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Author Topic: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute  (Read 3183 times)

Coronach

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Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« on: November 10, 2007, 09:17:11 PM »
That's 35mi, one way. Wide open country road speeds, with a brief stint on the freeway (about 10 miles).

I have read several of the Classic Bullet v Electra threads, comparing and contrasting the differences between the two models, and I still have a couple of questions. I know that as-issued, the Electra is better set up for higher-speed cruising. However, I also know that you can add a bigger sprocket to the Classic, which will either erase this advantage, or at least minimize it. I guess my question is, "can you turn a Classic into as efficient of a commuter as an Electra?"

My concerns are:

1. Durability of the bike. I know the RE likes to move at a slower pace. Can you, with proper modifcations, allow the classic to cruise as fast as an electra without overly stressing the engine?

2. Gas mileage. I want to keep it as high as possible.

3. Lighting/Electrical. I will be doing the return trip at night, and we have deer down here. I want to put the best headlight on this thing that I can, so as to minimize my chances of a collision with low-flying meat.

4. Reliability. I have no problem doing preventative maintenance and preflight checks, and I recognize that by riding an RE you accept a certain amount of risk of being left somewhere. I'd like to keep that as low as possible, though.

What I am not concerned about:

1. How the bikes come stock. I know the Electra is better set up for this from the get-go. I am curious what the two bikes are capable of, though, with reasonable (read: bolt-on/drop-in) modification.

2. Final cost. I suspect that setting up a classic to roll like an Electra would cost more than just buying an Electra. Tinkering, however, is half the fun.

3. The Electra-is-not-a-real-RE argument.

Thanks for the help,

Mike
Columbus, OH
2008 Black Classic ES "Last One"
1050 miles on the clock
OH! ... IO!

luoma

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2007, 09:41:09 PM »
I think if read the various posts, you'll find there are a lot of riders who flog their bikes pretty hard with no ill effects. These are not fragile machines. I have an Electra with a CMW performance kit ans a 19-tooth front sprocket. I also have a solo seat aand windshield for comfort. I have no problem with rides like you are talking about. However, If I had purchased the Delux that I had my eye on, I have no doubt that I would be riding it the same way. I may have had to also add better oil pumps and maybe the stage-1 or stage-2 head. As far as economy goes, I did a 150-mile charity ride today, and averaged 75 mpg in a combination of city and highway riding. Kept up with all the big iron cruisers too. But is an Electra a Royal Enfield? Yes, It is a RE. They may have contracted a design firm to come up with improvements to the motor, but that is common practice throughout the industry. Besides, they ended up making the exact same mods to the engine that owners have been doing for years. I have known a lot of Harley riders over the years and if a guy's favorite is his 65 HD, he'll claim that was the last year they made REAL Harleys. Get used to hearing stuff like this and just buy the one you want. Personally, I like the old ones, but I like what they did with the AVL. I only wish I could afford to buy another one when they come out with the Classic/AVL model.

c1skout

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2007, 11:36:21 PM »
  My 2000 500 classic does fine on my 35-40 mile commute. I'm running the stock sprockets, drilled-out muffler (jetted to suit), and add-on oil filter for extra cooling. I go most of the distance at an actual 52mph but I step it up to 57-60 for a high speed 8 mile stretch. My bike seems like it would go forever at 52mph, it likes it there.  I put a candlepower brand h4 headlight in the factory holder of mine because we have lotsa deer here in PA and the factory light was woefully inadiquate. That light works just as well as the 7" h4 in my BMW.

Coronach

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2007, 12:59:03 AM »
Thanks for the replies.

I agree that an Electra is a RE. I'll get the one I want. The problem is that I don't know which one I want. ;) I only mentioned it because I don't want the conversation to derail into the aesthetics, heritage or history of the two models.

I'm also aware that the Classic can do the commute. I just don't know if it can do it as well as the Electra while stock, or can be upgraded to do it as well as the Electra. I'm not opposed to (eventually) shelling out the cash for a Stage I, II or even III kit and/or other sane mods (no big bore kits, thanks), but I still don't know how well a Classic in that trim will compare to an Electra with the CMW upgrade kit. Let's face it, the ability to cruise at 50 with bursts at 60 is acceptable, but the ability to cruise at 60 with bursts at 70 (which I think a CMW-upgraded Electra can easily do) is actually a really nice benefit.

