– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Royal Enfield: Why 27HP Means Record Breaking Sales

Okay, it is clear from some of our reader comments that there are still plenty of people who do not understand the appeal of retro. An appreciation for style, a sense of history, and even a touch of romance. You find it everywhere, including, certainly, among automobile enthusiasts who will trade modern performance for the je ne sais quoi of a classic automobile. Whether you get it or not, it is real, and Royal Enfield is proving it in the motorcycle industry.

The India-based RE even brags about updating their classic design (you get a front disc brake, no less!), but, just like the Moto Guzzis highlighted in our article on May 27, with Enfield you can buy a brand new machine with zero miles, and all the retro style and history you could ever want.

The Classic 500 pictured is perhaps the coolest looking RE. Powered by a single cylinder, air cooled 500cc motor it also features modern electronic fuel injection, but don’t expect modern performance. With a wet weight (full fuel tank) of over 400 lbs and a claimed 27.2 hp, all that is promised in the Royal Enfield promotional material is that “cruising at 62 mph on highways can be relaxed and comfortable with a commendable balance between performance and fuel efficiency.”

Not surprisingly, with all that weight you get real metal body work and fenders, not plastic. The look surrounding that pushrod motor is a genuine reincarnation of “the native imagery of British motorcycles in the aftermath of World War II.”

Demand for these bikes has been so strong that RE has introduced the less powerful (imagine that) Classic 350. The roots of this Royal Enfield design trace back more than 100 years, and the insatiable demand from consumers is forcing RE to nearly double production over the next three years.


  1. DD says:

    I love the look of the Royal Enfield. Twenty years ago I decided to get rid of my 903 Kawasaki Z1 and bought an ’84 Yamaha XT600. I still have and ride the bike to this day. When I rode trails I put knobbies on it, rode it on dual sport rides. Later when I bought a real dirt bike,a 600XR Honda, I put better street rubber on the XT. I love to ride it on back roads,gravel and dirt roads. I use it to explore the out of the way places. I love this bike I have never had to work on it, I change the oil and filter and put a new plug in it every couple of years, it’s just the kind of bike I always wanted. as I am fond of thumpers. The Royal Enfield is a classic thumper but without all the maintenance of one.

  2. chris says:

    I’ve tried one of these a few months ago and within about two years there’ll be one in my bikeshed, secondhand, low mileage… It was indeed, as someone said above, a blast to ride it! Too bad that the importer/only dealer here in the Netherlands is at 130 kilometers from home…

  3. senorbrx says:

    Doesn’t look like a pushrod engine with those cam humps on top??

    • Scott in the UK says:

      Not cam humps mate – they are just rocker covers. This isn’t a retro bike – its old. And quite appealing for a certain type of person. Me – I have one bike and only have space and cash for one bike (Moto Guzzi Breva 750 bought in 2004) so I can’t justify this bike – but I was richer and had a garage – for sure!

  4. I own a shop in Pembroke NH (National Powersports) and I recently brought in the Royal Enfield line. I was looking for a line that fit into our enthusiast customer base. Before I rode the new fuel injected bikes I expected them to be comparable with Urals (sloppy shifting, not so nice build quality, etc) and didn’t really expect to bring the line in. After the local rep brought two new bikes for us to ride I wrote the check to bring them in. These bikes are simply a blast to ride. I was impressed with not only the strength of the brakes, but the progressive feel as well. The bikes shift smooth, but most importantly every one of us in the shop came back from our ride with smiles on our faces. For me, that is worth the cost of admission. They reminded me of how fun motorcycling was when I first started. I’m psyched to have them at my shop.

  5. Hoshiko says:

    I really like the bike but I think half of the price is just for the “coolness”
    I am wating for suzuki to offer the great TU250X in a different color to buy it.

  6. MotoBum says:

    What a great motorcycle! A lot of people think that they need 100hp to pull wheelies, do smokey burn-outs, and just have a lot of fun. Of course, they are misinformed. I recently purchased a 30hp moto and, even as an experienced rider, have found it to be more fun than anything I’ve ever had. And it cruises on the interstate with ease, just as Royal Enfield advertizes.

