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Author Topic: "Fury"  (Read 1593 times)

"Fury"
« on: December 09, 2010, 05:51:43 PM »
I am not sure if this is in the right section of the forum, but here goes.  I must say the whole RE story is quite engaging.  It is fascinating for me to watch the evolution of an emerging international marquee , the rebirth of a historical marquee, and the rebirth of a sensible sized  simple enough to understand at a glance, viscerally attractive nostalgic and charismatic  motorbike all rolled into one.  Not to mention the interesting lessons in history of colonialism, Sovereign Independence offshoring a la 1960s growth flourishing and death of the British motorcycle industry. at the hands of Japan,   the struggle and now re-emergent triumph of the Indian company etc.   These alone make this whole turn of events hugely entertaining. 
This has prompted me to look back at the history of the motorcycle as a machine, and , I confess, to wonder how it ever strayed from it's more simple and pure roots to the proliferation of high powered sport bikes or land yachts we see on the road today.  All of this has somehow lost touch with the simple notion of man (or woman) machine and terrain, be it paved or not.  And in this simple equation the RE Bullet shines brightly still.   My investigation of the history of motorbikes, however, has also led me to the realisation that many of the bikes of yesteryear (BSA B 34, Velocette, Norton Manx, AJS, Matchless etc,) were able ,using much the same technology as the faithful Bullet ,(undersqare single 500 cc displacements with high mass flywheels and carbueration) to achieve much higher performance envelopes-100 mile per hour with output of 40 hp etc.  And, to add to the intrigue, the Bullet in the past in its incarnation for export to the US as  "Fury" did the same.
This leaves me with more questions.  (Just when I thought I had grocked everything there was to possibly know about RE and the Bullet)
1)  Why, when such higher outputs were clearly possible using pushrod technology of yore, did RE (Brit and Indian) opt to continue production of the much tamer state of tuning we now know as the Bullet.?
2)What is lost by going for the extra power and speed? Or put differently, what are the benefits of the lower state of tune?  Can we have our thump and speed too? Does torque suffer? (can't see why it would since it is a functon of stroke  )
3) If old tech could previoulsy deliver 40 hp and 100 mph, what are the limits of the UCE with synthetic oil, hydraulic lifters, unit contruction, allow heads EI and EFI?  Much better, one is tempted to think.
4) Now that Watsonian Squire has pointed the way in GB, will we see factory production of the new "Bullet Fury" and when will it be available in North America?
5) If this platform can be as good as I think it can, and retain the nostalgic appearance and rider freindly ergonomics, and rugged reliability of the Bullet we all love, then what is the potential limit for market share here in North America:  Many are waiting for the Interceptor to be reborn, but I think there is a lot more to be gained from the Bullet , and if Eicher/RE play there cards right, I think they can take back a lot of market from Japanese bikes while simultaneously appealing to new riders (youth) old guys like me who are drawn to the bikes of our youth, and the fuel conscious practical commuter of North Americaa who is forced to use modern highways.  And who knows, the 500 cc racing calass might have a renaisence too.

Any thoughts?    Nigel Ogston Canada

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2010, 07:50:36 PM »
A few thoughts...

The US is the worst offender in the bigger/better/faster progression of everything.  On one hand, we do have vast expanses of smooth, open highway that most countries do not.  On the other, it's just another facet of our own conspicuous consumption.  I don't really see the point of most street bikes over 800cc, what can you responsibly do with that much power on a public road?  Then again I'm in the minority.

As to why is the Bullet so tame?  Well on a small engine perfromance and reliability are usually inversely proportional.  Most things you do to get more power mean shorter life and more maintenance overall.  The Bullet is the VW bug of Indian transportation.  Designed to be affordable, reliable, and cheap and easy to fix when it does break down.  The only reason they have stepped into the UCE arena with EFI and such is that the old iron barrel and AVL engines just couldn't meet international emissions standards any more.  The 'performance' gain was mostly at the tail pipe in the form of cleaner emissions, less so at the right wrist/smile factor/hooligan performance end of things.  Keep in mind this is great for the primary domestic Indian market.  Less maintenance, cleaner emissions, and just a bit more power and reliability id probably more welcome than huge power advnaces.