Another way to ask the question is, does the AVL engine give you something over the classic engine that the classic cannot make up via upgrades? Gas mileage, reliability, speed, durability?

Anyone know?

Thanks,

Mike
Columbus, OH
2008 Black Classic ES "Last One"
1050 miles on the clock
OH! ... IO!

indian48

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2007, 01:18:26 AM »
Having bought the AVL three weeks ago in India, and having read a heck of a lot about this debate before and after, on both the Indian site as well as this one, I'd say, welcome to the club! This is the start of the RE ride, this agonizing over the decision.
My 2 cents:
1. I think both are REs. Or, if you prefer, neither is - REs stopped being made in the UK in 1968, to take an extreme view.
2. The AVL engine is rightly reputed to require less maintenance, although it is not maintenance free - we would not want that to be the case either, would we?! A review of it as a buy for corporate types allowed that it will keep you in the board room and not in the garage, by the way.
3. I think that the AVL engine has a higher power/torgue/speed potential, in line with your needs- provided you run it in really well. That running in comment applies to the iron engine as well.
4. I don't think that in looks there is really that much difference between the two engines.
5. The only place where the AVL engine loses, is in its sound. I know that the stock sound gets better with age and with silencer mods, but it never quite approaches the mellow thunder of the iron engine in full - or even half! - song. You have to hear the two to know exactly what I mean. Its like the difference between a fine aged wine, and one that is rough around the edges. I was out on my AVL 500 yesterday morning, and parked on top of a hill to cool the bike off, when I heard the note of an iron engined RE coming up the hill and it went by me. It was a fairly new bike, but the sound was exactly what REs in India, and in the US too, I imagine, are known for.
Hope the above helps you decide. As some here have said, the best thing to do is to have both in the stable!
Have fun with your decision. Once I have learnt the skills of maintaning the RE, I will probably swap mine for the iron engined version. If nothing else, for the joys of running in one again!
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well

Coronach

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2007, 05:45:49 AM »
Quote
I think that the AVL engine has a higher power/torgue/speed potential, in line with your needs
I think that's the real issue, and the real question I'm asking. Does the AVL engine perform better for high-end cruising than a Classic engine that has been properly tweaked with, say, the Stage I, II or III kits?

Does anyone know for sure?

Thanks for your input, Indian48. I hope you're enjoying your ride. :)

Mike


Columbus, OH
2008 Black Classic ES "Last One"
1050 miles on the clock
OH! ... IO!

Eamon

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2007, 08:58:43 AM »
Quote
I think that the AVL engine has a higher power/torgue/speed potential, in line with your needs
I think that's the real issue, and the real question I'm asking. Does the AVL engine perform better for high-end cruising than a Classic engine that has been properly tweaked with, say, the Stage I, II or III kits?

Does anyone know for sure?

Thanks for your input, Indian48. I hope you're enjoying your ride. :)

Mike

Well, I would say that one advantage that the AVL engine would still have is the alloy cylinder, which is going to handle the heat better than the iron one in the classic.  It seems that heat is really the enemy in these bikes and it's a bigger enemy to the classics.  Of course I own a classic, but then my commute never gets beyond 40mph.

Eamon
Eamon in Seattle
2006 Bullet 500 Deluxe
http://www.sterlingloons.com

indian48

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2007, 10:32:12 AM »
From all I read here and in the Indian press, the AVL engine has a 10-15 mph advantage over the iron engine, that should allow it to always remain relatively less stressed compared to the older engine. Apart from the block material, some other changes have been made to the AVL that give it this advantage. It is also more oil tight, and requires a little less attention. Since it is inherently a stronger engine, it will always be a better choice for running higher speeds, that a tweaked iron engine.
But you lose the sound,,,,!!!!
If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well

dewjantim

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2007, 12:36:09 AM »
Well Mike, I am going to tell you what you want to know. Yes, a Classic RE 500 would be reliable enough to take that commute. I don't think that these are fragile machines. Mine is as tough as they come. I have a goldstar muffler, K&N pod filter, 130 mains, and 30 pilots, more in the works, but not yet. It will cruise at an indicated 60-65 mph all day long and not miss a beat. The longest trip taken to date is about 350 miles with 60-75 mph speeds all day long. I don't think the AVL engine is any faster, they are rated at about the same hp. What I would do though is to get the Lightning HiPo oil pumps, gear up one gear on the countershaft sprocket, add a free flowing exhaust , K&N, and rejet to suit. Cruising speed should be 65-70 indicated. Just don't forget to check that oil frequently riding at those speeds.....Dew.
If it hurts, you're not dead yet!!!!!