  7. JoBlo says:

    I like those bikes they are slow but you enjoy the machine it’s like driving a Harley it’s feelings love and relaxing.

    The one who drive fast machine end up incrustred in a tree plus I don’t want to wera a denture the rest of my life.

    Hope other company will follow with this kind of bikes.

  8. Jan J says:

    I have always liked the look of this…. Of course, I also loved the look of the Norton Atlas, and Indian 4….

    If there was a dealer in northern suburbs of Chicagoland, I’d consider dropping by to see it close up!

  9. Mark Flanagan says:

    I think if I wanted a retro single I’d buy a Suzuki TU250. Not quite as retro and lacking the history. But, almost the same performance, half the price and a great dealer network.

  10. Richard Grumbine says:

    Saw one of these about a year ago here in Japan. It looked great and the owner said he hadnt had any problems with it and that he used it as a daily rider. It still had a drum brake and a kick start so it was not the exact same model here. If I can locate a dealer near by I may buy one for the wife.

  11. Scott650 says:

    The “Feds” don’t require disk brakes – the market did that. RE sells in GB and Europe as well as the USA so when folks started buying the brake conversion kits for the old non-unit bikes RE took the cue and updated the bike.

    My beef is with the grotesque tail light and tacked-on turn signals. Yuck.

  12. Rob says:

    The Bullet Classic is listed at $7400CAN. I wanted a retro look with out the hassles a REAL classic so purchased a ’01 Kawasaki W650. The right look and the right price $4000. As someone else said the RE is a decent bike , but way too much money.

  13. J. Kopp says:

    I agree with Don’s comment below. You don’t need to go fast to enjoy motorcycling. Just stay off the freeways and this RE would be plenty o’ fun.

  14. Ray Nielsen says:

    My 2003 with electric and kick start was a major catastrophe from day one. I rode it only 110 miles and had four oil pumps replaced. It spent about 400 miles on a trailer before my dealer finally refunded my money and cancelled his franchise.

    The metallurgy was second rate, most of the screws holding the oil pump cover on were stripped during removal! There were a mix of Whitworth and Metric hardware and both sizes of wrenches in the tool kit. The electric system was a joke with the headlight operated directly from the alternator stator on AC while the battery operated everything else. Mine had points, but they were easily adjusted — twice in 100 miles!

    The rear chain needed two adjustments in 100 miles and probably would not have lasted much longer. In fairness the valve adjustment was simple and gladly so as it needed only one adjustment in 100 miles.

    I really wanted to ride the backroads of the U.S. and Canada, but after my experiences I’d never set out on a long trip on one.

    Ray Nielsen, in Minneapolis.

  15. Justin says:

    Not sure why somebody would buy one of these over a TU250.

  16. Wayne says:

    If I had room in the garage, I’d get one. I’ve recently discovered the joys of another character filled and acceleration challenged vehicle, the Suzuki Samurai, and it has made me rethink what I need in performance.

    Personally, I’m glad they went to disc front. My first bike had a drum front, and it was great if you had just adjusted it and the weather was nice, but you really had to stay on top of it, and that was in a flat state. Here in California, you’d probably have to adjust it after every ride. When it was wet and cold out, the front drum was a real handful that I don’t miss at all.

    I do think they should have left a kick-start on it.

  17. Don says:

    Oh, and I live in the Monadnock area of New Hampshire. -don

  18. Don says:

    One can talk numbers, performance, coolness factor or style. They all matter. But none so much as the joy of an old-fashioned, long-stroked motor with a heavy flywheel. To me there are two hold backs remaining: The price is a little hard to justify and the lack of a local dealership. Give me a local dealership who is willing to play with the numbers and I’d own one in a slow moving flash. 😀

  19. ohio says:

    With demand outstripping production, it seems the rest of the public doesn’t share the concern over pricing that most of the readers of this board carry. I’d suggest for someone coming from the harley/cruiser category this seems like a great value. Tons of style, more rideable than most cruisers, and a veritable bargain compared to a chromed out sled. If I had room in my garage or were just interested in relaxed jaunts, I would certainly be considering one of these.

