ENFIELD 500 BULLET (1992-on) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"Classic Brit single, now made in India"

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding

"Classic Brit single, now made in India"

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

Early models of the Royal Enfiled Bullet 500 weren't very well made and you might be better off finding a 2000 onwards example of this classic Brit single, now made in India. There have been many variants of the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 produced by the UK importers, from cafe racers to sidecar combos, with the Clubman GT offering the most power from the Royal Enfiled 500cc motor.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

The Royal Enfield Bullet 500 runs on skinny old tyres and handles OK for something so old fashioned, equipped with such basic forks and shock absorbers. The Bullet 500 can't really go fast enough to test its chassis to the limit, which is probably a good thing.

Engine 3 out of 5

In standard trim the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 single makes a claimed 22bhp, with another 2bhp squeezed out of the Clubman cafe racer version. The notchy gearbox takes some getting used to, but one thing you'll have whilst riding a Royal Enfield is time, as progress is leisurely, and there's no difference wit hthe Royal Enfield Bullet 500.

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Build quality improved gradually on the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 from the late 1990s onwards, as Eicher's new Indian factory took over and over 100 detail improvements have been made to the motorcycle in the last decade or so, by the factory and the UK importers. The Royal Enfield Bullet 500 is now a classic motorcycle you can use regularly.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

As a used buy, the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 makes a whole lot of sense, as owners tend to be fussy types and £1000 upwards gets you something in OK nick. As a new bike, four grand is quite expensive for a 75mph cafe racer - a decent 650  Bonnie/750 Commando could be had for the same cash and arguably worth more in the long run compared to the Royal Enfield Bullet 500. Find a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 for sale.  

Insurance group: 6 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Old fashioned drum brakes can cause a few heart-stopping moments on the Royal Enfiled Bullet 500 and many of the pre-2004 model 500 Bullets have no electric start either, so you have to master the knack of kick-starting. The Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Trials and Army versions look like they've come straight from the set of `Heartbeat ' and have the most old school detailing.

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their ENFIELD 500 BULLET (1992-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your ENFIELD 500 BULLET (1992-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Bullet 500 Deluxe (Bought 2000)

18 June 2015 by YorkshireSteve

Bought Sept 2000 and now done 39000 miles without failure. Used almost daily for work and holidays. Buy one and smile with your mates, booming down the road. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
My 500 runs smoothly and without undue vibrations (unlike my mates bought the year before mine?) In standard gearing it is happiest at 55-60 mph and once did 10 hours straight up to Scotland, and yes I could still walk straight and without tingling extremities. For daily travel to work I upped the gearbox cog by 1 tooth to raise top speed to 70 after three years. To help the acceleration and braking I ditched the double seat and passenger foot rests, along with other cosmetic bits.
Engine
5 out of 5
Bomb proof (what more can I say). A regular oil change and filter check is all this beauty needs! Over revving will make your bits tingle but it will never blow up.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Be prepared to keep it clean or watch it corrode and review or service on a monthly basis. The clutch cable used to snap at the lead ball in the gearbox selector every 6 months until I changed supplier (to Hitchcocks). If your are a old school spanner man you can you'll be ok with this bike, but if not a specialist shop may be required. The only major problem I have had was a cracked frame weld courtesy of a north Yorkshire pot hole aspiring to be a cave!
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
I do my own servicing so the £60 is an estimated average over the last 15 years (for annual oil and filters, brake pads, odd cables, bulbs, tyres, etc.).
Equipment
3 out of 5
As standard my bike was great for me but the favourite bits were those I dumped for more speed/handling/braking. Also, dump the square edge rear tyre and cornering becomes effortless at all but "screwing the balls off it" speed. Avoid every bolt-on or stainless steel add-on or a purist will take the piss and don't go mad on the mods or the local plod (or MC) my get a bit too interested.
Buying experience

The former dealer at Saxilby in Lincolnshire, from whom I bought the bike new, was so nice he went out of business. (Really miss your free cups of tea and biscuits Keith)

Read all 1 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1992
Year discontinued -
New price £4,032
Used price £2,500 to £4,700
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 6 of 17
Annual road tax £38
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 22 bhp
Max torque 20 ft-lb
Top speed 70 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 17.3 secs
Average fuel consumption 70 mpg
Tank range 200 miles
Specification
Engine size 499cc
Engine type 4 stroke, single, 4 speed
Frame type Steel cradle type
Fuel capacity 14.5 litres
Seat height 760mm
Bike weight 168kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension None
Front brake Drum
Rear brake Drum
Front tyre size 2.75 x 17 in
Rear tyre size 3.00 x 17 in

History & Versions

Model history

1996:Royal  Enfield Bullet 500 imported in small numbers to the UK.
1997: New owners Eicher Engineering acquire factory in India.
2001: UK importer launches Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Army variant, in olive green.
2002: UK importer launches Royal Enfield Bullet 500 ES (electric start) and 500 Clubman GT variants.
2003: Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Trials launched.
2004: Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Sixty-Five (and Sixty-Five Sportsman/Street) launched; five gears, lean burn engine.
2004: Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Clubman S joins the GT.
2005: Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Sixty-Five T replaces the Trials model, Electra 5 speed models gradually replace older Bullet 500 range, except for Clubman S model.

Other versions

Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Trials, Bullet 500 Sixty-Five T, Bullet 500 Sixty Five Sportsman, Bullet 500 Sixty Five Street, Bullet 500 Army, Bullet 500 Clubman GT, Bullet 500 Clubman S, Bullet 500 ES, Bullet 500 Jubilee Sidecar Outfit, Bullet 500 Manx Sidecar Outfit, Bullet 500 Stratford Sidecar Outfit.

Photo Gallery

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  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
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  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Engine
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
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  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Exhaust
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle review - Riding
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