I don’t assume it’s rocket science to grasp the place Royal Enfield is coming from. The Bullet/Traditional line has single-handedly turned RE’s fortunes round during the last decade and now that the tail-end of its lifespan is right here, it may’t probably harm an excessive amount of to have enjoyable with it. For one, RE has nothing to lose – not when it created a high-volume phase nearly out of skinny air. Secondly, it is sensible to play with current stock (and see if it may create one other phase out of skinny air) than to take action with a brand new elements bin, the likes of which can quickly come into being when the heavily-revised BS-VI variations emerge. Royal Enfield, after all, has a extra marketing-friendly spin on this, making an affiliation with the post-1948 trials model of the Bullet, which was RE’s first totally sprung bike.
However the brand new Bullet Trials 350 and 500 aren’t breakthroughs as such. The unique trials model of the Bullet celebrated the incorporation of a telescopic fork (changing the girder fork) and hydraulic shock absorbers, and the hype round them was thus justified. The truth is, the unique Trials wasn’t even formally known as that, however the nick identify kind of caught after the Bullet’s successive victories on the Worldwide Six Days Trials and the Scottish Six Days Trials. Within the case of the brand new Trials, nonetheless, Royal Enfield has re-invented nothing. Come to think about it, RE provided a close to equivalent variant to the UK audiences ten years in the past, with one thing known as the Trials EFI in 2009, and being geared up with a 499cc, pushrod engine (amongst different austere entries within the specification sheet) drove most of their press to name it ‘garbage and sensible on the similar time’. The 2019 Bullet Trials bears a putting resemblance to that model, besides that it now makes use of the 350 and 500cc UCE mills.
However why do a half-baked scrambler when the Himalayan is already round? As a result of heritage sells, and who’d know higher about that than Royal Enfield? In any case, calling the Trials ‘half-baked’ is a bit harsh. Positive, it’s not precisely a featherweight, with its 192kg kerb weight (the 350 weighs 187kg) and neither is it significantly fairly (all of us have a buddy who’s tried one thing like this, no?), however it certain stands out from the Bullet/Classics that everybody appears to be commuting on nowadays. For now, RE will solely offer you a color every for the Trials; the 500 will get chrome on silver bodywork on a khaki inexperienced chassis whereas the 350 will get only a silver coat on a sweet pink chassis.
As a part of its Trials-ification, the Bullet retains its 19/18-inch wheel mixture however now wears block-pattern Ceat Professional Gripp rubber (90/90-19 entrance, 110/80-18 rear), and includes a disc at both finish, with twin channel ABS as customary. The entrance fender is smaller and with tubular stays (colored the identical because the chassis), and the fork tubes now put on rubber gaiters. On the check bikes, RE had geared up the Trials with a spread of equipment such because the headlight lens protector, the brace on the taller handlebar, a comfortable engine guard, a bash plate and a really cool plate bearing a race quantity. You may solely have one in a single-seat configuration and as a substitute of a pillion seat, it will get a factory-fitted baggage rack that sits above the raised rear fender. The keen-eyed amongst you’ll spot the Interceptor 650-sourced tail-light and switch sign lamps and even the least observant of you can’t probably miss that wildly upswept exhaust end-can. Your opinion of that exhaust unit can vary from ‘kinda quirky’ to ‘what an eye-sore!’ and also you’d be proper both means; it’s unlucky sufficient the bend-pipe isn’t wrapped across the cylinder head, in the best way all the best scramblers do, however I want RE might have finished one thing – something – to no less than make it palatable if not heart-achingly fairly.
Nevertheless, can or not it’s that the Trials is simply a lot enjoyable to trip that you just forgive it the hits-and-mostly-misses affair it seems to be in photos and on the spec sheet? I hoped in order I swung a leg over the Trials 500’s saddle, on what was a sizzling and dusty morning. The low seat feels higher than on the Traditional, for certain, due to the purposeful stance the handlebar units you in though the forward-set footpegs really feel a bit awful, as ever, on one thing that guarantees to be a special form of enjoyable. The half-heartedness is extra agonising in some areas than in others, as you may inform. Nonetheless hoping for some kind of silver lining, I thumbed the starter to crank the 499cc motor to life, burdening its 27.5hp and 41.3Nm output figures with my expectations. That doesn’t sound like too little, as you’d agree, however having skilled this engine in the usual bike, I can let you know that it isn’t outrageously thrilling both. It’s no completely different in Trials guise however I suppose it may be mentioned that the 500 mill feels mildly extra alive. Off the street, which is primarily the place we’re driving it, the Trials 500 advantages from its inherently ample unfold of torque and it absolutely expresses no qualms about chugging alongside while taking a beating.
On the street, I started to love the Trials’ stance a bit extra. Positive, it’s nowhere as refined (in a normal sense) a bike as the prevailing crop of sub-300cc machines, however it has a mechanical character to it that units it aside. With no rev counter at hand, you’re left purely to sensations to gauge the Trials’ stress ranges and, as we’ve come to anticipate, there are many these to expertise on the handlebar, tank and footpegs. Nevertheless, you’re actually not going to be holding up site visitors in your wake and now, with the Trials, you’ll really feel extra empowered to take unruly detours than earlier than. Whereas suspension journey hasn’t been altered, it gives a reasonably pliant trip and definitely doesn’t really feel brittle when being tortured on rocky, off-road bits. The extra purposeful rubber undoubtedly provides to the Trials’ rough-road prowess, one thing you’ll recognize when the going will get, nicely, lower than ideally suited. It’s actually bought nothing on the Himalayan, though the Trials actually makes for a extra visually fulfilling variant to these on the lookout for a little bit extra purposefulness than the usual fare of Bullets.
The place no enchancment in anyway has been made is within the division of braking. Due to a disc brake at both finish and a dual-channel ABS, the Trials isn’t going to land you in bother however I used to be actually left wanting for higher chew and really feel, one thing RE is but to nail on any of its single-cylinder bikes. That apart, you’ll get together with the Trials simply tremendous, though I’d suggest the 500 over the 350 any day, given how uninspiring the latter is (in customary guise, no less than). The economy-conscious amongst you’ll favor the 350’s 20hp and 28Nm configuration, and that it makes use of a carburettor as a substitute of fuel-injection could also be a matter of desire to a few of you, however the 500’s stronger efficiency is extra according to what one thing with a ‘Trials’ moniker ought to provide.
To summarise, the Bullet 500 Trials is gimmicky, experimental and undoubtedly a distinct segment. It’ll attraction to a sliver of RE hopefuls however isn’t going to be a recreation changer and that’s tremendous. What isn’t, is that this ‘manufacturing facility ’ from Royal Enfield might have been a bit extra enjoyable, a bit extra wholehearted than the slightly-over-a-custom-paintjob try it’s at current. There’ll be no harm finished on the finish of it, although – I’m certain there’s somebody on the market who is completely obsessed with the thought of a whacky, single-seat bike. To be truthful, RE isn’t charging you an exorbitant premium over the prevailing Bullets both and no, these aren’t restricted editions. The 350 Trials is priced at Rs 1.62 lakh, making it Rs 9,000 costlier than the Traditional 350, whereas the 500 Trials wears a Rs 2.07 lakh sticker worth, which makes it Rs 6,000 costlier than the Traditional 500 (dual-channel ABS variant). To conclude, whether or not or not it is best to chew this Bullet is completely subjective however, I think, this isn’t the final of such manufacturing facility customs on condition that the BS-VI fashions are a yr away – don’t say we didn’t warn you!