Royal Enfield isn’t into annual model-year introductions, which for most companies means hundreds of new part numbers, possible new tech manuals and classes, and for dealers a significant cash outlay. “For our warehouse, the new model year means we hang up next year’s calendar,” Mahoney said. This isn’t to say that there aren’t changes to the basic model from year to year. Over time the Bullet has had significant technological upgrades, fuel-injection, three-way catalytic converters, front disc brakes and electric start, though the kick-starter has been retained. About the only thing that hasn’t changed is the classic ‘50s styling, and that’s a good thing.
There are six different versions of today’s Bullet, all with the same basic running gear but with a variety of graphics, paint/chrome schemes, and dual and solo seats. In addition there are a number of kits available that converts your ride to a café racer, clubman or scrambler, along with one that lowers the seat height from the standard 30 to 26 inches. All models are priced between $6,000 and $7,000.
Obviously the current rage for café racers and retro-styled bikes is part of what’s driving Bullet sales, but the prime reason, according to Greene, can be summed up in a single word — fun — which, incidentally, is why most of us got involved with motorcycles. As he points out, the bike is non-intimidating, it’s small and compact, relatively light, unique looking, and with its 27 horsepower isn’t likely to overwhelm its rider.
“There is no unique mix of existing brand dealers that are more or less successful in selling the product,” says Greene. “We’ve got Harley dealers, Asian brand dealers with one or more brands, Euro dealers, and all combinations. The major element for success is their attitude with regard to the brand, and their desire to grow and promote it.”
Greene identifies four significant groups who buy Bullets for different reasons: women, riders looking for a second bike, older returning riders, and riders who simply like the looks. Women are especially drawn to the Bullet’s light weight (419 lbs.), low center of gravity, low seat height (made even lower by adding the seat lowering kit) and the convenient electric start. Folks who own larger motorcycles, like Harleys, and Gold Wings frequently buy one to use as a second bike for running errands.
Returning riders are typically guys who had, or wanted to have, a Brit bike back in the day. The Bullet styling is true to the era. Finally, there’s the people who’d like to own a classic motorcycle, but just don’t want to put up with the hassles of owning the genuine article. They get the look and feel of owning a classic, without the reliability and parts challenges that frequently come with it.