ENFIELD 500 BULLET ELECTRA EFI (2008 - 2016) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
This new version of the Enfield Electra may look the same, and to be fair in alot of ways that count it is, but in fact it features an all new unit construction engine with fuel-injection, dragging it kicking and screaming into this century to meet Euro3 emission laws.
This is a motorcycle with alot of charisma - a throwback from a bygone era. It's endearingly different to modern bikes, which can be a positive thing if you're looking for something different.
Warm to it's character and you'll have a massive grin on your face as you thud gently around the back lanes. But you can't help getting the feeling that motorcycles have advanced for a reason, and maybe some things should stay in the past...
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The brakes aren't up to much, with a single disc on the front and a drum brake (how quaint) on the back, so it's a good thing the engine's only packing 27.5bhp.
It's relatively comfy, until you get up to speed and the vibes start to kick in. It's definitely not a bike for long journeys or sustained top speed. Compared to the competition, like the Kawasaki W650 or the Triumph Bonneville, handling and suspension lack quality.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Royal Enfield have tried hard to meet Euro3 emission laws without ruining the feel of their classic 500cc single, and it's worked. The all-new unit-construction lump is fuel-injected yet still feels like a Royal Enfield, mostly because it still has the 84mm bore, 90mm stroke and heavy crank of the old Electra.
It may be made in India but it's a traditional British push-rod single. Rubber strips between fins are there to reduce engine noise, but sat on top of you're still treated to a nice classic sound that should endear the bike to old-fashioned purists. It's still a lazy little engine, but it accelerates slightly quicker than the old model and has a touch more top end too.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Reliability with Enfield's is patchy at best, with poor electrics. They’re very easy to work on though and there's nothing that can’t be put right with a little patience and a Haynes manual. Finish is poor and goes off quickly if not cared for. These bikes are built in India so if you're used to Japanese standards of build quality, you could be in for a shock.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Enfield claim 87mph for the Electra EFI, so with today's fuel prices it could make alot fo sense as a cheap commuter. These bikes are so simple servicing can be done at home- in fact it's probably a big part of the fun for alot of owners. The cost for a new one is very low and used bikes can be picked up at rock bottom prices.
One look at the pictures should tell you that there's no on-board computer or digital tyre-pressure sensors here! The Enfiled aims to recreate biking from a simpler time. 2 wheels and an engine are about all you get for your money, but if you're here reading this and considering one of these bikes, that probably forms a big part of the appeal.
|Engine type||499cc four-stroke, single cylinder ovh. 84mm bore x 90mm stroke. Fuel injected, five-speed gearbox, chain drive, electric start.|
|Frame type||Tubular steel. Telescopic front forks. Twin rear shocks.|
|Fuel capacity||15.75 litres|
|Front brake||Single 280mm disc.|
|Rear brake||6inch rear drum|
|Front tyre size||3.25" x 19"|
|Rear tyre size||3.5" x 19"|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||87 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£69|
|Annual service cost||£140|
|Used price||£3,500 - £4,000|
6 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||28 bhp|
|Max torque||30.5 ft-lb|
|Top speed||82 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||87 miles|
Model history & versions
- 1949: The Bullet goes into production at the British Royal Enfield company.
- 2002: First electric start Bullet introduced.
- 2004: Bullet Electra X introduced along with conventional left foot gear shift/right foot brake set-up.
- 2008: Electra EFI model released with fuel-injected and all-new unit construction engine.
- 2016: This version of 500 Bullet goes off sale, replaced by newer.
Bullet Trials: Alloy mudguards, wide bars, a solo seat, different sub-frame, alloy bash plate, enduro-style tyres and upswept exhaust.
Bullet Electra Sportsman: Rear sets, clip-ons add up to a saucy café racer style.
Bullet Classic: Has a chrome-sided tank and matching chrome mudguards. There’s a Classic Solo, too, with a single seat and luggage rack.
Owners' reviews for the ENFIELD 500 BULLET (2008 - 2016)
9 owners have reviewed their ENFIELD 500 BULLET (2008 - 2016) 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:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Annual servicing cost: £50
Love the traditional look and old school way of going about things . So simple , so frugal. Most annoying thing is the lack of a trip meter (but there is a low fuel light).
Handling is more than adequate for a bike of this type. You can throw it around with confidence if you want as it`s so light. Brakes are OK as long as you are prepared to use both ( ie . it`s not a 2 finger sports bike type set up). It`s great for pottering about at 50 - 60 mph. Above 60 it gets a bit vibey and it feels cruel to keep it at higher speeds for long. But it`ll keep with A road traffic OK (but not a motorway bike obviously). 60 miles finds my bum getting tired but the bike has an easy 200 mile range in the tank. I have several bikes but really enjoy using this one for errands and just general pottering about. I took it on a mini tour of Wales as well and it was most enjoyable.
Feels harsh above 60. But generally smooth enough below that. Overtaking is possible but you really do have to concentrate , which is no bad thing.