All that said, Bob has already commented that the low end of this motor seems very overbuilt.  It should be able to handle lots more top end power.  So big bore kits, big valve head, and high compression pistons with the intake, exhaust, and EFI mods to support them are srurely on the way to the catalogues.  We're still a bit limited, this is a single cylinder non-counter balanced engine and you can only spin that sp fast. before it shakes your filling sloose. 

Also, you seem a bit torn: deploring the bigger better faster mentality but wanting more horsepworer from the humble Bullet.  Ah, no more hypocritical than most of us.  Patience, high performance mods are on the way ;)

Scott






That said, there are probably

r80rt

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2010, 08:05:19 PM »
My stock bullet does all I want, I've never felt underpowered on it. I like the Bullet for what it is, if I wanted more speed and power I'd buy something else.
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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2010, 08:17:11 PM »
Thanks for the thoughtful  and clearly well informed reply ..  Not torn so much as puzzled at the history of it, (ie why does everyone rave about BSAs and not mention Royal Enfields of the day, which appear to have been cut from the same cloth)  but your comments regarding reiability in the Indian market probably explain the prefernce for production of the lower performance models.  .  (and I think BSA achieved part of their high RPM capability by lightening the fly wheel which, I gather , made them very prone to low speed stalling---I think the Indian military were intially drawn to the Bullet from it's performance in "trials" where low speed peformance is key)  But who doesn't want to have their cake and eat it too?  Hence my question about "What is lost" in the bargain.Perhaps somehere between the current "sedate" tuning, and flat out race could meet the need for occasional highway overtaking without loss of durability.  And, since you raised the point, why not have a dynamic rocker arm counterbalancer built into the bottom end? Even without performance mods, it would unleash more RPM at the top of the existing engine.   Thanks again, Nigel.

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2010, 09:01:01 PM »
Yes, that is interesting.  Royal Enfield made it's name in racing but doesn't have the panache of BSA or Triumph.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because they did make their name in racing and not with much advertising.  While I'm sure the other marques did both.  Leaves us a bit behind I guess.

As to the counterbalancer, add one and that wouldn't be a Bullet.  In making the UCE engine the designers did a great deal to keep the 'look and feel' of the classic engine.  A big part of that is the sound and charcteristic vibration of a long stroke, heavy flywheel, non-counterbalanced engine.  It's part of the RE DNA if you will.  Still, I think you are right and that a good bit more performance can be had with aftermarket mods while still maintaining high reliability.  The arm of that equation that will no doubt suffer is emissions, which makes it a no-go for OEM production.

Scott

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2010, 11:24:18 PM »
...
As to the counterbalancer, add one and that wouldn't be a Bullet  ....
Scott

Ya know, there are people on this board that say that adding EFI or electronic ignition made the Bullet not a Bullet.  "A real biker sets the ignition timing after adjusting the points and replacing the condensor.  A real biker adjusts the jets in the carb for optimal performance.  yadadada..."

A counterbalancer is not needed, imho, but having one is probably a good thing for reducing fatigue on the whole bike, as well as rider.

Wait until water cooling is necessary.  Yikes!  Now THAT would not be a Bullet.   :D
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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2010, 11:39:31 PM »
When we look at the good old times, when singles had 40 bhp and went  over 160 km/h we usually forget, that 45 years ago traffic was very different from today. There were no Autobahnen were you could hold this speed longer than a few minutes, and generally the average speed on highways was much, much lower. The reliability, however, was not very well in these days and I´m convinced that a Gold Star or a Velo Venom using their power frequently in modern traffic would need a major overhaul every 5000km. So the unit-Bullets may be tame, in comparison with their ancient cousins it looks like they can take much more beating, at this meeting today´s emission- and loudness standards.
Scotty mentioned the aspects of the Indian home market above: it´s just a balancing between what the customer needs and what you have to offer to make him buy your product. I guess there are few locations in India where you can´t play "King of the road" whenever you want with a Bullet, so there may be not much need for more power.

