My thoughts vacillated between contentment of finally owning my dream ride and the debilitating realization of the financial burden I had decided to undertake.
BHPian SgtGAWD recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
This is the story of how an 18 y/o teenager ended up with a 27 y/o conundrum.
How it all started:
My tryst with motorcycles isn’t an old one. I started my two-wheeled journey on my mom’s 2005 Bajaj Wave. The obscure little scooter- which was one of Bajaj’s many failed attempts at entering the gearless scooter market marked my foray into the world of motorcycles. It was sparingly used by my mother who only clocked 1700kms on it from 2005 to 2008 and after I received it in 2018, I clocked around 700 more. After around a year of hooliganing around on the scooter, I, a 16y/o impulsive teenager made the ill-evaluated decision of going on a 100km highway ride with my friends on the decade-and-a-half-old scooter. Although I returned unscathed from the ride, it left a mark on my juvenile mind about the inherent dangers of motorcycling and it resulted in a self-imposed hiatus on my 2 wheeled shenanigans.
]The bittersweet ride:
The Bullet Bug:
It was the summer of 2020- the world as we knew it was ravaged by an ongoing pandemic. The pandemic disrupted all academic activities and that resulted in a lot of free time at my disposal. The surplus time and lack of academic pressure spurred my interest in Royal Enfields. I began browsing through all the RE forums on TBHP. I spent hours going through the TBHP Royal Enfield Owners thread and I still remember downloading every photo onto my hard drive and later mesmerizingly ogling at the impeccable British craftsmanship and zeal of Indian owners maintaining them with undulled passion. All these events culminated in me deciding to go for a Royal Enfield. Due to my dependent financial status as a high schooler, I convinced my mother to go for a pre-owned UCE RE. After incessant persuasion sessions, she agreed to visit a local dealer dealing in used motorcycles. I found a crop of Electras and C500s at the place and could not make up my mind. I took 3 days to decide and also made my first post on TBHP regarding the same. After gauging the responses, I decided to go for the E350 due to its lower price. I was rudely shocked when I discovered that the E350 had been already sold and I decided to go for the C500DS instead. I left the dealership promising that I shall come and make the payment the next day and take possession of my new RE. However, a moment of wise reflection that night made me realize that it would be extravagant for a 16 y/o student to get a 500cc motorcycle just to commute to tuition classes and school. Moreover, even though Rs. 1.1 lakh was a bargain for a 400km run C500DS, it was too much to spend to fulfill a teenager’s whim. So with my newfound maturity, I never contacted the dealer again and shelved my dream of motorcycling for the time being.
The Birth of an Antiquarian:
13th July 2020: It was an unassuming summer day and I was overseeing the construction of our new house when suddenly, I heard the familiar thumps of an RE. Being a teenager, I instinctively ran towards the window to trace the source of the thumps, and lo and behold, it was a Cast Iron Bullet. The motorcycle stopped in front of our house and the man disembarked from his prized beauty and rang our doorbell. Turns out it was my mother’s ex-cop batchmate who had chosen to surprise us with a visit. After the initial round of pleasantries, I quietly left the room to ogle at his steed.
By this time, I had read quite a lot about old REs. I had spent many sleepless nights learning the subtle differences between G2s, B1s, B2s, and other CI models. I could identify that the machine in front of me was from the 80s and I was later informed by the owner that it indeed was an ‘84. Impressed by my interest in Enfields, the owner offered to teach me how to ride it. Till now, my only experience of motorcycling was my trusty old Bajaj Wave and although I theoretically knew how to ride a bike, I had never ridden one in real life. So after half an hour of struggling to start the Enfield, I managed to successfully figure out the art of kicking the bull into life and rode my first Enfield.
The experience of riding a cast iron Bullet made me appreciate the intricacies of the old machine. I discovered a newfound admiration within me for the complicated procedure one has to follow in order to start it up. I liked the idea of owning a bike that requires you to enforce utmost discipline on yourself in order to ride it. The ritual of cold starting the motorcycle by decompressing and kicking it with the choke on and waiting for it to reach its optimum temperature instead of just pressing an electric starter and riding straight away appealed to me. I felt that the CI Bullets demanded respect and rewarded you accordingly with the sweet thump once you succeeded in revering them. I began to fear and admire these machines at the same time and the dream of owning a Bullet one day seemed to have reignited itself. Only this time, it needed to be a CI Bullet.
