Royal Enfield Bullet

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Royal Enfield Bullet 350 1955.JPG

The Royal Enfield Bullet is a Breetish owerheid valve single cylinder 4-stroke motorcycle originally made bi Royal Enfield in Redditch, Wast Midlands, but nou produced bi Royal Enfield Motors, the successor tae the Breetish company, at Chennai (umwhilely kent as Madras), Tamil Nadu in Indie. The Royal Enfield Bullet haes the langest production run o ony motorcycle haein remained continuously in production since 1948. The Bullet marque is even aulder, an haes passed 75 years o continuous production. The Royal Enfield an Bullet names derive frae the company's links wi the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield.

Evolution[eedit | eedit soorce]

The Bullet haes evolved frae a fower-valve ingine wi exposed valve-gear tae the latest aw-alloy Unit Construction Ingine wi electronic fuel-injection.

1931–1939[eedit | eedit soorce]

Introduced in 1931 as a fower-stroke single cylinder motorcycle, this model wis the first tae feature the Bullet name. It differed in a nummer o ways frae its successors (whilk are nou faimiliar): it haed an inclined ingine wi exposed valve gear featurin fower valves per cylinder wi 350 cc an 500 cc options. In 1933, a 250 cc option wis an aa addit tae the range.[1] Its frame wis an aa considerably different, haein centre-sprung girder front forks, being amang a new range o models frae Royal Enfield that featurt them, alang wi a saddle-type fuel tank. Housomeivver, common tae motorcycles o this period, it haed a rigid rear-end, necessitatin a 'sprung' seat for the rider, whilk resultit in the iconic look o the motorcycle that is muckle replicatit today, even though the sprung seat is unnecessary in modren models.

1939–1949[eedit | eedit soorce]

This model refresht Royal Enfield's model line-up for 1939. It differed in cosmetic details, as weel as in haein twa rocker boxes, whilk resultit in hichter volumetric efficiency for the ingine. The basic design wi front gaiter forks wis retained.

1949–1956[eedit | eedit soorce]

A nummer o chynges wur implementit in order tae bring the bike up-tae-date. This model featurt a vertical ingine wi alloy heid an hichter compression. The frame wis an aa chynged tae a fully sprung design uisin a swing-airm wi non-adjustable hydraulic shockers at the rear, while the front uised a brand-new telescopic fork o Royal Enfield's awn design. This enabled the introduction o a bench seat made o simple foam an wi nae lairge sprungs. Pouer transmission wis via the same fower-speed Albion gearbox as the previous model, wi a unique 'neutral-finder' lever the rider coud press frae ony gear ither than first tae shift tae neutral. The crankshaft continued tae hae a fully-floatin big-end bearin. The heidlicht assembly wis enclosed wi the speedometer an ammeter intae a nacelle, whilk an aa served as the attachment o the front suspension as weel as the handlebars. An itherwise similar model, but wi ingine displacement o 499 cc, made its debut in 1953.

The prototype haed done weel in a performance trial an went on tae win the trophy at the 1948 Internaitional Sax Days Trial an twa Bullet riders wan gowd medals.[2] In 1952 Johhny Brittain wan the Scots Sax Days Trial on a Royal Enfield Bullet an in 1953 he an aa wan the Internaitional Sax Days Trial athoot losin a single point.[3]

In 1949, the Indian Airmy ordered Royal Enfield Bullets for border patrol uiss an the company decidit tae open a factory in Madras. In 1955, the 350 cc Bullets wur sent frae the Redditch factory in kit form for assembly in Indie, but Enfield India Ltd. soon developt the factory an produced complete motorcycles independently unner licence. The 1955 model remained amaist unchynged for years an Madras produced ower 20,000 Bullets annually.[1]

1956–1964[eedit | eedit soorce]

In 1955, Royal Enfield carried oot some retoolin an redesign at their Redditch plant, in the UK, tae modrenise the Bullet, an in 1959 some chynges wur made tae the gear ratios. These chynges, housomeivver, wur no incorporatit bi the Indian airm due tae its commitment tae supply the Indian Airmy. Thus the Breetish an Indian lines diverged, niver tae meet again.

