Royal Enfield is moving fast with the changing times and does not shy away from experimenting. The Continental GT, for example, was a step in the right direction and another such move comes in the form of the new Urban X twins based on the Thunderbird models. Called the 350x and the 500x, these new bikes promise to up your fashion quotient. We rode the 500x for a week in and around Delhi and here is what I have to say about the bigger 500x.
As discussed above, the X models are based on the Thunderbird 350 and 500 but there are a lot of changes. The shift to alloy wheels, with tubeless tyres, is a big change and also makes the riding experience safer. For the uninitiated, the leakage of air during a puncture is far slower in a tubeless tyre than in one with a tube. The alloy wheels also get a color coded rim tape that gels well with color coded seat stitching as well. In fact, the only contrasting color on the bike is the tank paint; everything else is finished in black.
The next big change is the flatter and shorter handlebar that is geared towards providing a better city experience. It also makes the posture a lot more sportier though I would have preferred the pegs to be set backwards as the current set-up puts a lot more pressure on your lower back. The seat on the 500x is also different, being a single unit than twin on the conventional Thunderbird. And lastly, this model misses out on a back-rest for the pillion and instead you get two grab rails by the side of the rear seat.
All in all, the 500x looks good and did manage to turn a few heads. Shows how minimal changes can make a bike look so much better. It continues to get a single-disc brake up front and rear, a twin-pod speedometer console and retro looking round rear view mirrors, which though offer a decent view, do vibrate a lot at higher rpms.
The 500x carries forward the same engine that powers the Thunderbird and this means you get a single cylinder 499-cc engine that puts out 27.2 bhp of power and 41.3 Nm of torque. While I agree the power output is nothing to boast of, 41 Nm of torque is way higher than other bikes, such as the Duke 390 and the BMW 310 offerings. And this comes handy while pottering around in city traffic. Even with a load of a pillion, the 500x picks up speed effortlessly and though anything under 1500 rpm makes the engine and chain protest, once you are above that the 500x rewards you with a great experience.
At 85-90 km/h in top gear, the vibes also cease to exist (almost completely) and this is the sweet spot for this bike. Don’t get me wrong, given the road, the 500x will hit 130 on the speedometer but this is not its forte. The sheer joy of pinning the throttle and making use of the strong mid-range is what leaves a smile on your face. And in the process, the bike delivers over 25-30 kmpl easily, giving a real world range of almost 600 km, something none of the other bikes in the price band can match.
The 500x uses the same underpinnings as the T’bird, which means that the ride quality is comfortable. And with the shorter/flatter handlebars, weaving through traffic is a lot easier. That said, the protruding foot pegs do foul with your legs in rush hour traffic and take time getting used to. Talking of which, the dual horn set-up is LOUD and helps keep other motorists at bay.
At Rs. 2.25 lakh, on-road Delhi, the 500x is expensive but offers you an opportunity to stand out among the crowd of other Rs. 2-lakh bikes. If you want a bike for Sunday morning thrills, the occasional office commute and one that others take notice of, this one ain’t a bad deal. True it won’t set sales charts on fire but the 500x (and the cheaper 350x) widens the target audience for Royal Enfield and every bit counts in my opinion.