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Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Test Drive Review


Royal Enfield Bullet 500 UCE Review

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

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.

Bullet 500 UCE ReviewBullet 500 UCE Test Ride

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.

What’s Cool

* Muscular looks
* Touring capabilities
* Mid-range punch

What’s Not So Cool

* Vibrations
* 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

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  • motorbeam_reader

    The meter to the southeast of the speedo is an ammeter, not a voltmeter as mentioned above. Or has it been changed to a voltmeter in the current bullet 500?

    • Crazywheels

      Its Ammeter in new series also. Good Point bro.

  • No One

    Classic 500 looks much better than this one..

    • kannan tj

      no never

  • joshua

    thank you very much for dis review.. i was eagerly waiting for this review.

  • Akash

    Why voltmeter ? Its an useless thing na . . . .

  • baljinder

    Hey faisal is it good over 350 model……….explain

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      Yes Baljinder it is, more power and performance.

  • Baljinder

    Faisal, I don’t know much about the Electra twinspark model……. The difference is self-startr, Disc brake, Rear gas- charged springs in electra.
    which is better UCE 350 or Electra 5s?? and low torque pull will be same in both models?

  • Baljinder

    Faisal, I don’t know much about the Electra twinspark model……. The difference is self-startr, Disc brake, Rear gas- charged springs in electra. low torque pull will be same in both models? And price difference?

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      What is your budget Baljinder? Will suggest based on that.

  • Baljinder

    I have 350Uce 2012 model…… plan to change by electra 5s twinspark. just need Ur suggestion over it tat is thr any difference between these two??
    Only Rear gas-charge springs, disk brake and electrc startr……
    And one more thing, mujhe 500UCE model m jada maja nai aya while testing. just made for acceleration not like the old 500……

  • shashank

    Any idea when is it going to be launched in Bangalore…… I have a RE Classic 350!!! But waiting for this machine, i have enquired in Bangalore brand store and got an answer that it might probably released in October but dont know the waiting period yet…… Any ideas on this???

  • Baljinder

    Hey Faisal, I want to know that this 500 model is available in forest green colour only for defence persons? Wt will be the price difference with other colour?

  • mark

    Hey guys I had to share this with you. The most expensive REs are sold in……….Mauritius! Bullets and Classic 350s are at USD6000 and the 500s are sold for a whopping USD12000. All thanks to the brilliant price fixing and marketing techniques of Iframac Ltd, who also are the reps for MercedesBenz cars. At these prices I hope the potential clients will give the dealer a big thumbs down and force them to review their prices.

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      Mark, that is ridiculous. Come to India and ride the bikes ;-)

      • mark

        Might do just that and if I really love the machine send it over as a grey import. Was thinking of riding from Mumbai down to Trivandrum next holidays. The only downside I’m not keen on is all the paperwork!

        • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

          Mark, you are a resident of which country?

          • mark

            UK national currently living and working in Mauritius and for the foreseeable future ( wife is local, very attached to her country, and India, her mother was from Patna) so I have a taste for all things british, mauritian and indian. Bit dejected by the RE situation here. Waited years for a dealer and we get a bloodsucker.

          • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

            Mark, you should tell your father in-law to get a Bullet so when you come to India, you can hire his bike for a long ride ;-)

            But honestly, you aren’t missing out on anything.

  • mark

    Thanks for the input. Already planning on asking my wife’s cousin to borrow his so i can ride it around Delhi Summer 2014. Hope to hook up with indian bikers for long rides. Cheers.

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      Mark, do let me know when you come to India ;-)

  • Vishal

    Hello,
    I have decided to go for Royal Enfield and had finalized Thunderbird 350. However this new entry from Royal enfield has added much confusion. Mostly my drive would be 50Km per day through pune city traffic. Experts, can you suggest/advise me on the below bikes from Royal Enfield
    Thunderbird 350
    Bullet 500.
    Thanks.
    Vishal..

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      Vishal, Thunderbird a good bet.

      • Vishal

        Thanx Faisal.. I had a test drive of Bullet 500 and was impressed with its pickup and power + the bike was in my budget hence the confusion. Thanks for the advise.

        • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

          Vishal, you are welcome. So when are you getting it?

      • nithin

        please tell me why thunderbird 350 is better than bullet 500,because i was also in the same confused state and had just made my mind to bullet 500.Now when I saw this,again in confusion.

