ENFIELD 500 BULLET (1992 - 2003) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 3.9 out of 5 (3.9/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
Power: 22 bhp
Seat height: Low (29.9 in / 760 mm)
Weight: Low (370 lbs / 168 kg)

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.


Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.


3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.


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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 70 mpg
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost £100
New price -
Used price -
Insurance group 6 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 22 bhp
Max torque 20 ft-lb
Top speed 70 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 17.3 secs
Tank range 200 miles

Model 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.

Owners' reviews for the ENFIELD 500 BULLET (1992 - 2003)

7 owners have reviewed their ENFIELD 500 BULLET (1992 - 2003) 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 - 2003)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
Engine: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 3.9 out of 5 (3.9/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Equipment: 3.1 out of 5 (3.1/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
5 out of 5 A really nice classic style bike
14 September 2021 by Neilly noddy from toytown

Version: Sportsman

Year: 2005

Annual servicing cost: £45

Great bike! Easy to work on, mines been 100% reliable. It goes nicely, and attracts so much interest as it looks like a cafe racer, and has a hand made aluminium racer tank and smiths gauges with rev counter in a custom alloy dashboard

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Rides nicely suspension is Comfortable and it feels nice and solid on the road

Engine 4 out of 5

It goes well. Just use really good oil, keep on top of carb tuning. I always use 99 ron super unleaded. It does run better.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Its well made. It takes looming after to look good. Mine is ridden and enjoyed. It doesnt look new, it just looks right in my eyes.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Very cheap parts, i do not ride it hard so service is oil, plug, filter and check over.

Equipment 5 out of 5

It looks stunning.

Buying experience: Private sale

5 out of 5 Whinging young journalists
21 January 2021 by Mo Gordon

Version: Any, 350 or 500.

Year: 2006

Annual servicing cost: £50

MCN's review of this bike is insulting! These modern day journalists think they know it all! They state S.O.H.C. Pretty sure they are all push rod engines! most up to around the early Noughties, were made from the original moulds that Royal Enfield sent over in the fifties, when they changed from 'bolt together engine/gearbox, to the later unit construction engines. The Indian army wanted these bikes, but India wouldn't allow complete bikes to be imported, so Royal Enfield sent them over in kit form to be assembled there. These are bikes from the fifties! They are not modern buzz boxes or high revving multi cylinder bikes, they are old bikes designed to be fettled and maintained by their owners! If you don't want a bike that you can fully service in an hour, with few tools, don't buy one! People love them for what they are and it makes me sick, when smart arse journalists find fault and insult everything that doesn't come up to their 'modern high tech machines that are way too fast for today's roads and can't be safely maintained by the run of the mill biker!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

These were considered a 'Mans Bike', basic motorcycling, cheap reliable transport, which were very satisfying to own. I've owned a BSA Gold Star DBD34, and a 90 bore 498cc Manx Norton, both very nice and fast bikes to ride but required a high level of mechanical skill to keep them on top form. The Bullet doesn't require anywhere near the skill level to maintain it.

Engine 5 out of 5

If you don't like fettling with old classic's don't buy one!

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

The ideal machine to learn motorcycle maintenance on. If you don't like a challenge, or getting your hands dirty, don't buy one!!

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Do it yourself!!

Equipment 5 out of 5

Owning a Royal Enfield single is as much of a hobby as riding them.

Buying experience: These are for the real budding D.I.Y biker, not for ' I don't wanna get my hands dirty' type!

5 out of 5 Everyone should have one tucked away to remind them of what Motorcycling is or was to them as a child!
14 December 2019 by Sausage

Version: Trials

Year: 2007

Annual servicing cost: £200

A 5 out of 5, why, how, surely not? Well, it certainly does not deserve this based upon comments below from me, however, this is missing the point. I simply dare anyone to ride one for a day and not absolutely love the simplicity and back to bare bones fundamental motorcycling pleasures. The sound, the feel, the ‘risk’, it’s being 10 years old again, back in the 70’sor 80’s and riding for the first time. Perfection.

Ride quality & brakes 2 out of 5

Get ready to drag them boots! There are some brakes, in a 1950’s fashion, they will slow you down on the day. I say they, front one will, back one is kinda there for show and not rolling off when stationery on a hill. A comfy bike though, sprung saddle on my Trials, whilst the knobblies create a very wayward ride quality / handling which is all part of the character and if you love her as I do, will get used to.

