Royal Enfield Classic 500 : Expert Review
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The pros: known for classy old charm and powerful performance, very immediate and precise throttle experience, smooth riding.
The cons: The absence of a fuel gauge and misleading reserve light does confuse the rider, downshifting is quite hard and lots of vibrations.
The crux: Now, the RE comes with modern components and technology, might have taken a long leap with the Classic 500, but they still have a long way to go.
Bullet- a generic name given to every Royal Enfield motorcycle, no matter what their actual name would be, has always been associated with a heroic image bundled with reliability and barn-door technological backwardness. But the one you see in these pictures isn’t a Bullet. Neither by name and nor by the performance and riding ability it offers.
When this ‘Classic’ iteration was introduced into the Indian market few years back, everyone was sceptical about the acceptance of this new-age Royal Enfield. The reasons were very obvious- conventional big bore loud thump was missing, fuel injection came into play and the right-side gear-shifter, for which the Bullets were actually known for years, was also been ditched.
But the Eicher-owned brand understood the progression of modern technologies and brought a complete change to the engine. Modern emission laws, in the domestic as well as in the main export markets, made it increasingly difficult for the venerable old-school engine to stay legal. Therefore an all-new engine featuring fuel injection, five-speed gearbox with a modern change pattern and wet multi-plate clutch came into existence. And with that, Classic range was also born.
The automobile sector might be rushing towards modern & aerodynamic designs, but staying true to its name ‘Classic’ retains its typical old-world charm and surely takes your heart away. At one glance the Classic 500 reminds you of a British classic coming directly from that era.
The right proportion of paint and chrome on that bulky and curvy body, that bazooka exhaust pipe, single sprung seat and negligible decals make this the best-looking Bullet till date.
The halogen powered headlamp inclusive of a chrome lip and set of trademark pilot lamps on either side, mighty fuel tank with the perfectly placed knee rests and chrome mirrors and indicators combine well together to create a true retro machine. The tan color seen in these images looks fantastic and seen not that often on our roads.
Comfortable! As much you expect from your motorcycle. The riding triangle is meant to cruise, with the best possible ease. and long journeys would never be an issue on this motorcycle. I quite liked the retro aura that the Classic brings upon in maximum aspects.
Keeping upbeat with all the modern machines in terms of quality, the instrument cluster with a large circular speedometer dominating the proceedings completes the feel of riding a British classic. The absence of a fuel gauge and misleading reserve light does confuse the rider though.
The feel of clutch has also improved a lot when compared to earlier RE models. Its light and well in reach and left me very impressed.
Engine & Performance:
With a fuel injection and an integrated gearbox on-board, the single-cylinder, twin-spark 499cc engine pumps out 27.2bhp of raw power along with 41.2 Nm of peak torque. The engine’s character has been retained and the retro feel with its long-stroke cylinder and a heavy flywheel to keep it thumping along smoothly, even at the low revvs.
Throttle response is the best I’ve ever experienced on a Royal Enfield- very immediate and precise. Yes, the 200kg of metal is not suitable for too much to expect, but on the whole- no complains and was happy with it.
The engine is mated to a five-speed constant-mesh gearbox, whose ratios are perfect for city riding. However, the quality of gear-shift is still an issue like the earlier Royal Enfields. They are not precise and slick, it actually should be. It’s a bit clunky and sticky when you need to swiftly step up or down in heavy traffic.
Ride & Handling :
The ride of the Classic is smooth, and its engine feels at home ridden between 80-90kmph, while the scenario starts to feel strained soon thereafter. Like any other Royal Enfield, the 500 is a heavy, solid feeling and stable bike ridden in a straight line, and always feels planted. Downshifting is painful, literally, and can cause a sprain in back due to killing vibrations.
The motorcycle uses conventional telescopic fork front suspension and dual 5-step adjustable gas-charged shock absorbers at the rear, which manages the patchy Indian roads quite well. The reasonably well- 90/90 front and 110/90 rear 18-inch MRF Zappers compliments well to the overall ride.
Braking- an aspect which needs some serious improvement. The motorcycle I tested was less than 1000km run and already the brakes were lousy. The 280mm front disc is considerably good but the rear as well the overall affect was not really enough for stopping such a heavy motorcycle.
The Classic 500 possesses the feel, the character and the road presence that will make you fall in love with it. As close to a classic British motorcycle as it’s possible to get, this RE comes with modern components and technology, yet with the sound, feel and charm of a classic. However, after riding it for a couple of hundred kilometres, I can conclude that the Royal Enfield might have taken a long leap with the Classic 500, but they still have a long way to go.