Big single

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Apr 15, 2004
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As some of you know, I've become enamored with the idea of owning a big british single. The Goldstars and ES2s are out of my price range, but the Royal Enfield Bullet is not. It was suggested to me that I consider them and that's what I've been doing. I think they're really cool. It's like The Bike That Time Forgot. A time capsule back into the 1950s.

Anyway I ran across a good deal on a used 2003 e-start so I bought it! $2600 plus shipping. The seller seems very meticulous unlike the guy I bought my Norton from. So I think it should be a reasonably solid bike. I'm looking forward to chugging around the back roads at a sedate pace on the thing. Should be lots of fun! :D Can post pics if anyone's interested (once I figure out how with my new ISP). It's British Racing Green and has the solo saddle.

It'll be a few weeks until I get it but I'm excited!! Can't wait to go chugging around the neighborhood.

chug chug chug

ps - have been working on the Norton's TLS brake using norbsa's setup procedure. It's back together waiting for a test ride. Feels solid now, not all spongy like it was. I think it's not going to be pathetic anymore...
Congratulations chug!

Is that the Enfield that was for sale on e-bay recently? Someone did an excellent job of describing the bike and his experiences riding it in an e-bay ad a week or so ago. It really caught my eye and I thought about buying it.

I can't wait for you to report on the big single's performance and other neat atributes. And yes, please post pictures.

Yup, another ebay purchase. I'm an ebay junkie.

There's been a couple of them on ebay recently. One was an older military model with a pretty amusing writeup. It sold for a bargain price but olive drab's not my color.

This one also had an amusing writeup with the seller describing how he "actually passed a moving vehicle" on the bike. He goes on to say it was a tow truck towing a school bus! It's British Racing Green with a tan solo seat and some other upgrades. The photo on the listing was small and blurry but I've got some better ones I can post.

There's all kinds of accessories and upgrades available including a right-side shift conversion and an AMAL carb kit. Imagine that. (the stock carb is something called a "Micarb" which appears to be a Mikuni knockoff). But I don't want to get carried away with upgrades. Want to put the upgrade money into the Norton.

looking forward to happy plodding,
retro Debby
Pics, we got 'em:

Big single

Big single
Retro Debby,

Thanks for the pictures of Chug!

I remember this bike now; the previous owner lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, in Slidell I do believe.

How many horesepower does Chug have? What is it's top speed? If I recall, this particular bike did not have enough break-in mileage so its owner at the time had not maxed out the throttle yet. However, I think 75mph can easily be achieved.

Also, I understand that these bikes have both kick and electric start - the best of both worlds.

Happy plodding!

Congratulations, Debby. It is a nice looking ride. I see that it has quite a number of the accessories that Classic Motorworks offers. If you don't have their catalogue, you should order one ASAP.
I have a 2001 500 kick start only, purchased in 2002. I have about 2,500 miles on it. I like it very much. You will find that you can't ride it anywhere without someone wanting to chat, or give you the thumbs-up, or shouting at stoplights asking you what year it is.
That said, its low level of performance does limit its usefulness. Those who seem to be in the know, on the Yahoo message board, state that the motor cannot remove enough heat at speeds exceeding 55mph or so. That is reason that I am eager to get my 74 Interstate back on the road.
There is no question that the RE is a fun machine, however. I have never regreted buying it.
Jason: yes, that's the one. The bike is rated at 22hp which is probably at the crank. The top end is said to be 70-75mph but the max safe cruising speed is said to be only 55-60mph, I suppose for the reason Todd mentioned.

Todd: lack of performance was a concern I had before buying. But I can ride around town and putter around on back roads with it. I can even ride it to work by avoiding the main hwys. I'm excited, can't wait to get it!

When they ask what year it is do you say 2001 or 1955? :)


Hi Debby, I've got a couple of hundred miles riding time on a friends Bullet. It is definetely a time warp machine. It is a very nice looking bike, but needs improvement in two areas to qualify as a keeper in my estimation. It needs more power; it's a bit anemic. The dealer offers a kit that boosts performance to "fun" power levels. It also needs help in the gearchange department. If I owned one I would try to convert it back to right side shifting. I imagine these parts should be available also. The bike is light, nimble, has decent brakes, is comfortable and wants to "thump" a little faster, it just needs that kit! Yours looks very nice. I'm sure you'll have lots of fun.-Rob
Nice looking bike for the money Debby.
Here's to you havin some fun riding it around.
You have some luggage bags, so you can do your shopping n stuff on it, as well as riding it to work.

You will have to work out where to fit a surfboard ?
nortonfan said:
You will have to work out where to fit a surfboard ?

surfboard? We're about 2000km from the nearest ocean here! If I moved back to Cali then I could think about that. However this bike wouldn't be legal there due to their emissions regulations. The poor little thing would have to stay behind.

But it should do nicely for riding to work and around town!

Hey, Debbie. With regards to the questions about the year of the Bullet, I have always answered honestly. I, often, leads to more conversation than I would wish, but I think the story is pretty interesting.
I saw that Rob suggested conversion to right (correct) hand shift. I have that on my wish book as well. Some of the posts I have read regarding the conversion sound pretty daunting, however. I think that the left-shift, that we both have, is, well... acceptable, but think that ditching that linkage would prove much more positive. I am concerned how well it will wear. Classic Motorworks has the right-shift conversion marked down, currently. It makes me wonder if that package may not be available much longer, as they concentrate on the new five speeds.
Love your posts, Debby.
Hi Todd,

I've thought about the right-side shift conversion too. I'd prefer that but you have to take the tranny all apart to install it. And from those posts I saw it looks like the adjustments are tricky. Plus if/when I should decide to sell the bike that would probably hurt its resale. A lot of newer riders simply can't adjust to right shifting.

My bike has the DRS bushing kit installed. Hopefully that will help. There's certainly no shortage of accessories and upgrades! Kind of like Nortons...

I think my bike's name is going to be Chugley. I haven't decided about its gender yet however.

Chugley's a cutie and should be a blast for running around the city.

The comment about getting more power from those engines reminded me of the basic limitations that air cooled engines face. Years ago (when Porsche made air cooled engines) it was determined that the limits of heat transfer from a cast iron cylinder was in the neighborhood of about 22hp per cylinder to maintain any kind of long term reliability, say 100,000 miles. To get more power they went to aluminum cylinders with a chrome plated bore. Aluminum has 4 times the heat transfer of cast iron. Eventually they ended the air cooled era with Nikasil aluminum cylinders and were at the ragged edge getting over 60hp per cylinder and heavily relying on oil cooling (like current day BMW bikes). The latest Porsches and most hot bikes today are all liquid cooled to handle the heat put out by these high hp engines. That said; Chugley should probably be treated as an elder statesman (or stateswoman) and never be expected to run in the sprint, style over flash wins every time. :)


I enjoyed reading your brief discussion about the air cooled Porsche engine. Your exactly right, aluminum has a thermal conductivity rating that is over 4 times that of cast iron. So, cast iron cylinders that are air cooled certainly have their limitations.

But don't you think that Deb could safely get close to 30hp out of Chugley's engine with a few modifications? After all, an 850 Commando with its cast iron cylinders is pushing close to 60hp. A 30hp Royal Enfield sounds down right sporty!


Your correct, 30 hp should be easily achieved however at the possisble loss of long term reliability. Some of the English magazines have had articles on hopped up Bullets so getting the power isn't a problem, rideability and reliability are the price. Personally I would play with the final sprocket ratios first if the bike didn't suit my needs then possibly tweek the engine, just to clean up the rideability. Remember those long stroke singles just have some built-in limitations kinda like trying to win a horse race with a mule.

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