  • sudheendra

    Hi

    I need quick & clarity on couple of things; I have booked Bullet 500 (forest green) it’s been 2 months.
    Point 1 : I do not like vehicle which vibrates , I found couple of review on this new Bullet 500, that it vibrates etc, I am confused to go for it or not
    Point 2: I rode Classic 500 too (friends) even that had great vibration when I touched 90kms /, does all the Bullet vibrates? Have they not improved on vibration?
    Point 3: Its matter of Time & Money, you need wait for your Bike for 4-5 months and pay around 1.6 lakhs & later if you are not happy the whole passion will lose,
    IS it worth to buy “BULLET 500”
    Appreciate your reply

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      No, in that case no. The bike vibrates and that has become part of its charm.

  • kumar

    hello
    i have shortlisted two bikes frm RE

    RE DESSERT STORM 500 EFI
    RE STANDARD 500 CARB

    i am confused btw two.
    plz suggest me in choosing one and why

    and plz enlighten me abt EFI VS CARB.

    thank you..

  • vineeth

    So there is no fuel gauge in bullet 500??if so how u will knw fuel is low?im planning to buy a classic 500 efi..but now confused with bullet 500…im a tall guy and i would lik to knw which one suits me..i lik bullet 500 than classic 500 but no fuel gauge has made me think twice now..can u help to decide?

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      Vineet, I would suggest the Classic 500, you tend to get used to the lack of fuel meter and fill accordingly.

      • vineeth

        Y u suggest classic 500 over bullet 500?any reason??heard lot of complaints in efi system and battery!still confused…help

        • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

          Vineeth, no fuel meter in Bullet makes it a real pain to judge re-fills.

          • vineeth

            Is there any issues on 2014 version on classic efi??in case of breakdown nly optn is service centres!!!can i go fr long drives in this efi machines???r shld i go fr carb version…booked a desert storm…but fr final thought im asking…pls reply

  • KS

    Hi Mohit & Faisal,
    I’ve booked Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350cc and waiting for another 3-4 month to get it deliver. Can u people review on TB 350 along with comparison.

  • abhilash

    I ha ve booked a 500 carburettor version .please give me a suggestion compared to other models, 500 efi ,thunder bird which is the best option

  • Vinit

    fas.. Plz review bullet 350. And plz feature about re modification agencies. Thnks

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      We will try to do it ASAP.

  • Vinit

    thnx fas… Waiting for that :)

  • Vishal naveen

    Faizal sir. I have booked this bike. I will receive it within a month. But I want to know two things. One-how to prevent overheating of this uce engine? Two-since its a carburetor will it give something more economical than the efi? BTW I went for the forest green <3

  • Sharath M Naie

    Hi Faizal. Can I know the differences between Classic 500 & Standard 500. I’m planning to buy one. I need that vintage look, sound.

  • shanmuk pavan

    I am 6 feet height which model suits for me

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      Thunderbird 500.

  • Mohnish

    Hi Faisal I’m buying an Re in a few days… It’s going to be my first bike… Just confused between Desertstorm and STD 500… My daily usage is min 20-25 km in city and some tmes long drives on the weekends.. I had finalized on d desertstorm model but after seeing this review I’m confused wether I shud go for desertstorm or shud I go for STD 500 model.. Hoping a fast reply..
    Thank you

    • http://www.motorbeam.com/ Faisal Khan

      Get the Desert Storm.

      • Mohnish

        Thank you Faisal sir… Will go for the desertstorm.. :)

  • Spitfire

    I don’t why RE has changed the front wheels (18″ to 19″) of their bikes (std 350, conti and electra being exception) for the domestic market? It really upsets the profile of the motorcycle, the rear looks sunken compared to the front. I don’t know what has made them to do this.

  • akshat

    Hi Faisal sir,I have booked a 500 at re but I am not sure which one to go for.initially I was attracted to the classic chrome model but it doesnt look all that good to me with the pillion seat..on the other hand the standard 500 appeals a. Lot to me visually and I love the upright riding position(I am 6 feet tall)..whereas thunderbird appears to be the most comfortable and stable..this will be my second re as I owned an electra 350 before.
    coming to the point..i would be using the bike extensively for commuting as well as long distance touring..costs are not particularly an issue..i would love to buy the standard 500 for I really like it look wise..but what I would like to ask is that(given my obvious preference)is there any point(s) which should deter me from actually buying the standard 500..your inputs would be of tremendous guidance for I am not really averse to going in for a different model.