Part II Royal Enfield Bullet @11,000 miles!

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In Part I of our report of riding the 2012 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 B5 for 11,000 miles, we discussed the modifications. In Part II let’s discuss what it is like to ride the 500cc single for 11,000 in a variety of roads and conditions.

The Talking Motorcycles garage is at capacity. Our two car garage first and foremost must house Colette’s ride of choice. At present that is a full size GM 3800 V6 front driver. I seldom drive her car but I’ve actually come to really appreciate the Lucerne.

The other half of the garage is where the motorcycles are kept. The stable includes a 2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Milwaukee-Eight, our 1995 Harley-Davidson FLHTCU Ultra Classic carbed Evo with only 18,000 original miles, the 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide Panhead in its original black and white factory paint and 54,500 miles, a Piaggio BV500 with factory saddlebags and a top trunk (excellent two up Saturday morning garage shoppping transportation or cross country, a pearl white 1989 Honda XL600V TransAlp and the Royal Enfield B5.

Considering that I do not personally own an automobile or truck, motorcycling is the way I get pretty much anywhere. The RE has become my daily rider here in Daytona and all of Central Florida and up the Northeast Coast to Jacksonville. Thanks to the Clearwater Lights it is the choice for riding up and down the coast in fog and darkness.

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With the bike on its factory center stand simply turn on the key and hit the starter button. Boom. The 60’s era BSA 650 muffler clearly communicates the engines state of tune instantly. My concern was that the free flowing BSA can would create a lean condition but the FI compensated quickly and the end result is a very slight lean condition that returns 65 mpg average and a good mixture. My habit is to start every bike before gearing up when I leave the garage. I’m old school enough to believe a two to four minutes of initial warm up is good for seals, gaskets and metals. Off the stand, clutch in and drop the 5 speed gearbox into first gear. The light clutch has a nice but tight friction zone that works super well. The gearbox has a solid thunk going into first. Leaving the stop sign two blocks away from the house I go North on John Anderson. This is about the start of the famous “Loop” that is so popular during Daytona Bike Week. For the other 49 weeks per year, the loop was made for the flexible single and light on its feet handling of the Bullet. The best way that I have discovered is to simply stop looking at the speedometer and ride the motorcycle. With under 30 HP the RE is not a performance motorcycle in the way we are all accustomed. However, when compared to a BSA 441 Victor or other big British singles of the past, it runs beautifully and never marks its spot in the driveway or garage. No leaks and weak electrics are two things about vintage British singles that you will not miss with the Bullet. It did have a countershaft sprocket seal seep early on but was simple to replace and hasn’t leaked in the last 10,000 miles.

In many ways the power characteristics of the RE 500 are similar to a Suzuki DR350 single. The power delivery is very satisfying from bottom of the RPM range to the top though the top is just not a place you visit often. It has ample torque in the low to mid-range and the exhaust note is spectacular at lower RPM with a little bit of load on the engine.  While I do not believing in lugging any air cooled engine, I do find myself short shifting frequently and letting the torque and hp build with RPM’s. This is fun engine.

The 5 speed gearbox shifts like butter when you understand what it likes. It likes a leisurely pace on upshifts. Just roll off the throttle, pull in the clutch and it slides right up into the next gear with a solid feel but very smooth. Top gear is just right for 50 to 70 mph speeds. As we discussed in Part I, the bike has been geared a little taller and that moves the place where the engine vibration is noticeable (mostly in the riders footpegs) at 65 mph instead of 60. At speeds above 50 mph I move my feet to the rear passenger pegs for aero reasons anyway so, for me, the 65 mph vibration is a non-factor. Before you develop preconceived notions about the vibration of a 500cc single, I recommend scheduling a nice long test ride and see for yourself.

