Royal Enfield Bullet
BEFORE YOUR TIGERS AND YOUR MULTIS, and your Impulses and Himalayans, there was the one motorcycle that could literally do it all. And it still is the go-to motorcycle that one opts for when heading to the Himalayas. The Royal Enfield Bullet has been the faithful steed of the wandering soul who sought to explore India. Traditionally a Brit bruiser, the Bullet’s charm and charisma won Indian hearts over. And thanks to it being so easy to service, one literally does not have to think twice as to what motorcycle to take up to Leh. You have to give RE some credit for the tourism boom in the Leh-Ladakh region. Royal Enfields are so popular there that there exist rental companies that have a huge fleet of only Enfields and that is thanks to the trusty Bullet. The connect is so strong that the phrase ‘Time to get Leh’d’ is the Bullet rider’s equivalent of ‘Let’s go to Goa!’.
For decades, Indians have bought the Bullet and with some good ol’ Indian ingenuity (read jugaad) one was ready to tackle any terrain. The off-road friendly suspension setup, spoke rims and a comfortable riding posture, even when standing on the pegs, is a good foundation for the peeps who chose the Bullet as their dirty dancing partner. Part of the reason for the Bullet’s rise was the easy availability of spares and easy serviceability no matter where you are in India.
The motor has such tremendous torque lower down the rev range which helped its cause even further. And you had the thump-thump beat for company, a sound associated with bravado and masculinity. The ground clearance was also enough to get over pretty stubborn obstacles.
The company recognised the adventure spirit of their fellow Bulleteers and several new models as well as destination rides soon came into being. The Thunderbird, the Classic and the Himalayan are just recent iterations of what the Bullet offered, right from the start.
For decades, Indians have bought the Bullet and with some good ol’ Indian jugaad it was ready to tackle any terrain
The Bullet took part in several rallies and off-road competitions held in the country. At the annual RE Rider Mania, you have these very same off-road spec Bullets that race against each other in a dirt track competition.
The Bullet is hardly an off-road vehicle and should not ideally qualify to be an OFF ROAD Icon but when young riders aspired and read about the stuff that foreign riders did off road, they emulated them on the Bullet. And she took it with a smile. So, regardless of the fact that the Bullet wasn’t built as an off-roader, it still went on to be the bike that riders more often than not chose for their ride up the mountains. ⌧