QJ Motor SRC500 Review: Best Royal Enfield Classic 500 Alternative?

  • May 28, 2023
  • Views : 10161
  • 4 min read

It’s retro, it’s welcoming and it’s so much fun!

If you’re 30-something, you’d remember MSN Messenger. It was a chat room to meet random strangers on the internet, and if the conversations were healthy, you’d bond. I met some great people there, and the bonding was strong, but not as strong as the friends I’ve known in person. The tangibility of an acquaintance helps with trust, it just does. And the QJ Motor SRC500, despite being a surprisingly good motorcycle, is hard to trust right away. Here’s why.

The ease of conversation determines how fast two strangers become comfortable in each other's company. In that sense, the SRC is one smooth talker, you’re hooked to its personality from the get-go. All you have to do is go for a ride. All the boys in the bike team including me haven’t had a good first impression on most Chinese bikes to have come our way of late. Some did better than others, but none felt as special as the SRC500, and it’s not because the benchmark was low. In isolation, the engine on this bike is surprisingly fantastic for a big 480cc air-cooled single.

It’s geared long and the five-speed gearbox is an absolute champ at making the SRC500 a well-balanced daily rider. In the city, crawling can be done easily in second and third, the clutch is light. A huge factor helping this tractability is the 36Nm of torque this motor makes, at just 4250rpm. But if you feel like stretching its legs down the highway, the roughly 26PS, accompanied by a sweet dhuk-dhuk-dhuk soundtrack, will pull cleanly and hold triple-digit speeds for hours without heating up. We saw an indicated 139kmph in fourth gear. This is the first bike in a while where we didn’t find the need for a sixth cog. My seniors believe this is the kind of performance the Royal Enfield Classic 500, if it wasn’t discontinued and had continued to evolve, should have had.

Acceleration Test:

0-60kmph 4.24 seconds
0-80kmph 7.15 seconds
0-100kmph 11.78 seconds
30-70 in 3rd gear 5.46 seconds
40-80 in 4th gear 7.16 seconds

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Being a retro-classic roadster, coupled with a 19-inch front rim (18-inch rear), the agility of  this bike is on the mellow side. It’s neither quick nor sluggishly slow like a cruiser. Weaving through traffic is easy but requires planning and if you hold a reasonably flowing line around corners, the SRC500 feels planted. What’s truly surprising is that it masks its 205kg kerb weight beautifully. Be it lifting it off the side stand or balancing it in crawling traffic, the heft is barely noticeable. What is noticeable, though, is the average suspension setup. 

  • Ground clearance: 155mm

  • Seat height: 800mm 

While the telescopic front fork soaks up the undulations pretty well, the twin coils at the rear are slightly firm and tossy. Mix that with its softly cushioned seat, and the ride feels a bit tiring for riders over 70kg. Another area where the SRC500 feels a bit mellow is in the braking department. 

By no means is it weak or grabby, it’s somewhere in the middle. The feedback from the 300mm front disc isn’t very communicative, but the lever is adjustable so it can be tweaked slightly for better feel. At the rear the 240mm disc feels sharper, hence under emergency braking, combined with dual-channel ABS, the SRC’s anchoring feels fairly balanced. 

Braking Test:

100-0kmph 52.82m
80-0kmph 30.29m
60-0kmph 16.21m

The SRC is aping a retro-classic theme, a segment that Royal Enfield champions. But the SRC 500 does not look like a hipster in his grandad's clothes, the silhouette looks pretty period correct. It looks like a bike from the imperial era — long (1440mm wheelbase), flowing, with the signature peashooter exhaust to complete the look. While the paint quality and fit and finish isn’t disappointing in any way, the longevity of the quality seems hard to tell. 

That said, what we really liked were the practical bits. For instance, the fuel tank is a large 15.5 litres and considering the fuel efficiency we got –  32kmpl in the city and 31kmpl on the highway – the practicality quotient of this bike is strong. Another noteworthy feature is the twin-pod digital instrument cluster. Simple, easy-to-read and fuss-free. However, the halogen headlight is far from great and feels rather basic.    

So as far as this review is concerned, what the SRC500 is proposing seems all good so far. But just like I wouldn’t trust a friend I’ve met online with my banking details, no matter how well I think I know them, we just can’t trust QJ Motors with our Rs 2.69 lakh (ex-showroom). It seems harsh, but the brand is new to India. The folks behind the brand, too, have a less than exemplary record of service and maintenance with Benelli in the past. Hence, the faith needed to believe that this bike will feel as good as it does today, say, two years from now, isn’t a guarantee. Shame, because it truly is a special motorcycle.

QJ Motor SRC 500 Video Review

QJ Motor SRC 500
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