A Dream Re-Lived: Royal Enfield Bullet 350 (2016)


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From a ’79 grandpa to a ’16 infant

Okay. Where do I start… Oh my goodness, where do I start?! Ah yeah, I’m still alive, in case ya’ll were wondering *sweat sweat* Erm, well this is awkward but trust me buddies, I really am alive and well. College is over and I’ve gotten a job at Titan Engineering and Automation Limited, Hosur.
Life updates aside, this time, my write-up is going to take a rather different route via bikesville. Oh yeah, this is the long-promised ownership review of my bullet. I think I’ve ridden it quite long enough to be writing a user review.
You might want to have a back glance at my Scorpio review’s first post where I’ve talked about how our whole family likes bullets and also about dad’s 1979 bullet and all.
I’ve always been a fan of Enfield Bullets, the reason for which I’ve yet to find out even after all these years of exposure to the bare-bone frame on wheels from different eras. I think the admiration started more than fifteen years ago, seeing my dad’s mighty iron steed. The sheer presence and the heavy feel simply attracted me though it was old, really old. Dad bought it in 1979, you do the math! Uh… yeah, that’s me sitting on the tank.
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Well, it served its master faithfully (even I got occasional chances to control the throttle and clutch when I was about eight years old) and its time was nearly up, so we sold it in 2007. I missed it and my admiration only grew. I resorted to other methods of quenching my thirst like borrowing the 1982 model bull of a classmate for a couple of rounds in the college campus and the like.
Sitting before the computer nine years later in late 2016, out of the blue, dad asked, “Brian, how about we buy a Bullet?” I could only nod with an eager face. However, we just couldn’t just go and buy it just like that because there was already another bike – my beloved Hero Honda Street 100. I miss that manic torque even today. The little thing could barely make out a couple of horsepower but the way it was delivered; you’d feel like riding a dirt bike on steroids. However, bought in 1999, it was way past its life and the bike was barely keeping itself bolted in one piece.
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We sold it off to one of dad’s friends for scrap money because there were absolutely no takers
We went on and booked the bullet and had to wait for what seemed like an endless three months before we could lay our hands on it. The booking process was pretty much uneventful to say the least. Just went in, paid the booking amount and came back. Wait, what about the model? Nope. We went in with one thought in mind which was to get a standard 350 to replace the old one we gave away, come back home and give my mum a mild panic attack with news of suddenly getting a new bike. The people there tried as much as they could to talk us into buying a Classic or at least an Electra. The classic, for some reason did not appeal. One of the reasons for that was probably because it was as common as a Hero Splendor. What the sales guys never knew was that they were talking to a hardcore bulleteer and his son. We wanted the least amount of chrome on the bike. We did not want the electric start at all and I, for some reason, was really particular about getting the old-shaped tail lamp.
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I’d be shamelessly lying if I said that the three-month wait went unnoticed. Day after crawling day was pure torture. I wasn’t one of those ‘bullet or nothing’ guys but come on, it was a new bike and a guy can get excited about it, right? Finally, the day came. The machine came with a ‘temporary registered’ sign on the plates. I hopped on the new bull and took it out. It was only after I came back home when I realised that I had been riding the bike all around the town with a metre-wide grin plastered onto my face.
The ex-showroom price was 1.06L at the time we booked it of which Rs 5000 went as booking charges. The remaining 1.01L and the registration charges bumped the overall cost to about 1.2L sure, the prices have increased a bit now as these rates are from November 2016.
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You probably know me too well to guess that I put in none of the extra fits. No metal guards in the lights, no ropes, nothing. Just the crash guard and a side box of course. Not just any box. The very box we had in the older bullet so a part of the old soul is still living here [;)]

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Thread Starter #2
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The good, the bad and the ugly:

Pros… um let me dig those up first. Refinement – out of the window, fuel efficiency – not really a concern except when visiting petrol stations thanks to a hyper functional government, speed – nah, corner balance – cry me a river. Wait a minute, I’m not really helping, am I?
Well, just note what I just said as some of the multiple cons but for now let’s try our best to focus on the pros. The power to weight ratio feels right next in line to an auto rickshaw (tuk tuk). I’m still not helping, am I?[embarass]
Jeez, let’s just forget about differentiating pros and cons. I’ll just write down whatever I’ve experienced in the two years I’ve owned and ridden this bike.
• Get ready to cry buckets when you change your first flat tyre. I really don’t know if it’s an issue only in my bike or if it’s common among all standard 350 owners. The God-forsaken saree guard is fitted so stupidly that you can’t remove the rear wheel easily! And good luck getting the saree guard off completely as it is integrated into the stay rod (essential for structural rigidity). If you plan to remove it and do some welding work and correct the idiotic design fault, good luck again because you have to get the seat off and even the mud guard needs to be taken off. Idiots, the old bullet was way more user friendly.
RE just wants customers to go to its service centers for each and everything. But, wait, did I go to them for help? Oh no, never. I sawed off some of the smaller rods in the guard, went to a workshop, heated the large rod with a propane torch and bent it till it was no longer a hindrance to wheel removal. Oh yeah!
• Really good to ride for long distances.
• Contrary to popular belief, the acceleration is addictive. Rumble along at 50, pin down the throttle and you’ll be amazed by the speed of the speedo needle moving past 60, 70, 80 within a couple of seconds in between.
• Pretty good fuel economy for a 350cc engine. I get an average of 35 kpl and with constant highway runs, I get 40+.
• You don't have to get down from the top gear even when you’re riding it 36 or 37 kph. You can just accelerate back from that without a downshift.
• While it can’t corner, can't race with even 150cc bikes, you can ride it at 80 kph for hours altogether. Many other bikes aren’t suitable for long durations of use.
• Vibrations are an inherent part of the bike. Wonder what the R&D is doing. *Facepalm*
• RE keeps boasting ‘Since 1901’ and stuff like that, brings out new colours and stuff but still doesn't have the brains to reduce the oil leak!
• Electric start is worthless. Utterly worthless. I’ve seen enough people struggling with the electric start and after a while, they’d look around with a bummed look on their face. The reason? They’ve never kick-started it and have no idea how. For those of you who do though, the next point is for you.
• Starts with just a push of the leg; you don’t even need to kick. But, if the ammeter is not in neutral, get ready for a knee cap replacement (if the handlebar is turned to the right)
• The chain requires a lot of attention. If you leave it unattended for a while, you’ll end up with a bone-dry chain instead of a normal oiled one. Also very prone to muck and dust build-up.
After pampering it for about 1500 kilometres, I started taking it out for 80-km trips to my college. Speeds were usually 70-80, occasionally touching 90.
During one of those trips:
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After crossing 5000, I tested the speed limit once. Got a head-start from 70 onto a perfect 1.5 kilometre stretch, 100% visibility on both sides so no risk of people or dogs jumping in the way. Praying for divine protection, I opened the throttle gradually. The speedo needle whizzed past the 90 and 100 kph marks in no time. 110 was crossed soon enough as well but as soon as that mark was touched, the engine started evidently losing grunt but I still had loads of asphalt to spare so I kept the throttle pinned and by the time I had enough, the needle had just touched 120 but the bike was vibrating its guts out and it felt nowhere remotely close to safe.
I closed the throttle and let the bike come back to human speeds. So, the bull could touch the much coveted 120 kph mark – something I never tried again; something I’m never ever going to try in my life. I wanted to know something, I got to know it and I don’t want to verify it or anything. In case any of you is planning to do the same, you can just take my word instead of doing it yourself. If you test it out yourself though, trust me, you’ll never want to cross 110 ever again because the whole thing vibrates so much that you’ll end up scared of the bolted joints.
After I got my job, I had two choices - take the splendour or take the bull to Hosur. You already know the answer so I won’t bother to say it. Dad and I actually rode it all the way from Nagercoil to Hosur. Yes, all those 600+ kilometres. Dad rode half the distance while I followed in the Scorp with lots of household things for me to keep in Hosur. After that, we switched places and I rode the remaining 300 or so kilometres. I never felt so happy in my life. The scenery on the sides were perfect, the road was perfect, the bike was perfect. I realised my long held-up dream of riding a bike for at least 200+ kilometres. Occasional tea stops and petrol stops were there but other than that, it was just me and the bike rumbling along the six-laned awesomeness, followed by the Scorp.
Some of the annoyances that caught my attention were:
The scratches on the silencer, caused by kickstarting the bike in the initial stages when I didn’t quite get accustomed to the new bike from the splendour. Seriously?
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Really shoddy finish on the crankcase. No, that’s not an improperly cleaned case.

