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Review of the 1998 model Enfield 500 Bullet Review of the 1998 Enfield 500 Bullet
model 2000 Bullet essentially the same

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Not a motorcycle for those who are not mechanically inclined.
Review of the 500 Bullet submitted on 2004-11-27.

The Enfield 500 Bullet is essentially the same machine whatever year one chooses, though there have been incremental changes and improvements, the most outstanding being the late addition of an electric starter and a five speed gearbox.

However from 1990 - 2000 the changes were small and didnt involve the basic motor which has remained unchanged for a long time. I am discounting any electrical improvements or control changes.

The pluses and minuses of the Bullet come down to two basic factors which are the age of the original design which dates back to the 50´s and the variations in build and final assembly quality. If the latter could be improved to a consistently high standard, one would still be buying what is essentially a 1950´s English motorcycle with all that implies.

Built to be a reliable workhorse in the days when few roads existed along which it could be driven at full power for more than a few minutes, the Bullet was an excellent design. It was designed to be ridden on what we would consider fairly rough roads at an average speed of around 45-55mph and to be owned by a rider whose level of mechanical competence would be higher than what is considered ´normal´ today.

One must remember that in those days almost all consumer goods required a fair amount of maintenance and attention, hardly anything was of the ´buy it and forget it´ level of reliability. Tyre pressures, points gap, chain tension, spoke tension, fluid levels, cable adjustments these were commonplace.

So even if one purchased a Bullet today and had the good fortune to get a good one, it would still require an inordinate amount of attention by modern day standards.

Unfortunately this is compounded by the fact that quality control is NOT good, to be honest and I happen to be an enthusiast who likes these machines but my 2000 Bullet with only 33 miles on it had a number of things wrong with it, several of which were the result of careless final assembly by the dealership.

Once all that was dealt with, I had a sweet natured, rugged and reliable motorcycle particularly well suited to New York City´s appalling roads and relatively low speeds. A very easy machine to maintain, very economical with surprisingly good roadholding, the 500 Bullet is rewarding to own provided one is an enthusiast who enjoys the attention such a machine requires.

The sort of rider who likes older bikes and is used to their quirks is the sort of rider the Bullet deserves. Even starting one of the pre-electric starter models requires a certain ritual ignoring which will get you nowhere!

If you are used to owning Japanese motorcycles then a Bullet may come as a bit of a shock at first. Those who have owned the older Harleys will know what to expect!

Having said all of which, if I could only have one motorcycle, the Bullet is the one I´d keep because of its vintage character and simplicity. Given all the previously stated proviso´s, it is the best bang for the buck provided you are not looking for blazing performance or a long distnace touring mount. It´s ideally suited for urban traffic and country back lanes.


This review of the 1998 Enfield 500 Bullet
was submitted by:   
Mike Dench



Motorcycle Reviews - 1998 Enfield 500 Bullet



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