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Old 24th April 2012, 08:53   #1
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Default Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Hi all,
I need some advice and suggestions.
I have received the 1979 bullet standard (that I learned riding on when was on 8th standard) from my father in 2010. The bike was lying at my native place unused for last eight years.
Anyway I fixed some niggles, changed front tire, carburetor, front fork spring, speedometer and few other things from RE Service station and spent total 10000.
I am using this bike for my occasional night rides after bad day at office, almost regular saturday rides with my daughter, regular sunday outings to places near kolkata.
The bike is running pretty good considering following
1. Comfortable cruise at 80-90 KMPH
2. Mileage of 32 to 35 with as per wish riding. And I don't remember it gave anything different than this from the time when it was new.
3. Never overheats
4. Nice effort less slow ride of 30 at top gear when mood for joy ride.
5. According to Javed bhai(a trusted mechanic in RE service station) engine is in good shape.
6. No much oil leak. I mean little oil stains on certain part but never really drips or stains the parking spot.
7. Never stranded on the road.
But the bike has following issues also
1. Rust all over the places (might cost 15 to 20000 to re-chrome and pain everything and one month of dismantling, painting etc and one more month may be to fix all post refitting issues
2. According to one mechanic (I am not sure about his trustworthiness) the cylinder and piston is at last stage.
3. My brother changed the silencer to machismo one (long) 10 years back. Silencer is not rusted a bit but doesn't sound good like original short bottle atleast to rider. From pillion seat thump is awesome.
4. All paper works are outdated by 10 years. Redoing all paperwork through agent considering fines would be expensive.
5. Chain , sproket, rear tyre, clutch cable etc etc are still to be changed. Thus may need 10000 more.
6. Cam penion set giving some clatter noise. Javed bhai opened the set and confirmed no need to change for atleast 10000KM.
7. Sometime starting problem. At those times I have to give it 10 minutes and then kick and it starts. Donno why.

Now recently I have bitten very hard by bullet bug. And thinking of giving my dzire to wife for her personal use and keep riding for some years while I still can. Now considering atleast Rs40000(20000 optional for paint and nickeling) has to be spent on this one, I am getting bit confused. Should I go ahead or keep this as it is for memory and wait and buy new thunderbird 500 when the same is launched in June.

I recently test ridden both classic 350 and classic 500. Classic 500 was nice with power, pick up etc but neither gave the feel or fun of my old bullet. I don't know why, I can't explain, I just might be too comfortable with our old family horse.

I need suggestions from gurus.
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Old 24th April 2012, 10:20   #2
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Of course, end of the day it's completely your call but I feel you should get your 79 beauty restored rather than get a TB500 because:

1) Purely from a monetary perspective, there's no reason to believe that TB500 will cost less than 1.4-1.5L on road, so you'll end up spending more overall.

2) 79 bull - it's a classic!!! Think about it, with some good work done, your bike will actually become an appreciating asset

3) I have taken a friend's CL500 for rides and while it's an amazing bike it does feel a little light, the classic ruggedness that I get from my Electra is missing. As far as the exhaust note goes, if I remember correct the pre-82 models came with a heavier crank and had a good engine note, just get the exhaust replaced with a short bottle one and you can have the old thump back!

4) The small issues that you mention are to be expected in a 33 year old bike and Enfield does demand a lot of attention however if you've kept it for so long then you must be the sort who's willing to devote that sort of time and attention.

5) As I mentioned, the new Enfields are amazing machines but somehow I still feel that the old school bikes had a different level of charm and reliability to them. No ECU, disc brakes, electric starts - just the man and his machine but hey, that just me!!

All the best to you regardless of your decision, ride safe, hope you have a good time on your bike.
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Old 24th April 2012, 10:23   #3
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Giving advice about which motorcycle will be the best for someone is like giving them advice about which woman will be best for them.

Only you know what will make you happy.