I think the electrics are a weak point on these bikes. There are a jumble of wires going into the headlamp area that are quite capable of chafing on the frame as you turn the bars. I`ve had to add additional insulation tape to prevent shorting. Also the side-stand cut out switch sometimes cuts the engine after you`ve set off and you have to give the side-stand a good kick while you are going along to reignite the engine! Quite alarming the first time but just all part of the "charm" once you know what to do.
This is a simple bike and sold as such. You really don`t need gizmo`s and shouldn`t be expecting any. The only additional thing I`d like is a trip.
Version: Classic 500
Annual servicing cost: £145
Relaxing ride makes you feel like you're in another era.
Slow & steady 55mph is the best country lanes for 4/5 hours easily but Devonshire views stop me before too long..
Need a little bit more top speed to cruise on main road but great power delivery at low end ideal for country lanes .
Excellent build especially for the price.
Reliability is excellent my mechanic is impressed with the build quality,
Basically there is none but on the other hand nothing to go wrong.
The lack of a fairing means slogging down a motorway isn't much fun, but when is it? The bike is capable of sitting at 65-70 for as long as you want, but realistically A and B roads are what it was designed for, and where it excels. If you want to tour Scotland for a week, chuck some luggage on and enjoy (and you won't have the "range anxiety" of most Jap bikes with a 3 gallon tank and better than 70mpg), you won't find a better machine for enjoying the scenery and the glorious twisting roads at legal speeds. if you want to hack back and forward to work all year, enjoy the economy, reliability and cheap servicing. If you want to boast about unusable power and eyewatering parts and servicing prices, buy something more mainstream.
Brakes are more than up to the power and can stop very quickly when used in anger, skinny tyres mean there's little need for a monster back brake, though some inexperienced reviewers mistake the cush drive movement for a lack of braking power. This is a result of it's trials heritage where the ability to remove the back wheel without disturbing the chain and brake was a major advantage ( and still is!) Front forks are averaging from the factory, but a change of oil, and for the lighter rider, some progressive springs transforms it into a beautiful handling bike on sweeping a roads.
Reliable, tractable, frugal, it easily keeps up with modern traffic. The only criticisms one might level at it is s lack of outright power at motorway speeds when carrying a passenger and luggage, but solo it's fine, maybe we should be s little old fashioned and expect to travel slightly slower when loaded up to the max.. As for vibration, negligible, the engine's get smoother the more they're used. It doesn't feel sewing machine smooth, but then it's a motorcycle not a sewing machine! Vibes have never been intrusive or uncomfortable on mine. Of particular note is the fuel injection, having ridden the Enfield back to back with a 1250RT I was shocked how snatchy, rough and peaky the big BMW felt, perhaps they should go and get some hints from the Chennai engineers..
All the talk of finish being "not as good as Japanese" makes me laugh, the machining is not as precise and the legacy of 50's design is heavy castings and industrial styling, but it resists corrosion better than most modern Japanese/European offerings and stainless replacements are readily available and affordable for the few parts that are prone to rust. Also you can use it in the winter without having to rebuild the brakes in the Spring (Suzuki, Kawasaki etc take note!)
Home servicing is easy and cheap, even workshop tasks are cheaper due to the simplicity.
Hard to give full marks for "equipment" as there isn't any lol A rack is useful, heated grips make a practical bike even more practical. Knobblies look good and make sense if you want to trial ride (don't scoff, older versions of this basic bike used to compete in the ISDT back in the day, and it survives Indian back roads) but for 99% road use I prefer Dunlop K70 tyres, classic looks and excellent grip. A rear lasts approximately 3k miles, but doesn't cost *too* much when the time comes. If I was commuting long distances I'd probably use modern pattern Avon's just for the longer tyre life.
Annual servicing cost: £250
If you are looking for the performance of a Rice Rocket, this is not your machine. But if you want a solid simple motorcycle this bike has a lot to offer. You basically finish what the people in India started, then ride - remembering that this is a Thumper and running her at sustained speeds of over 60 MPH can vibrate you into a dentist's chair and your machine into a junk yard. But if you live within her designed limitations, you can ride your endurance as far as you want. I have cruised with my 2010 500 EFI for days at a time across the U.S. to see the grandchildren, enjoying the countryside without a blurring perspective and at over 80 MPG, even on the freeway. I've adjusted the chain once in over 6000 miles (white lithium grease is a must), changed one tire that wore out and change the oil regularly, staying to spec @ 50 wt. synthetic. Oh, and occasionally I fill the gas tank. I have a windshield on it now, and have driven it through rain storms that I could "bearly" see through and even my wet weather gear could not completely keep out - and the RE didn't miss a beat. I've picniced with my Wife on beaches and cruised any highway I've felt a mind to - and never had this machine leave me stranded. With the appropriate tires she will claw into the tightest corner like a tiger, and gives you the confidence of more fun to come. She's steady, nimble, and maneuverable - load her light and ride her forever - I have no intentions of ever buying another machine. And mind you, this from a man whose heritage is from family that has rode Harleys since the 30's, myself on a '61 Pan and a '53 "K"; and my sons both still ride their own - not to mention my being over 45 years on everything from the 80 cc, 305 cc and YAS2C 125 Yamaha twin, to dirt thumpers (outran two grizzly bears on a XL250 Honda); and up to the 750 Honda fours, the Suzuki 550 two stroke triple - and more...so with all due respect, I have a few miles on the road. Now, as a retired Law Enforcement officer, well...the rear brakes need work, trace the wiring to make sure nothing is scraping and risking a short, put more powerful headlights on, and change the seat to something that is more comfortable for the longer runs. Like I said, you're finishing what the good people in India started...but believe me, take care of her, and she'll take care of you. Just be ready for a crowd when you pull up to the gas pump...
