Long-Term Bikes | 2012 Royal Enfield Bullet C5 Chrome

Before we get into this, let me state two things. First; as far as I’m concerned, cruising is about how, not what you ride, and secondly; I’ve been a fan of British motorcycles since day one. British bikes were what inspired me to start riding and I still a have a large soft spot for them. I own several in fact. I should also tell you that when Royal Enfields were still being built in Redditch, across the pond, I was enthralled by them. One of my great regrets is not buying a new Interceptor at a bargain basement price in 1970, just before the factory folded. Now you’ll understand why I was hot to take the reins of a new Royal Enfield Chrome as my next long term tester.

True, this bike isn’t your typical cruiser; it’s a single cylinder 500, which doesn’t look substantially different from its predecessors (the general architecture of which was developed in the 30s), but it sure works a lot better.

Although I’ve only put 100 miles on the bike, which really isn’t enough to even figure out what all the switches are for, I can tell you it’s certainly got its charms. It’s surprisingly comfortable, handles nicely, and is powerful enough to get you into trouble. It’s also extremely attractive, with a much higher level of fit and finish than I would expect from a bike built in India, which—no disrespect intended—isn’t a country known for fine coachwork.

Of course all of those miles have been ridden on the paved cow paths that pass for roads in my neck of the woods. How the bike will fare the first time I have to take the Interstate remains to be seen; the owner’s manual warns against riding in excess of 70 miles an hour, so chances are very good that this particular long-termer won’t see quite as much highway use as my previous bikes. That being said, it’s the perfect Sunday morning rider, and around-town errand bike, so who knows, maybe it’ll get ridden more than I currently anticipate.

Of course, I’m going to take that to mean that every outing should be a cruise, rather than a race, which is what it’s all about in the first place, isn’t it?