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Old 3rd December 2014, 18:22   #1
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Default Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Ever since I have heard stories about my Dad's Java and how it was famous around town for its thump, I have been wanting to ride a Thumper myself. When he or his friends describe the experience of driving or riding on it, they are lost in so many fond memories. I wanted to make some of my own too. I remember seeing an early print advt, of the RE bikes. A man crossing a railway line on a Bull and the train waiting in the background. The tag line says - "Everyone/thing makes way for the Bullet". How could I resist the pull of this beast? To begin my journey, I bought myself a Bajaj Byk in 2004, from savings from my first ever job, biding my time to move to the Bull. That was the cheapest bike available and fit my budget well. It has the tried and tested M80 engine, only juiced to give 100 CC now. I still have it, rides like a charm with good fuel efficiency and quick pick-up. And I dreamed about the day I would own a Bull a.k.a a Royal Enfield bike.

Then in 2010, along came a contest on IndiBlogger about what defines a perfect biker and being one at heart already I participated. My article won the second prize - a Castrol Tee and a Biker Jacket. Read it here.. It was a futuristic view of what I would do with my Thumper and my desire to own one grew manifold.

Then I made a friend who has Royal Enfield Classics (REC), not or two, but three of them. And most importantly, he let me ride one of them. It was my first ride, driving wise or pillion. I was hooked right away, as I had expected to. The bike is way different than what I had been riding so far. Larger wheel based, thicker tyres, more power, great torque.....and the sexy Thump! I think I was ready to graduate from the Byk. There has to be a hitch though, and in my case it was the seating height. I was virtually on tip toes while at a halt and it did not feel comfortable in touch n go traffic.

I decided to go for the Thumper anyway and sort this issue out later with a custom seat, such is the pull of this grand daddy of the Indian roads.

I approached the Dhone dealership in Pune for my bike. The reaction I got upon by request to book one was expected and as I had predicted in my prize winning article. They are more used to the linen and gold chain clad junta than, the diminutive likes of me turning up to book a bike, that too a Bullet. I took a test ride of the TB and the Classic. I did not care so much for the other builds, including the café racer.

The fuel in both test ride bikes was minimal, it would have fit in a thimble. As a result after just 500 mts of riding the bikes stalled. I did not make much of the issue and proceeded to the booking process. The staff was polite, asked me if I wanted a special number etc. I settled on the REC in green-blue colour. It comes in 500 CC only and therefore will be referred to as REC 500. And then the wait began…

2.5 months later the sweet sound of the SMS from RE rang in my ears and I called up Dhone to confirm. IT WAS HERE! IT WAS HERE! I rushed to the showroom to choose my stead. I looked up all three pieces they had in my colour, poke around hidden parts, turned on ignition and listened to the sweet thumps of all. I marked the sweetest sounding one out as mine. Balance payment made, they asked me come back three days later to pick it up. One good suggestion I got from my biker friend was to note the chassis and engine number of the piece I chose. I made a note of those and made the sales guy also take note.

Three days did not pass fast enough and I flew to Dhone’s only to find that they had made a totally different machine ready. The advice came in handy as I stuck to my guns about being delivered only the piece I had chosen and no other. They tried to dilly dally – it will take another day, they are all the same, etc. but they could not get past my resolve. So I was in the showroom for the next 4 hours while they got the beast ready for delivery. Lesson one learnt.

While I was waiting there, by no means a pleasant place, much entertainment was provided by other customers. There was one in particular who had come to take delivery of his bike accompanied by a videographer to shoot the event. And this dude himself was dressed as if it was his own wedding! Huh!!? Maybe, I thought, one day I will understand it all.

Finally, around 3:30 PM the Thumper was ready for me. I had taken some pedhas along and distributed them to everyone in sight. As usual, the beast had a thimble full fuel in it, so the first thing to do was make my way to a station. My friend took some photos of the occasion and I made my wobbly way home. Everyone was waiting to receive the beast in a grand manner and there was much fanfare. I finally said goodnight to it reluctantly at 10 pm.

Over the next few days, I discovered the sheer joy of thumping my way around town -- catching the eye of passers by, getting ahead of others easily albeit safely…oh such joy!! I was itching for a longer ride. My friend being a RE traditionalist, did not let me go over 60 kmph and I was determined to do things the right way. We decided to ride down to Khed Shivapur toll booth and back..some 70 Km in all. It was a thrill. I am not a speed devil by any means, so I was happy puttering along. The turns, though generous road breadth wise, were a little challenging for me at first. The high seating and long reach for the handlebar was something I would need to get used to. Plus remember, I was finding it hard to reach the ground. Well, I can only remember the riding part of the entire time…. Indescribable feeling of flying with the wind. Loved it and grew to love my REC too.

