Royal Enfield Classic 500

03 May 2015, 04:08 PM Pratheek Kunder

Introduction

As a brand, this World War II veteran has seen a lot of changes. Bringing in changes as the wheels of time moved forward, the company has managed to keep itself above the waters unlike few manufacturers who had to taste the dust. The changes may or may not have worked for it but that is a different story.

Over the last few years, one must have noticed the changes that Royal Enfield has gone through. In terms of products, there was a major overhaul but the company stayed true to its iconic design language. The legacy of Royal Enfield is one that is world famous and you have legions of Enfield fans carrying its torch for it.

Every product that now comes out of the Enfield factory comes with a high waiting period yet the enthusiasm of its customers never seems to wane. Will it be the same fate for the Classic 500, the company’s latest product? With its classic post-war design cues, the Classic 500 has been developed to inculcate a sense of pride and a cult following, just like the other Royal Enfield motorcycles. We sit astride the Classic 500 to find out how good the motorcycle is. 

 

Looks & Styling

The Classic 500 does take you back to the early 50s when Royal Enfield developed its first 500cc motorcycle. The latest iteration of the Classic 500 doesn’t look modern because it was never meant to. There is a famous belief that things should change with time but Royal Enfield doesn’t really believe in that or maybe their belief of keeping things old school has made the Classic 500 one of the best looking motorcycles and also the highest selling in its portfolio. 

The front fascia follows the minimum design approach but looks tough and mean. The round headlamp, flanked by two small parking lamps looks old school and does a decent job. Royal Enfield calls it “Tiger Eye Lamps” and I seriously can’t figure out why. Just like some of the other components on the bike, the turn indicators are basic. The front fender gets a two-tone paint scheme, which was a recent addition by the company and the side profile looks quite macho because of its interesting design language. The bulbous fuel tank looks nice, especially, the hand-designed logo. There are rubber pads on both sides of the tank for riders to rest their knee for better comfort. The air filter box and the rear mudguard get the same paint finish. In order to go with the overall minimalistic design approach, the tool box has been painted black whereas the tail lamp design is simple but still manages to give you the vintage feeling and I quite like that. Royal Enfield has tried to replicate the gleaming long exhaust from its early 1950 model on to the Classic 500. The chrome treatment all over the motorcycle is little overdone, but that’s one of the ways to make a product look premium. 

Royal Enfield Classic 500

Royal Enfield Classic 500

  • Displacement499 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)27.2 bhp
  • Kerb Weight190 kg
  • ;

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 2,02,046

Features

Royal Enfield is known for its macho looking motorcycles. No matter what product they bring into the market, there are cult followers. Interestingly, the features section is something that really doesn’t bother these set of consumers. Royal Enfield has been using the same-old instrument cluster for the Classic 500. It gets a speedometer, turn-indicator, analog trip-meter, neutral and fuel indicator along with the fuel-injection indicator. 

I understand that Royal Enfield wants to keep its vintage and classic lineage intact with the brand, but they should innovate with certain things, which will make their bikes more appealing. They should have at least tinkered with the instrument cluster to make it look little better and dated. The ones on the Street 750 and the Bonneville carries the modern design but still manages to keep its classic and retro heritage intact. 

Along with a kickstart, the Classic 500 gets an electric start and you might face problems while using the electric start in the morning.  During my entire test duration, I felt nervous about whether the bike would start. The chrome finished rear-view mirrors are quite useless for someone with broad shoulders. You might have to rearrange your body position in order to see what’s coming from behind. The switch gears are of good quality and are meant to last. 

Performance

The Royal Enfield Classic 500 is powered by a single-cylinder four-stroke 499cc engine. This engine is fuel-injected and churns out 27.2bhp at 5,250rpm and a maximum torque of 41.3Nm at 4,000rpm. While the power isn’t much, the torque on this bike is truly amazing. With 41.3Nm in its kitty, there are oodles of torque at the lower rev range. And this is why cruising on the Classic 500 on highways make for a pleasurable experience. However, this experience stays on the positive side only until you reach 80kmph. Once you cross that speed, vibrations become your good friend. Staying at a higher rev range is not advisable on the Classic 500 as it is bound to spoil your riding experience. You will feel the vibrations on the handlebar, foot peg and even the fuel tank. 

This 499cc engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox that is strictly fine. It is not very smooth, but performs efficiently. The clutch on my test bike hardly had any play, making me believe that it could be the same with rest of the bikes too. This version of the Classic 500 gets a re-mapped ECU and due to this, the bike responds quite well when the throttle is cracked open. Overall, I am quite impressed with the way this bike delivers torque. The Classic 500 could go on and on for hundreds of kilometres, without the engine being very stressed. The Classic 500 returned a fuel efficiency of 27kmpl during the entire test run and with a fuel tank capacity of 13.5 litres expect the bike to travel for around 350kms before paying a visit to a petrol station.

Ride & Handling

The ride quality of the Classic 500 is quite good. It gets a 35mm telescopic suspension at the front and twin gas charged shock absorbers at the rear. The bike eats up potholes like a piece of cake and because of the spoke wheels, there was no fear of cracked alloys while riding hard on bad roads. Even if you do run it to the maximum limit, you will get a bent spoke, which is fixable. The MRF tyres are quite grippy and inspire confidence. However, the handling isn’t really great, due to the heavy all-iron motorcycle. With a kerb weight of 190kg, it is quite difficult to handle in the corners. 

The Classic 500 comes with a single seat from the factory and the pillion seat is part of the accessories list. The sprung cycle seat doesn’t really help here as it is not comfortable for either light or heavy riders. In my case, every time I went over a bump, the sprung seat showed its sign of limit by making a weird creaking loud noise. The bike’s upright riding position is appreciable and comfortable and there are hardly any signs of fatigue during long rides. Even during city rides, it is quite easy to manoeuvre the Classic 500 in between vehicles. Braking power for the Classic 500 comes from a 280mm disc at the front and 153mm drum at the rear. This setup does the job, but lacks progression because of excess weight. 

Verdict

I will be lying if I say I don’t like the way the Royal Enfield Classic 500 looks. It has the charm of a retro and a classic looking motorcycle. With its minimalistic design approach and fuel-injected engine, Royal Enfield has managed to efficiently bring in both tradition and modernity into its vehicle. Those of you who plan to buy the Classic 500 might buy it for the way it looks, but if you want a tourer go for the Thunderbird 500 as it makes more sense when you want to go exploring off the beaten track. But with the Classic 500, it is more of a purchase of the heart.  With an on-road Mumbai price of Rs 1.46 lakh, the Classic 500 is not really on the affordable side, but as I mentioned above, this decision will come from your heart. 

 

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