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Royal Enfield Bullets & Classics- Loosing out Old School Bikers

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                The Royal Enfield Bullet of the yore was a machine that appealed to only a certain type of bikers. These were men and women who actually rode long distances and into the sunset. For them the ride was more important than the destination and didn’t mind getting their hands greasy if something went wrong with the bike. These bikers were as wild as one could get while choosing the route but never the ones to break traffic rules. These bikers were not posers, unlike the ones who rode puny but peppy street bikes racing through the city streets with no regards for traffic rules. These bikers rode their Bullets with pride and the Bullet, then, really separated the Men and Women from the Boys and Girls.

                It was a quirky machine. You had to master the art of “bring it to life”. The de-compression lever besides the clutch was not just a piece of metal attached to a cable to lose the engine compression. It was an instrument to bring the piston to the correct position before you could kick-start the engine. The pedal for the rear brake was set for the left foot and gear lever to the right. Just above the gear shifter was small pedal to get the gearbox to neutral and you had to know just how hard or gently to foot-tap it to neutral. Then there was a rubber breather pipe that ran from the crank case to the small sprocket of final chain drive and made a low, smooth whistling sound. The old Bullet had many flaws but once you had ridden one all day, all night,  long on the highway, seen passers-by smile at you when you thumped it to life, you fell in love with the bike. And of course this old bike had an exhaust that thumped in a way that the new one just can’t match.

                And that brings us to the new Royal Enfield Bullet/Classic bikes. These are more reliable, have much better quality, are easier to start (courtesy the electric starter), and, have the gear and rear brake pedals placed as is the norm on all other bikes. Today the Bullet/Classic enjoys a wider spectrum of customers.  So far, so good. But then, the new ones have lost the quirkiness the Bullet/Classic brand deserved. It has become so normal in its appeal that it is also being bought by guys who are basically street racers and not true bikers. And unfortunately, are riding the new Bullets and Classics in the same way they rode their puny street bikes. Fitting louder exhaust end pipes, zipping rashly thru the traffic and jumping red lights.

                This has made some true blue Bullet enthusiasts walk away. I don’t want to be seen on Bullet/Classic standing at traffic lights next a street racer kind of guy also on a Bullet/Classic, who is constantly wringing the throttle, playing with the clutch lever and looking around to spot the traffic cops, so he can jump the red light.

                It’s good to have new technology but it’s not necessary to lose some quirks that are essential to keep the identity of such an iconic bike intact. I wish one day the Bullet/Classic is offered with gear shifter, neutral finder and brake pedals placed like those on the old one, have an amp meter and decompression lever even if electric starter is offered as an option. It need not offer blistering performance from naught to 100kph but the ability to eat an inter-state highway for breakfast.

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