  20. ABQ says:

    I walked out of a local store when I happened to see a new one sitting on the sidewalk. I couldn’t help but to go over and have a look at this beautiful bike. Iwasn’t the only person that had to stop and look. Eventually the owner came out and we had a nice dicussion about her bike. She rides it to work in town during the week and heads to the hills on the weekend. She says it’s a blast. I believe her.

  21. Philip says:

    I own a Bullet 500 Military pre 2000. Purchase last fall. Yes it has needed new cables, hoses and a carberator kit. Has a mind of its own. BUT I so enjoy the ride and pleasure it has shared with me. Enjoy.

  22. Stinky says:

    If I had room, and more use for it, I’d get last years Enfield. I know they had to go FI for emissions, disc for lord knows what, same for the kicker. I walk to work so as a commuter, no dice. I’m really sorry I didn’t get a GB 500 when they were new. I dont need or want the latest and greatest that for most intents and purposes are racebikes. I still love riding my 50hp R100, and CL 450 Scrambler and bought a Ulysses. I’ll test ride all the others but I like riding a slow bike fast better than a fast bike slow.

  23. Yamasarus says:

    With the motorcycle business being in the tank, I find it interesting that Enfield and Triumph are doing so well. Two companies that obviously cater to retro styling. Could it be that the long term riders want machines that are practical and don’t need a second mortgage to purchase? Machines that are modern in function, fun to ride, and easy to look at? Machines that feel natural between your legs, that are ergonomically practical, machines that can be used for just about anything?
    By the way, what ever happened to the Sakura from Yamaha that paid homage to the XS650 at the 2007 Tokyo show? As I recall, their customer survey showed it the most popular Yamaha on display.

  24. HSN says:

    the Bullet 500 i rode in amish country about 10 years ago was the absolute worst machine I have ever experienced. it kept falling into false neutrals between every gear, the braking was non existent, and the power was so inadequate I was holding up a long line of traffic because the bike wouldn’t hold 45mph up a modest incline and the shifting was so sloppy I couldn’t get a clean downshift to the gear I wanted. I kept popping between false neutrals as I shifted around to find the right gear, all the while the bike just got slower and slower up the incline.

    horrible machine.

    but then I got out onto the country lanes, away from traffic. and that was one of the best, most enjoyable rides I’ve ever had in my life, an experience I have never had from any modern machine. i would buy an enfield today just to replicate that experience. IF. the modern version retains that country road experience but without the infuriating usability in modern traffic

  25. Lucas9 says:

    I have one of the early imports, a 1996 Military, and have ridden it over 15,000 miles. These bikes are not a joke and handle beautifully. I often ride mine at “full pin” in the Catskill mountains at a sportbike pace. The folding footpeg rubbers are nicely beveled and the bike flat out works at full lean. As a point of reference, some of my other bikes are and MV Agusta Brutale, Ducati 749 and Aprilia Falco. K. Garrett, you are correct. My bike is kicker only. Kent is also correct. Properly adjusted, the double leading shoe front drum will howl the tire. Also, the vibration is tolerable for all-day rides. My point is that these are real motorcycles. People have circumnavigated the globe on them. Marketing them as cute retro toys misses the point.

  26. Gary says:

    This bike is built primarily for the Indian customer, not the American customer. Power is not important to the Indian customer. Fuel economy is. In India you can only go as fast as the ox cart in front of you.

  27. takehikes says:

    I’d buy one if it was about half the price. I honestly think every manufacturer should take a look back and build some stuff like this. Personally I went on a search some years back just to buy a Universal japanese Motorcycle and couldnt find one. Just wanted something that was decen transportation, simple, cheap and reliable and you can do all that and get away with it IF it looks retro!

  28. paul246 says:

    Now that the Enfield is increasingly modernized and federalized I find that my interest in these bikes dwindles. I would rather have one of their Bullet 350’s from about 15 years ago.

  29. Denny says:

    This is course which is natural and nobody should object. However, the “retro” thing is increasingly just skin deep. Just consider what is under the facade: electronic ingitions, electric starters, etc. There is little retro in that. Maybe this confuses it with “replica” as somebody has suggested. But if it sells, it’s ok. We need return to original motorcycle.

  30. Ruefus says:

    Retro does not mean Replica. Interesting to see if they respond to market demand and take a few cues from Triumph. As in updating their retro models, keeping a close eye on the past and refining an already good bike.

