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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Enfield Bullet - new version 500 cc to hit Indian roads

A few decades ago, there was not so much of variety…… only the wealthy owned two-wheelers. 

Motor-bikes were considered macho… the brands seen on road were – Rajdoot 175 cc; Jawa [later Yezdi] 250cc with twin silencers; and the most princely Enfield Bullet 350 cc…  A Bullet motorcycle on road was the cynosure of all eyes ~ many would put a rubber mat improperly cut near its silencer that would produce thudding sound as the vehicle went majestically past.. not very fast and it was stated  by people that Bullet can actually cruise at walking speed too….  ~ it was ‘Royal Enfield Bullet’ to be precise – exhibiting its British connection and Enfield Motors was of Madras origin…. a la CSK of yore.  It was the bike used by Police  for patrolling too……

Read that Royal Enfield motorcycles made in England were being sold in India from 1949. The bullet however was first introduced in 1931 as a four-stroke single cylinder motorcycle by Royal Enfield UK. In 1955, the Indian government looked for a suitable motorcycle for its police and army, for patrolling the country's border. The Bullet was chosen as the most suitable bike for the job. The Indian government ordered 800 350 cc model Bullets. In 1955, the Redditch company partnered with Madras Motors in India to form 'Enfield India' to assemble, under licence, the 350 cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in Madras. The first machines were assembled entirely from components shipped from England. In 1957, the tooling was sold to Enfield India so that they could manufacture components. By 1962, all components were made in India.

After demise of parent company Royal Enfield in England, Enfield India  continued to make Enfield bikes. In 1994, Eicher Group bought into Enfield India and later the Enfield India firm acquired the rights to the name Royal Enfield. Royal Enfield of India now sells motorcycles in over twenty countries.

Over the years 100cc motorcycles and later bigger ones like Pulsar have been dominating the market ~ yet the passionate still retain their love for ‘Bullet’.  Now it is reported that Eicher Motors' two-wheeler arm Royal Enfield are now launching their Bullet 500, priced at Rs 1.54 lakh (on-road, Delhi). "The iconic Bullet motorcycle gets a new lease of power with the launch of the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 in India," the company said in a statement. The 500 cc motorcycle will be available at Rs 1,53,855 (on road price for Delhi) and it will be launched in a phased manner across the country, it added. Initially, the bike will be launched in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi-NCR and Kerala that have traditionally been the best markets for the Bullet.

From the stables of Bullet, had seen Enfield Crusader,  Enfield 200 too ~ there were some other models in 1980s – Enfield Explorer and Silverplus which was 65 cc bike…. Silver+ had hand-operated gears while for Explorer, it was foot… they did not survive and are no longer on road now………. 

In Jan 1980, when India defeated Pakistan in the 1st Test at Chepauk, Kapil Dev the Man of the Match was presented an ‘Enfield Bullet’ ~ Sandip Madusudhan Patil, made his debut in that test….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
23rd April 2013.


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