Engine 3 out of 5

Fantastic fun and sounds absolutely amazing through high level trials pipe. Like a steam punk fantasy to behold, just wipe the oil off once in a while and it’s a work of art. Pulls fantastically well, basic in the extreme, sounds amazing, you need no more.

Reliability & build quality 2 out of 5

Ooh, some electrical issues, leaks from a few gaskets, a few nuts / bolts shake emselves loose......all good fun! Wouldn’t trust her for winter use, would feel though I was finishing her off, which it probably would do. Make sure you are happy to have as a second / third bike and that constant fettling will be part of ownership. Once you accept this, ownership pleasure will increase even more. If this basis of ownership is not for you, don’t buy one.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Fantastic on fuel and cheap on parts. However, if you use her a bit, you will be buying replacement parts cos of reliability issues.....but they will be cheap.swings and roundabouts.

Equipment 2 out of 5

Speedo, lights, wheels, tyres, seat, tank, it’s got what you need! And nothing more. Favourite feature after the. Engine is the hilarious sprung saddle.

Buying experience: Bought privately off an old fella for £2100. Only a couple thousand miles on her, she had a few elec issues which local motorcycle guru sorted easily. Think the seller was happy / sad to see her go. Amazing fun twinned with appalling reliability, old school biking! He’s parting words said it all...’enjoy the ride home, you should get there.....probably!’

5 out of 5 Bullet Trials 500 2007
27 October 2019 by Sausage

Version: Trials

Year: 2007

Annual servicing cost: £200

Best being. It’s basic, fundamental make up, the sound of the machine as a whole, feel, simplicity, looks....it’s a real motorcycle. Worst being. I think she’d suffer badly in a uk winter and nothing to do with the bike, but, 99% of the British public. Very sadly, she doesn’t ‘fit in’ with the insane, manic and irresponsible approach of most drivers nowadays. eg. You are enjoying your pleasurable ride at a happy 50ish mph max and wherever / whenever, you have a car driver desperately trying to get past as they can’t mentally handle driving along behind an ‘old’ machine. It appears to offend their perception of their ‘status’. A bit like being on a 500cc with ‘L’ plates on it. But the bike is ideal world motorcycling personified.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Back brake is kinda there, front ok when used with foresight and ride is hilarious fun. Again, yer missing the point if looking at numbers. Do you want enjoyment? Stick amazing brakes on her and you’d lose the involvement of riding a real motorcycle.

Engine 5 out of 5

Looks lovely, amazing character, plenty of torque, sounds divine.

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

Simple but things will go wrong and she requires constant care and maintenance. Just as it should be!

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

See above, it’s relative, how many miles do you do? Very, very cheap parts though.

Equipment 1 out of 5

The little running lights either side of the headlight are cute, a Bullet mainstay. Exhaust on my Trials sounds divine. But ‘equipment’, nah, doesn’t have any of that unnecessary malarkey.

Buying experience: Bought it off an old fella, he loved her but I think had concerns re reliability. She did have a small elec issue which local old bike guru sorted in a couple hours. I went along, decided to buy it, bought it, job done.

4 out of 5 Mr.
04 February 2016 by BigPhil

Year: 2015

Annual servicing cost: £100

It is a great fun machine even though it is not fast

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

If you do not mind a few vibes

Engine 4 out of 5

Single Cylinder creates a great sound, good pulling power

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

It is hand built what can I say

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Depends on mileage

Equipment 1 out of 5

Very basic but that is what I wanted

Buying experience: bought it new from dealer using credit card everything was done and he delivered it in a van

5 out of 5
19 September 2015 by pete shooter

Version: sixty 5

Year: 2004

Annual servicing cost: £40

gets you where you want to be and gets you home again

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

braking is a bit slow but I have a chair on

Engine 5 out of 5

does what it says on the tin very reliable

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

solid as a rock

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

easy to service

Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5 Bullet 500 Deluxe (Bought 2000)
18 June 2015 by YorkshireSteve

Version: Deluxe - chrome tank and mudguards, RHS 4 speed box and kick start only

Year: 2000

Annual servicing cost: £60

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.

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.

Reliability & build quality 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 vs rivals 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)

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