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Author Topic: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE  (Read 2973 times)

Ledyard

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Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« on: August 28, 2012, 04:13:00 PM »
Hi All,

I've been lurking here for the last week or so, and would like to get some feedback from your collective wisdom. You all seem to be a knowledgeable and friendly bunch (and probably handsome, good dressers as well). So, here's my story...

In late July I bought a 2009 RE Bullet Electra AVL with 1290 miles on it. No owner's manual, and I have no idea of how it was ridden or treated. Based on NADA resale value, I got it for a decent price, from a dealer who sells Triumphs and BMWs, but not Royal Enfields. I took delivery of the Enfield on August 18 and rode it five miles to a buddy's house where I garaged it overnight. The next day I set off for my hometown (about 120 miles away) with a friend who was riding his Triumph Bonneville. We cruised along at 50 to 60 mph, and made it all of 43 miles when the Royal Enfield had a catastrophic oil leak. Oil was dripping out of the air filter box, and was basically everywhere. Not being all that familiar with the bike, oil blow-by and the like, we found a local garage to keep the bike until the following business day when the dealer picked it up. The dealer has now serviced it, and sent me an email saying the oil leak "did not show up during their evaluation of the bike. It was a wrong routed oil line and two loose bolts on the head that were only finger tight. Our tech said the bike is where it should be now and you should not have any other issues."

My question is whether I should bail on this bike now, trade it in (at a loss, of course) and buy a new, base model Triumph Bonneville that is still under warranty.

I should add that this is my first bike. I'm marginally mechanically inclined, but definitely a rookie with motorcycles. I should also note that RE is not under any warranty, the electric starter does not work (which I knew when I bought it), and that when I up-shift gears it just sounds... different than say a Honda or a newer Triumph. Rattly. Is this normal for this bike?

I'd be happy for any thoughts, comments, encouragement, discouragement, etc. I'll have to make a decision by this weekend, when I go back to the dealer to either pick up the Bullet.... or not.

Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 04:53:54 PM by Ledyard »

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 05:16:25 PM »
The AVL's are more reliable than the old school iron barrell bikes. Having said that if you want to keep an RE you need to be mechanically inclined. If not, the bonneville is going to serve you better. You will have fewer issues with the Triumph.

If you decide to keep the RE, there is a lot of collective wisdom on this forum to help you keep it running well.

OTOH, the dealer sold you a bike with loose head bolts. Think about it.
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dampking

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 05:28:28 PM »
I have heard very less about oil leaks in Electra X. Something is wrong.. maybe Catch-Can is the culprit? even my air filter box was flooded with excess oil.

Philbomoog

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 05:34:10 PM »
The oil leak from the air filter box sounds more like an overflowing catch can then an actual fault. Huge number of posts on the forum about catch cans and crankcase breathers if you want to do a bit of research. Electric start problems are also common. See posts about sprag clutches for more details. The gear changes are also something you have to get used to and your clutch cable may need adjusting. After a few hundred miles you'll just know when things don't feel or sound right.

My AVL is also my first bike. I've got no regrets and use it almost daily, although I am fairly competent as a basic mechanic and electrician.

If I had no mechanical aptitude I would have probably traded in for a Bonneville a couple of years ago but then I would have missed out on all the enjoyment of owning something different.

barenekd

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 05:43:54 PM »
the breather blows into the filter. Reroute the filter to blow out at the rear of the bike up under the seat. It will be less messy. It had whether wet sumped from sitting a long time, or the engine had been overfilled. It doesn't sound like there's really anything wrong with it. It just needs some proper servicing.
A far as buying a Bonneville goes, I traded my Bonneville Scrambler in on the Enfield and am a much happier man. But then I was raised on English thumpers so know their quirks quite well.
They are a bit more clattery than new bikes, but that's part of the charm.
They are definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but those who have been around bikes for a long time dearly love them.
It takes patience to learn them, but it's well worth the effort. And it will get a hell of a lot better mileage than the Bonneville, parts are cheaper, service is usually cheaper. And they are far easier to work on yourself than the Triumphs.
More smiles per mile!
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TWinOKC

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2012, 07:10:41 PM »
ledyard,

I did the same thing, bought a used RE, no warranty, no dealer within 100 miles, had a few minor problems (oil leaks).  The guys on this forum helped me repair it myself.  Later on bought a Triumph but have no plans to sell the Enfield.  I think air cooled engines are just noisy, part of their charm.  Enfields are pretty simple to repair, hang in there, you can do it.

Oh yeah, welcome to the forum!   :)

Terry     
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Arizoni

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2012, 07:35:56 PM »
I don't know if the AVL has the same 2 position oil filler cap as the older Iron Barrels but if it does it sounds like the cap may have been in the "fully closed" shipping position.

