RE Bullet Classic EFI
Posted by Nigel B on June 22, 2020, 8:36 pm
I took my Interceptor in to have a replacement rear tyre fitted last Friday and, rather than just wait around, arranged to take their demonstrator 500 Bullet out for a couple of hours. I tried to do this when the Interceptor had it's annual service recently, but the Bullet had been booked out so didn't get to ride it then. |
I have owned a couple of Indian 4 speed Bullets in the past - both 350 & 500 - and was interested to see how the all-singing EFI unit construction version compared.
Popping it off the main stand, it felt to be rather "solid", both from a weight and suspension movement point of view - no suspension "sag" here ! Getting aboard, the single sprung saddle was higher than I remembered the 4 speed bikes to be, but this gave a relaxed leg position & the view ahead over the casquette was very familiar. It started first push of the button, settled into a very steady tickover & after silently engaging first gear and pulling away the feeling of weight evaporated.
The riding position suited me (all 5'9" & 31" inseam of me) almost perfectly. The handlebar bend looks a bit extereme in pictures, but the bar angle & width - coupled to a short-ish tank - made for a stress-free arm & wrist position. I suffer increasingly from arthristis in my thumbs & any issues in this area show up very quickly, but 3 1/2 hours and 114 miles later I still felt fine.
The bike had a few more miles on the odo than either the Interceptor or Himalayan demonstrators previously ridden, but not many more at 124 when I started off. So some consideration for the new engine was in order. The 5 speed gearbox was smooth & light - a bit slicker on upshifts than down - and it was happy to pull top from 35 mph. Vibration started to become apparent around 45 in top & was quite pronounced when 60 was briefly attained on a short stretch of dual carriageway. 50 was a comfortable "out of town" speed & the vibration did ease at that speed noticably over the course of the ride - suggestion is that these bikes take 1500 miles or more to "settle down" & I can quite believe that. Strangely the vibration didn't cause numb digits - I felt it on the backs of my hands mainly & it was not obtrusive through the seat (unlike the Himalayan in thet regard) or footrests.
Handling was how I recalled the earlier bikes - light, precise and agile, but stiffly sprung at both ends giving a rather harsh ride. Didn't give any cause for concern over pot-holed town roads or muddy country lanes, though I was not sure about the tyres in the wet (occasionally very wet) conditions. Turns out it was shod with Avon RoadRiders - not a tyre I have experienced before. They didn't do anything wrong, just didn't give much feedback. The disc brakes front & rear just worked. The engine was mechaincally very quiet & started just as easily hot as it did cold.
I have to say I was rather taken with it. I cannot recall having had a demo bike that I really didn't want to return, but despite the conditions I found myself taking turns to extend the ride. Unlike the Himalayan - which I just wanted to get off after a similar mileage - I felt I could have just kept going on the Bullet. I was expecting the bike & myself to be filthy, but we were both kept suprisingly clean by the deeply valanced mudguards - my Interceptor was far worse after covering the 15 miles or so home.
Pity it took me so long to try one of these - after they have gone out of production ! The UCE EFI Bullet appears to have been a genuine development of the "old" bikes, engineering out the weak points, reducing maintenance, improving rideability - but not loosing the essential "Bulletness" of the riding experience.
Just need to sell some of the "projects" that are increasingly unlikely to see me complete them to make room in the garage. Best make it quick, though, while there are still some of the last production run bikes available !