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The frame was designed in the early 40’s and is almost exactly the same frame today on the Bullet. The size of the frame is smallish but at 5′ 10″ and average weight, it fits me well. Front to rear balance is about right. If you are paying attention you can feel the front and rear suspension working at speed. It communicates just enough feedback to let you know what’s up but soaks up stutter bumps and other surface imperfections really well. Many times on Sunday afternoons Colette will suggest we go for a motorcycle ride when we are all caught up on house and garage stuff. She pretty much always chooses what we will ride. More often than not she chooses the Royal Enfield. I bumped up the pre-load on the rear shocks a couple of clicks and it is slightly firm solo and just right two up.

The single disc front rotor is clamped with twin piston calipers. The rear is drum. We are currently running Dunlop K70 Gold Seal tires. I have a set of Dunlop K81/TT100’s ready to install when they are used up. With the Gold Seals the brakes and tires provide ample stopping power. The front brake could be a slight bit more linear but the progression is good and the stopping power will cry the front tire or lock it if you are heavy handed.  Personally I am a big fan of rear drum brakes. They are smooth and progressive and will absolutely lock the rear tire so what more would we ask for?

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Thanks for reading, subscribing and sharing our blog postings. It is fun Talking Motorcycles!

Talking Motorcycles is powered by Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires, Clearwater LIghts and Bell Helmets/Bell Powersports.

Barry

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11,000 on a Royal Enfield B5 Bullet 500

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to do a quick 11,000 miles on a Royal Enfield? First things first…one should grow accustomed to being asked a couple of questions on a frequent basis. What year is that? How long did it take you to restore that?

Answering the first question is not easy. Ours is a 2012 but thats really not the story. The frame is bolt for bolt the same frame in use since the 1940’s. Only the engine mounting plates have been modified to adapt the new 500cc single in place of the old original 350. Royal Enfield is the oldest continuing operating production motorcycle in the world.

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With the exception of a very few small issues in the first couple of thousand miles, this bike has been flawless. I change oil every 3,000 miles and utilize all three drain plugs in the sump. The original chain was replaced at 4,000 miles when the front sprocket was changed to the GT countershaft sprocket which is one tooth larger effectively gearing up the big thumper 4 teeth on the rear. This has improved fuel economy to about 65 to 68 mpg even when used two up as we frequently do. It also moved the inherent vibration of the rigid mount, non-counterbalanced single up to an indicated 65 mph. For me, the vibration at 65 is hardly noticeable but that is primarily because I move my feet to the rear passenger pegs at speeds about 50 because it smooths out the aero. Other than that speed, this is the little engine that could…and does. Obviously you must be someone who appreciates the power delivery of a big single cylinder motorcycle and I am. Especially with the 60’s era BSA muffler I installed in place of the massive and heavy factory canister. Surprisingly the fuel injection metering remained close to perfect with no modifications to it. Now the RE sounds as a big (British) single should. Yes, I know  it is made in India but it’s roots are all English. It bolted right up in about 15 minutes!

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The stock front turn signals were removed and in their place I installed a new set of Clearwater Lights Krista’s. These are the highest quality aftermarket lighting systems available for any motorcycle. Some of the features are, high quality hardware, HDLED’s, fully dim able and the added benefit of full power when you hit the high beam switch on the motorcycle, flash to pass or blow the factory horn. It was simple to unplug the turn signal wire and plug it into the small running lights that have been on either side of the headlamps since 1940. While not very bright, they are now the front turn signals. With Clearwater Lights, we can now see in darkness and be seen in daylight.

I really like the slightly expensive but very well constructed Royal Enfield accessory  side bags and the metal fuel tank allows the use of my old magnetic tankback that has been on about 50 motorcycles in the last 15 years.

Life with the Royal Enfield is so good that while other machines will no doubt come and go in the Talking Motorcyles garage, it shall remain for many years to come. A major improvement in initial turn in and over all handling as well as ride comfort was to install a set of classic Dunlop K70 Gold Seal tires. For the front tire I went up a couple of sizes to the 3.50/19. This filled in the gap between the tire and front fender nicely and transformed the in town handling characteristics all for the better. 6,000 miles later the front looks amazingly new and the rear is looking like it has at least 2 to 3 thousand miles remaining. The factory rear was toast at 6,000. When the rear is ready, we will install yet another Gold Seal and try to wear out the front by the time that rear is used up. At that point I am installing a new set of Dunlop K81/TT100’s front and rear to see how they work out. Both of those tires look period correct but have been modernized with up to date tread compounds.