In any case, if the oil lines to the cylinder head were loose it would have coated the outside of the engine with oil with little if any oil finding its way into the air filter.
That leads me to think the oil reserve was overfilled or as the others have mentioned, the oil catch can filled with the overflow ending up in the air filter.

The broken starter motor could be a bad motor, a failed sprag clutch (the motor runs but doesn't crank the engine), a bad starter soloniod, a defective safety switch or just a loose wire.

Whatever, even the new UCE Royal Enfields sometimes take a bit of tinkering to get everything to work right and unless a person wants to do this sort of thing the Triumph would be easier to live with.
Note I didn't say as much fun to live with because the RE has character.  The new Triumph's in my opinion are pretty blah without anything to make them unique except for the name.
For me, the Triumph's ironing board seat and non existent exhaust note was not a thing I would want to live with.
Jim
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boggy

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2012, 11:26:53 PM »
It may also not be an issue of tubes being routed incorrectly.  In my experience, it's very easy to overfill my AVL with oil.  I've done it twice and blown oil all over the place.  Might be that the dealer just overfilled it.

Mine wasn't my first bike, but the first bike I've attempted mechanics on. Couldn't ask for a better resource for help than these guys here.  If you feel like you don't mind turnin' a wrench, keep it for a while and see how things go.  You can always sell it later on.

The Pete Snidal Enfield manual has been a big help for me too.

Welcome and good luck.
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Ledyard

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2012, 01:39:21 AM »
Thanks for the counsel all. I think I know what I'm in for... am going to order Snidal's manuals and be ready to get greasy. For better or worse, I own a Bullet.

And thanks for the welcome to the forum.

dampking

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2012, 10:52:04 AM »
Manuals help a lot~!! + The info that you will get here .... is just awesome! End of the day it's us few who are going to get their hands dirty :) It's a good feel I must say!

Vince

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2012, 04:34:51 PM »
     If you have an AVL it is not a 2009. It is an '08 or earlier. '09 and up are UCE- unit construction engine model G/C/B 5's. This is important when getting a manual or diagnosing an issue. The engines are very different. While the AVL is more robust than the original iron barrel, they still will NOT take continuous high speed running. Running the way you did for as long as you did will cause over heating and seizure issues. The resulting increase in crank case pressures could have caused your issue.
     The AVL engine is good for an AVERAGE speed of around 50 mph. So a secondary road where you sometimes do 60 and sometimes drop to 35 is OK. Cruising at a sustained 50+ is death. The only variable is how soon. I have customers approaching 30,000 miles on both iron barrel and AVL engines, but they ride within the abilities of the bike.

TWinOKC

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2012, 06:17:11 PM »
     If you have an AVL it is not a 2009. It is an '08 or earlier. '09 and up are UCE- unit construction engine model G/C/B 5's.

I thought 2009 was the year they had both AVL and UCE.  I met a guy last summer riding an AVL, he told me it was a 2009  ???.  It had a disc brake but not the UCE engine.  I have also seen a couple of 2009 UCE bikes.
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barenekd

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2012, 09:18:47 PM »
Quote
I thought 2009 was the year they had both AVL and UCE.  I met a guy last summer riding an AVL, he told me it was a 2009  ???.  It had a disc brake but not the UCE engine.  I have also seen a couple of 2009 UCE bikes.

+1
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Ledyard

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2012, 01:14:13 PM »
Can you tell whether this is an AVL from the photo? From the VIN it appears to be an '09 (the 1oth character from the left is a 9). It was advertised as a "2009 Royal Enfield Bullet Electra X" and the ad copy said it was a "Lean-Burn AVL." Thoughts?

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Ledyard

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2012, 03:09:17 PM »
Thanks, boggy. It's nice to know what I'm dealing with, although I have no idea how it was broken in, whether it was abused (probably), or how it was maintained. It has 1,300 miles on the clock. I'm picking it up Saturday and will drive it (I hope) 143 miles home. I'll take it real slow, on back roads. Followed by a rescue vehicle a friend is driving. I'll take plenty of rags in case the dealer filled it with too much oil and I have to mop out the air filter case.

Other than my AAA card, anything else I should have along?

I'm also ordering the proper Snidal manuals to help me get the most out of this bike.

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2012, 04:32:08 PM »
Take breaks along the way.
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barenekd

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2012, 04:37:47 PM »
Quote
Other than my AAA card, anything else I should have along?

Make sure your AAA covers motorcycles. You have to have the RV/Motorcycle version
Bare
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Ledyard

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2012, 04:56:59 PM »
 :) I do have the RV add on to my AAA. But the tow limit is 100 miles, so I have to make it at least 44!

boggy

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2012, 05:43:45 PM »
Also bear in mind that the AVL (and seemingly all RE's) have optimistic, Pinocchio speedometers.  Meaning, if it says you are going 65, it's probably lying.  At around 65 indicated, mine doing around 55 mph.