The Hunt Commences:
My search for a Bullet proved to be short-lived. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to find old Bullets around me. So, I began to realize the futility of my quest and began to explore other options for motorcycling. I decided to go for something light and powerful and like every other Indian teenager, found myself gravitating towards the P220. I test rode a few 220s at my local dealership [the one I had ghosted before] and made up my mind to buy one. So I took my mother with me in order to complete the requisite paperwork and lo and behold, the P220 was sold. This was the second time this had occurred to me and I was not surprised anymore. So I ended up buying a 2018 Hero Xtreme 200R instead. It ended up costing me Rs.51000 and I departed from to dealership and headed straight to the gas station. I filled in Rs.200 of petrol and headed home. A bleak realization dawned upon me while riding back home.I contemplated whether my hasty decision of buying a sports commuter was anything but a compromise because I could not afford a Royal Enfield. The realization grew within me as I discovered that riding the 200R did not offer the same joy to me as Royal Enfields did. I began to realize the gargantuan folly on my part and immediately called the dealer to ask him if I can visit him the day after. The next day, I wake up and head to the dealer to return the bike. Yes, my first motorcycle was with me for even less than a day. I proceed to return the motorcycle and the dealer says that he shall refund the money as soon as someone else buys my motorcycle. He tells me to leave the bike with him and keep the papers with myself till I received the money. I followed suit and after 15 anxious days of waiting, I received a call from the dealer to come and collect my money and hand in the papers. I did so and ended up receiving Rs.50000. I lost Rs.1200 in the whole fiasco but ended up learning a lot about the type of motorcycling that appeals to me. I decided to shelve my motorcycling dream once more and retired to my trusty Bajaj Wave.
I laid my hands on a 2011 TBTS in October 2021. The owner was a relative who used it sparingly and loaned it to me whenever I asked for it. Riding the TBTS every day allowed me to get acquainted with the experience of daily driving a RE and a few months of riding reignited the Bullet bug within me once more. I began searching for CI bulls once more and stumbled upon a dealer who bought Bullets auctioned off by Kolkata Police. The entire experience with photos is described in detail in my post. In the end, I was sorely disappointed when all the Enfields were sold out before I could finalize on any one of them. By this time, I had started blaming my indecisiveness and overthinking as the bane in my search for used motorcycles.
The Chosen One Enters:
I was casually browsing through OLX one day when I chanced across a 1995 RE Machismo. The post had only a single photograph uploaded and I texted the owner on OLX and dropped my number. An hour or two later, I received a call from an unknown number, and answering it revealed that it was the owner of the 1995 RE. A brief conversation revealed that he was a cop in Kolkata Police and the vehicle had been owned by him for the past year. I asked him about visiting and inspecting the ride and he gave me a tentative date to do so. Being the guy who has gone through thousands of pages of Enfield literature and seldom touched an Enfield in real life, I was skeptical of my abilities to go and properly inspect the vehicle. So I decided to take along the owner of the 1984 Bullet.
We arrived at the given address and the seller’s son showed us the Enfield. Preliminary inspection suggested that it was kept in the open for the past one month or so and required a fair bit of cosmetic and mechanical work. Trying to start the Enfield resulted in a plume of smoke emanating from the headlight nacelle which led to the discovery of the fact that the owner’s son had incorrectly connected the battery. A quick swap of the connectors and 3 to 4 kicks resulted in the Enfield sputtering to life. The engine created a weird sound that was initially attributed to the timing gears. Armed with my inexperience in riding a CI Bullet, I took the Enfield for a spin. The brakes were not working, the loose chain sprocket caused a lot of false neutrals and the electricals were in a sorry state. However, the engine seemed to be performing well despite the cacophony emitted by it and the gearbox seemed acceptable. The owner demanded Rs. 36000 for the Enfield and it was haggled down to Rs. 28000 owing to incomplete paperwork and some good old cop-to-cop persuasion.
The first glimpse:
Swapping the battery terminals:
After the transfer was completed and I had come to terms with the glaring hole in my pocket, we set out on the 30 km-long journey towards home on a 27 years old machine. The journey was uneventful except for a leaking carb midway [cleaned at a roadside garage for Rs. 150] and an extremely loose chain that came off the sprocket whenever we upshifted. However, we managed to reach home and a tired me chose to sleep instead of coming to terms with the huge financial disaster that I had brought upon me [or so did I think at that time].
