Royal Enfield Bullet Classic 2.0 : First Ride
Royal Enfield is whipping a storm in khaki and chrome, with two new variants based on the hard-hitting Classic 500. Ever since its roll-out in November 2009, the Bullet Classic has quite clearly made an impact on motorcyclists' psyche, and the two new models promise to take the same effect forward. It's not just a paint and lipstick job though. We welcome the Desert Storm and the Classic 500 Chrome into the thumping Royal Enfield family!
This was what I had mentioned in my report from two years ago, especially calling for the front fork to be junked with modern internals allied to revised rake and trail. The earlier Classic with the added thump from its fuel injected twin spark motor had a new found urge to gallop but the handling stability, especially under braking made the front wheel hop and skip and this did detract from the other gains made on the Bullet platform. Nothing would have happened had the powerful front disc not clamped so well, twisting the archaic forks beyond their capability so something was needed to be done, and soon.
The boffins at Royal Enfield took this to heart and have a completely new front fork and revised geometry for the 2012 Classic range in focus here. To the unsuspecting eye this may yet look the same but peer close and you see that the forks (built by Endurance who also provide the rear gas charged shock absorbers) act directly on the axle and even though their housings remain yet in the traditional retro style, the internals and their construction are all new. The revised geometry this brings in its adoption sees the trail hiked to 101.49mm from the previous 72.54mm while the centre shift of the forks measure 26mm at a rake angle of 26.09 degrees.
So much for the number crunching but moving on to the placement of this directly on the axle has meant a positive shift in the weight distribution plus also the ability to soak up braking forces without affecting the directional stability of the machine. There is much more poise, more ease and generally a much calmer approach when hitting the anchors. In fact the Royal Enfield engineers went back into history to revert back to a 19-inch front wheel, junking the 90/90-18 tyre for a 90/90-19 unit. The good thing is that this entire revised front end set-up works a treat and the near neutral handling ability colludes well with the overall character of this machine to make it a pleasure ride every time one swings a leg over its minimalist single seat and hits the road. The rear tyre is also changed, a slightly wider 120/80-18 unit coming in place of the 110/90-18 detail on the original Classic.
While the new front forks and larger diameter wheel up front constitutes the main detail changes on the 2012 Classics, there are some important tweaks elsewhere on the machine. One of these is the new mapping of the electronic fuel injection system, the Royal Enfield engine men worked with Japanese fuel equipment supplier Keihin to make for a much smoother power delivery without sacrificing any of the crisp response (in relation to the pre-Classic Bullets) which has been just as much of a revelation in the smiles-per-hour stake as has been the overall pleasure factor in the ownership experience.
Make no mistake about it, as I have mentioned earlier, the Bullet Classics are a throwback to a different era of motorcycling long lost to us but just as relevant among a section of motorcyclist which is going fast forward into the past and enjoying every second of this journey. To try and convince us hard-nosed journos and disbelievers, the firm organized an exclusive ride in what was supposed to be sandy desert wastes in and around Jaisalmer. Based at the uber exclusive resort, The Serai, we spent a day and a half exploring a Rajasthan with good tarmac, some sandy stretches to put the woollies in one’s stomach and acres and acres of greenery! Yes the strong monsoon this year had changed the golden yellow desert landscape into a lush green forest with strong shrubbery and trees making for a surreal base to ride what are essentially two-wheeled blasts from the past albeit with a very promising future.
Readers' opinions ( 18 )
by Rahul Basu Photography : Balamuralikrishna Bhat, Rafeeq Zakaaria, RE & Rahul Basu
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