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The Royal Enfield Bullet: The Little Bike That Could

The Royal Enfield Bullet holds the great honor of being the motorcycle that has been in continuous production longer than any other bike. For 75 years, the Bullet has been traveling down the long, winding road, and has many miles ahead of it.

From its humble beginnings in England to its current production home in India, the Bullet has proven to be a reliable, trustworthy, innovative motorcycle that has provided excellent service to the general public and the military for the better half of a century.

The Bullet is a tough, rugged bike that has always been an industry innovator and a favorite to millions worldwide.  There is no doubt that this motorcycle will continue to provide its loyal customers with the quality they have come to expect for many more years to come. 

The Bullet’s beginning

The first Royal Enfield Bullet rolled off the assembly line in England in 1932.  It offered consumers three different engine size variations, including a 250 cc, 350 cc, and a 500 cc model. 

The bike proved to be so impressive that the Royal British Army placed a large order for the 350 cc model in hopes of providing a rugged, reliable motorcycle for their troops.  The army was not disappointed with the results.

Racing its way to the front of the pack

In addition to providing the military with an excellent off-road bike capable of traversing the roughest of terrains, the Bullet also proved to be a winner in the racing circuit.  By 1935, the tough little bike proved itself for the first time by winning the International Six Days Trial. Just two years later, in 1937, the Bullet garnered an impressive 46 wins that season alone. A famous motorcycle trials and enduro rider who rode the Bullet to victory was Johnny Brittain. During his time competing on the remarkable machine, he won over 50 titles.

Making a big move

Since the 1940s, India had a vested interest in the Royal Enfield Bullet.  This period would be the beginning of more than a partnership between the company and the country. 

Understanding the Bullet’s potential to contribute to Indian society and the level of excellence it provided its owners, the Indian government placed a substantial order for Bullets in order to make it an integral part of its army and police forces.  This was a true turning point in the relationship between the Indian government and Royal Enfield.

By 1955, the British company combined with Madras Motors India.  This entity became known as Enfield India.  This gave the Indian-based motor company a license to exclusively produce the 350 cc model that had already been implemented for its military and police force needs. Initially, these bikes were shipped in kits to be built at the factory in India. 

By 1967, the Royal Enfield Company was basically shut down, but the factory in India did not give up on this “little bike that could” and continued to produce them even after the Royal Enfield’s closure.  For these reasons, the Bullet is widely recognized as an Indian motorcycle.

By the late 1970s, the country began to export the Bullet to various parts of Europe, including England. 

Innovations through the years

Countless things made the Bullet an innovative motorcycle, helping it to stand out over others in its class.  Some of those innovations included:

  • Center spring girder front forks
  • A side saddle fuel tank 
  • Dual rocker boxes 
  • Hydraulic forks 
  • A swing-arm frame suspension
  • An aluminum cylinder head
  • A vertical engine with an alloy head suspension

After acquiring the company in the 1950s, the now Indian-based company did not find it necessary to change what they perceived as virtual perfection in a motorcycle, so after 1955, it would be almost four decades before the Bullet would receive any significant renovations. 

Bringing it back from the dead

Over the years, the Bullet suffered from declining sales and teetered on the edge of being discontinued.  However, a new company owner would swoop in to save the day.

Siddartha Lai, the new CEO of Enfield India, decided that the Bullet needed to catch up with the times, so he ordered a slight overhaul of the already awesome bike.

That year, the Bullet took on a refined look that, somehow, managed to stay true to the original look it had had for decades.  It included more chrome accents and was made available to consumers only in black. 

From that point forward, the company has managed to keep up with the current market and keep connoisseurs of the bike interested in the quality, reliability, and fun the Bullet has provided for the better part of a century.

The Royal Enfield Bullet: the little bike that DID

The Royal Enfield Bullet has proven itself time and time again to be worthy of the title of being the bike in the longest current production in motorcycle history. 

Having gone through changes as drastic as being taken over by a completely different country and culture, the Bullet has shown its staying power, proving that it is not going anywhere anytime soon.  The Royal Enfield Bullet is truly the little bike that DID. 

The Royal Enfield Bullet holds the great honor of being the motorcycle that has been in continuous production longer than any other bike. For 75 years, the Bullet has been traveling down the long, winding road, and has many miles ahead of it.

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1 comment

  • Would love to get a chance to see one of these bikes in person. Better yet ride one.
    Are their any here in the DMV = DC, Maryland, Virginia

    Robert Waldron

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