The ex-owner starting her up for the very last time:
Unexpected halt at a roadside mechanic to repair the leaking carb:
Carb cleanup on the way home:
Coming to terms with reality:
The human mind resists change. The next few days were spent trying to take in the positive and negative facets of my decision. My thoughts vacillated between contentment of finally owning my dream ride and the debilitating realization of the financial burden I had decided to undertake. My puerile mind could no longer accept the repercussions of my decision and went into analysis-induced paralysis for the next 10 days where I actively avoided looking at my questionable and bittersweet acquisition.
The panacea to my conundrum came in the form of the bleak gamble of repairing the Enfield in order to alleviate it from its sorry state. Sure, it would be expensive but the chances of me liking a vehicle repaired and working on my own will were much higher than me liking someone else’s abused vehicle. While returning from my school, I stopped by a garage and the mechanic told me to bring in my ride. I rode my Enfield to the mechanic in first gear just to ensure that the chain does not snap off midway. The mechanic inspected the vehicle and informed me that the chain needed lubrication and adjustment and the wheel bearings needed to be changed. The front brake was jammed as well and needed to be freed. The total bill came around to Rs. 1200 with labour and I felt fleeced but I had no other recourse as every amateur has to go through it.
The next day, I decided to take my ride to my school. The journey was smooth until the last bit when disaster struck. I drove over a pothole at moderate speed and one of the front suspension studs gave away and the wheel snapped off from the left side. Fortunately, I was riding at a slow speed and stopped in time. I pushed my ride for 1.2 km to a local garage and rushed to my mechanic to procure the parts as I couldn’t find them locally. Five hours of toiling at two incompetent garages and almost getting my front fork assembly taken to the lathe just to unscrew a broken stud [it was eventually done with a pair of pliers at another garage] later, I finally started her up and headed home.
The first of many disasters to follow:
Finally getting repaired at a proper garage:
I cannot figure out the moment from where the love blossomed but I surely felt that the motorcycle was less of a financial burden to me and felt more like ‘my’ Enfield. I decided to slowly and steadily restore it to its original pulchritude by myself instead of entrusting a mechanic with the process. The decision of working on the motorcycle has resulted in me finding an escape from the drudgery of the hypercompetitive life of a law aspirant and also has saved me huge labour bills which would have resulted from getting it worked upon by a mechanic. There have been moments of extreme frustration during the process but able guidance from other RE fanatics whom I have met along my journey as a Bulleteer has helped and has eradicated the fear of opening up my own motorcycle.
What has changed so far?
I was the 4th owner of what had started out as a 1995 Chrome and Black Machismo 350. However, the previous owner, being a cop, decided to go for a red paint scheme with painted fenders and the only bit of chrome on the motorcycle was on the tank. Being a complete tyro in owning and restoring a motorcycle, I was unable to figure out what needed to be replaced or repaired on the motorcycle and all the repairs were done when something or the other inevitably failed. I have duly recorded every single penny spent on the motorcycle so far along with all the repairs. They are as follows:
This was the first time I took my motorcycle to the mechanic. I got the following things done:
- All wheel bearings replaced- Rs. 600
- Gearbox Spring- Rs. 65
- Kick Lever- Rs. 530
- Exhaust rubber- Rs. 40
I also got the front brake shoe freed and cleaned and also got the chain adjusted and lubed. The total bill including the Labour and goods came to Rs. 1825. That was the first time I inevitably got fleeced by the mechanic
My motorcycle was running in a straight line by now but the whole episode of the front wheel coming off had me worrying about the front suspension which was severely leaking oil and had negligible travel. Furthermore, I was concerned about the cacophony emanating from the engine. I felt the need to have my vehicle looked at properly by a mechanic but my previous experience had me wary of doing so unguided. Bitten once, shy twice, I decided to ask one of my acquaintances who owned a 2017 STD 350, 88 STD 350, and a 99 A350 to take me to a trusted mechanic at Dunlop. After a thorough inspection, I got the following spares:
- Front suspension studs: Rs.60
- Rear brake shoe: Rs. 320
- Chain Link: Rs. 20
- Seat [RE] : Rs. 1557 [the old one was tattered]
- Chain Cover: Rs. 333
- Tail Lamp Lens: Rs. 48
- Headlight ring: Rs. 120
- NGK Spark Plug: Rs. 120
- CB point cover: Rs. 108
- Gearbox cap: Rs. 20
- 2x C350 RVMs: Rs. 550 [Swapped in May with Electra mirrors due to aesthetic purposes]
I was informed by the mechanic that my vehicle was running extremely low on engine oil and needed an 800ml refill. Honestly, the motorcycle felt smoother after the refill and I took it on a 45km round trip the day after.The sounds were much more muffled now and the motorcycle handled great.