I really like the bar end mirrors in daily use other than they are a little wide in a garage/radio studio full of motorcycles at times. On the road they are nice. The one modification that I almost failed to tell you about is the rear brake lamp enhancement. A narrow black motorcycle is not highly visible from the rear. To improve rearward conspicuity and safety, we added a Clearwater Billie Jr brake lamp. At only $129 this is inexpensive safety that flat works. They are almost offensive when you are following the bike closely at night but I’m ok with that. To see and be seen is how we stay alive out there in the urban jungle in my opinion.

Thanks for reading our blog postings, subscribing and sharing with you motorcycling friends. Please feel free to listen to our podcast, Talking Motorcycles with Barry Boone. Easy to find by a Google search, subscribe via the iTunes Store or simply subscribe on the podcast app you already have on your smart device or Apple TV.

Talking Motorcycles is powered by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Bell Powersports, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires and Clearwater Lights.

Ride hard, ride safe and have fun!

Barry

My favorite Talking Motorcycles Radio Show of 2016 revealed!

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http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkingmotorcycleswithbarry/2016/03/17/talking-motorcycles-with-danny-eslickklamfothscott-russell

In over 150 Talking Motorcycles with Barry Boone radio shows, only one motorcyclist has ever said no to an invitation to be on. He shall remain nameless. That is over 400 interesting people in the motorcycle universe who have said yes. Each year I look back to determine which was the most meaningful for me. The guest list from 2016 reads like a “Who’s Who in Motorcycling”. Choosing my favorite is difficult. This one was the one. Why?

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Every show is always about the guest and their contribution to a sport we all love. Let’s take a look at the guest list from this show that happened the night before the 2016 Daytona 200.

Scott Russell aka (Mr Daytona)

Russell is a 5 time Daytona 200 winner and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer. That’s only part of the story. He has been arrested twice the night before the 200. He crashed on the opening lap and ended up winning by 53 seconds. Hearing him give details about that were thrilling. You will hear about the second arrest in first person account from Scott for the first time in media. I asked Scott to remain onboard as co-anchor and assist with the other two special guest interviews. That is easy for us. Yours truly anchored the FansChoice.TV coverage of the 2014 AMA Pro Road Racing season and Mr. Russell was our expert color analyst. We fit like hand in well broken in pair of RacerGloves. We called our first race together in the 2014 Daytona 200 and never looked back.

Dick Klamfoth won the Daytona 200 on the beach. He speaks motorcycle. He and his wife married in 1956 and it was on. Dick gave us a memorable and legendary description of the starting grid and procedure and proceeds to take us on an emotional lap. It was as if he did it that very day remembering and describing every detail. I so wish we had not had time constraints. Scott and I could have listened to him talk about that race all night. You can feel and see the sea spray on your goggles listening to him. This interview was one for the history books. When he first arrive at the venue I had the opportunity to introduce him to Scott Russell. It was an honor to introduce two legendary motorcycle racers who truly were each excited about knowing the other.

Danny Eslick had won two Daytona 200’s and in 2014 he was prepared to try to make it 3 in a row but a mistake off the track on Main Street in Daytona just days before placed him in jail and out of the 200. In this our third annual “Night Before the 200” show, he made is first public statements about the incident. At the time, there was still a chance the decision by race organizers to deny him a start would be reversed. It was this interview when I realized that having Scott Russell on board to co-anchor. He was on point in this interview at a this critical time in Danny’s career.

To have the chance to have this epic radio show with three guys who had won a total of 10 Daytona 200’s was a broadcasters dream come true. We do hope you enjoy listening to this show that happened the night before the 2016 Daytona 200.

