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

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