After its appearnce on the sexy (and expensive) Classic, the twin-spark UC engine trickles down to the Bullet Electra. A bike you an I can buy. And ride, without having to unlearn anything
I came to Chennai around two years back. The only thing that appeared hot was the climate here. Back then I didn’t know that this place was home of some of coolest looking bikes. Be it your grandpa’s Bullet or your sparkling new TBTS, all the legendary REs are manufactured here, in Chennai. The brand enjoys a status that other bike makers can only dream of. Be it the machine’s much revered thump or its mile munching capabilities, nothing can beat a Royal Enfield, for some at least. There might be better bikes in the market, better handlers, more efficient and cheaper but as they say, nothing can replace a Bullet. Isn’t that cool? I really think nothing else can look better than a group of RE riders passing by, with that deep, intimidating sound of their exhaust notes thumping in unison.
I found myself getting increasingly attracted towards the Bullets as I saw those Buleteers riding in a formation and attracting attention of one and all. Even I wanted to be one of them but was afraid of riding one owing to the gative traits of the bikes that I had heard about. Eventually when I started riding the Bullets, I liked the whole macho feel, but deep down my heart I wanted a hassle free bike and not one for which I needed to be a mechanic.God listened to my prayers and a miracle called UCE happened. U.C.E in RE lingo stands for Unit Construction Engine. The new engine is a huge aberration from the older RE engine features a single unit construction for the engine and the crankcase – hence the name. The engine has made an appearance in most new RE bikes and now the Chennai based company has launched the unit in their new Electra too.
The new Electra about which you might have read earlier on the Motoroids website is called Royal Enfield Bullet Electra Twinspark (like its 500 TBTS sibling). The new twin spark engine is what every Bullet is getting and unlike its forbears, it’s doesn’t spill much oil. UCE is a relatively modern engine that replaces the old cast iron unit which was heavy, less efficient, more space consuming and wasn’t very efficient either.
The new engine produces close to 20bhp of power at 5250 rpm and 28Nm of torque at just 4000rpm. The lazy nature and the lowly rpm at which the peak rpm is delivered makes for a very commuter friendly experience through slow moving traffic, with the bike pulling with aplomb in low revs and high gears. The powerplant is mated to a 5 speed ‘box, and the gearshifts are surprisingly smooth and trouble free for an RE. Though one could take some time getting used to the power delivery of the bike and the gearshifts but once familiarized, the bike won’t let you down. The engine feels substantially refined when compared with its ancestors and doesn’t transmit too may vibes at the handles anymore. The pulsations at the handlebar are well within control now and all you need to reach a three-digit speedo figure is just a gentle twist of the throttle. The bike is as good a tourer as the old bikes, with even better load lugging capabilities.
However, even with so many appreciable qualities at its heart, many die-hard Bullet fans are not going to like the new Electra. The simple reason behind the fact is that in its new avatar, the exhaust bereaves this Bullet from its most prominent characteristic – the thump! The new bike gets a new exhaust unit which makes the exhaust note sound subtler. The thump is there for sure, it isn’t as loud as it used to be though, and doesn’t announce its arrival from a mile anymore. Fret not though, there are a few after market exhaust options available which can be used instead of the stock silencer if one loves the original RE exhaust note. But the U.C.E has made the bike a lot more economical to run, if the RE claims are to be believed. We didn’t get the bike for long enough to test it for its fuel efficiency, but the company claims a figure of 51kmpl, which is great by any standards.
The idea of making long trips is the first thing that comes to mind when a genuine biker thinks of buying an RE. And who understands this better than Royal Enfield guys. The seating position is spot on both for long hauls as well as for the short commutes to a trip to the nearby grocery store. Yeah you read that right. The new Bullets are more practical and friendlier than ever. That makes them even more eligible for being your everyday bike. Also, unlike the people’s perception of the Bullet being a very heavy bike to manage, it’s as easy as your 150 to ride now unless you manage to drop it. It was time to take the baby out for a spin. I pressed the starter button and the engine came to life in a couple of tries. I quite liked the sound note of the new bike, though I can understand if the old timers still don’t appreciate it too much. The exhaust note is still deep enough to entice a new rider. The bike surges forward with a newfound confidence and urgency, in its newest avatar, the Electra is more rider friendly than ever – managing to bring a smile on the face of a sceptic like me. The more time I spent riding the better I felt. The city traffic made me worry at the outset but the bike felt perfectly at home in the stop-start conditions with its low-end grunt and smooth operation of gears. The new Electra won’t make its 180kg load evident as long as you keep it erect. Quick direction changes, however isn’t the machine’s forte even today. It doesn’t like being dipped and lifted back, or getting flicked at the handle too much – you’d be happier keeping it straight than trying to cut through the traffic. RE may have introduced a pair of brand new gas charged shock observers, which really do improve the ride a lot, but don’t add to the nimbleness in any way. The areas where REs lag behind the smaller bikes are still shaded in grey.
Braking isn’t taut and the jelly-like feeling during hard braking is still very clearly perceptible. The Electra may have improved a little over the earlier version as regards handling, but it’s still a far cry from the quick 150’s and the 200s. Not that the newly incorporated 280mm disc up front and the drum brake at the rear isn’t enough to stop the bike but the bike’s weight and the soft suspension setup doesn’t make for a very dynamically.