Sort of a makeover?
C350 vs Electra RVMs:
One of my buddies dropped by and having restored his father’s TVS Victor recently, he offered to work with me on my motorcycle. Armed with peer assurance, I took the leap of working on my machine and I do not regret it a bit [except when it frustratingly refuses to start]. We changed the following over the next 2 days:
- 2x pillion footrests; Rs. 360
- Side stand assembly; Rs. 457
- Pilot lamp kit [Swiss]; Rs. 150
- 4x RX100 Turn signals: Rs. 370
- LH + RH Yokes: Rs. 108 [we had ruined the RH yoke trying to screw in the RVM conventionally. By the time we had realized our folly, the threads on the old yoke were nonexistent]
- UNO Minda Buzzer; Rs 50 [ I suck at remembering to turn off turn signals]
- Front Brake switch; Rs. 30
- Steelbird Petrol filter: Rs. 40 [ the rust from the tank kept clogging the carb. So I used the old method of shoving clean nuts and bolts in the tank along with some fuel and violently shaking it to get rid of the rust. Then I proceeded to install 2 neodymium magnets around the petrol cock and hooked up the fuel filter to the fuel line]
- Seat cover: Rs. 400 [ I had skimped on buying the seat with striped just to save Rs. 900 without realizing that it was better contoured and improved the overall silhouette of the motorcycle from the side apart from having the horizontal stripes]
- Pillion Grabrail: Rs. 200 [my motorcycle had the old and sturdy grabrail attached to the rear shocks and seat nuts and although it was sturdier than anything RE produces now, it was an eyesore for me and hence the replacement]
By the time we were finished, it was around 1 pm and I had to drop my buddy home. I proceeded to start my motorcycle and after 20 minutes of kicking with no fruition, I dropped him home on my Bajaj Wave that day. I spent the entire night pondering what could have gone wrong. The next morning, I proceeded to unscrew my point cover, and lo and behold, it started in half a kick. Apparently, the point cover had pushed the CB point armature into the point plate resulting in my midnight imbroglio.
The first time I opened her up:
Years of grime on the rocker covers:
After a thorough cleanup with kerosene:
Clutch cover and rocker covers polished with Autosol metal polish:
It was my birthday and my mother had agreed to finance my oil change. I proceeded to procure 3 liters of Castrol GTX 20W50 and an oil filter and dropped off the bike at a nearby mechanic.I also instructed him to look into the issue of the chain rubbing against the chain cover. He charged Rs. 350 for the labour and informed me that my swingarm was off-center and that was causing my chain to constantly rub inside my chain cover. He had taken the liberty of adjusting my rear wheel to the left to counterbalance the skewed swingarm; now, my chain only rubbed when I was carrying a pillion. He suggested I use a 0W50 grade oil the next time to dampen the engine noise even further. The only concerns were that this was the first time I had heard of this and also, 0W50 was harder to procure.
Furthermore, I was not sure of the effect it would have on my fuel pump or my filter. Respected TBHPians, kindly advise. I also bought a new ignition key set worth Rs 200 [My motorcycle had stopped suddenly en route to my exam one day and the electricals were not working. So I proceeded to hotwire it assuming that the faulty ignition keyset had given away and it did not start still. I pushed it to a mechanic only to discover that one of the battery terminals had loosened up and disconnected due to the vibrations and I had overanalyzed the issue by a great margin] and a kick spring [Rs 50] to replace the old broken one. I had also gotten the old air filter replaced and added 2 ring clamps with screws on both sides of the rubber hose.