Atween 1956 an 1960, the Breetish Bullet wis released in several models, includin a 350 cc Trials "wirks replica" version, a 350 cc "Clipper" model an in 1958 the Airflow version. This model haed full weather protection frae a lairge fibreglass fairin an includit panniers for tourin. The design wis developt in partnership wi British Plastics an featurt as a series in The Motor Cycle magazine.[4] The ingines wur the same an the ae differences wur in exhaust, seatin, instrumentation, handlebars an fuel tank. Numerous technical improvements wur an aa made, includin movin tae alternator chargin (1956) an coil ignition (1960). The 350 cc model continued in production, but the 500 cc model wis discontinued in 1961. In 1962, the UK company wis sauld an the Bullet discontinued an in 1967, the Redditch factory closed. Finally, in 1970, Royal Enfield closed doun completely.[5]

1955–1995[eedit | eedit soorce]

The Enfield India Ltd. factory did weel an continued production o the 1955 Bullet design amaist unchynged, re-introducin it tae the Breetish mercat in 1984 unner the name 'Enfield'. This wis a period o stagnation for the Bullet, as the Indian awners did no make even basic improvements tae the motorcycle, an the quality o pairts dropt at an alarmin rate.

Due tae the protectionist Indian economy, housomeivver, there wis felt nae need for betterment, an the brand survived intae the 1990s essentially as a domestic Indian commuter bike Equivalent bikes in the mercat wur the Yamaha RD350 an the Yezdi. Baith bikes enjoy a cult follaein in Indie, but hae been oot o production for decades. Housomeivver, this coud no prevent the erosion o the bike's mercat ance the economy wis sufficiently opened up tae allou the Japanese motorbikes. Chronic laich quality an mismanagement, coupled wi the bike's relatively laich mileage (although the Bullet ingine is fuel-efficient, its main competition wis wi bikes whose ingines at 100 cc wur less than a third in size) caused a descendin spiral o sales till the company, naur bankruptcy, wis bocht oot bi Eicher Motors, a tractor an commercial vehicle manufacturer.

1995–1997[eedit | eedit soorce]

Unner the newly appointit CEO of Enfield India, Siddhartha Lal, Eicher unnerteuk major investment in the ailin firm. This wis stairtit wi the purchase o kenmerk an intellectual property richts o the defunct Breetish Royal Enfield firm, chyngin the name o the company tae Royal Enfield Motors. Mony management an production chynges wur made, wi the production process bein streamlined an excess capacity redistributit. Athoot the lairge-scale Army/Law Enforcement orders tae bail the company oot, there wis ae the individual sales route in whilk the company haed tae perform if it wur tae survive at aw. The company an aa faced the difficult task o caterin tae a ver diverse mercat. Tae preserve the Bullet's nature an reputation as a classic Breetish bike, as the Raja Gaadi, an tae attract yungsters away frae the newly appeared performance motorcycle mercat, the Bullet marque wis split up intae twa. The Bullet Standard 350 featurt aw the increased manufacturin quality an reliability but wis maintained in the traditional 'Bullet' leuk, available ae in black. A new model, available in mair colours an chrome accents, a CV carburettor, an gas-charged shock absorbers - but wi the same ingine an gearbox as the Standard - wis launched. This model wis cawed the 'Bullet Electra'. The Electra 350 gaed on tae become the best-sellin Royal Enfield model, accoontin for aroond hauf the company's sales.

Alangside these developments, Austrian ingine firm AVL wis contractit tae produce an aw-alloy ingine suitable as a drop-in replacement for the cast-iron block oreeginal ingine (wi design datin frae 1955). The first bike wi this ingine wis launched as the Bullet Machismo 350. This ingine did no sell weel in the Indian mercat; mony prospective buyers wur surveyd as sayin that it didna soond the same as the auld ingine, lackin the 'thump' noise o its predecessor. The ingine did succeed in the Thunderbird model, a chopper style cruiser frae Royal Enfield Motors. An aa seen wis the introduction o a disc-brake on the front wheel as a factory option hameltlie, an staundart on exportit models.