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Indicator glass cracked right in the middle after a service. Probably because the geniuses thought it was a good idea to pressure-wash the lens.

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I did face some issues with the front brake. Performance wise, it had good force but it was really prone to getting contaminated with dirt and got stuck once. The brakes would engage but the sludge was too strong for the springs to bring the shoes back away from the drum. I had to go to the service centre because I didn’t have a spanner large enough to remove the wheel nut. I thought the guys there had to tools for that but no, they didn’t. Instead, they did something that as an owner, made me feel sick of them.
I never leave the bike unattended when I go to the showroom for any small work. For services though, it's not possible for me to spare an entire day so nothing much can be done about it. I decline the offers to ‘relax’ in the lobby and always try as much as possible to stay and watch the work being done and that was the same in this case, except for the fact that I had to try really hard to stop myself from picking up a fight with the people there. They chiselled the nut, hammering it to dent it and make it loose. They refused to put a new nut as well, stating that what they did was standard procedure and that should the nut become dented on all the six edges, they’d replace it! Yeah buddy, spanners, vices, wrenches were all invented to pass time, duh! I’m sure the issue will come back in the future and I’m never going to them for any repairs even if it costs me my whole weekend.
Yet another incident happened which resulted in me lashing out at one of the service boys. I went for a speedo cable replacement. I got the spare and gave it to the service guy. He got to work with unparalleled enthusiasm and passion. He took out all the proper and necessary tools and went down straight to work and removed it quickly. What’s wrong would you ask. Well, he removed the cable, the poor CLUTCH cable! I stood there watching dumbfounded as he triumphantly loosened the nut connecting the cable to the crankcase. I waited patiently for him to take the cable out and the moment he did so, I asked a rhetorical question, “So in the newer model, the clutch cable needs to be removed to access the speedo cable? Why did the company make it like that?” That did it. His eyes went as wide as saucers. Before he could open his mouth to form a coherent sentence, I was lashing out question after question with an increasing volume. However, I soon realised that I was wasting precious time so I calmed down and let the work continue but I’d really not cite it as a good experience.[cry]
Speaking of incidents, after I came to Hosur, I’ve been rear-ended a couple of times. The most recent one was pretty severe. The guy (a colleague actually) didn’t even notice that I stopped and rammed straight into me. The bike fell down, dragging me with it but I managed to jump out to safety. I went to the guy who knocked me down with a stone-cold look and clenched fists (of course just a bluff). He got scared and started making promises that he’d make up for damages of any sort. I couldn’t say anything further. The humongous crash guard took most of the impact and bent into an awkward angle. The front stoplight switch got broken but that wasn’t that big of a deal. We’ve become friends now though; an acquaintance that started in a really unexpected situation.
I was really displeased with the 33 to 36 kilometres the bike was delivering to the litre so I fiddled with the carburettor and to my utter confusion, changing the setting which was initially on the leaner side to the stoichiometric ratio bumped the 34kpl average to 38! I thought lean = efficient; correct me if I’m wrong guys. I always refill my bike on a reserve to reserve basis so I prepared a sheet in MS Excel with some simple formulae to keep track of how and how much of my money goes into the bike. Here’s a screenshot for you guys. You can prepare something like this and use if you like. It really helps although it works only when you refill by full-full or reserve-reserve method. In case of an intermediate refill, all you can do is add the fuel amount and the cost to the previous value indicating in some way in the date column but even then it’s just a workaround.
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Looking at the screenshot reminded me of the breather tube. The tube cracked and broke after 9K kms so I had to replace it. I just bought the tube and installed it myself. Didn’t want to risk having another dented bolt or screw as part of ‘standard procedure’.
Once you get on the road though, these niggles and stuff simply vanish into thin air. You just sit back, place a relaxed hand on the handlebar and enjoy the composed ride of the heavy metal machine.
One of the very few times it seemed so puny. That’s the tyre I use for tyre-flipping workouts. Notice the extension of the grab bar at the rear? That’s the carrier from a splendour because without it, the practicality of the bike seemed to score a big fat zero so I welded the carrier on to the grab bar.
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There was a little bit of an inconvenience after fitting the box. The bolt that fastened the frame to the spring damper was so short that the nut was barely sitting on two threads and that of course was a serious trigger to my OCD
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Went to a hardware store and bought a longer bolt and spent a full Sunday on fitting it because it was not as simple as it seemed first. Had to take off the box, the seat and the mudguard to remove the bolt.
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Just like it was with the Scorpio, I knew perfectly well what I was signing up for when we bought it. I really would have liked lesser vibrations, especially in the handlebar but it really is nothing more than an inconvenience. Like I’ve always said about myself, I neither support nor slander anything without facts. I really do hope that this piece what you just read had the same essence to it.
Other than all this, I’ll keep you guys updated on anything major that happens or any long trips that come along the way. But until then, hasta luego mi amigos!
 