Because I don't live in India my knowledge of what is available there is limited but if the parts that need painting can be cleaned up by lightly sanding with a very fine grit sandpaper can't you paint the fuel tank, fenders and side boxes with a rattle can spray paint?
A glossy paint need to be put on very evenly to look good and small errors stand out like a sore thumb.
A black or gray primer paint on the other hand is not shiny so little mistakes are not noticable.
These primers will protect the metal quite nicely.
Who knows? You might even find a flat (not shiny) tan finish and end up with a motorcycle that looks like a battle hardned Desert Storm.
This could place you among the few who own these new motorcycles.

Of course you will need to replace the cables and rear tire to avoid problems on your rides but maintaining these items is just a part of owning a motorcycle.

If you were needing exceptional reliability I might say the new bike would be your best bet but if this one is mechanically sound it should do quite nicely if you treat it gently.

Besides, where else can you buy an operating motorcycle which you fully know the history of for so little expense?

If at some future date you decide to spend a lot of money on a new Royal Enfield (or any other thing) you can always sell a reliable motorcycle to help pay for the new one.

Last edited by ArizonaJim : 24th April 2012 at 10:25.
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Old 24th April 2012, 10:35   #4
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by sinhsha View Post
I have received the 1979 bullet standard (that I learned riding on when was on 8th standard) from my father in 2010.

I am using this bike for my occasional night rides after bad day at office, almost regular saturday rides with my daughter, regular sunday outings to places near kolkata.
Never stranded on the road.

Classic 500 was nice with power, pick up etc but neither gave the feel or fun of my old bullet. I don't know why, I can't explain, I just might be too comfortable with our old family horse.
please.
You already have enough reasons to keep the bullet. Just get the documents updated and the mechanicals in top shape. Perhaps, you would need to spend ~20k for it (since the engine is in good shape). Though the UCE engines are said to be more reliable, smoother, more powerful and loaded with all new tech, it will never give you the pleasure of the 79 CI engine.
If you still want the Classic 500, go ahead and buy it, but make sure that you park the '79 safe at home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArizonaJim View Post
Giving advice about which motorcycle will be the best for someone is like giving them advice about which woman will be best for them.
Aptly put Jim.

Last edited by jeeva : 24th April 2012 at 10:38.
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Old 24th April 2012, 10:49   #5
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by sinhsha View Post
Hi all,
I need some advice and suggestions.
I have received the 1979 bullet standard (that I learned riding on when was on 8th standard) from my father in 2010. The bike was lying at my native place unused for last eight years.
Anyway I fixed some niggles, changed front tire, carburetor, front fork spring, speedometer and few other things from RE Service station and spent total 10000.
I am using this bike for my occasional night rides after bad day at office, almost regular saturday rides with my daughter, regular sunday outings to places near kolkata.
The bike is running pretty good considering following
1. Comfortable cruise at 80-90 KMPH
2. Mileage of 32 to 35 with as per wish riding. And I don't remember it gave anything different than this from the time when it was new.
3. Never overheats
4. Nice effort less slow ride of 30 at top gear when mood for joy ride.
5. According to Javed bhai(a trusted mechanic in RE service station) engine is in good shape.
6. No much oil leak. I mean little oil stains on certain part but never really drips or stains the parking spot.
7. Never stranded on the road.
But the bike has following issues also
1. Rust all over the places (might cost 15 to 20000 to re-chrome and pain everything and one month of dismantling, painting etc and one more month may be to fix all post refitting issues
2. According to one mechanic (I am not sure about his trustworthiness) the cylinder and piston is at last stage.
3. My brother changed the silencer to machismo one (long) 10 years back. Silencer is not rusted a bit but doesn't sound good like original short bottle atleast to rider. From pillion seat thump is awesome.
4. All paper works are outdated by 10 years. Redoing all paperwork through agent considering fines would be expensive.
5. Chain , sproket, rear tyre, clutch cable etc etc are still to be changed. Thus may need 10000 more.
6. Cam penion set giving some clatter noise. Javed bhai opened the set and confirmed no need to change for atleast 10000KM.
7. Sometime starting problem. At those times I have to give it 10 minutes and then kick and it starts. Donno why.

