I’ve never understood the practice of reviewing a car or a bike after a single test-drive – like on vlogs or TV shows. Regardless of the price, be it a humble 100 CC Splendor or a multi-crore Jaguar, a vehicle is most often, a long term commitment. Like a marriage. Would it make sense to ask a guy what his opinion on marriage is just after the First Night?
With this reason in mind, I did not review my Royal Enfield Classic 500 in 2011, when I got it. I had planned to do a One Year review. One year came and went by. And so did another three more. But here it is – finally- the four year review, aka, the real deal.
To be frank, I bought the bike on a whim. Like any thoughtless teenager, the only thing that mattered was the looks. I had never even ridden an Enfield before and booked the bike even without reading or watching any reviews. So much for my claims of being tech-savvy. The waiting period then was 7 months, more than that of a car. 7 excruciating months!
One doesn’t buy a Royal Enfield for its mileage, so there is no point in talking about it. Nor does one buy it because it gets cheap spare parts.
But the problem is, no one will tell you of Royal Enfield’s shitty replacement policy.
For eg, I had to change the concave reflector in my headlight for its polish had worn away rendering the headlight pretty much useless.
But Enfield had me change the whole headlight assembly, replacing even the parts that were working, viz. the headlight bulb, the circuit, the stainless steel external casing and hood. Quite a wasteful thing, really. While Hondas and Pulsars let you change air filters every 20K km, one has to change C500’s air filters every 6 months regardless of the use, given the huge intake of air into the 500cc engine.
If I had bought Royal Enfield shares instead of the bike (1.55 lakhs in February 2011, when the bike was finally delivered to me), I’d have had 30 lakhs with me. All I have right now is a rust-bucket.
It was the sight of a friend’s dad’s perfectly maintained 30 year old 350cc Bullet that had me pining for one. Even after wiping every chrome and non-chrome part with a dry cloth whenever it had rained or after washing the bike, I ended up with rusted parts. One expects any company to better their alloys in time, but Royal Enfield has moved backwards in time even as its sales hit the roof.
Forget alloys, they can’t get even their adhesives right.
Substandard finishes all abound. Among the models that were released after the Classic 500/350 in 2010, I thought they’d get the finishing and overall quality right on at least the higher-priced 2013 Continental GT(2 lakh rupees) but Indian buyers have been given step-motherly treatment even here. The same models built for foreign markets are totally different (to be fair, there are huge price differences). RE had employed Fritz Egli to bring about a renaissance in the company that was in the dumps in the 90s. It is only in India that they sell junk. But this, as I have found, is a burden only Indian Enfield owners have to bear.
It is as bad as it gets. I have given the bike for servicing in 4 different centres – in Telangana, in Hyderabad, Karimnagar and Warangal, and each time, I took back the bike in a worse condition than I had given it to them. It would be less frustrating to do an online/correspondence course in automobile engineering and repair your own bike.
Moral of the story – Like when it comes to girls, try to go beyond salivating at the looks of the bike.