After about a month of smooth sailing, the motorcycle decided to give off a plume of white smoke from the headlight nacelle one fine day as I began to start it up. I had lowkey anticipated this all along as the owner’s spn had messed up a part of the wiring by plugging in the battery wrong. I parked it back and asked my buddy to drop in the next morning. He arrived the next day with a sturdy rope and his trusty CB200X and towed my motorcycle for 2kms to the nearest mechanic. Once I reached there, I set off to procure the following:
- RE Wiring harness [Part No 888302]: Rs. 710
- Taillight bulb assembly; Rs 150
- Front-wheel speedo hub: Rs 160
- Grips: Rs 152
- LH + RH switches: Rs. 730 [ I had initially procured the newer plastic switches that came with the CI Electra because the headlight controls were placed conventionally. However, my mechanic informed me that the connectors did not match and he would have to splice wires to make it functional. I wanted my wiring to be as intact as possible but at the same time, I had seen countless people installing newer switchgear on older REs.I relented and got old CI switches for Rs 100 less. TBHPians, kindly help]
- Exide 12v9ah battery: Rs: 2500 [ the old owner had an Exide 12v3ah unit and it caused tremendous starting troubles]
- Speedo cable and bulb: Rs 120
- Minda Ampere meter: Rs 210
- RE C350 battery cover: Rs 400 [ I had an old aftermarket battery cover that could not house the new battery. Being a broke student, i procured a new cover and got it welded to my existing battery holder. I welded a support at the top of the cover to screw in a 10mm nut and I welded a support behind the keyhole to screw in a 2inch long 13mm nut. I also extended the base of the holder to accommodate the wider battery. The welding costed me Rs 100 and saved me from spending Rs 850 on the entire assembly.]
- Rear brake switch: Rs: 90
My mechanic charged me Rs 750 for the entire wiring harness swap. I also managed to squeeze in a hazard light setup using a Minda handlebar switch. He also had cleaned and adjusted the rockers and tappets and my engine was about 50% quieter than before
The Machismo at my mechanic’s place along the CB200X that towed it there:
The support that was welded to the existing battery holder:
The lower support and bolt welded in to the battery holder:
Armed with the confidence induced by 3 months of ownership, I procured the following items to install on my motorcycle on my own:
- 8-Bend crash guard [used]: Rs. 300 [ the previous owner had installed an Airfly crash guard that was hideously painted black and interfered with shifting a lot]
- Old STD350 handlebar: Rs. 150
- Minda K95 horns [used]: Rs. 250
- 55w halogen fog lamps x 2: Rs. 400
- Roots 12v40a relay for fog lamps: Rs. 100
- Minda 12v15a Relay for horn: Rs. 77
- Fog lamp clamps: Rs. 50
- UNO Minda switch; R.s 60
- Toggle Switch: Rs 30. [I wanted to turn off the Buzzer whenever I planned to use the hazards and that is why I installed the switch in my LH toolbox]
- OEM Fuel tap [Pavna]: Rs 170 [My original petrol tap with the Enfield key had decided to break off in my garage and I had replaced it with a GAE tap with no magnet. It was a terrible decision as the tap began to leak soon after and I had to procure an OEM tap].
Over the next few days, I proceed to install the horns and the fog lamps.I had to bend 2 clamps from my old horn to make the horns face forwards instead of sideways like before. I installed the fog lamps on the crashguard and carefully routed the wires all the way around it.
The fog lights positioned on the leg guard:
Old handlebar [Bottom] vs new handlebar [Top]:
Old handlebar [Top] vs new handlebar [Bottom]:
I went to my mechanic and got my faulty Endurance shocks replaced with OEM units. The motorcycle is lower now and deploying the center stand needs quite some effort. On the plus side, the wheel rotates freely now and has provided me the opportunity to clean the rims. I have used 220 Grit sandpaper and managed to remove all of the rust. This has improved the look of the machine to a great extent as the chrome on the wheels is mostly intact. The total cost of the upgrades were as follows:
- RE OEM Shocks [Gabriel] ; Rs. 916 x 2
- Labour; Rs. 50
- However, my chain still touches the chain cover whenever I carry a pillion. I plan to remove the chain cover until I get the opportunity to get the swingarm straightened. Advice solicited.
- 13th June:
- Front Oil Seals: Rs 20 x 4
- Lock Set: Rs. 1000
- Acelerator+Brake+Clutch cables: Rs. 300
- Fork Oil: Rs. 150
As my go-to mechanic was unavailable, I had to go to a different mechanic to get the oil seals changed. I dropped off the motorcycle in the morning and I was asked to collect it in the afternoon. However, once I reached there in the afternoon, the guy told me that he had disassembled the front forks and could not deliver my motorcycle till the next day. I visited him the next day in the afternoon and he was still assembling the front forks. I got impatient and asked my friend to collect the motorcycle on my behalf. The mechanic had quoted Rs 300 to replace the oil seals and that is what I paid my friend before leaving. I received my motorcycle at about 2300 hrs that day and found out the following:
- The left fork leg had a part of its rim chipped off and the dust cover missing.