It was almost a month by the time the registration number was shared. I took the bike to Pune’s Nana peth area which is the hub for all spares, add-ons, mechanics etc. I got my number plate done, added the leg guards and also added the side bars. Pawar Seats had a rider seat that I liked and improved the ground reach for me, so that went on as well. (See image of bike and seat fitment.) The whole shebang put be back by about INR 3500, but all worth it.

Then began the REC discovery. My friend had warned about the service quality and the bike build quality enough for me to expect the worst every time something happened.

It was time for the first servicing and the bike was running fine. One of the smaller headlights had conked off and that was replaced. I am not sure they really did any “servicing” of the bike that day except oil the chain it in front of me just before delivery. What I did not realize then was that this oil did not have time to circulate or drip off. I ended up spoiling my jeans as I rode back. Lesson two learnt.

One day after the third servicing, I noticed oil dripping from the right side of the engine block and seeping onto the silencer. This was causing much smoke to fly when the oil burned. Back to Dhone’s to fix it. It seems they had broken the oil seal while servicing and instead of replacing it, simple twisted it around so that the broken end faced skywards. Really!!!?? I maintained my cool while I badgered them into changing the seal and refusing to pay for it. Grrrrrrr! . I was just waiting to be done with the free servicing before going to a more reliable mechanic.

After this episode a few niggles did surface but nothing that would dampen the ride experience. My friend assured me that a Bullet is constantly leaking from somewhere or the other, so I just had to get used to it. (see image of leak) After 13 years of owning a super low maintenance Bajaj Byk, I was going to work on my tolerance levels.

Around 9 months into the ownership, I geared up for my first long ride – Pune to Goa. A bunch of us were running the Goa River Marathon and we planned to ride down there. I visited Nana Peth again for the elastic fasteners to hold my luggage and gloves. All three of us were RE owners – 2 RECs and a TB. We got my friend's regular mechanic to go over the bikes once to sort out any major issues. Fortunately there were none, so we were all set.

We filled up the previous night and on the 5th of December 2014, started towards Goa at 6 AM sharp. I had done over 2000 kms on my bike by then so I was able to push it past the 60 Kmph mark to 80-90 kmph or so. I was still hesitant to take it to 100 kmph. It was my impression from the sound of the engine that the bike was straining at that speed but my friend assured me that that was not the case. Nevertheless, I hovered around the 80-90 kmph mark throughout the trip.

We were lucky to get cloud cover as we went into Katraj and beyond. It was raining in Pune, but not on us. Apart from a puncture in my rear wheel in Khambatki Ghat, we had smooth sailing. The roads definitely got better as we crossed over into Kolhapur and further into Belgao. We fueled up at Belgao and then asked for directions to Chorla. That was a very memorable downhill ride for me, the Chorla Ghat. There were scary moment with sharo turns, I was not yet so comfortable, but then the whole atmosphere made up for it. We were going to a hotel near the Airport so we went via old roads in Goa, via the Zuari River Bridge. The roads being super smooth and Police presence for help with direction was a huge plus to make the latter part our ride great.

In the three day stay in Goa, we visited Raj for the Goan thali, the beach (of course), ran the marathon, visited the RE showroom in the old city to replace my friends’ REC’s brake pads and bought ourselves some Guava cheese and Bekinka. Go figure out what these delectable things are if you do not know already. Shame on you if you’ve been to Goa and not had these. My friend has fitted a custom handlebar on his RE and I tried it for a bit while on a ride through Lotli towards Phonda. It is wider and higher, perhaps a little far my reach, but it did wonders to my riding confidence on turns. I think I am going to get one for myself, perhaps a little less lengthy and nearer the saddle.

We left for Pune on Monday, with the Sun at our back. There was much fog in humid Goa that day, so we delayed our departure by 30 minutes for better visibility. We used google maps for voice direction on my friends’ helmet audio. It directed us well towards Chorla. After we passed the ghat, the first halt was Belgao for fueling up both the bikes and ourselves. We made good time to Kolhapur, reaching there at about 3 pm. A short rest and refreshments later, we were on the road again. A must-have halt at Kailas near Khed Shivapur for Bhel and vada pav was also made at my insistence. We were much on track to reach the city by 7 pm. After the Kailas halt we were going to part ways – one friend would continue on to Mumbai, the other would take the Singhagad road exit and I would take the Warje exit. We had had a great time with each other, with the bikes and during the time. We decided that this would be our annual affair, no matter what.

