I got a bug to get a vintage bike. As I started my search I came across a 66 Royal Enfield Bullet and struck a deal with his owner to buy it. Fate would have it that the deal fell through and I missed this great opportunity. Fast forward a few weeks when I came across a listing for an Enfield Bullet on Craigslist for an even better price not too far from where I live. I contacted the seller and we struck a deal that included him hauling it to me.
He arrived with the bike in his trailer, we handed off the cash and title and rolled it off the trailer into my garage. I could not have imagined what a chore it is to own a modern-vintage bike. You see, this bike is a 2009 titled bike but it is 100% built as they were in 1955. No electric start, no fancy displays and no fancy or frills. This 500cc single cylinder tapper sounds like a vintage bike should. I did have concerns on getting this through the required State of Maryland inspection. It didn’t yet qualify as a classic or vintage bike so a full inspection was required before I could plate and ride it on the street (except to get it to inspection!). I walked it through the checklist and felt it would pass as long as I added reflectors. To be honest I did not want to spend a lot on this and had no intention of modifying the bike. I simply bought a few sheets of stick-on reflectors and stuck them to the side boxes and front forks.
Then I needed to start this thing. Thank god for YouTube! Even with a great video tutorial I bruised the hell outta my leg and foot trying. Eventually I got lucky and it kicked over. I rolled it around the neighborhood getting used to the clutch and shifting. It rode quite nice for a simple machine. It was time to make the trek to the shop for inspection. I still didn’t have the roll down to pop it up onto the center stand down and looked foolish at the shop as I wrestled with it to get it up. The inspection went fine and I got my certificate which I promptly drove to the title shop so I could get my permanent plate. The bike was now a legal bike on the roads of MD.
I love this thumper! I get plenty of thumbs up when I ride around on my baby. I have plans for it to do some upgrades but nothing major. I’m looking forward to replacing the bearings soon (a bit of wobble that indicates it time). I also have a light upgrade planned that will give a bit more visibility without modifying the look of the bike in any way. I have a few historically accurate fits and bits to add such as a front fender licence number plate, rear mud flap, light hoods and so on. I’m also adding a new carburetor with a bit more fuel feed capability, removing the airbox (replacing with a direct filter) and removing the battery box (new lithium battery will be hidden in the toolbox) for that clean look through feel many of these English bikes have.
Last but not least I’m rebuilding the engine even though it has only 3K or so miles on it. Yep its a brit bike so its suppose to leak oil but this bike bleeds oil at an incredible rate. I probably add a quarter quart every month. Plus the toll its taking on my garage floor…
Look here for updates including this bikes cool provenance!