deejay

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2007, 01:10:40 AM »
First of all, these questions always get asked in the "Classic" section, so please excuse my favoritism, especially to the Electra owners... wish I could own both... but my opinion follows...

Go with the Classic. Just look at the amount of mods you can do with it! And if the iron barrel is a worry, you can upgrade it to alloy for fairly short money. Want more power with the classic? Get a different sprocket, 535cc upgrade, or a 612cc kit! Want to go faster with the Electra? A sprocket swap is about as far as you're gonna go (right?). The classic engine has been time-tested... does that make the Electra less of an engine? No, but it will make it harder to get parts for when they stop making them, which I have heard is SOON.

GreenMachine

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2007, 01:17:52 AM »
I'm driving a 06 classic and use it for sporting around the county...I caught up with thumper in warrenton and he had the newer bike and seemed quite pleased with its performance and i believe he uses it to commute to work..His commute is similar to what u had suggested in your inItal coorespondence... I however go the opposite direction (that thumper goes) and  I'm not going to drive down I 66 into washington at 05:00 on any bike ..If I was in your position I probably go with the newer version of the bullet as it seems to better fashioned to satisfy your requirement without sacrificing any additional lore that both bikes apparenly present to their owners..Just my thought...both bikes will do the job, both are great..one is just slightly different with 60's internals vice late 50's...go figure..as forest gump stated..thats all i have to say about that..
Oh Magoo you done it again

Coronach

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2007, 05:22:02 PM »
Thanks for the input.

BTW, I asked this in the Classic forum because the question mostly involves comparing mods to the classic to the stock Electra.

Thanks!

Mike
Columbus, OH
2008 Black Classic ES "Last One"
1050 miles on the clock
OH! ... IO!

LJRead

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2007, 08:11:10 PM »
To me its a "no brainer".  Suggest you read what Pete Snidal has to say recently on the Yahoo Enfield forum.  With the 500cc, and adding mods, you are really starting with the old 350 cc platform onto which the 500cc version was itself a mod.  Then to that you are further stressing things by adding further mods.  The only question to me would be appearance.  If you have to have the Classic good looks, then no amount of mechanical discussion will have impact.  However, next year CMW is importing a Classic AVL, which would be the way to go.  From everything I've read, mods to the older engine will get you better performance at the cost of some reliability, except for Dew's bike, which seems to be an exception!  But he probably babies it, despite what he says!

Foggy_Auggie

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2007, 09:03:23 PM »
  Suggest you read what Pete Snidal has to say recently on the Yahoo Enfield forum.  With the 500cc, and adding mods, you are really starting with the old 350 cc platform onto which the 500cc version was itself a mod.  Then to that you are further stressing things by adding further mods. 

My thoughts exactly.

I'm intentionally leaving everything stock.  Even the PAV system stays - unless the bloody thing causes too many irritations.  The stock intake and exhaust system may seem to choke the engine for some.  But to me it acts as a "governor" to keep from over stressing the complete power train. 

And I'm staying with points and coil ignition.  I carry a spare condensor and point set in my right side tool blister.  Electronic ignition box failures are not fun out in the middle of nowhere.

My only mod is a side stand.  I'll add the small diamond engine bars in the spring.

I love this bike just as it is.

Regards, Foggy
Diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

Fortiter Et Fideliter

Coronach

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Re: Bullet or Electra for 35mi commute
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2007, 09:54:00 PM »
Quote
next year CMW is importing a Classic AVL
Anyone know if it is going to look like a "Classic" or a "Classic Deluxe?" I have no idea why, but I have no love for the chromed tank on the Deluxe.

Mike
Columbus, OH
2008 Black Classic ES "Last One"
1050 miles on the clock
OH! ... IO!