What age is she… that’s the question which gets asked the most when people see this 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet.
It’s actually a 2005 bike but, as was customary with that age of Royal Enfield, the engine was a bit of a lottery… whatever they had to hand, got plugged in.
This bike has one of the reworked versions of the JS500 engine which was used by Enfield from 89-2004.
Despite this bike being 2005, it was still fitted with the old engine rather than the newer lean-burn model.It originally came to us some years earlier looking and feeling a little tired.
She wasn’t running properly so we got her back up to speed with a bit of fettling. Strangest thing, was the ignition coil.
“What age is she?”
The spark was weak and erratic, so we replaced the 12v coil for a new 12v coil… but still no joy.
We were sure it was a coil problem so, thinking the new coil was bad, we fitted another new coil and off she ran.
However when I examined the new, new working coil, it was a 6v coil not 12v…strange, but the bike was working and has been happily running on the 6v coil for a number of years.
We completed a few cosmetic mods to the bike and David took her back to Dublin to enjoy.
Looking smart as a bobber
Fast forward 3 years and David calls to say he wants to go full-on bobber with the Enfield.
Hardtail, long and low... By the time the bike arrived back with us, David had gone mad with the Hitchcocks catalogue and bought their ‘hardtail conversion kit’.
This is fine if you want to keep the original fenders and bodywork, but the problem with the Enfield is, if you bob-it without stretching it 6 inches, it looks like the bike has been rear-ended as the rear wheel sits right up inside the swinging-arm which looks awful as a bobber.
"It looks like it's been rear-ended"
We decided against a chain conversion and instead stuck with the original belt because we were going to stay with standard tyre size and wheel clearance was not an issue.
It would have been easier and quicker to fabricate the rear-end from scratch, but David had spent his money and we had to heavily modify the Hitchcocks offering to get it working with this build.
Another oddity with the Enfield rear end is the sprocket and hub mount directly to the left side swing-arm plate.
Unlike conventional bikes where you have spacers to position the wheel & hub in the middle of the axle, the Enfield sprocket must be mounted in a very specific place so the chain will run true with the front sprocket.
The result is, when you remove the bodywork the rear wheel does not appear to be centred on the bike although the front and rear wheels are perfectly aligned… it’s from a generation of bikes built with function over form.
David wanted an old-skool oil tank to house some of the electrical modules, so we set about scouring the internet for a traditional pillbox. But despite searching high and low we couldn’t find anything suitable within budget.
While scratching my head and sipping a coffee, trying to figure out the best way to go, the fire extinguisher was seconds from being chopped up when my neighbours in South Shore Marine happened to trundle past my open door with a large Diesel Cummins boat engine dangling from a forklift.
Plonked on the side of the engine was a large cylindrical white oil-filter. I asked Gary if they had any old oil filters and he pointed me to their large filter bin.
"Inspiration comes from the strangest places"
Opening it I found the answer I’d been looking for. I grabbed two filters, gutted split and joined them and they were a perfect fit.
A couple of dinks with the welder and a suitable bracket had been fabricated to mount the pillbox beneath the seat. Inspiration comes from the strangest places!
Trying to get as many of the electrical components shoe-horned into the pillbox was a challenge. Like a bad game of Tetris, every combination was trialled before we managed to get it all squeezed in.
We opted to keep the coil and starter solenoid outside, mounted in front of the battery, just to help with cooling.
We tried a multitude of rear fenders during mock-up but the one David liked was smooth and simple. In-fact, we re-used his original fender which was retrimmed and a pair of bespoke curved fender struts were made to hold it just above the rear tyre.
Exposed front wheel, new continental tyres and a huge 8 inch headlight were fitted to complete the timeless bobber look.This bike rides beautifully, the handling and stability are much improved due to the fact that the wheel base is considerably longer and the centre of gravity is so much lower, compared to the standard Bullet. She points perfectly into corners and holds the line while feeling planted and secure.
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