This is one bul­let that can get you places

Albany Extra - - News -

Peter Thoem­ing Volk­swa­gen built 21,500,000 of the clas­sic Bee­tle.

Royal En­field is still a bit short of that num­ber, but if com­pany boss Sid­dhartha Lal has any­thing to do with it, the In­dian com­pany is set upon the path to one day match that num­ber, and match it with a range that will still in­clude the clas­sic En­field Bul­let.

Al­though the orig­i­nal Bee­tle fi­nally hit the wall (the new one is be­ing dropped, too) and “clas­sic” cars in gen­eral are not set­ting the tar­mac alight, clas­sic-style mo­tor­cy­cles are do­ing nicely, if they’re done right.

Du­cati might have missed the mark with its Sport Clas­sics, but it’s made up for that since with the Scram­bler range, which is cre­at­ing the big­gest suc­cess story in the com­pany’s his­tory.

Tri­umph is bank­ing it with its ever-ex­pand­ing Clas­sic range; BMW is hav­ing fun cre­at­ing more and more out­ra­geous ver­sions of the retro R nine T; Kawasaki is dip­ping its toes in the wa­ter again with the pretty Z900RS af­ter the so-so re­cep­tion of the W se­ries; and Har­ley-David­son has dumped the upto-date V-Rods and is cleav­ing to its roots with the new Sof­tails.

Mean­while, one mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer keeps turn­ing out what is ap­par­ently the same mo­tor­cy­cle in its 500cc and 350cc forms.

The mod­ern Bul­let is not re­ally the same as its precursors, of The En­field Bul­let has been made more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. course. To­day, the com­pany has an R&D cen­tre in Eng­land and its bikes are be­ing up­graded steadily to meet the de­mands of both the mod­ern cus­tomer and the Euro­pean leg­is­la­tor. But at a ca­sual glance, the Bul­let is still the Bul­let.

The boffins at Royal En­field R&D are ob­vi­ously up to the mod­ernising task they have been set. It is not easy to meet the lat­est Euro­pean au­to­mo­tive stan­dard, namely Euro 4, with air-cooled en­gines.

Even Har­ley-David­son has taken the first step to­wards the wa­ter for its tra­di­tional V-twins, with the par­tial liq­uid cool­ing of its bag­ger range. But the new Royal En­fields I rode re­cently met Euro 4 stan­dards with nary a ra­di­a­tor in sight.

Euro 4 is only part of a broader Euro­pean di­rec­tive called Reg­u­la­tion (EU) No 168/2013.

This lays out the re­quire­ments for new bike ap­proval, in­clud­ing a def­i­ni­tion of types of bike.

It also con­tains a re­quire­ment for anti-lock brakes.

The Euro 4 part of it tells you not just how clean the bike’s ex­haust gases have to be, but how much nat­u­rally evap­o­rat­ing fuel it’s al­lowed to emit.

As well as pro­duc­ing less toxic ex­haust gas when the en­gine is run­ning, bikes also have to pass an evap­o­ra­tive emis­sions test, run on­board self-di­ag­nos­tic sys­tems, and come with as­sur­ance from man­u­fac­tur­ers that the bike will still pass the tests af­ter a spec­i­fied mileage.

To meet the emis­sion stan­dard, the new En­field en­gines have remapped elec­tronic ig­ni­tion (which they claim also makes the en­gine smoother, and I think they’re right) plus a com­plete evap­o­ra­tion con­trol sys­tem.

That means a vapour vent pipe on the fuel tank, a purge valve, a can­is­ter and a throt­tle body with a purge port. Bosch ABS takes care of that re­quire­ment, with disc brakes front and back.

Even the swing arm has seen some at­ten­tion for bet­ter sta­bil­ity and the stan­dard tyres are Pirelli sport demons. Vi­bra­tion is down and the con­trols feel crisp.

I was im­pressed with all the bikes I rode at the launch, from the ven­er­a­ble (in name only) Bul­let 500 to the var­i­ous Clas­sic mod­els to the Con­ti­nen­tal GT.

Given their qual­ity and price range, these ma­chines are damn good value and a lot of fun. Ob­vi­ously, there are lim­i­ta­tions. If you’re a week­end scratcher, you will stay away from the mar­que, ex­cept maybe for the GT.

With some ju­di­cious af­ter-mar­ket changes, this makes a ter­rific hoon bike. It’s light, nippy and han­dling is quick but still pos­i­tive.

The draw­back is that it still has rel­a­tively lim­ited power, but that isn’t go­ing to mat­ter around town un­less you de­cide to do a run­ner when the con­stab­u­lary is on your tail, and we don’t rec­om­mend that.

I would like to see a cou­ple of truly mi­nor changes to all the En­fields. Lights on the dash def­i­nitely need to be brighter.

Are the Euro 4 Royal En­fields bet­ter bikes than be­fore?

Yes, they are. Mak­ing them en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly has ac­tu­ally im­proved them.

This makes me all the more keen to sam­ple one of the new twins.

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