1997–2007[eedit | eedit soorce]

Iver tichter European emission norms forced the Bullet Standard 350 tae end 2007 as its last model year in the EU, so whan on-hand stocks wur aw sauld the Breetish-design ingined Bullet became nae langer available new. Aw new models exclusively featurt the AVL 'lean-burn' ingine. The introduction o a 5-speed gearbox meant that Royal Enfield coud 'fix' ane o the lang-standin quirks o the Bullet design—the foot-brake is on the left side while the gearshift is on the richt. Accordinlie, the Bullet Machismo 350 wis equipt wi this gearbox. Housomeivver, the 'left-shift' gearchynge provoket a backlash frae Indian Bullet customers, forcin the company tae no ae continue the Bullet Standard wi the traditional seestem, but even on the Electra it wis affered ae as an option, leadin tae the Electra 4-speed (traditional) an Electra 5-speed (left-shift) variants. Sales figures indicatit that Indian Bullet customers haed shunned the new gearbox, foregoin even the attraction o 5-speed transmission tae keep the gearshift traditional. Housomeivver, customers ootside o Indie took tae the new gearbox wi pleasure, as a result it became standard fitment on aw exportit models. New developments includit the addition o electric stairt as an option on some models, while standard on ithers. In 2007–2008, a limited edition, heavily accessorised 500 cc lean-burn Machismo 500 wis launched as the ultimate tourin bike. Due tae extremely limited production (500 units) an hie price, this became a rare bike. The Machismo 350 wis discontinued.

Since 2007[eedit | eedit soorce]

As a result o wirk spannin several years, a new set o ingines wis introduced. These wur the Unit Construction Ingines (UCI). The 350 cc UCI foond uise in the domestic model Thunderbird TwinSpark in a configuration wi twa sparkplugs per cylinder, wi integratit 5-speed left-shift gearbox. It haes no been featurt on ony o the Bullet models, hamelt or itherwise. The auld cast-iron ingine currently haes a lairge cult follaein in Indie, so it is currently unclear whether or no the new UCE ingines will be pusht in tae phase oot the aulder ingine mercat on new models.

The 500 cc UCE features fuel injection, an haes greater pouer than ony Royal Enfield 500 cc motor. The 500cc UCE, wi an integratit 5-speed gearbox, pouers the current Bullet Classic model. Stairtin in 2009 this ingine wis available ae in the EU tae satisfy emissions regulations,[3] but is as o 2010 is available in the Unitit States unner twa frame models, the Bullet Classic C5, or the Bullet G5, whilk leuks similar an shares panelin wi the earlier AVL Electra models.

Special custom models[eedit | eedit soorce]

EGLI Royal Enfield Super Bullet[eedit | eedit soorce]

Swiss motorcycle tuner Fritz W. Egli, a distributor o Royal Enfield motorcycles, wis approached bi a customer tae create the ultimate Egli Super Bullet. The basis for this bike wis Egli’s central tube frame constructit frae nickel-platit chromium-molybdenum steel an the ingine wis completely redesigned with a longer stroke crankshaft (105 mm), special main bearings, dry clutch, timin belt primary drive. 36 mm Keihin flet-slide carburettors wur addit tae provide an ootput o 40 hp (30 kW) frae a 624 cc ingine fed via an electric pump.[6]

Notes[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Brown, Roland (1999). The History of British Bikes. Paragon. ISBN 0-75253-153-0. 
  2. Kemp, Andrew; De Cet (2004). Classic British Bikes. Mirco. Bookmart Ltd. ISBN 1-86147-136-X. 
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Bullet
  4. Reynolds, Jim (1990). Best of British Bikes. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-85260-033-0. 
  5. "The Royal Enfield Bullet a brief history". Archived from the original on 2001-08-03. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  6. "EGLI Royal Enfield Super Bullet". Retrieved 2008-12-13. 

External links[eedit | eedit soorce]