ENFIELD 350 BULLET (1987 - 2006) Review
- Longest-running motorcycle model in continuous production
- Classic simplicity
- Retro charm
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Royal Enfield Bullet takes the crown as the longest running motorcycle model in continuous production and has been around since 1932.
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This 350cc version remained largely unchanged for the 19 years it was sold before falling foul of emissions laws in 2006. Unlike modern retros from the likes of Triumph that hide up-to-date tech like fuel injectors where they can’t be seen, the Royal Enfield really was the classic it looked like.
If you want to travel back through time to the 1950s then the Bullet 350 is the bike for you. That said, it has some great engineering details a sense of authenticity you seldom find on two wheels these days.
It actually makes a pleasant rural commuter bike, too, returning 70mpg or more at a steady 55mph. Like most classics the Bullet needs plenty of attention to keep pristine but it’s worth the work and is undeniably good fun.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
For what it is, the handling of the Royal Enfield Bullet 350 is surprisingly good. The bike steers very well and you can nip through traffic easily, it just has a certain bounciness on bumpy roads which warns you it is an old chassis design. Drum brakes are a bit scary in any emergency situation.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Although the Royal Enfield Bullet 350 made in India today is a different engine from the old 60s British Enfields, it's still a simple, low comp four stroke plodder, with an antiquated gearbox bolted onto it. The 350 Trials version has another 2bhp, but don't expect to be going anywhere fast, as the Enfields were always designed for sedate cruising.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The UK importers have spent their own time and money making various mods to the Indian made Enfields over the last decade or so, plus general quality has improved over in India in the last five years or so. Vibes tend to loosen things on the Enfields, but otherwise, you shouldn't have any major problems.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The Royal Enfield Bullet 350 gives buyers an opportunity to own a classic for a fraction of what it can cost to restore a genuinely ancient Brit bike.
When the Bullet was new, you could pick one up for £2000-£2600, plus unlike a genuine classic you got a manufacturer warranty. You can almost think of the Bullet 350 in the same way as new old stock. You can still pick up a Bullet on the used market that looks like it was built in the ‘50s but was actually made in 2006 for under £3000.
A modern retro such as the Kawasaki W800 may look the part, but costs £8499 and has modern running gear underneath (so you can’t fettle it like you can the Enfield).
You can still buy the larger-capacity Royal Enfield Classic 500, which encapsulates much of the same charm and style, but costs around £5000 depending on the version you choose.
Alternatively, there are now growing numbers of Chinese small-capacity retros on the market such as the Herald Classic 250 that might scratch the same itch without breaking the bank.
The Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Trials certainly looks the part, with an upswept exhaust, single saddle, alloy mudguards, luggage rack and trailie style handlebars. The 350 Classic is more basic, but the last of them were sold off in 2006 for just two grand new, so you can't complain too much.
|Engine type||4 stroke, single, 4 speed|
|Frame type||Steel cradle type|
|Fuel capacity||14.5 litres|
|Front tyre size||2.75 x 17 in|
|Rear tyre size||3.00 x 17 in|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||70 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£45|
|Annual service cost||-|
5 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||18 bhp|
|Max torque||20 ft-lb|
|Top speed||70 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||21 secs|
|Tank range||200 miles|
Model history & versions
1996: Royal Enfield Bullet 350 imported in small numbers to the UK.
1997: New owners Eicher Engineering acquire factory in India.
2002: UK importer launches 350 Trials variant for £3000.
2004: Royal Enfield Bullet Classic Deluxe 350 appears, with chromed parts, 2 tone tank, knee pads.
2005: Royal Enfield Bullet Classic Deluxe discontinued.
2006: Price of basic Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Classic reduced to £1995 to clear stocks. 350 models discontinued.
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Trials.
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 De Luxe:
Royal Enfield Bullet Deluxe version with extra chrome.
Owners' reviews for the ENFIELD 350 BULLET (1987 - 2006)
6 owners have reviewed their ENFIELD 350 BULLET (1987 - 2006) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
Version: 350 standard
It is what it is (a 1950's based bike) so modern standards do not apply, thank goodness for the upgraded drum brakes, modern 12 volt electrics, so much better than 1953 era!
Thank goodness it's not the 1953 6" single sided drum brake, fine in day to day use, practice the art of swerve in an emergency!
Some are not well put together, like mine, but others are!
Buy one that has proof of a British rebuilt engine as Indian engines are a lottery on quality and longevity.
Everything I want from a 1950s style bike ie no complexity, simplicity itself.
Buying experience: Dealer bought new, no problems in 2006!
Version: standard 350 Bullet
I love it, but beware what you're getting into. Performance-wise, it's by far not the best bike out there. But it looks beautiful, it's cheap to run, a pleasure to work on, and it grows on you. It's not a babe magnet, it's an old geezer magnet - you'll get accosted by old men with happy motorcycle memories.
Good and quick on cornering. Brakes are OK-ish if well maintained. Seat is comfortable on longer rides. Vibrations are a bit annoying. Gear changes are not quick and take some learning - going from 4th to 3rd at high speed will make a horrible crunching sound unless you more or less match the revs.
Nice low down torque. Satisfying sound. Easy to work on - no electronics. Not that powerful - 65 mph is a realistic maximum.
Reliably as long as you get to know the bike, and carry a tool kit with you! Sometimes bits vibrate loose.
Great parts availability (eg. Hitchcocks). Easiest bike ever to work on. There are good manuals available (eg. Pete Snidal's manual).
I recommend some performance upgrades: a short bottle exhaust and carb rejet to suit. An extra tooth on the front sprocket to take the gearing up a tad. My gearbox needed an o-ring over the lever to stop it oozing. A rubber headed chain tensioner for the primary chain (available from Hitchcocks) reduced the vibes, as did handle bar end weights. Craven panniers or top box look the part - you can find them second hand for cheap.
Take your time with this one and you'll get the idea. It's slow, really slow but steady. The handling is surprisingly good though with quite a short wheelbase (1370mm which is the same as a 2013 CBR600RR. Brakes are not a strong point either and thinking ahead is a good idea. Personally for all its faults I enjoyed the bike and when it's back together again then I'll be grinning like a Cheshire cat. p.s. It's not in bits 'cos it stopped working, it's in bits 'cos it got taken off me after a bankruptcy and left in a garden for 7 years.
I have had my 350T for three years and 9000k. The engine is sweet and ticks like a little clock. It hardly uses any oil and i service it every 3000k. It hardly needs any attention between services and is great for blasting round town or round the lanes. Tis a little out of it's deapth on the open road though with a top speed of only 60MPH. The front brake lacks power but has bedded in and improved a little over the years but the rear brake makes up for this by being powerfull and progressive. The gearbox is a little notchy with many neutrals between the four gears and it pays to change gear while the bike is on the move. Yes it is a right hand change but so was my Daytona T100R... you get used to it. I can go from T595 to Enfield with no problem (apart from the power :-)) I like my Enfield 350T and would have another if i ever wear this one out
Me personally, I couldn't get me head round the gears being on the right hand side, but there is a model with left hand sided gears,but i think that's the 500.