"What is lost by going for the extra power and speed? Or put differently, what are the benefits of the lower state of tune?"
Relaxation and deceleration! The tame nature of our favorite beast allowes stressfree rides even under tough driving conditions, so you don´t feel sitting on a bullet although you do, of course  ;D
Unless 10 years ago I don´t think more power transforms into more fun automatically, so I like my Precious as it is! Ok, maybe different fork springs for the next season, or different tyres, or...and so on :D.
Consequentially I lack every need of an Interceptor, although I always fear a similar necrophelia that is done in old Triumph´s name - made in Taiwan. Single Bells are fine for me - a billion Indians can´t be wrong!
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r80rt

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2010, 11:46:42 PM »
Ya know, there are people on this board that say that adding EFI or electronic ignition made the Bullet not a Bullet.  "A real biker sets the ignition timing after adjusting the points and replacing the condensor.  A real biker adjusts the jets in the carb for optimal performance.  yadada yadda
I remember hearing that same crap when Harley relpaced the Panhead with the Shovelhead, That ain't a real Harley they cried, but it wasn't long before they were riding one, then the Shovel was replaced with the Evo and it all started again,eek! it's not exactly like my bike so it can't be any good. ::) What nonsense.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 04:05:48 PM by r80rt »
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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2010, 12:36:28 AM »
It's all a balancing act.  I think adding EFI and hydraulic valves is nice for people who want to spend less time wrenching.  While I love wrenching, at least I don't need to do it much now which plays well with the more limited free time I have today.

The counter balancer would have been welcome on my 3200 mile round trip to CA but would make me a little sad for day to day.  I once test rode a Honda Nighthawk.  Beautiful engine, ran smooth as a sewing machine.  Totally unloveable and devoid of character IMO though.

I think the new UCE bikes do a nice job holding enough of the old character to link to their lineage with enough tech improvements to make them cleaner and lower maintenance.

Scott

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2010, 01:15:27 AM »
I bought an 2008 Electra AVL. It has all that I want in performance, economy, looks, and feel. Its an absolute joy to ride. Its easy to mod. like most of the bikes/cars I had growing up. Not necessarily to go fast, but to make it mine.
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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2010, 01:16:25 AM »

I am waiting for someone to adapt and apply the Fireball formula to the UCE lump  ;)
I can break it better,,,,at night, in the rain, on the trail,, 20 miles from nowhere.

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2010, 07:27:59 AM »
@Nigel:

Enjoyed your post and you have put your observations and questions on RE very well.  I will try to give another perspective as to why RE is the way it is.  To do that, we will go back in time to 50's and 60's for some time.

IT IS THE ECONOMY

RE (India) was established within a few years after the British left India.  At that time, the Indian industry was minimal, the country was economically depleted, technology  and infrastructure hardly existed, and trade with other countries was negligible.  Under those circumstances, RE production was started.  Their first and foremost objective was to produce enough motorcycles to supply Indian army to protect long borders of India with China and Pakistan.  

Economics played a big role both in the survival of RE and for what it is today.

It was cheaper than other bikes such as BSA, Triumph, and Norton.  Had it been an expensive bike, it may have gone the same path as other British bikes did - it would have died too with Japanese invasion.  Even though the British factory could make more powerful REs but it would require better engineering, metallurgy - basically more money to build it, which would not have been conducive for Indian market at that time. As RE (UK) closed its shop, RE (India) kept producing the least expensive, simplest bike for years to come.

