The Enfield Bullet 500 Desert Storm - Who Dares Wins?
Back To The Future
The great thing about the Enfield is that it’s undeniably different from modern bikes. Sure, it’s got fuel injection rather than a carburettor, halogen lighting and adjustable shocks. But otherwise, you could be riding a motorcycle from the 1950s and that my friends, is what makes travel by Bullet a unique experience.
Old blokes will wander up to you when you park outside a shop and tell you, in vivid detail, how they rode British bikes in their youth, without helmets and did trials at the weekends on their road bikes simply by swapping the wheels/tyres.
As soon as you sit on the Bullet and fire up the engine – you can kick-start it for that authentic touch by the way – you feel the 21st century vanishing through the handlebars. The machine is alive with single cylinder vibes, it turns on a sixpence with amazing steering lock and there’s an easy simplicity about the gearbox, clutch and throttle which makes riding the Enfield incredibly laid back.
It’s actually a very novice-friendly motorcycle, even though it looks like a big bike. If you can handle a 125, you can ride a Bullet, it’s so easy to master.
Performance, Braking and Handling
With just 27bhp the Enfield has about the same power as a 1970s 250 learner bike. Unlike ‘70s 250 two-strokes, the Enfield doesn’t emit more smoke than a Victorian steel mill and it has brakes that work. The front disc on the Bullet is more than enough for the steady performance and as I tested the bike on the wet cobbles of Wigan – yep, there are still cobbles to be had up North – I can vouch for the brakes.
On the open road, the Enfield runs out of puff at 65mph or so. You could lie flat on the tank and get another 5-10mph I guess, but really, speed isn’t the point of the Bullet. It lopes along at 55mph quite pleasantly all day long and the hamdling is fine as long as you don’t get carried away and try to race anyone.
Fuel Economy and Equipment
I loved the classic 1960s dashboard on the Bullet, plus the nacelle headlamp. It really helps the bike look the part. The petrol pump symbol on the dash glows yellow when you’re running low on fuel by the way.
The Desert Storm colours aren’t my thing; I think it looks better in classic black, or a British Army olive green. Have to admit that if you’re into WW2 re-enactments of Rommel vs. Monty, then this is the bike for you.
You get two saddles on the Desert Storm model and the rider’s seating was really comfortable around town. Those `proper’ mudguards also make this bike a winner in winter. There’s more good news, the Bullet will easily do over 80 miles to the gallon too, which makes this a remarkably cheap-to-run commuter bike.
Let’s face it, there are lots of jobs you can do on this bike yourself with some You Tube tuition, and everything is so easy to get at with a basic toolkit. You could commute 20 miles a day, all year round, on the Bullet and apart from the fuel injection system, it would be easy to keep running on a shoestring budget.
Verdict: Worth the Money?
Here’s the problem, the price. At £4800 on the road the Enfield is expensive for what it is. If you wanted a real classic bike, then five grand buys you a very nice Royal Enfield from the 50s or 60s, or a Triumph T100 maybe.
OK you say, but I want a reliable bike with fuel injection, modern lighting, disc brakes etc. Fine, the Enfield delivers, but you could get a new Honda CB500R for £4900, and I found a Suzuki SV650 at £4830 or a Chinese WK650 twin for £4300.
You have to be in love with the Bullet experience to buy this bike. It’s fun to ride, looks like it came from the set of Indiana Jones and has bags of character. It’s just that in terms of practical motorcycling, there are better buys out there.
MCO Motorcycles Orrell, Lancashire for the test bike
Insurance cover by Principal Insurance Manchester
Find out more about this and all the other Enfields on their great website here.