Royal Enfield Bullet Trials 500 Review
Royal Enfield loves to tell a story, and this time, the story takes us back to 1948. That’s the year this brand got into the world of Trials racing, with the 350cc trials bike.
Royal Enfield loves to tell a story, and this time, the story takes us back to 1948. That’s the year this brand got into the world of Trials racing, with the 350cc trials bike. And now, it has revived the same concept in India, through two bikes – the Bullet Trials 350 and the Bullet Trials 500. Both bikes are meant to look retro, cool, rugged and have been launched to pay homage to Johnny Brittain – a legendary trials rider from England. So, to make us experience the world of trials racing and also understand the Bullet 500 Trials, Royal Enfield developed a series of courses at 19 Degrees North at Lonavala.
One glance at the Bullet 500 Trials, and you’ll see that it’s not the regular Royal Enfield. The combination of khakee green frame and the presence of single seat gives it out. Then there’s also the luggage rack that brings out the ruggedness of the motorcycle, along with the utilitarian aspect. The large upswept exhaust might look hideous at first, but as times pass by, it gels well with the concept of a soft-roader.
The headlamp grill, which is optional, does enhances the overall appeal of the bike. And then there’s the most lovable aesthetic – chrome, something that you will find in plenty on this bike. The black fork gaiters are inspired by the Himalayan – Royal Enfield’s actual off-road motorcycle.
Mechanically, not a lot of things have changed. The 500cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine churns out the same 27.2bhp at 5250rpm and peak torque of 41.3Nm at 4000rpm. The five-speed gearbox hasn’t been played with. But the sub-frame has been heavily revised. In fact, the sub-frame is from the Classic that has been modified to accommodate the luggage rack. The suspension setup hasn’t been touched, as a result, the ground clearance remains unchanged at 135mm.
This bike gets revised ergonomics, thanks to the addition of a slightly taller and purposeful handlebar, which also gets an integrated cross-bar. All these new additions have decreased the kerb weight of the bike to 192kgs. To complete the trials look and performance, the Bullet 500 Trials gets specially developed CEAT Pro Gripp dual-purpose tyres. The safety net of the bike is being taken care of by a dual-channel ABS system, which by the way, can’t be switched off.
The ride was limited to dirt track and some trails – all low speed ones. That hardly mattered though. It was enough to just have fun with this Royal Enfield. Because, believe it or not, the bike got through most of the obstacles with ease. The major credit for it, however, goes to that 500cc motor that is known for its torque spread and gives the ability to chug around with ease. The new taller handlebar is easy to hold on to and ride, even when you stand. But the footpegs position and the standard Bullet frame geometry doesn’t allow anyone to stand-up and ride for long, even those with average Indian height.
Surprisingly, it was easy to take the Bullet 500 Trials through the man-made tight corners. The weight balance was good, but only when in motion. At idle, it’s a bit of a work for the Bullet to move around. The traditional suspension setup took all the beating, but the lack of travel at both ends meant the sump guard (which is optional) had to go through a lot of abuse.
The brakes are just fine. It does a decent job of stopping the bike, but lacks the bite and feel that one wants from a bike of this size. Unfortunately, there’s no way to directly switch off the ABS on the bike – something that I was really craving for during the entire test duration.
The Bullet 500 Trials isn’t just another Royal Enfield motorcycle. It’s definitely different! It has a history that you can allude to with pride. It even has an aesthetic appearance that is calculated to be a crowd pleaser. But that’s about it. The Bullet Trials 500 is definitely not a motorcycle to go for if you are keen on dirt-riding. It’s not practical enough to go off the road for long, like you can on the Himalayan. But if you like the concept of a single-seat motorcycle, then the Trials could entice you. At Rs 2.07 lakhs (ex-showroom), the Bullet 500 Trials is priced just Rs 6000 above the standard Classic 500. For the extra Rs 6000, you get to be a part of a very limited group because this bike definitely won’t sell in good numbers.
Photography by Kapil Angane
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