It was my longest and most exhilarating ride to date. The change of seats had worked wonders for my posture and there was very little back pain, if any. At time I leaned on to my sack held in place on the pillion seat by the elastic clamps. We rode about 1012 KM in all – the ride and commutes within Goa included and I must’ve spent about 1700 on petrol. Overall, a good average I guess. Except for my puncture, my friends’ brake pads and occasionally checking tyre pressures our bikes did not seek our attention, leaving us to enjoy the city, the experience, the ride and each others’ company. We three and bikes in fact, drew other people’s attention wherever we halted.

Damn you RE, if you did not make the bikes so hard to resist, the poor make would have done you in long ago! Here is to many more years of riding the Thumper and to hopes of improvement in standards at RE.

Here is a round up of my specific observations after a year of riding my REC:


Choice - While looking at the REC 500, I really did not look at any other as I was clear that this was what I wanted. In any case, the rest were out of my budget. I only chose between the TB and the REC. Handle reach, handle turning reach, foot reach to the ground and heaviness of handling were the prime considerations. I did not like the riding position of the TB with its curved handle, so went for the REC.

Dealership - 2 of my friends had taken their bikes from Dhone and they had an ok experience. Considering the showroom proximity from my residence, I went for it. I also visited 2 other showrooms - the one on Baner road and the one on Paud road but apart from slightly friendlier staff nothing was different.

On-road price – I did not bargain on the cost, only requested an early delivery. I booked in the last week of December 2013 and per the going delivery frequency would have to wait for 4 months at least. The cost when I booked was INR 1,65,000 and at the time of delivery had risen by INR 2,000. Considering mine was a 500 cc REC and of colour not much in demand here, I got delivery in the first week of March 2014

Extended warranties & service packages – If there is an extended warranty option, I was not offered it. Free servicing extends to the first, 30, 60, 90 and 120 days or incremental KMs. While getting your bike serviced there is an option to have the metal surface laminated and polished to prevent scratches. It does help retain the shine of the vehicle. I went for it only once, preferring to lovingly polish the Thumper myself.

Safety & related equipment – Unlike a lot of folks who opt to get the RVMs removed for aesthetic purposes, I can never do that. The REC comes with a engine shut down function upon impact or if it falls to one side. This prevents petrol leakage and associated hazards. I personally doubt it works, because I have dropped the bike on its side 3 times in the last one year and never did its ignition shut down by itself. That is RE for you.

Number of kms done – I have now done close to 7000 KMs on my lovely Thumper. The first year was spent entirely in getting to know the bike and breaking it in, so sacrificed on the mileage.

Usage pattern – The Thumper transports me to office twice a week, a grueling ride of 22 KMs on way in choking traffic. The thumping keeps me in a trance and helps make the traffic bearable. I also use it to run errands to place I know will have ample parking. I am not confident of parking in narrow road side spaces or where the road declines or inclines steeply. For those time, I still have my trusty Byk.

Then once a month my RE owner friends do a “Chai” ride –Ride down to Khandala, or Pachgani – anything within 60-80 km distance, have chai and breakfast, ride back. We do this on office days so that it make the going so much easier. Besides, we get bragging rights.

Exterior styling & design - The REC design is to die for. As a short rider, I would personally like a better seat, but that I have already had made. I did not ride too long on the spring seat to see how it helps. I am happy with my custom seat. Also, I don’t claim to be an expert motorcyclist or to know my REC inside-out, so I suppose everything is in the right place. The look it has works for me.

Overall build quality – Much, much left desired. The paint quality is just about ok, especially at the joints where you can tell they have done a botched it up badly. The lids on the filter and toolkit on either side do not fit well. I have to tap them gently to get them in place. No matter what I do the mirrors do not seems aligned to the handle. The point where the various cables meet is another bad job. The small headlights do not fit well into their socket and as a result some water seeps in. (See image) The various tubes that run all over the bike have developed cracks where they connect with some pump or valve. According to Dhone staff that is usual (see image). Lots of tiny niggle here and there. Oh, if I did not simply love it…..grrr!

Wheels & tyres – The new REC has the 19 inch front wheel for the last 2 years. That adds 2 inches to the overall height. I liked the fuller and thicker tyres of the REC better than the TB. I suppose that means a more stable bike.

Driving position and ergonomics – The REC is clearly designed for taller and “wider” individuals. I am not either but I like that the bike helps me sit tall. On a long ride, it does get tiring to sit like that just so that I can reach the stock handle, but I am about to change that with a custom fitting. As mentioned, I have already changed the driver seat which is wider and sits on the bracket without the springs. It has better thigh support than the stock seat.