JAPANESE INVASION OF INDIAN MARKET - RE IN DANGER

Then Yamaha of Japan started to get a few bikes to India.  It did not fare well because of tight import regulations.  I think they eventually closed that venture.  It took many years after that that Indian markets started to open to foreign joint ventures.  With that the production of Japanese bikes started to climb very rapidly to meet huge demand for bikes.  

Within a decade of Japanese invasion of Indian market, RE (India) was facing same fate what had happened to RE (UK).  But it survived due to take over by Eicher.  Also, there are die-hard fans of RE in India, it has a national status symbol for its association with Indian army that would have kept it alive.

So throughout those decades, RE has come close to being gone a few times.  With that history, and environment and little purchasing power of your customers, there is no way to add to the price of your product.  The 350 cc 20 HP RE was the king of road and certainly cheaper to make than any other bike with 40 HP and 100 mph speed.  It did its job pretty well for social and econimic situation of Indian market.

To answer your question - why didn't RE (UK) produce 40 hp bikes ?  My guess is that they must have sensed that they are not going to survive and just put their eggs in the RE (India) basket.

NEW ERA OF RE - EFI

In the last several years, RE (India) did make small changes. More recenlty, it had no choice but to make the electronic fuel injection,UCE 2009 bikes to meet European environment regulations.  They spent a lot of money (from their perspective and capacity) to bring these new EFI models.  

SURVIVAL OF FITTEST -  CAN'T RUSH A TURTLE

RE reminds me of an animal, the turtle, which is considered a play mate of powerful (40HP  ;)) and huge but now extinct dinosaurs. It has survived millions of years UNCHANGED. The turtle is not fast (nor is our beloved RE that tops at 80 mph), nor it  is very strong (my G5 may be maxing at 27 HP).  One feature of turtle is its hard shell - a protection from predators. RE had a protective 'shell' in India - it was the closed Indian market that protected it from outside attack for many years.  May be turtle is not very appetizing - nor is an RE appealing to for a speedster, so they left it alone.

Survival is not of the fastest, nor of the biggest, nor of the strongest - it is of the Fittest, the one who fits within the immediate environment around it.

FUTURE - FURRY or McDEEBS or FIREBALL

It is very tempting to wish for a RE - Furry, Mcdeeb or even Fireball in future. Most likely they will be small scale individuals or small party modifications.  RE (India) is unlikely to be persuaded to make them - simply because they can hardly meet the demand for current models of RE in India.  Their exports make up only a small fraction of total output.  

It will certainly be nice to have an RE model that can compete with a Bonneville or Norton commando - even if it is a limited edition.  It will certainly cost more, but there will be a few buyers for that too.  
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 02:35:38 PM by singhg5 »
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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2010, 12:38:02 PM »
To Singhg5 et al
Thanks for your many responses.  I am new to the whole forum experience, and I have to say I am amazed at the power of communication to reach out like this.  I never imagined so many people would look at or respond to my questions.  And I would like to clarify that I , personally , am not interested in 100 mph, or any particular power output.

