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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.