ENFIELD TRIALS (2009 - on) Review

At a glance

Power: 28 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.5 in / 800 mm)
Weight: Medium (412 lbs / 187 kg)

Prices

New £5,100
Used £3,900 - £4,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Royal Enfield Bullet Trials EFI is rubbish and brilliant at the same time. Rubbish because it’s slow, under-braked and ill-handling – but brilliant because it offers a unique, charming, easy-going ride you won’t get with any other bike less than 30 years old.

Ride quality & brakes

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

Modern bikes chase chassis rigidity – the Enfield’s steel tube design merely holds the components together and might as well be made of rope. Even riding slowly you can feel the chassis flex as the engine loads and unloads the rear wheel.

Saying that, taking smooth lines, make your inputs progressive and accelerating through bends helps maintain momentum. The knobbly tyres are soft, so leaning over gently doesn’t stress them too much – it’s possible to scrape the centrestand and rear brake pedal.

The ride is a little bouncy – exacerbated by the sprung saddle. It will go off-road – but only gentle green lanes and fields unless you want to bash it in to pieces. It’s a style thing.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
2 out of 5 (2/5)

Rating the Royal Enfield Trials’ engine is a subjective issue – base the score on performance, and it comes out low. It’s slow revving and is uncomfortable much past 65. But it has chunky single-cylinder torque right from tickover, and although it’s vibey they’re part of the character. As long as you don’t ride for hours flat-out, it’s part of the appeal. 

Reliability & build quality

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

It's A 50 year-old design produced in India (converted to trial spec in the UK), so it’s fairly crude up close. It’s solid though – the motor is a piece of cake to home-service, everything is simple and accessible and it’s a tough old beast.

It remains to be seen how the fuel injection will holdup under long-term ownership – it’s the only thing you might ever need to trouble a dealer to sort out.

Value vs rivals

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

Just under £4500 buys you a Suzuki Gladius or a Kawsaki ER-6n – both more practical and better performing. But Enfield buyers are unique – it’s an ownership experience rather than a purchase you rationalise too much.

It’s also the sort of bike you could keep for life – you won’t get the same feeling with the Jap bikes. As long as you truly know what you’re getting, it’s a great authentic experience of classic motorcycling – except with better backup, reliability and a lower price than you might pay for a ‘real’ classic bike.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

Centrestand, a rear luggage rack, a fuel light and an electric start are the only real luxuries. But they do mean it’s surprisingly utilitarian – it’ll happily commute across town every day, where the tight turning circle and narrow width is useful. But remember: real men learn to use the kickstart, even if the fuel injection makes it slightly easier.

Specs

Engine size 499cc
Engine type Pushrod, 2v air-cooled single. Five gears, fuel injection
Frame type Tubular steel cradle
Fuel capacity 14.5 litres
Seat height 800mm
Bike weight 187kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension None
Front brake 310mm disc, twin-piston sliding caliper
Rear brake Drum
Front tyre size 100/90x19
Rear tyre size 100/90x19

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 55 mpg
Annual road tax £67
Annual service cost -
New price £5,100
Used price £3,900 - £4,500
Insurance group 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 75 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 150 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

New for 2009.

Other versions

Royal Enfield Bullet Classic: Same basic running gear, but with dual seats, road tyres and road-bike styling.
Royal Enfield Woodsman: New for 2010, the Woodsman sits between the Trials and the Classic. Off-road looks come from unique controls and a high-level exhaust, but it has road tyres. Could be a better bet than the Trials unless you want to hit some gentle green lanes.

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