Now recently I have bitten very hard by bullet bug. And thinking of giving my dzire to wife for her personal use and keep riding for some years while I still can. Now considering atleast Rs40000(20000 optional for paint and nickeling) has to be spent on this one, I am getting bit confused. Should I go ahead or keep this as it is for memory and wait and buy new thunderbird 500 when the same is launched in June.

I recently test ridden both classic 350 and classic 500. Classic 500 was nice with power, pick up etc but neither gave the feel or fun of my old bullet. I don't know why, I can't explain, I just might be too comfortable with our old family horse.

I need suggestions from gurus.

The answer is simple KEEP THE BIKE! A 79' bull is a classic. If I were you I would restore it to it's original condition and keep it. You can always buy a CL 500 off the shelf, but coming by an old classic bull is not easy at all.

I ride a 95' Cast Iron 500 and until two years ago I also owned a 69' 350 which I sold. I regret the decession to this day

At the end of the day it's your call. But if I were you I would never part with the 79'.

Just a suggestion, if possible buy yourself a CL 500 for daily use. Keep the 79' also and restore it slowly and steadily as and when your wallet permits
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Old 24th April 2012, 11:25   #6
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

With an old classic like yours, I guess it will be a bit risky going on long rides on the old bike. Also I have heard that in heavy rain the old model (pre-1980) has a habit of stalling. This was the exact reason why my cousin sold off his 1973 bullet.

What you need to ask yourself is how much use will you be getting out of your bike? If you intend to use it to commute to work regularly, going on long rides now and then, in such cases I would advise on a new thumper. But keeping the old one as well as a weekend restoration project. After all having a 2nd bike is not that expensive with low insurance and rego costs.

But if your riding pattern is very irregular and you only use your bike sometimes then of course spend the money on the old one.
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Old 24th April 2012, 11:29   #7
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

'79 Bullet will have a sound that a new T-Bird can only aspire to have (even after doing all sort of engine/exhaust mods).

'79 Bull will be cheaper than T-Bird. (that money will easily finance your spare parts)

'79 Bull has the classic Bull shape, T-bird has a different shape/profile - you'll have to choose one.



If you have a trusted mechanic at RE (or anywhere else too) service station, then you can feel safe about old Bull too.
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Old 24th April 2012, 12:05   #8
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

from a monetary perspective, the '79 will appreciate in value. the new thunderbird will depreciate

Your call
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Old 24th April 2012, 14:24   #9
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Thanks all for your advice. I think I heard what I actually wanted to hear from deep in my heart.
I will keep my old lady.
Only the point is as lately I am liking riding and planning to do longer rides. As mentioned by AmriSharm doing those on 79 Bullet sometimes sounds crazy sometimes makes me afraid that if something or other goes wrong.
Now if I want to just do paperwork and minimal restoration a 30000 will be gone. And If want to buy a new bullet 500 for long rides the whole proportion is becoming expensive.
Another thing is maintaining multiple machines. I have too many cars to maintain. If don't ride regularly (which is actually a pain to keep driving different cars oin different days, for example carrying lighter, umbrella, mint etc etc..you get my point from previous car to next car) either battery goes down, or tires get flat or brakes come jammed, tanks become rusted (I have seen a plethora of problems due to irregular uses) or worse rats make houses in them.

Now would it be really good idea to have another set of problems for multiple motorcycles?

Another big problem is that I want to keep my vehicles nice. But even after a shoddy job (in my opinion) mechanics' (Service station or independent shops) reply "Babu this is old vehicle and served it's life now it's a showpiece so you can't get it problem free or can't expect it to run like new...you have to learn that". Just to give a perspective...there was a petrol smell from my bike. I had to visit three different shops (3 to 4 times to each one) to get the smell away. Everybody use to shoo me off saying..."This old bike will smell like that only"...