Check with your friend though as you drive. I did this by having someone hold up three fingers when they were doing 30, four for forty, etc(for 60, use a fist).  It was good to see how far off the speedo was from a car.
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barenekd

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2012, 05:52:10 PM »
The  old navy way of indicating numbers is to hold the fingers for the first five digits vertical, the last 5 digits horizontal. 65 would be indicated "6" one finger horizontal, "5" five fingers vertical.
Over two digits is tougher. Ya gotta take your boots off!
Bare
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mbevo1

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2012, 06:27:51 PM »
I know how to do the Navy one-hand numbers pretty well... but cheated and borrowed the wife's TomTom... ::)  BTW - 62 indicated is 55 for my Classic.  Haven't check my C5 yet.

Mike and Sherman and Stumpy in Michigan
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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2012, 12:50:55 AM »
From what I've read, the AVL probably shouldn't be ridden much above 60 with a cruise speed more like 50.

Course I could be wrong. :(
Jim
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tooseevee

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2012, 02:50:30 AM »
     If you have an AVL it is not a 2009. It is an '08 or earlier. '09 and up are UCE- unit construction engine model G/C/B 5's. This is important when getting a manual or diagnosing an issue. The engines are very different.

              Of course there are 2009 AVLs. The 10th digit of the 17 digit VIN is the year. If it's a 9 it's a 2009. Mine is a 2008.
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dampking

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2012, 11:11:27 AM »
From what I've read, the AVL probably shouldn't be ridden much above 60 with a cruise speed more like 50.

Course I could be wrong. :(

I read this everywhere but I have done high speeds for over more than an hr.. not once but a zillion times. Didn't even change any internals till now. Last time I remember doing a 521 km trip and did 120kph to 145kph on speedo pretty frequently. I was maintaining 110kph all the time and faced no issues. A bunch of my friends even did a "city to city" travel and covered 1000+ kms in less than 11hrs. Speeds above 110 - without any issues. I have clocked 35,000kms and still no internals required any change. I know bikes which did 75000 kms with some minor upgrades.

Regards,
Sanket

mtrue77

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2012, 05:09:00 PM »
this is my 2009 AVL.  bought new in October 2008 from L&L Classic Cycle in Hubbard, Ohio.  this is what it looked like when I got it home (trailered) to Pittsburgh.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 05:12:01 PM by mtrue77 »
Michael T
Pittsburgh, PA
2009 AVL Bullet Classic

mtrue77

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2012, 05:13:59 PM »
and this is after some minor modifications
« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 05:16:57 PM by mtrue77 »
Michael T
Pittsburgh, PA
2009 AVL Bullet Classic

mtrue77

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #27 on: August 31, 2012, 05:18:44 PM »
just one more
Michael T
Pittsburgh, PA
2009 AVL Bullet Classic

Ice

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2012, 01:53:54 AM »
 AVL machines are pretty tough.

 The AVL has an all alloy engine, full roller bottom end, forged steel con rod, squish chamber head, shaft mounted rockers, gear type oil pumps ( with about four times the volume of the old Iron Barrels piston pumps), electronic ignition, and a CV carb that laughs at changes in the weather. The overwhelming majority of AVL's in the US came with gas shocks in the rear and a disc brake up front.
I can break it better,,,,at night, in the rain, on the trail,, 20 miles from nowhere.

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Ledyard

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2012, 11:39:00 AM »
That is one very nice looking bike, Mtrue77.

I rode my Enfield, which I now know is a 2009 AVL Bullet Classic, 150 miles home from the dealership yesterday, almost without incident. I got as wet as a human can be, riding through the remnants of Isaac as it worked its way through the midwest. In one small town water was flowing over the street up to my knees, and I had to push the bike over peoples' yard where the ground was higher. A cold, windy and rainy first ride, and it was a blast.

Couple of little issues with the bike -- I was low on gas and switched to the reserve tank. After I filled up I flipped the petcock back to on and the engine died. Flipped back to reserve and no problem, so there must be something in the "on" line gummed up. The "neutral" indicator light works sometimes, not others, and the turn signal reminder light doesn't work.

Other than those little things, she performed beautifully, and seemed to like to cruise right at about 50 mph. When I got home I got it in a nice dry garage, let the bike cool down, then dried it thoroughly and cleaned it up with WD40. Can't wait to tool it around some county roads, in the warm sunshine.

Thanks to all for your encouragement.

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2012, 11:37:32 PM »
Be ready for the gawkers and the "Where did you get that OLD motorcycle?" questions. :)
Jim
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mtrue77

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Re: Newbie needing encouragement to stick with RE
« Reply #31 on: September 03, 2012, 11:52:38 AM »
What I've heard a couple times is "What a beautiful restoration, man."
Michael T
Pittsburgh, PA
2009 AVL Bullet Classic