You can hear the unedited show in it’s entirety by clicking this link:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkingmotorcycleswithbarry/2016/03/17/talking-motorcycles-with-danny-eslickklamfothscott-russell

This show was simulcasted on FM93.5 WNDB, the flagship station of MRN Radio. Special thanks to Mike Moltane, Station Manager and Terry “Boots” Sabiston, our Producer.

Special thanks to Crosley Radio, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires and Clearwater Lights.

Barry Boone, Host

Dennis Mahan is now in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and he joined us LIVE on Talking Motorcycles with Barry Boone Radio! Listen now!

Dennis is a world class race bike builder/tuner and rider mentor/coach. He has worked with many of America’s great motorcycle racers including Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Gary Nixon, Keith Mashburn, Eddie Lawson and others.

In this episode of the show we heard many back stories from the golden age of flat track and road racing in America. We hope you enjoy and share this show with your motorcycling friends. It is important  and enjoyable to know the history of our sport and Dennis is a very important part of racing history.

To listen to the show simply click on this link:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkingmotorcycleswithbarry/2016/11/02/talking-motorcycles-with-dennis-mahan-ama-motorcycle-hall-of-fame

Please subscribe and follow our blog posts and share it with your friends. You can also subscribe to the radio show in the iTunes store in the podcast section with ease!

Talking Motorcycle with Barry Boone is powered by Crosley Radio with special thanks to The Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Dunlop Motorcycle Tires and Clearwater Lights.

Talking Motorcycles with Miguel Duhamel! — Talking Motorcycles Adventures

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkingmotorcycleswithbarry/2016/10/20/talking-motorcycles-with-miguel-duhamel-ama-motorcycle-hall-of-fame Miguel Duhamel had one of the longest successful careers in AMA Superbike. He has won the Daytona 200 five times! Just days after his induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame he joins us for this special episode of Talking Motorcycles powered by Crosley Brands with special thanks to: The Harley Davidson Motor […]

via Talking Motorcycles with Miguel Duhamel! — Talking Motorcycles Adventures

Talking Motorcycles with Miguel Duhamel!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkingmotorcycleswithbarry/2016/10/20/talking-motorcycles-with-miguel-duhamel-ama-motorcycle-hall-of-fame

Miguel Duhamel had one of the longest successful careers in AMA Superbike. He has won the Daytona 200 five times! Just days after his induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame he joins us for this special episode of Talking Motorcycles powered by Crosley Brands with special thanks to:

The Harley Davidson Motor Company

Dunlop Motorcycle Tires

Clearwater Lights

Simply click on the following link to listen to the show:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/talkingmotorcycleswithbarry/2016/10/20/talking-motorcycles-with-miguel-duhamel-ama-motorcycle-hall-of-fame

Barry

2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic…the Milwaukee-Eight from a riders point of view.

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This picture represents arriving at home in Daytona Beach at the end of a 7,500 mile round trip from Daytona to Santa Rosa, California on the new 2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Milwaukee-Eight powered touring machine.

 

When the announcement came that we were to be the Master of Ceremonies for the AMA Pro Flat Track season championship at the Ramspur Winery Santa Rosa Mile, we were contacted by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company with their plans to ship a new Ultra Classic to Daytona Beach, Florida for us to ride on the round trip. To say we were excited to do a quick 7,500 mile round trip from Daytona to Cali on the newly released Milwaukee-Eight powered Ultra would be an understatement. In Part I of this series I briefed you on my personal and family history with Harley-Davidson. Since 1989 the FLH touring line of HD’s has been my touring motorcycle of choice. First on the Evolution engined Ultra Classic’s then the Twin Cam 88. Currently I have accumulated well in excess of 250,000 miles on various models of the FLH HD’s.