If I rework everything in 79Bullet (spend say 40000), change all parts prone to fail...will it be reliable enough to go for long rides (500KM)?
I know emotion and logic doesn't go hand in hand....:-(

Last edited by sinhsha : 24th April 2012 at 14:39.
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Old 24th April 2012, 14:36   #10
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

If you are ready to spend the money and get a reliable mechanic (my suggestion would be to go for the authorised dealer's workshop) it will be reliable. My American friend took my old Bullet of the early 80s and travelled to each and every corner of the country and Bangladesh over a period of one year. It's not that he didn't have any problem whatsoever but nothing so bad that it will require you to dump the bike. So, it is a question of attitude really. But don't expect the Japanese bike kind of reliability and trouble-free ness. If you want a reliable bike to tour with that will never stop without an accident go for the Pulsar 220.
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Old 24th April 2012, 16:41   #11
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

I think the answer should be simple. Its a choice between:
1) Being just one more person owning a thunderbird or
2) Being THE guy with this AWESOME bike.

For me, the answer is out there, staring at my face , but thats just me!

Sanket
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Old 24th April 2012, 17:28   #12
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by Voido_kun View Post
I think the answer should be simple. Its a choice between:
1) Being just one more person owning a thunderbird or
2) Being THE guy with this AWESOME bike.

For me, the answer is out there, staring at my face , but thats just me!

Sanket

Thanks, You made my day. No more confusion.
It's clear as love and infatuation.
I am coming to India this week. Will upload her photos as she is.
Will restore as per my capability and will keep updating.
When Thunderbird 500 get launched and RE fixes initial niggles...who knows that at that time my conditions might change and I might buy one.
And by then I might have covered few more journeys with my old lady ..why not cherish this time we have in hand.
When my daughter will be 18 my bullet will be a family possession passed to her..

Thanks BHPians.
I really needed that. Got enough moral boost up to handle frowning stares from my other lady in life. She is 79 model as well . She has to know that she came in my life much later.
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Old 24th April 2012, 17:48   #13
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by amrisharm View Post
Also I have heard that in heavy rain the old model (pre-1980) has a habit of stalling. This was the exact reason why my cousin sold off his 1973 bullet.
Perhaps, the bike was still running on the 6V/8V electricals and the wiring wasn't in its best shape. Obviously, the old 6v, 8v nor the 12v DC system was reliable until RE came up with the 12v AC/DC system.
Bullets until late 90's came with CB (contact breaker) point ignition. When you get the bike water serviced or if it rains, water can seep into the CB points or to the top of the starting coil (there is a thin rubber boot over it and its of pathetic quality), which could stall the bike. Otherwise, if the wiring is all properly insulated (joints connected using sockets, for example) regardless of which model it is, rain or sun, shouldn't create any panic. Besides RE, a delhi based company "Swiss" manufactures most electrical parts including wiring kits.
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Old 24th April 2012, 18:05   #14
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

I have been having the same dilemma for some time. One of my uncles wants me to take his 1980 bullet, which he isn't using at all. I have ridden the bullet quite a few times and the engine is in good condition although the body is in need of some external works. I was initially very tempted to just take it and do the fix the paint and chrome finishes. Then I thought about something that proved to be conclusive:

If I am going to be taking the bullet on long rides, which I will, I will be better off with a classic with wider tires and better seats (both classic and TB). I don't know if this matters to you, but some point to ponder. On the other hand, if you only want it for shorter rides, just go with your heart and keep your bullet.
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Old 25th April 2012, 17:33   #15
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Default Re: Restore and modify 1979 bullet or wait for Thunderbird 500

I think you should keep the old bike and do a thorough overhaul and paint job. What joy with a old number on a shining bike.
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