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Re: A dream relived - Royal Enfield Bullet 350 - 2016

Welcome, and what a bang.
Bullet is a charm machine with its own quirks. Like the comfortable highway cruising you said. Wish you many happy miles with your thumping beauty.
 
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Re: A dream relived - Royal Enfield Bullet 350 - 2016

What an incredible story, @Brian, from a 3rd Gen bullet lover in the family.

Nothing has changed much for this oily Bike, bulleteers still keep a cardboard under the bike at night to collect the previous leak
....I suppose for frying?? Haha .

The ampere meter, zero finder, open chain (try WD40 to clean, it's supposed to be good) speedo cable remover antique still carried over from 1900!!!

Enjoy the idiocy of the British marque’s.

Regards
Vinod
 
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Hey Brian,
Nice write up once again with nostalgic pictures from the photo film era. Wish you many happy miles on your bullet.

I happened to ride a relative's classic 350 this week and oh boy, all my bones will fall off if I rode it for a week. I just couldn't bear the vibrations on handle bar at idle and low speeds, even rear view mirrors danced like anything and were not serving their purpose. Only after 55kph I was able to enjoy the cruise. I really wish RE ups their game with new technologies in their production lines and R&D teams.

You can try Fuelio android app to keep track of fuel/costs/mileage of your ride.
 
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This probably isn't the place to say this but I'll do so anyway. An accident happened yesterday. I did a very stupid thing and paid a very painful price for it. I tried to clean the very mucky chain with the engine on and in gear so that the chain could keep moving. The cloth got caught and pulled my hand in. I lost Up to the first joint of my index finger. Finished surgery. Pain is unbearable now. This is the last of me you'll see for the next two months. Please don't try contacting because I'm not using my phone much.
P.S: I know what I did was downright stupid so please don't reiterate that fact again and again. Thanks and see you guys after a few months
 
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Status update guys. Wound healed surprisingly quickly. Doc has given a recovery time of two weeks. A month and I should be back to the old ways. So yeah, I will soon be back with updates[:D] Sorry if this violates forum codes for being absolutely off topic and horrendously short
 
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I did mention this before at one point but it's bugging me so much to the point that I simply can't let it slide (my OCD won't allow that).
Remember what I said about the fuel efficiency? The bike was returning not-so-exciting values of about 34 or 35 when the fuel screw was at 2 turns from close. After I increased it to 3.5 for the sake of a smoother ride, the mileage jumped to 38 and nearly 39. I really don't understand what is happening (although I ain't complaining[;)])
Hopefully someone can help me out here. Oh and I don't have a tachometer so talking in terms of idle speed will fall on clueless ears[embarass]
 
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Hi Brian. Apart from the usual congratulations, wish you a very speedy recovery.

