakes on the left—just like old British iron. Definitely a feature no other current production bike has. The 350 retains other classic features such as drum brakes at both ends and a kick start, and an extra lever above the kickstarter: an automatic neutral finder.

Above 100kph, the bike vibrates—so much so, that it reaches parts of the body that you didn’t think existed. But the sweet spot is at 80kph, when you discover what the essence of the 350 really is. Unless you ride it, it’s hard to explain the beauty of this thing: you sit ‘on’ the bike, and in India, when the legendary ‘thump’ is heard by others, they make way for you as if in the presence of royalty.

I guess Kenny Rogers had the Bullet 350 in mind when he wrote They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To. Visit the Royal Enfield Bullet 350 official website and be sure to check the newer, absolutely gorgeous Royal Enfield Continental GT cafe racer.

  • Hardik

    Unfortunately this bike’s production is soon going to end within two years, and an age of classic British iron horses will come to an end forever …

  • http://www.hermajestysthunder.com Chris Bartlett

    I’ve got a mild custom 2003 Royal Enfield 500 Bullet Classic that I ride for the same reasons. And you can get them used all over the place.
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4008/4191260958_64e355688f_o.jpg

  • Arthur Bullard

    Thank you for featuring the Bullet! I bought a 500cc new 3 years ago, and it’s been a joy to ride. Keep up the good work, Bike EXIF, I look forward to your new posts!

    Here’s my Bullet, with recently-added Avon fairing:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/brrm/4224675431/

  • Jim

    Rode the 500 EFI last summer and I have to say if was trip down memory lane. Not at all fast, but light and easy to throw around at real world speeds. You can ride the bejeesus out of it and the revenue agents won’t look up from their coffee and donuts.

  • http://aristobhupal.com Aristo

    A few points I would like to mention here..

    1. RE Classic 500 CC was made available in European markets in year 2008..well actually it has almost been an year late domestic launch..

    2. @Hardik – The company will stop the production of only Cast Iron Engines – THe other models will still be available ..basically this has been done to meet the environment norms..

    3. The company still exports the classic and other models like Electra, Machismo in European n America markets..

  • http://www.crawfordsales.info/ Scott

    If you live in the metro Detroit area, there’s a dealer in South Lyon that sells and services Royal Enfield as well as Ural bikes.

  • Scott
  • http://big-diesel.blogspot.com/ Diesel

    @Aristo-Yes, the Classic was first launched at the UK after it made its debut on 2008 November at Intermot Germany.
    REML exports only the 500cc model, the 350 is available only in India and the Machismo is also only for India.
    Surprisingly, the iron cast engine is still available in the US http://www.enfieldmotorcycles.com as AVL engines along with the UCE EFI engines, but not in the UK http://www.royal-enfield.com/

    Not too sure if they would discontinue the IC engine at least soon, but however the UCE EFI engine may be in terms of advancement and refinement, it just cannot hold a candle to the IC engine and the thump in the new aluminum engines is just not ‘Bullet’

  • bartlow

    Hey Diesel, would you care to elaborate on why the UCE EFI cannot hold a candle to the IC? Do you merely mean in the sound only?

  • Diesel

    @Bartlow – Yes, the sound basically, it just a perspective view of guys who were born up in the Bullet IC engine. The new engine is much more refined with no leakages and oil spilling whatsoever and for young guys who start out with the new engine, the UCE EFI is definitely more freindly, but for those who have ridden the IC and then the UCE (like me), there is something in an iron engine which is diferent. The UCE is just like any other 500cc single engine thumper, it is the IC which is like no other

  • tileguy

    My 20 year old son is on a 350 in northern India right now and is loving the bike. Wants to bring one home with him, any problems with that?

  • Diesel

    Which 350? The new “Classic” or the standard one? Anyway, there would be no problem. the new one is available everywhere so no problems with spares, etc and the old has never had an isue that cant be handled. Also spares are readily available and you can fit a BSA or any British bike spares with similar capacity (well almost).