Visibility & size of mirrors – The vibrations of the handle leave object in the rear shaking like mad. The mirrors just about do their job. If I am able to find bigger mirrors with a similar chrome finish that wont spoil the look of my bike, I will go for them. The search is on.

Engine performance & driveability in the city and around – After breaking in the engine now sounds freer. At the behest of my experienced friend I have added Abro additive to the engine oil. This has taken the sharp edge off the thump and it sounds more like a purr. This, I like.

On the highways, after crossing 90 kmph, it sounds like the engine is straining. I am not sure if it is, my friend thinks otherwise. As long as the bike does not cough I think I am fine.

I am most happy about the power and torque in this bike. After graduating from the puny Byk it seems like I am driving a HumVee. The engine settles into its sweet spot in the 60kmph mark and I love to keep it there. The hearts become one!

Gearshift & clutch – Much smoother than older models but the neutral is such a hit n miss. I am told not one REC is like the other. So I wanted to discover my Thumper’s personality and the longest I took was to discover what it takes to get into neutral from 2nd or the 1st gear. The bike has been kind to me while I learnt how to handle it. The clutch remains smooth and slipping into higher or lower gear is smooth at all speeds.

Fuel efficiency - Being used to the frugal Byk, I was warned about the efficiency of the REC, rather the lack of it. With my stop n go driving and after all 4 services, the bike gives me an average of about 50 km/litre.

Suspension & ride quality (at low as well as high speeds) – The bike weighs 200 kgs and I am a mere distraction on it so the suspension as responsive as it is, keeps tossing me if I go over a little bump or ditch at high speeds. For heavier people it might be better I suppose. At low speeds, I have nothing to complain about – the bike does not jumpy after it moves over a hurdle. I have experienced two wheelers like the Activa do that.

Braking – The REC has disc brakes on the front fork and they are sharp. I have had to stop at an instant a couple of times and felt the rear wheel start to slip but held.

Headlights - The stock headlights are not great in the night, they just about show you 5 feet ahead. Most of my RE owner friends have fitted LEDs or more powerful lamps. Since I do not plan on doing much nighttime driving out of the city, I am sticking with the stock lights.

Cost of upkeep & maintenance – For all four services I have had to pay close to INR 1000 per servicing – that included oil change, fluid top ups, greasing and general checkup. Apart from that, I changed my seat and had a puncture fixed twice. I have bought Abro a couple of times, I forget the exact price. Those have been my only expenses besides topping up the fuel.

The folks have been a little wary of my going on long rides but they know I follow all rules and don’t speed. And I don’t fall for studs who want to race just because they see me ride a Bull. They can ride away to hell.

The Bull is now a friend, sometime a little unfamiliar, but it promises to become one of my best as I spend more time with it.
Attached Thumbnails
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Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report-img_20150414_101348994.jpg  

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Last edited by Aditya : 23rd April 2015 at 12:48.
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Old 23rd April 2015, 12:49   #2
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Default re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorbikes Section. Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 25th April 2015 at 13:13. Reason: Typo
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Old 23rd April 2015, 14:05   #3
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Default re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Congrats!
Now, please ensure that the circled area is not a crack.
I've known a handful of REs with the chassis cracking at the very same spot.
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Old 23rd April 2015, 14:10   #4
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Default re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Loved your style of narration. I could almost relate how your personality gels with that of the bull: calm, unhurried and savoring the experience of being on the road.

Wish you many happy miles with the thumper!
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Old 23rd April 2015, 23:35   #5
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

I think the 50kmpl is too optimistic a figure for a an RE, especially for a 500cc. Can you throw more light on how you managed to touch the stratospheric (incredulous) figure and how you measured it?
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Old 24th April 2015, 09:39   #6
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Quote:
Originally Posted by COMMUTER View Post
I think the 50kmpl is too optimistic a figure for a an RE, especially for a 500cc. Can you throw more light on how you managed to touch the stratospheric (incredulous) figure and how you measured it?
I am not really certain how much economy the 500s return. But upon decent riding through proper highways (with occasional sprints to overtake buses and container trucks) my classic 350 gives me about 47kmpl. My dad does better riding and he claims that he even got a 53 once. I don't know why but my tires keep loosing pressure a little bit and that certainly brings down the economy. Dad on the other hand is very keen on maintaining the pressure and checks the pressure every time he refuels. He also believes that the best way to maintain a bike is by riding it in a decent manner. And I do the occasional Italian tuneups for him, without him knowing of course.
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Old 24th April 2015, 13:14   #7
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Congratulations on the ride man! Welcome to the brotherhood!

I too considered getting the C5 back in 2010, but found the bike too short for my large frame, so went with the TBTS 350 instead. The torque on the Enfield 500s in delicious and acceleration is so much fun.