Great all around bike, good commuter especially if you want something economical (80+ MPG) and still big enough to use on the highway - and light enough to move around, cornering well and easy to maneuver in a parking lot. Seats need work - on a cruise you are done by the time you hit near 150 miles. Careful with the front brake - grabs well - but the rear brake can leave you wondering if it needs to be replaced...each time you use it.
Typical thumper, vibrates if you push her too hard. But if you ride her and don't try to ride her like a Rice Rocket - be satisfied with the ride instead of the pride, in other words - the torque of that big cylinder will pull you through anything on the road. It's a strong engine that I can service easily and ride anytime I want. And it starts easily - the old man in me likes that.
Built strong, and to last if ridden within her design limitations, as mentioned above. Wiring an issue, check all connections and stress points for wear, change to more powerful headlights, and be ready to fork out for a more comfortable seat for the longer hauls. My 2010 has proven reliable and has never left me stranded despite cross country runs at sustained highway speeds of 60 - 62 MPH, and routine country riding in Maine. Maintain her and she keeps going - but don't expect a computer to bale you out of a fix. This a machine requiring that the owner have some mechanical savvy to troubleshoot and service in a timely fashion, so problems are prevented. This a machine you literally listen to when she talks to you - ignore her and like a good woman, she'll eventually let you know that wasn't a good idea...
Other than the usual gas, and oil changes, this bike has proven relatively problem free. Maybe I just got a good one, but the biggest regular expense for me are the tires I keep wearing out...
Keep it simple. You enjoy her more and live with her longer.
Version: Bullet Electra EFI
Annual servicing cost: £100
Indian made quality could be better, however British dealer could not be better, has replaced both wheels, mudguard (manufacturing fault ), fork gaiter clips, broken and rusty, silencer (rattling), speedo gearbox, Chain adjusters (thread problem ), fixed problem with fuel tank paint under fuel cap, Bike is now almost up to my British Standard of quality, It does not take much. One thing though the quality of the GT Continental 535 is second to none, I now wish I had bought one of those.
depends upon mileage
Buying experience: Bought by phone, OK
I have owned my Electra EFI for a year now and in that time have added 10,000 miles to the 2,000 miles it came with at 3 years old. I use it to commute 75 miles round trip twice a week all year round and for the 400 mile round trip to my head office every couple of weeks. On A roads, dual carriageway and city -it is perfectly up to the job. Not broken down, nothing fallen off, just routine servicing every 3750 miles (which is the same as a Suzuki)which is dead easy, even for a numpty like me. The valves are self-adjusting, so there is no expensive valve clearance check either. 78 mpg gives a tank range of well over 200 miles. Back tyre was chnaged at 9,000 miles, front looks like it won't need to be changed at least until next time I do the back one. It cruises confortably at 60-65, with enough power left for a quick spurt up to 70 and a bit when you need to pull out to overtake. That is all the speed you can actually use on the A1! It is fast enough to have fun on country lanes and fast enought to get past the lines of traffic following trucks on single carriageway A roads. You are aware of the engine working, but the vibration is not intrusive. Mine has trials bars, a small screen and a single seat (not the sprung type) and is comfortable enough for a 6 hour journey. It puts a smile on my face. I look forward to riding it and (occasionally) sprucing it up with a quick wash. I often gets thumbs up from other road users. Strangers (and police officers) come over to chat. Don't dismiss the Enfield as a perfectly practical, usable and fun bike to ride. I keep looking at what I might replace it with when the time comes - but most other bikes suffer from one or more of being designed by the same people who design trainers and robot toys, stupid fuel consumption, stupidly small fuel tanks, origami riding positions, ridiculous service costs or they require purpose made luggage that costs more than my bike did. So I think it will probably be another Enfield - or I'll just rebuild this one.
I have put just over 1k miles on the bike now, all niggles sorted, fitted heated grips for the winter.
Been riding this machine for a couple of weeks now. Found sideways play on the rear wheel after 150 miles had to have the swing arm replaced, then after first service (350 miles) battery acid leaked all over the exhaust after being over filled! it also peppered my jeans leg! got the exhaust replaced under warranty but decided to ditch the battery for a dry cell type at my cost, now at 550 miles oil filter cover is leaking oil, awaiting this to be sorted. Well that's 3 things in quick succession. Hoping that's it?
Just bought a Fury, not listed as a seperate model as yet. Bought it for the looks & old world charm I have a 1200RT for serious work, best at 50-60 along winding A roads, still smiling!