  I am  "between bikes" and have, over the course of my life had different machines:  My first (as a teen ) was a Honda CB 250, which felt pretty fast to me.  I have no idea what the power was, and to be honest never thought about it  I did drool over my friend's Commando 850, and (earlier) another friend's brother's Bonneville , and it was probably these images that imprinted on my mind in such a way that now, when I see the profile of the Bullet Electra/G 5 something in me becomes irrationally drawn.  My second bike (used for 2 years in the early 80s in West Africa on POOR  roads was a Honda XL 250 -Enduro type bike , which I had the local blacksmith weld big back racks on for touring. (Before the trend !) and this served me well within the speed limitations of severly rain  rutted mostly unpaved roads and a few highway stretches to the capital city when I could get away from my post.   My third bike (probably the mid life crisis bike) was a Harley Dyna convertable, which if you look at it with a kinda squint, you can see actually resembles Brit bikes in its basic simplicity (sort of like a big Sportster) more than any of the other Harley bikes..  But alas, pressures of work, , (no time to ride then) expense , insurance financing etc eventually caused me to relinquish this.  Though, to be honest, though obviously much more powerful (but no speedster) the actual pleasure of riding this bike was no greater for me than my earlier bikes, and maybe, given it's weight and inherent unmanageability on bad surfaces, even a bit less.  I did enjoy the torque.
So , now that the bike bug is biting again, I am delighted to see that the "turtle" as you put it, has not only survived, but flourished and now has come from it's distant home in India to my own home land with full dealer support and a growing community of interest.  The Bullet model was born the same year as me , and I think this may be what makes me ponder the hisotory of the whole thing.  That, and a strong impression made on me by Ted Simon's first book "Travels with Jupiter' detailing his around the world trip on a basically stock small displacement street  bike (Triumph if memory serves me correctly).  This kind of makes me chuckle when I look at the current market offerings of "Adventure Touring " machines equipped with ABS,, massive size, tire inflation monitoring etc.   Holy cow! (Sorry No offense to our Indian friends)  A far cry from the adventuring spirit of Ted (a writer, not even a gearhead) whom a whole generation of "Adventure Bikers" has venerated on their BMW 1200GSs .
So , for the record, I love bikes,. I love riding, and it sems to me that the surviving "turtle "of the RE Bullet is just the ticket as my idea of an adventure touring all rounder :  If they did't already have good after market racks, I'd be tempted to ride it down to the local blacksmith again and have him weld some on. 
As to the performance question, in truth I haven't even had the chance to ride one yet, and so I am grateful for those respondents who have taken the time to reply with their satisfactory experience on their stock bikes.  And from my own experience, I don't even enjoy riding much over 60 mph.  (I was once almost knocked unconscioius when I rode head on into a massive flying African beetle (like the monsters you see pictures of ) at 45 mph , that hit me smack between the eyes. It may have been doing 15mph for a combined impact speed of 60 mph.  It lived--So did I but only resumed my trip after a 10 minute "smoko" to ponder the meaning of life.

I research the past of the RE because I love them.  I am also rooting for the company because it is refeshing to see this kind of energy and obvious enthusiasm coming from India (a fellow former colony) And I probably like the Brit connection because of my own roots (born here parents immigrated:form GB post  war) .  I probably like thumpers because my father regaled me with tales of his Panther 650 in the mid 30s. And , as far as visual cues, somehow the RE Bullet just exactly fits the mental image I have of "motorcylcle" .  In fact, I don't even particularly like the styling of the new Watsonian Squire Fury model, preferring the G5 plain or deluxe. (Each to his own I guess)   My  whole line of enquiry however, was sparked by the curious discovery that RE Brit Reddich DID make a 40 hp 1oo mph Bullet "Fury" back in the early 60's (and exported about 160+- of them to the US).  So this performance line is part of the pedigree, or DNA of the machine, even if that aspect wasn't pursued in the Indian market(for all the reasons others including Sott and singrg have outlined)  But there it is ...an undenialble part of the history.  And regarding the bike being the VW of Indian motorcycles, I think they actually call it the "Raj" or King of bikes.So maybe it's more of a "Land Rover" of Indian motorcycles----expensive, used by the affluent (there), a symbol of aspiration, and , yes national identity tinged with militrary cachee, but sturdy and utilitarian. 
Thanks all .. Enjoy the group, and look forward to being an owner./rider (again)    Nigel .

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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2010, 02:21:28 PM »
Get one, it'll make you grin  ;D
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Re: "Fury"
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2010, 03:39:04 PM »
Nigel my humble advice is test ride a Bullet, buy it and don't look back.

I can not claim the likes of conquering Ladhk pas , sub Saharan Africa or even Death Valley.

 I can say my Bullet takes me everywhere I need to to go and some places I shouldn't

Two lanes or green lanes she is equal in both.
I can break it better,,,,at night, in the rain, on the trail,, 20 miles from nowhere.

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