Riding the 2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic C5
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The fuel injection utterly changes the character of this new Enfield. Hot or cold, our C5 was a model of civility. Cold starts were a simple matter of waiting for the fuel pump to power up, then giving the right handlebar mounted starter button a jab. You can pull the cold-start lever on the left handlebar, but we found it unnecessary, even on 30 degree mornings. And hot restarts, the bane of our old bike, were similarly fuss-free; the new unit starts cleanly and immediately, settling into a comfortable, stable idle.
Shifting on the 2010 we tested was significantly improved over the 500 Bullet we rode back in 2005. Although we didn’t have any particular shifting problems with the 2005, it was however generally slow and vague when shifting; frankly about what we expected for a gear box based on 1950s technology. That’s not to suggest the C5’s tranny is fully up to modern standards. Like earlier units, it responds best to an unhurried approach, but gear engagement felt noticeably firmer and more predictable, and we only hit a false neutral one or two times. Curiously, that only happened when riding with heavy boots.
Out on the road, the new bike was much like our earlier Bullet. The suspension is firm and does an adequate job of insulating the rider from sharp road inputs, but a little more wheel travel (the back only has three inches, the front five) would be nice. Top speed is still in the 80mph range, but the bike is happiest at speeds in the 50-65 range; above 65, vibration from that big single starts to intrude sharply, felt most noticeably in the footpegs.
Like our 2005 test bike, where the new bike really shines is on two-lane blacktops, where a relaxed approach takes advantage of its limitations and the Bullet Classic C5 feels like it will go all day. You’ve doubtless heard the old line that it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow, and that’s sort of the case with the C5, except you don’t really want to ride it too fast. Try to wick it up too much and it feels rushed and uncomfortable, clearly out of its element. But turn things down a few notches, and you’ll discover the C5’s sweet spot.
The engine absolutely loves mid-range revs and pulls strongest when not pressed too hard. And the brakes, a disc front and drum rear, are perfectly matched to a slower gait, hauling the bike down quickly and with good control. Brake fade is never an issue, because you’re not going fast enough to induce any. And where the C5 starts to feel a bit twitchy at high speeds, at lower speeds it’s stable, light and flickable, perfect on little roads with sudden, tight turns.