- The front brake light switch was ripped out of the main wiring harness.
- The battery was discharged and the horn was not working.
Furthermore, the guy had the audacity to demand Rs. 400 more for the “extra labour” he had to put in over 48 hours to replace the seals. Needless to say, I have stopped visiting new mechanics.
Front forks dismantled:
Due to the ISC examinations and a slew of college entrance examinations, I had not been able to make much time to look after the motorcycle. I had also run into a peculiar problem twice where the motorcycle would refuse to start. The first time it happened, I had checked the spark plug and it was working. However, it had turned black and a cleanup was all it took it to start her up the next day. However the same thing happened with me the second time and this time, it was barely a 100 meters from my home. As I was short on time, I walked my vehicle back home and decided to look into the issue later. I informed my mechanic of the issue and informed him that the spark plug was working properly and this led him to suggest getting a new carb. I complied and got a set of new VM 24 carb and NGK sparkplugs. The carb costed me Rs. 1700 and the plugs were Rs. 100 each and I paid my mechanic Rs 80 to change the carb as I wanted it to be tuned properly while I changed the plugs myself.
The new carb has helped a lot. The motorcycle idles at a much lower RPM now.
The Yamaha turn signals that I was using till this point were having a lot of problems. The stems were supremely flimsy and could not be tightened much resulting in them rotating and facing the opposite way whenever I rode at high speeds. Furthermore, the holders for the bulbs were unable to hold the bulb in place and as a result, the bulbs were rattling around in the indicator housing all the time. So I decided to go for OEM turn signals and LED bulbs for better visibility. I also needed a new flasher to power the 4 LED bulbs. All it took was a Sunday afternoon to swap the turn signals and while I was at it, I decided to reposition the fog lamps that I had previously installed on the leg guard to the headlight nacelle. I already had holes for the indicator in the headlight nacelle and I installed the fog lamp there using some rubber washers. I also rerouted the wiring from the relay and soldered new connectors into the wiring. I also swapped the bulbs that came with it for a pair of Bosch 55W H3 bulbs. The overall brightness has increased but it is still nowhere close to LED fog lamps. However, I am content with them as my fog lamps are seldom used and halogen bulbs in the chrome housing look better in my opinion than LEDs on a 27y/o machine. I had also recently ridden my machine at 60+ km/h and felt quite a lot of vibration on the handlebars. I decided to install bar-end weights as my handlebar could accommodate them. I also had to switch to C350 grips as the Electra grips I had been using were closed off at the ends. The C350 grips, though longer and softer, needed a bit of modification to be fitted. Also, the stock bolts that came with the weights were smaller and I ended up using 13mm Allen bolts to install the bar end weights. The vibrations are almost non-existent now till 80 km/h (I could not check at higher speeds as I sincerely doubt my rebored cylinder would be able to endure anything above 80 km/h without seizing) The prices I paid for the parts were as follows:
- SWISS Turn Signals x 4: Rs 195 each.
- LED Bulbs x 4: Rs 100 each.
- Lumax 12v/85w Flasher: Rs 120
- Bosch H3 Bulbs x2: Rs 40 each.
- C350 Grips: Rs 99.
- Chrome-plated handlebar weights x2: Rs.225 each.
New bar-end weights:
The longer C350 grips alongside the shorter old grips:
A part of the new grips had to be trimmed off in order to ensure proper rotation of the throttle:
The new Swiss turn signals with LED bulbs:
Re-positioned fog lamps with black covers:
Things I Like:
- Martinetism: This reason may sound odd to a lot but the CI bullet appealed to the disciplinarian within me. The intricate procedure of cold starting the machine by freeing up the clutch, engaging the choke, decompressing the engine, and praying before you kick it over made me respect the motorcycle. I was intimidated by the CI Bullets before I owned one and a certain amount of fear and reverence took over whenever I had the opportunity to ride one. The CI Bullet is like a majestic steed akin to the horses of the cavalry- any lapse in deference is met with an unwelcome but well-deserved injury.
