Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Review
Bike Tested: 2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 UCE
Price OTR Delhi: Rs. 1,53,855/-
The Bullet 500 is a beautiful blend of retro appeal and modern performance.
Royal Enfield is on a roll. The manufacturer has loads of plans which it will execute in the near future. The company recently introduced the all-new modern Thunderbird series of motorcycles. They plan to improve the quality of their bikes through the new factory opened up in Tamil Nadu recently. Moreover, the much awaited Continental GT Café Racer is on its way. However, before that happens, Royal Enfield has reincarnated the iconic motorcycle from their stable, the Bullet 500. The motorcycle gets a brand new engine and few cosmetic changes which boosts its retro appeal even further. We get astride to find out well the Bullet 500 thumps.
Styling – Macho is the word that anyone would utter at first glance. Traditional Bullet aesthetics are carried on to the 2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500. The enormous tank is the most striking feature. The re-designed pin stripes on the tank and the chunky Royal Enfield logo is the highlight of the motorcycle. The rest of the cycle parts have one thing in common, everything is circular and everything is metal. The indicators, headlight (with pilot lights on either side) and tail light remains the same as before. The entirely covered front suspension, large spoke wheels and endlessly long exhaust add to the visual drama of this retro machine. The Bullet hasn’t changed much over the years which is good thing as it still has the indisputable aura around it. The motorcycle has some serious presence on the road and in spite of the odd shaped rear mud guard, the Bullet 500 manages to create a lot of interest from onlookers.
Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – The traditional speedometer with the battery voltage meter continues to solider on in the Bullet 500. Royal Enfield should have included a fuel gauge in these modern times as the amp meter is not as big a necessity as a fuel meter. The Bullet 500 comes with conventional switchgear, which includes pass light and engine kill switch and other controls that are commonly seen on most bikes. The quality of the switchgear and palm grips is top notch. The bike has chunky handle weights to reduce vibrations as well. Ignition key is at the top while typical cruiser trait of handle lock is positioned below, on the right side.
Ergonomics – The seating position is upright and the extremely wide handle gives the Bullet 500 the commanding feel. The rear set foot pegs are positioned for a comfortable riding position. The rear view mirrors are positioned differently on both sides. The right rear view mirror is bigger than the left rear view mirror and provides excellent view of what’s behind. The seat has excellent cushioning but are a tad narrow for both the rider and pillion. However for the pillion a small backrest is made available with a newly designed grab rail. Despite the shortcomings, long journeys are comfortable on the Bullet.
Performance and Gearbox – The foremost change to the Bullet 500 is the brand new Unit Construction Engine (UCE) that replaces the age-old cast iron unit. The 499cc, under-square, air-cooled, twin-spark mill produces 26.1 BHP of power and an insane 40.9 Nm of torque at an immensely low 3800 RPM. Fuel is fed through a carburettor and along with it comes TPS. The motor is smooth and the refinement levels are good. There are vibrations that the engine creates between 50 to 70 km/hr, so it is best that one cruises above or below those speeds. The Bullet 500 gets quickly off the line and the motorcycle has loads of torque that aids low and mid range performance.
The Royal Enfield Bullet 500 reaches 100 km/hr very quickly after which it struggles to reach the 120 km/hr mark. Top end power has never been its forte. Accelerate off the line and the Bullet’s charismatic machine gun soundtrack just instantly puts a wide grin on your face. The acoustics are not as enticing as they were on the old cast iron engine but still the new motor has good enough symphony. The engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox and shifts are smooth but it is a bit clunky at times. The clutch is however light and smooth to operate. The tall gearing with bucket loads of torque make city riding effortless. Slot the half-litre Bullet into third gear and you can amble around town at speeds as low as 20 km/hr and with the slight twist of your right wrist you can close the gap in traffic very quickly without having to down shift. On the highway, the taller fifth gear aids in effortless cruising and one can do 100 km/hr all day long with the thump soothing your ears.
Riding Dynamics – Armed with a single down tube chassis that uses the engine as a stress member and combined with a kerb weight of 193 kgs, the Bullet 500 is not exactly a handler. Dynamics are neutral. Telescopic suspension at the front and gas charged heavy duty springs at the rear help in the dynamics department. The suspension is on the stiffer side. The motorcycle turns in, but with a bit of effort. However, once turned in and even at high speeds the bike stays planted in the corners. You can enjoy sweepers on the Bullet 500 effortlessly. Thanks to road pattern tyres from MRF which are the same dimensions as found in Pulsars and Apaches but are slapped on to 18 and 19-inch spoke wheels instead of 17-inchers. The tyres grip really well and are one the reasons the Bullet feels good to ride around corners.
The road holding capability is excellent, the Bullet 500 stays glued without any bounciness and gives good feedback from the front while changing lanes. Although lane switching at high speeds takes time and a bit of an effort at first. Ride quality is on the stiffer side but in no way it is uncomfortable or harsh. The Bullet glides over bumps and potholes at slow speeds and at high speeds the motorcycle stays flat. Braking on the Bullet is aided by Pricol disc and Bybre master cylinder and caliper at the front and the same 153 mm drum unit doing duty at the rear. Braking performance is good but could have been better with a larger caliper or a disc at the rear.
Miscellaneous – Fit and finish levels are good but some rough edges still need to be sorted out. Hanging fuses, exposed charger and despite the battery cover, one can see the cells above it. Paint job is excellent and quality of materials used is good. Illumination and spread of the front head light is fantastic thanks to the new halogen bulb. During our road test, we found every journey seemed way too short and quicker than before, the Bullet 500 certainly has the magic to cover miles in a blink of an eye.
Verdict – The Royal Enfield Bullet is and always will be an icon. The upgrade to the engine was a much needed one. It becomes a far more pleasant experience as the Unit Construction Engine is a more modern powertrain and is easier to live with on a daily basis. Even with a few shortcomings, the Bullet 500 still remains a desirable and distinct machine on the roads. The styling is very appealing and the charm of the Bullet is just something else. The Bullet 500 really elicits a connection with its humongous torque which aids in the kick in the pants feel, helping you to gobble up kms effortlessly. All this makes the Bullet 500 an excellent cruiser appealing to true-blue Bulleteers who can now thump along on a new Forest green coloured machine.
The Bullet 500’s visual appeal and stonking mid-range performance makes it a very desirable cruiser motorcycle.
* Muscular looks
* Touring capabilities
* Mid-range punch
What’s Not So Cool
* Fit and finish
2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Specifications
* Engine: 499cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, twin-spark
* Power: 26.1 BHP @ 5100 RPM
* Torque: 40.9 Nm @ 3800 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed (1-down, 4-up)
* 0 – 60 km/hr: 4 seconds (est.)
* 0 – 100 km/hr: 13 seconds (est.)
* Top Speed: 128 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 30 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: Telescopic forks (Front), Twin gas charged shock absorbers (Rear)
* Tyres: 90/90/19 (Front), 120/80/18 (Rear)
* Brakes: 280 mm disc (Front), 153 mm drum (Rear)
2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 2140 mm x 810 mm x 1110 mm
* Wheelbase: 1370 mm
* Ground Clearance: 135 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.5-litres
* Kerb weight: 193 kgs