    Or will we be looking at these the way we look a Urals in 30 years? Basically the same….frickin’…..thing?

  31. simon says:

    Lovely bike and great example of how simplicity does magic. Something that this web site had and was doing fine before it decided to go crappy.

  32. Zeppo2 says:

    “I like these motorcycles very much, but being manufactured in India, I think they could offer them at a cheaper price than they are, you can get a better bang for your buck with other motorcycle brands. Of course the classic bling brings the difference here. I would love to buy one at the right price.”

    Its an over 50-year-old motorcycle design. That not only means ancient performance, but also ancient manufacturing and assembly methods that drive the cost up, cheap labour or not. If it was made in first world country it would cost more to make than a Ducati.

  33. mick from Sydney Australia says:

    Beautiful motorcycle. At last it should stop now that it has been fitted with a disc brake. I also hope it can go better than the older models which had very aneamic perforformance. However I am wondering when the factory will offer a new “Interceptor” as there was such a rumour circulating a few years ago. The Interceptor was a truly handsome machine.

    As an aside, Paul Carberry (Australia) who actually makes a V Twin Enfield by mating two 500cc RE engines. Would love to see a review on his machine. The URL is supplied below:

    It is a shame the factory is not considering a V twin. It seems that a trend is starting to emerge: the reintroduction of old classics like Harley’s Iron883, Nightster and Forty-Eight, the Norton Commando 916, Triumph Bonneville, Moto Guzzi V7 Cafe Classic and the Honda CB1100F. Then there is the Ural 650. When will be see a reincarnation of Kawasaki’s Z900 or BSA’s Firebolt and Victor? Bring it on I say

  34. Maveth says:

    According to the RE website, the thing does have a kickstart. Blamed if I can tell where it is.

  35. Old timer says:

    “The smaller twin of the Classic 500, the Classic 350 will hold its own against any other motorcycle and then pull some more. The Classic 350 shares its powerplant with the Legendary Thunderbird. The torque to flatten mountains and the fuel efficiency to cross entire ranges comes in the same understated yet charming styling.”

    Well, at least their website copywriters understand the use of hyperbole.

  36. Kentucky Garrett says:

    I like this bike, but I am shocked by the lack of one detail: a kick-start lever. Certainly I am not the only one who thinks that there is something irreplacably classic and nostalgic about kicking a bike to life. I realize that it requires the application of actual effort – not the average American’s forte – but i would love to see an old classic like the example above with no battery whatsoever. For that reason alone, I think I’d take a genuine classic (like a cb450 scrambler) over this cheap immitation. Keep your margarine; pass the butter.

    Is there anyone out there who appreciates a kick-starter besides me? If so, please let me know. 26 years old is too young to become a relic.

  37. kpaul says:

    Beautiful bike. I love the classic line. My wife would look good on on of these. As far as RC being disappointed the price isn’t cheaper well the dollar isn’t what it once was and has depreciated vs the rupee significantly. Blame deficit spending begun by Bush admin and accelerated by the Obama folks and the monetizaton of the debt that goes with follows deficit spending i.e. the Fed Reserve prints more money by buying increased Treasury debt. I’ll bet you a cup a coffee the dollar will drop further in the future against the rupee, yuan and other Asian currencies i.e. these bikes will get more expensive not less. Same thing happened with the yen during the Reagan deficit explosion years during the 80s and Japanese cars became more expensive.

  38. Dave Kent says:

    I just wish the Feds would realize that anybody who wants one of these knows motorcycles and has lived and ridden long enough to know how to stop one. Then they’d allow the proper drum front brake. But Big Brother knows best, and those of us who really appreciate the original wouldn’t have to find one in a barn.

  39. EZMark says:

    I understand the retro thing, but even Harley uses counterbalancers nowadays.
    I have riden unbalanced singles and I would never go that retro.

  40. RC says:

    I like these motorcycles very much, but being manufactured in India, I think they could offer them at a cheaper price than they are, you can get a better bang for your buck with other motorcycle brands. Of course the classic bling brings the difference here. I would love to buy one at the right price.

wordscape cheatgun mayhem 2 unblocked games