Royal Enfield motorcycle ownership experience: The good, the bad and the ugly

Royal Enfield motorcycles: The good, the bad & the ugly things about owning one

Well, there are motorcycles and then, there’s the Royal Enfield. With its roots at The Enfield Cycle Company Limited of Redditch, Worcestershire, this South India-based motorcycle manufacturer enjoys a cult status in India. However, all is not hunky-dory with their motorcycles. Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly things about Royal Enfield motorcycles.

The GOOD

1. Retro Appeal – One of the biggest selling points of these motorcycles is their high retro appeal. The basic design of most of the Royal Enfield motorcycles has been unchanged since time immemorial. All this means that you get classic looks that are on the verge of becoming eternally timeless.

2. Loads of Character – Royal Enfield motorcycles are high on character. There are many who won’t settle for anything but a pure mechanical feel. The turbine-like smoothness of the modern-day Japanese motorcycles just won’t cut it for them. The loud thump of a Royal Enfield motorcycle, the metal panels, and the many classy bits like an analog speedo – these are just some of the many bits that give these motorcycles a distinctive nature.

3. Comfortable – There’s no denying the high comfort levels that these motorcycles have on offer. The seats offer just the right amount of cushioning, enough support and can easily keep you comfortable over long rides. Another major highlight here is the correct ergonomics. Thanks to their simple design, the ergonomics are just spot on, especially for the well-built and the tall ones.

4. Innovative Products – While all that retro charm has been working really well for this South India-based company, it doesn’t look like the boffins at RE are the ones to sit on their laurels. In spite of all the success that the Classic and the Bullet range of motorcycles enjoy, the company, of late, has been regular with bringing in new products (Read: Continental GT, Himalayan, Thunderbird X). Oh, and we really can’t wait to get our hands on the upcoming 650cc twins.

The BAD

1. Pricey – With prices of the Royal Enfield range starting at roughly Rs 1.13 lakh, the REs are much pricier than a major chunk of motorcycles on sale in the country. More than the high pricing, it’s actually the lack of features and new technology that make these products look a bit exorbitantly priced.

2. Poor quality of parts – Admit it, a high-quality control has never been RE’s forte. The quality of parts, in spite of some improvement in recent times, hasn’t been anything to write about. Many parts are prone to break or fall apart while the paint fades away much quicker, too.

3. Poor Safety levels – The company is yet to offer ABS on any of its motorcycle, which means that every motorcycle, including the recently launched Thunderbird 350X and 500X, don’t offer this vital safety feature. Also, earlier REs are (in)famous for their poor brakes. Improving safety levels is one area where the manufacturer should really focus.

4. S-L-O-W – Many 350cc models of RE are even slower than the likes of the much cheaper Bajaj Pulsar 180. Even the now-defunct Continental GT 535, which is easily the sportiest RE we’ve seen so far, has a top speed of just about 130 kmph.

The UGLY

1. Horrible Quality Levels on ‘new products’- The worst thing about Royal Enfield is that the manufacturer just won’t improve its quality levels. Even the newer bikes, like the Himalayan, are marred by poor quality check and sub-standard parts. In fact, Royal Enfield had to replace a large quantity of parts on the Himalayan even after the motorcycles reached customers.

2. Reliability – To be fair, we acknowledge the higher reliability of the newer REs. However, these motorcycles still have a long way to go before their reliability is comparable to that of even motorcycles from Bajaj or TVS. This is something that’s quite a put-off, especially when you take into account the high price you pay to buy these motorcycles.