The New Engine

Prior to hitting the electric starter on the 2017 I had read technical reports and analysis from Cycle World Magazine, American Iron Magazine and others. There are many great writers who are revealing the technical changes with the new engine. This is not that. My plan is to describe to you what the bike is actually like in real world touring and riding situations. This trip afforded us the opportunity to experience the bike at sea level, on mountain passes at 10,000 feet in snow/sleet/ice, the Mojave Desert at 105 degrees F and everything in between. If you are a touring rider with many miles on Electra Glides or an owner/rider of any other brand of motorcycles, I am hoping to give you information that you may find informative.

As soon as the 107 Cu In single cam 4 valve engine came to life it was obvious things had changed. The mechanical sounds of the engine itself was surprisingly quiet. The engine, transmission and primary drive have all been redesigned to make that happen. The lighter valves, optimized engine cover designs and driveline improvements has resulted in a noticeable lowering of noise from the engine. The Twin Cam isle speed was 1050 rpm’s. This engine idles at 850 rpm’s. Attached to the crankshaft is a balance weight. I am fairly certain HD spent much time working with different weights on the counter balancer. The net result is the lower idle speed combined with the carefully crafted throbbing from the still rubber mounted engine creates an all new feel at idle. Dropping the heel/toe shifter into first gear on the six speed gearbox was quiet and smooth. All gear changes are quieter and smoother. There is still a solid feel but it is more of a “snick” than a heavy thunk.

Perhaps one of the first things a rider will notice is the  rich and throaty exhaust note from the completely redesigned system. Reducing mechanical noises from the driveline allowed Harley-Davidson to tune the exhaust a bit deeper and louder and still conform to the Euro 3 standards and EPA 45 foot ride by standards and the result is intoxicating. While I have not seen any discussion from any writers or the Motor Company, I feel sure I discovered one of their secret weapons in creating the best sounding touring FLH’s in history.

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We only use 20% throttle 80% of our time on a motorcycle. When you exceed that on the Milwaukee-Eight there is a distinctive and rich intake sound that emanates from the air cleaner and exhaust note from the mufflers. From the riders seat it is nearly 50/50 between the two. The net result is a muscular, deep, rich and near perfect sound that is controlled by the throttle hand. It’s so good that the typically long wearing Dunlop American Elites are going to have their max service life shortened in the interest of rider entertainment. The combination of intake/exhaust is definitely audible at any speed. In the 70 to 80 mph range on the Interstate and two lanes out West the sound is so good I found myself turning the Boom Infotainment system off or way down just to enjoy it. Speaking of Interstate touring, we were two up and loaded for almost three weeks on the road. All three spacious bags were near capacity plus a waterproof leather bag on the Tour Pak rack. My seat of the pants dyno was telling me this engine had to be 15% to 20% stronger than the Twin Cam. 60-80 mph roll ons while passing were very strong and in heavy traffic it was comforting to be able to accelerate away from other motorists when conditions warranted. Upon returning home I learned that the new engine has a 10% increase in torque that equates to about two bike lengths advangage over the Twin Cam in those 60-80 mph roll on situations. The sound may have fooled my seat-of-the-pants dyno!

Departing Santa Rosa and heading out into the Mojave Desert I was aware the forecast was for 100 plus degree heat all day. It was 85 degrees when I pulled out of the hotel at 8am. Some people look at the Mojave and see nothing…I see everything more clearly. The desert was truly magnificent. Harley-Davidson used several engineering techniques to reduce (eliminate) engine heat bleeding on to rider and passenger. A redesigned exhaust system, increased heat rejection and reduced heat absorption are some of those methods. They have virtually eliminated the heat felt on the motorcycle. I tested that not only on the desert floor but in serious traffic backups during a long stop-and-go session on the Interstate.

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In our next installment we will be discussing the route, sharing some possible scenic areas and hotel destinations we found along the route that may benefit you if you find yourself in the parts of the country we explored. I would like to share with you that we timed it perfectly crossing the Rocky Mountains as the Aspens were electric yellow. We also encountered some serious ice and snow situations at 8,000 feet in Utah!