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ENFIELD WOODSMAN (2008-on) Review

Published: 02 February 2009

Updated: 21 November 2014

"Retro trailie style meets museum exhibit and it works a treat"

Royal Enfield Woodsman - rolling antique

"Retro trailie style meets museum exhibit and it works a treat"

  • At a glance
  • Read more about the ENFIELD BULLET range.
  • 499cc  -  27.5 bhp
  • 70 mpg  -  200 miles range
  • Medium seat height (820mm)
  • Suitable for A2 licence
  • New: £5,100

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Retro trailie style meets roiling museum exhibit Enfield – and it works a treat. For us the ergonomic mix of pegs and bars, fruity pipe and overall style hit the mark more than any other Electra. You may concur, or you may prefer any one of the many Clubman, Army, Sportsman, Trials etc variants Enfield offers these days. They’re still quirky oddballs of course, with limited performance. But then, that’s the whole point: they’re a refreshing change, with tempting prices/residuals and now a whole lot more ‘cool’ than anyone would’ve guessed just a few years ago…

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

There’s nothing special here. Basic, old fashioned teles and twin shocks and a meagre single front disc don’t add up to something to get excited about but the handling on those skinny tyres is more than OK and much lighter than its metal-ness suggests. The proof of the pudding is that, for what it is, the Woodsman all works together very nicely indeed.

Engine 3 out of 5

The antiquated push-road single struggles into life off the button, but then willingly thunders on to a refreshingly legal yet invigorating 70mph. The gearbox manages to be barely run-in sticky and old school sloppy all at once. And there’s no getting away from the fact that all Enfields, irrespective of being modernised in recent years with electric start, five-speed gearbox, disc front brake and modern switchgear, remain quirky, rolling antiques.  But accept all that, recalibrate your expectations, target a destination 30 rather than 300 miles away and you may find yourself revelling in all that metal, alloy, 65mph ‘rhummm-baaaa-ness’ and living out some kind of Heartbeat fantasy.  

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5

Better than you might expect. Although, thanks to their Indian origins, Enfields definitely at the ‘rugged’ end of the spectrum, UK influence and modification means paint and chrome is decent and durable and reliability issues are few.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

Depends how you look at it. Nigh-on £4000 for an old-fashioned 500 that barely busts 65mph whereas you can near-as-damnit get a Suzuki SV650 for that money which will run rings round it, is almost comical. On the other hand, the Enfield proposition is unique, residuals are fairly good and the Woodsman is one of Enfield’s best. Find a Royal Enfield 500 for sale.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The Royal Enfield Woodsman is a UK model adapted from the stock 500cc, all-alloy, five speed, electric-start Electra-X by importers Watsonian-Squire. Accordingly, it has a distinctive, ‘Scrambler-style’ high level exhaust; wide, braced trials style handlebars; a solo seat (with rack behind) and a fairly solid-looking bash plate. There are also ‘Clubman’ style semi-rearsets, plus, due to the new exhaust route, a new left-hand side-panel which doubles as a heat shield. It’s what you expect, and nothing more. Electronics? Sophistication? Dunno what you’re talking about…

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2008
Year discontinued -
New price £5,100
Used price -
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £66
Annual service cost £80
Max power 27.5 bhp
Max torque 30.4 ft-lb
Top speed 70 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 70 mpg
Tank range 200 miles
Engine size 499cc
Engine type Air-cooled ohv single, 5 gears
Frame type Steel tube cradle
Fuel capacity 14.5 litres
Seat height 820mm
Bike weight 167kg
Front suspension Telescopic forks, no adjust
Rear suspension Twin shocks, preload adjust
Front brake 280mm disc
Rear brake Six-inch drum
Front tyre size 90/90 x 18
Rear tyre size 110/90 x 18

History & Versions

Model history

2008: model introduced

Other versions


Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their ENFIELD WOODSMAN (2008-on) 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 WOODSMAN (2008-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4.5 out of 5
4 out of 5


25 December 2017 by rogerinfrance

Normally reliable with idiosyncrasies, The riding position is not comfortable for any other than fairly short runs. The odd oil leak was observed. Value for money it was very good. I have now sold her on with only 3300 on the speedo.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Front good back well it worked. Also was difficult to get it set correctly. With the Avon tyre the road holding was good even on our dirty and mud strewn lanes. On the open road it was fussy and did not like doing over 70
4 out of 5
Leaked oil in several small places, more of a mist than a leak but the bash plate always had oil on it.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Needed before I had it the electronic pack replacing under warranty also headlamp assy. The voltage regulator under tank held on with one bolt failed and had to be replaced, I also moved it. The wiring was weird being that the prop stand operated the brake light switch and no brake light for foot. Quality is not its best points.
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
That has to be taken with the faults and the low mileage of about 1250 that I did in the time I had it per year
4 out of 5
The single seat and carrier made the bike stand out. I used it most for shopping, had a top box on and that made it really useful. Even collected car battery with it. Extremely useful for that sort of thing. If you do only a few miles a week, want something cheap and good for shopping etc then this is it.
Buying experience

I would not of had the machine except it was my friends and when he passed away I got the bike.

5 out of 5

And now for some thing a little different.

27 June 2016 by peter hollis

Mine must be an early model as it has carburettor,if you want something to slow things down a bit and just enjoy riding country lanes and get plenty of attention whenever you stop,this is the bike.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Mine has off road tyres,just about acceptable on the road.but it is what it is just a fun machine and i love it. something very different from what i normally ride.
Buying experience

dealer, no problems.

Photo Gallery

  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - rolling antique
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - scrambler style
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - old-fashioned, but it works
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - push-road single thunders up to 70mph
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - clocks
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - clocks
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - Live out your Heartbeat fantasy
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - twin shocks
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - exhaust
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - rear view
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - headlight
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - seat
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - better build quality than you might expect
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - handling is lighter than you'd expect
  • Royal Enfield Woodsman - wheel
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