- The Iconic Thump: Of all the reasons that made me choose CI over UCE, this was surely a substantial one. Enough has been said about the thump of the legendary CI engine and it stands up to all the odes. Even with a leaky exhaust and the unwanted cacophony that my engine emits, nothing gets in the way of the sheer auditory bliss that comes out of the exhaust. Sure, a helmet does help to dull out the unwanted bits of the experience.
- Stability: The ride is supremely confidence-inspiring owing to the immense weight of the machine. Even with a misaligned chassis that causes the motorcycle to dangerously veer to the left, the stability is unmatched
- Low end Torque: Even tough the motorcycle struggles to get past 70 kmph, it is the low end torque that comes in handy in overtakes and moments when you feel the need to utilize the 350cc mill.
Things I don’t like:
This list could go on forever. A 27-year-old specimen of British engineering and Indian craftmanship is a storehouse of problems. However, being the enchanted teenager looking at his prized ride through rosetinted glasses, I may not be the perfect person to summarize its shortcomings. However, I shall try my best:
- Unreliability: A lot has been said about this. You cannot expect a three-decades-old machine of questionable quality control to be a reliable mode of transportation. The constant fear of breaking down in the middle of the road has made permanent residence at the back of my head. What if the engine seizes? What if the electricals go awry? What if the front suspension gives away again? What if it won’t start? The list is inexhaustible and has led to me choosing hassle-free public transportation more than ever.
- Anachronism: The Bullet is a product of its times.Times when roads were less busy, traffic nonexistent, and an overall slower speed of life. Hence, I never take out my motorcycle for any intercity transit and plan my route ahead to avoid congestion even at the cost of choosing the longer route. The clutch is not designed to be used in day-to-day traffic and the brakes are lackluster, to be frank.
- Fuel Economy: I do not even know my fuel economy figures. Online claims of 30kmpl seem farfetched and I realistically get a mileage of around 20 if I am lucky. Help is highly solicited in this regard.
- Suspension: The suspension is stiff and not suited for Indian road conditions. I intend to replace them with C350 forks very soon.
My project is far from finished. My mind vacillates a lot between selling off the old bugger to make way for a UCE and restoring it to perfection after attaining personal financial stability. The former seems sketchy as I fear not being able to recover my investment of around Rs 50000 anytime soon. As for the latter, I have classified my plans into two categories:
- Repairing the front suspension. I might go for a C350 setup with disc brakes or an A350 setup with discs.
- Changing out the Transmission Oil: My mechanic has suggested 140-grade gear oil and online searches consistently suggest a mixture of grease and engine oil for the transmission. BHPians, kindly help.
- Clutch plates: The clutch seems to slip in heavy traffic conditions and that has led me to plan my transit meticulously to avoid traffic.I am unsure which clutch plates to go for and whether I need to change my clutch cover to a bigger one to accommodate them. BHPians kindly help me with this.
- The Tank: The tank on my particular Enfield is beautifully chrome plated and pinstriped. However, the fact that it is off-center by about an inch bothers the hell out of me every time I ride the machine. I have checked and it seems like a manufacturing defect from the factory. I have spotted 5 or 6 other REs with a misaligned tank although not all of them are as serious of an eyesore as mine. Even my friend’s 2016 C350 has its tank misaligned by about half of an inch. I intend to do something about it soon. BHPians, any suggestions would be highly appreciated.
How the tank looks from the bottom. One can clearly see the asymmetry from this angle:
How the tank looks from above:
- A complete overhaul of the engine. Even though my engine is running okay overall, I am getting fuel economy below 20 kmpl. I intend to get the head worked upon and get a new cylinder kit later down the road
- A return to the stock black and chrome paint job. The tank that came from the factory still has the original chrome. However, It is off-center and is an eyesore. I have procured a straight Chrome and black tank and am storing it safely for future use. I will also switch back to chrome fenders instead of painted ones.
My journey with the Enfield has been quite delightful so far with interspersed episodes of utter hopelessness as well. I am quite aware of the fact that although my juvenile mind believes I can soldier on with this machine as long as gasoline is available, a more sensible man would choose a UCE RE any day over this 27 y/o heap of metal. At the same time, my mind also comprehends the fact that a UCE RE does not stand out in the sea of C350s on the road (no offense intended to UCE owners) and I can still spot 2 or 3 CI Bullets every day on the road, still being actively used for commuting. However, it is true that in spite of its several flaws, the times when it truly performs smoothly, the 1995 Machismo 350 is a majestically thumping steed to behold and hold onto till eternity.
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.