The Royal Enfield Bullet Electra-X, skeptics will point out that an Enfield Bullet has all the performance of a 125cc scooter, but they're missing the point. At 90km/h, a 125cc is screaming its heart out, the Enfield Bullet is thumping contentedly away, and would do so all day if you felt like it. The Enfield Bullet Electra X will inspire you with its 1970's styling.
And you could too, because riding at such modest speeds means you're not being battered by the wind or deafened by its roar. I've done a few 500 to 600 kilometer days on the Enfield, and they've worked out fine. On a faster bike I'd have got home a few hours earlier, but would I have enjoyed myself any more? I doubt it.
Of course, there have been times when I've wanted more go, usually on those longer days when I had an appointment to keep. Flat-out the Bullet will creep up to 130km/h, but it doesn't feel right. It's happier at 90 to 100km/h, which would be very dull if one stuck to motorways.
But the Bullet's charm lies in the fun it delivers at sub-100km/h speeds on twisty A- and B-roads.
Lightweight and controllable, it really can be thrown around country lanes, with excellent grip from the Avon Venoms. There's decent braking from the front disc/rear drum and though the suspension might be pretty basic, it does the job.
So it's fun in the right conditions, but I also wanted to find out whether the Enfield Bullet is more than just a quirky throwback. Over the last week, my own bike has been sitting in the back of the garage, while the Enfield Bullet has been used as regular transport. The Enfield Bullet has been completely reliable. It's never failed to start, and nothing has dropped off. When I get around to washing it, it comes up like new. All the attention it's needed has been checking the oil level. Despite its ancient design, the Enfield Bullet is not a maintenance-intensive bike.
Not that it's quite like a Honda. Cruise it fast and flecks of oil appear on the engine. I'm told these emanate from the push-rod tube, and that the latest spec head gasket overcomes it. I know the 500cc single vibrates too, because the mirrors tell me so. They blur badly over 95km/h, and the words 'Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear' have gradually rotated, as the mirrors themselves rotate in their housings.