Within the framework of the Week of Vintage on bikescatalog, we wanted to add Royal Enfield to our comparative retro. Finally, is this Indian motorcycle is not the most authentically vintage of the market? Is this a real alternative to New-retro? Here our vision on the Royal phenomenon Enfield.
Kawasaki W 800, Moto Guzzi V7, Triumph Bonneville, strictly speaking is “New-retro” motorcycles, hiding under a preparing with finally very current technology. Admittedly, if Kawasaki chose in the back to equip its W800 with a drum brake, it is obviously more for aesthetic reasons that at its cost or its effectiveness… Moreover, the new-retro motorcycles are equipped with the electronic injection, thus Bonneville and company starts whatever with the conditions, in theory.
For the amateur’s old ones, these motorcycles are not less more or less relevant counterparts: pretty reflections of the motorcycles of the time without the EM… clothing for others. Then finally, Royal isn’t Enfield more legitimate in term of positioning? And quid of the approval offered by this true alive fossil? Let us see that accompanied by pretty Royal Enfield 500 Electra MOD. 2012.
Royal Enfield, Bullet, Electra: Parliament with the Indian standard
When one details Royal Enfield, one perceives the entire particular flavor which emanates from this motorcycle. Born in England at the end of the XIX century, first Royal Enfield were finally the only bicycles on which one grafted a small engine 2-time Minerva. Assembled in the factory Enfield Manufacturing Co Limited, recognized for its production of parts for the weapons known as “of fist”, Enfield inherited the slogan “Made it like it has guns, runs like it has bullet”. Manufactured like a rifle, rolls like a ball: it is from there that Bullet draws its name.
The years of manufacturing of motorcycles passed, and Royal Enfield started to know the first failures after the Second World War. The strong competition of the other European manufacturers will push Royal Enfield with a critical situation, and this, right before the Japanese invasion. Safety will come finally from India, where all the production is delocalized as of the beginning of the Seventies.
Royal Enfield India was going to take over and, today, the factory has turned to high mode to answer the room market that for 10 years needs a renewed interest of the exterior markets for the “old hand” motorcycles. Today, Royal Enfield returned to the mode. The proof is here
Always a kick, but doubled of an electronic injection
Royal Enfield Electra as that of our test reveals is of compact proportions. This Royal Enfield 500 Cm3 with one-cylinder engine knew to keep dimensions of the true old motorcycles. It is thus easy to operate even if the omnipresence of steel weighs down the unit appreciably.
Side completion, the Indian standard does not correspond any more to our standards, with the image for not being very neat weld beads. In addition, if the general line is without question “vintage”, the engine was deeply reconsidered at the end of 2008. Entirely out of aluminum, it integrates many innovations – for the brand – of which an electronic injection, an average probe and a catalyzed exhaust (which appears visually by a key issue on the body of the silencer).
This modernized engine thus makes Royal Enfield possible to remain in accordance with most of the standards of approval and thus to export its motorcycles in many countries. But, surprisingly, the kick is still there, and Manu will reveal us as a result of a good technique kick – believe it… – that it tries to polish with its Yamaha SR 500 being prepared. In any event, helped by a relief cock and especially an electronic injection, the one-cylinder one of the 500 Royal Enfield is brained very easily, with the kick for most courageous, or with the starter for most pragmatic.
A behavior of time!
As of the first turns of wheels, one seizes that Royal Enfield Electra – just like Bullet and its various variations does not offer the same services as our two new-retro. With Moto Guzzi or Kawasaki, if you say yourselves “it is 10 hours, one will eat mold-French fries on the coast”, it is playable, even if it is hardly pleasant to swallow the motorway of a feature to 130 km/h of cruising to be in times.
With Royal Enfield, it will be differently more complex. From the top of his 28 horses with 5200 tr/min, the mono Indian – vibrating as it should be – and does not appreciate the long stays on fast track. And for side performances, it will quickly reach a maximum to unpleasant small 120 km/h… that one would suspect. With Royal Enfield, it is thus necessary to know to take its time and to confine themselves with the district distributors.
There, the one-cylinder one is in its element, thanks to a correct flexibility and with finally sufficient resumptions in version “street legal”. But to benefit fully from the character and the potential of this engine, more informed amateurs will adopt a “silencer” of exhaust reasonably released, a more generous air inlet and an adjustment of injection enriched consequently. There, the small mono one breathes more and offers this famous peak of couple who incite to pass all the reports to mid–mode, small and nice feelings of pushed in the back in bonus. Moreover, put-putting sonority will be part.
In any event, the capacities of the part cycles of this Royal Enfield Electra 500 really do not enable him to roll “very” quickly… As much braking Kawasaki W800 for example can sometimes seem softie – mainly because of the weight of the motorcycle because the elements of braking function rather well – as much Royal Enfield slows down, it, really “with old”… Better is thus worth to grab the lever with all the fingers with which provided you nature, and to anticipate by safety measure. The directional stability and the grip of the tires are about in unison, i.e. correct provided that all occurs “normally”.
On the other hand, this Royal Enfield, relatively long and narrow, has an appreciable stability in curve. Better is thus worth to remember this obviousness before jumping the step: Royal Enfield, even of 2012, does not offer the versatility and the safety of use of the modern new-retro motorcycles… but it is precisely what is searched, in theories, and by its fans.
Assessment: Older new than new-retro
A completion with the Indian standard, dynamic capacities of another time but of notable progress on the mechanical level – with an engine which functions without problem with the SP98 and, it appears, starts every morning without encumbers: royal “modern” Enfield is a motorcycle full with contrasts. It is necessary to know what one buys and for what to make some.
One Royal Enfield 500 Electra can thus be run in the role of an urban motorcycle the week, on short routes by consuming of average 3.7 l/100 km. It will be just as easy to leave to the adventure to shift the weekend, even for boldest with the conquest of the Eastern Bloc countries during the summer (77?), since it is necessary to learn how to know it and to compose with its real capacities, hardly higher than those of mono a 250 modern 4-time.
Sold – nevertheless! – in the neighborhoods of the 5,450 € according to the retail outlets (with 2 years of warranty, a cost of weak insurance – not the sorrow to ensure it in theory flight…), this Royal Enfield 500 Electra single Enfield in its kind enters in competition with Triumph “new” Bonneville and Kawasaki W 650 of occasion oldest, even unquestionable true old. But it can also constitute an original alternative which is not bad of more consensual motorcycles. All will depend on what you will have to ask him.