Watch out for fuel injector issues though *touchwood*. Lot of riders I know switched over to carbs after facing consistent misfiring. Over your experience you will learn a lot about bikes. Anytime your bike gives you an issue, you will be annoyed, but gradually learn so much that even a breakdown excites you.

Good luck and hope to see you on the highway.
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Old 24th April 2015, 14:15   #8
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeeva View Post
Congrats!
Now, please ensure that the circled area is not a crack.
I've known a handful of REs with the chassis cracking at the very same spot.
Thanks Jeeva, will double check. If cracked what is the best option to fix it?
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Old 24th April 2015, 14:21   #9
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Here goes another Bulleteer. Welcome to the club.

Nice crisp ownership review of the beast. Keep this thread updated.

Interestingly, we haven't faced a single problem in the 7 months since we brought home our Classic 350. Okay, except one, the tailight went kaput.

The main reason we chose the 350 over the 500 was because we wanted an old school carb setup Bullet. Though the RE 500 is a great engine, it isn't just me and my Dad's cup of tea, even the one that has a carb setup. Reasons will be disclosed in my ownership review.

Wish you a happy experience with your beast and many miles and years too, because this IS a keeper.

Again, welcome to the Royal Enfield club a.k.a FREEDOM.

Happy thumping,
Neel

Last edited by petrolhead_neel : 24th April 2015 at 14:37.
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Old 24th April 2015, 14:26   #10
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Quote:
Originally Posted by hothatchaway View Post
Loved your style of narration. I could almost relate how your personality gels with that of the bull: calm, unhurried and savoring the experience of being on the road.

Wish you many happy miles with the thumper!
Thanks for your kind words hothatchaway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tushar View Post
Congratulations on the ride man! Welcome to the brotherhood!

I too considered getting the C5 back in 2010, but found the bike too short for my large frame, so went with the TBTS 350 instead. The torque on the Enfield 500s in delicious and acceleration is so much fun.

Watch out for fuel injector issues though *touchwood*. Lot of riders I know switched over to carbs after facing consistent misfiring. Over your experience you will learn a lot about bikes. Anytime your bike gives you an issue, you will be annoyed, but gradually learn so much that even a breakdown excites you.

Good luck and hope to see you on the highway.
Thanks Tushar, agree on the torque and acceleration! So far so good on the FI. There is a crack that Jeeva pointed out, that I have to look at now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by COMMUTER View Post
I think the 50kmpl is too optimistic a figure for a an RE, especially for a 500cc. Can you throw more light on how you managed to touch the stratospheric (incredulous) figure and how you measured it?
Nothing very scientific COMMUTER. I went by KM done and fuel filled. The figure might be +/- by 2 KMs at the most though. That or my ODO is wrong.
I don't seem to be fueling up very often with my 50-60 KM a week mileage.
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Old 28th April 2015, 12:19   #11
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeeva View Post
Congrats!
Now, please ensure that the circled area is not a crack.
I've known a handful of REs with the chassis cracking at the very same spot.
Jeeva, I cleaned the joint area and checked it for a crack. Happy to report that it is not there, however the joint is very very shoddily put together such that it might crack in the future. Thanks for pointing it out. See images.
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Old 28th April 2015, 13:42   #12
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Classic: Initial ownership report

Quote:
Originally Posted by xistinchaos View Post
Jeeva, I cleaned the joint area and checked it for a crack. Happy to report that it is not there, however the joint is very very shoddily put together such that it might crack in the future. Thanks for pointing it out. See images.
Happy for you mate!
In all the cases that I know of, RE replaced the chassis free of cost.
I am not sure, if its got to do with a specific batch, though.
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Old 11th May 2016, 19:37   #13
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Update:

Now close to 13000 KM done on The Thumper. Small niggles always on, but not a dampner on my riding experience. I keep doing my annual Goa ride and smaller rides locally. And then there is office commute.

1. Leak from chamber below the chain continues. Got all 7 seals replaced, twice, but no avail. Have left it alone for now as long as there is no oil gushing out rapidly.
2. The Odo and speedo needle conked off one fine day. Getting it fixed.
3. A strange hiss coming from below tank. This sound is similar to the sound that the oil pump makes when bike is primed. I thought it will stop after engine lamp goes off and I start the bike. But it continues even after bike is running. Want to take to mechanic to investigate, but afraid he will dig up more problems - real or imaginary.

Besides these, bike is doing just fine. I got the seat changed once more for a lower position to ride. I can now almost touch my entire foot when halted.

Finally, the most elusive of all - anyone know a really good RE mechanic in Pune?
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