I have the exact same combination, although different variants! S4 Vs S10 & Bullet 350 Vs Bullet 500!! What a coincidence.

Kick start a bike: Never do it, until unless very very mandatory. Avoid at all costs. Straight away results in "SPRAG CLUTCH FAILURE/UCE SELFSTART BEARING FAILURE". A cost of 5K++. I learnt this the hard way. I had been postponing this for a year & just got it replaced.

120kmph is way too much in an RE. Too much vibrations to my liking at above 100 itself. Although the 500cc doesn't loose its steam till then, I didn't push it beyond 110.

I just don't touch the chain at all. Mostly done at the service centre only. However I don't ride much in murky soil conditions anyway.

RE owners aren't supposed to be crying out for mileage! Then we should be buying Hero Honda Splendour / TVS Victor. Just kidding.

Breather Tube: Heard so. Breaks off every 10K kms.

Also the Carburettor Pipe that gets attached to the engine (metal on one end & hard rubber finish at the other end). This also seem to go off. First the metal noose loosens up. And due to pressure (kick starts / cold starts), this hard rubber breaks off slowly. And your bike won't start at all. Watch out for this.

Otherwise, happy miles in both mean macho machines!
 
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Thread Starter #13
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Hi Brian. Apart from the usual congratulations, wish you a very speedy recovery.
Haha, thanks. Just a few weeks of healing and I can take the bike back.
I have the exact same combination
Wow this is a combination worth noting!
Kick start a bike: Never do it, until unless very very mandatory. Avoid at all costs. Straight away results in "SPRAG CLUTCH FAILURE/UCE SELFSTART BEARING FAILURE". A cost of 5K++. I learnt this the hard way. I had been postponing this for a year & just got it replaced.
I don't quite understand it, beg thy pardon. Can you please elaborate a bit more? Knowledge shared is fruit for everyone[:)]
120kmph is way too much in an RE
Exactly. I knew that the moment it touched that mark. That was strictly for testing anyway and it was a one time endeavour. Now-a-days my average is 60, maxing out rarely at 90. Most of the time, it's 75
I just don't touch the chain at all
I do pretty much all adjustments and cleaning myself. I have anger management issues with the way they treat the bike at the service centre:stupid:
RE owners aren't supposed to be crying out for mileage!
Lol. But it sure is a nice feeling knowing that such a large displacement engine faithfully returns anything more than 30!
Also the Carburettor Pipe that gets attached to the engine (metal on one end & hard rubber finish at the other end). This also seem to go off. First the metal noose loosens up. And due to pressure (kick starts / cold starts), this hard rubber breaks off slowly. And your bike won't start at all. Watch out for this.
Whoa! Thanks for the heads up, man. I'll look out for this carefully from now on.
 
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I don't quite understand it, beg thy pardon. Can you please elaborate a bit more? Knowledge shared is fruit for everyone[:)]
You had mentioned that there were scratches when you did kick start your bike. I was told by the service centre folks not to kick start the bike ever. Try self start. For cold starts, try with choke on. Keep it running in Choke for 15sec or so. Then choke off. A cold start is defined (as told by service centre guy) as 4-6 hrs after last engine off. The more kick starts, the bearing (Self Sprag Bearing) clonks. There is a metal clanking (tic-tac sound) sound when you start (self start only). Even if you had to kick start, kick start only when the pedal is loose enough. Move through the pedal, make it loose & then kick start. Of course, this 3rd gen bulleteer will know this anyway! You search in Google Images for "SPRAG CLUTCH FAILURE/UCE SELFSTART BEARING FAILURE". You should be able to see the exact bearing pictures.
 
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By scratches, I meant actual scratches on the silencer. Hopefully the picture actually is as clear as I thought it would be. If not, apologies for that.
I did some googling and oddly enough, the first video that popped up shows something entirely different from what you mentioned and many other forums also talk about people with Classics removing the said bearing and living hassle-free without self start[confused]
I attached two pics for reference. You can enter the title shown in the pic for the video if needed.
 

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