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green_ninja 29th September 2017 15:23

The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
4 Attachment(s)
This is my first ownership thread on TBHP. We have two cars at home, a 2015 Innova Z bought in Feb. 2016 and a 2017 Alto K10 VXI (O) bought in March 2017. But I had been looking for a two wheeler for running errands around the city. Given that I was on the wrong side of 30 the main requirement was a vehicle that would be kind to my back on our potholed roads. I considered a couple of scooters (Activa, Jupiter) and a couple of motorcycles (Pulsar, Unicorn). While the bikes were more comfortable than the scooters something or the other was lacking and none of these vehicles gave me the confidence to plonk the money down and buy them. I had test rode the Enfield Classic and the Electra before but balked at the high asking price and the long wait times coupled with reliability issues and bad A.S.S. My choice was the Electra between the two as it was more practical, comfortable and cheaper than the Classic while offering all the features sans the looks. I kept postponing the decision for the better part of a year as I had my dad's old Dio for the time being.

Around July, works on starting my own business were gaining speed and I needed a vehicle as I could not depend on a 15 year old Dio that was in the last throes of its life. After a lot of thought, I finally decided that the extra 50k spent on a Bullet would be worthwhile compared to the pain and suffering of a bad back. Now came the buying part. There are three RE dealers in Coimbatore: one of them was too far away in the northern part of town. Two are close to my home, a company owned showroom and an independent dealer. The independent dealer M/S BULLMENN MOTORS (BM for short) is on my daily commute route. I decided to go with them. Wrong decision! In Tamilnadu, no new or auspicious endeavour is started during Rahu Kaalam as it is inauspicious. My Rahu Kaalam started the moment I decided to go with BM.

The Booking Experience:

The booking experience was uneventful and pretty pleasant. The Sales Exec. (SE) was very helpful, arranged for test rides on both the Classic and Electra again. I booked the bike on July 25th, 2017 paying Rs. 5,500/- and the SE promised to deliver the bike within 30 days even though they mention 45 days on the booking receipt. He assured me 45 days was the worst case scenario. So, the wait started.

The Buying Experience (Worst Ever!!!):

I followed up with this SE a couple of times and he assured that he will call me as soon as my number came up. Then on Aug. 29th 2017 I received an email and also an SMS with the following statement:

Quote:

Hi, as requested by you, we have postponed your bike delivery by 4 days. We request you to get in touch with us for any further updates on 7092200000, BullMenn Motors. This is a system generated automated mail and please do not reply.
I wasn't sure what this was as I hadn't requested any such thing. I understood later why they do this. I went to BM on Aug. 30th and referred to the above message and asked for the status of my booking. The Delivery Coordinator(DC) came up with an unconvincing explanation as to how their booking system works and why such messages were normal. She said, we have a load right now and we can allot you a bike if you make the payment. I was willing to make the payment but I did not want to buy their insurance from ICICI Lombard. They were asking for Rs. 3670/- while I got quotes of around Rs. 2200/- from others. She said she will have to talk to her MD and let me know. So, I went back on Aug. 31st and they asked me to talk to their Sales Mgr. After a bit of discussion with the SM, he goes on to proclaim that it is their company policy and they wouldn't allow customers to purchase insurance from outside vendors. I told him that RE does not require that insurance be bought from the dealer and I can call RE-CC to verify that. He said that you can call whoever you want but it is our company policy. I didn't have the RE Tollfree number handy. So, I left BM and went home and called RE-CC. They verified that I'm free to buy insurance from wherever I want and requested me to go back to BM and call from there.

I went back to BM on the evening of Aug. 31st and went straight to the reception where the SM was. The guy pretends to be fiddling with his phone and does not even acknowledge my presence. After a couple of minutes of waiting there, I told him to look up and stop pretending. I told him what the CC Exec. had told me and he starts arguing, telling me that I'm stubborn and no other customer was making demands like I did. At this point I had enough and called RE-CC and gave the phone to the SM. They told him in no uncertain terms that he cannot force me to buy insurance from him. He calls his MD and both chat for a couple of minutes. He comes back to tell me that since I called RE they have to wait for an email from RE before they can process my booking and he told me to come back the next day. Whatever!!! This guy was the worst sales person, managerial or otherwise that I have run into. And I've dealt with some really seedy auto dealers.

I went back on Sep. 1st and asked about the status. The SM was nowhere to be found and the DC who I had talked to earlier came to talk to me. She said that all the bikes in that load had been allotted and I have to wait till the next load. I told her that they promised to deliver the bike within 45 days and it was already 38 days. She said that they will keep their word and I will have the bike before 45 days. I told her I will call RE and file a complaint if I don't get the bike by the 45th day. The waiting starts again.

The day came and no bike. And I being a man of my word called RE-CC and registered a complaint on Sep. 9th. As soon as I did, I get a call from the General Manager (GM) at Bullmenn promising that he will allot a bike in the next load. This was followed up by a phone call and email on Monday Sep. 11th that they will allot a bike by the end of that week. More waiting and no updates from BM. On Sep. 18th I saw a new lot of bikes being unloaded and there were some Electras as well. I went to BM the next day on Sep. 19th and asked about the status. The same lady (DC) came and told me that my bike was in transit! I was quite pissed off at that point and told her that I will escalate it to RE again and left. That same afternoon I called RE-CC and they directed me to the Area Sales Manager (ASM). I called this person and he promised to check on the status and update me in 15mins. No response after that.

I called the ASM again on Sep. 20th and he put me on conference with the GM of Bullmenn. The ASM and GM both verified that my bike has been billed and it will be allotted. The ASM also instructed the GM not to force me to buy insurance or accessories from them. The GM promised an update in 30mins but no response from this guy again. I called the GM again on Sep. 21st and he finally gave the go ahead to make payment. I immediately purchased a DD for 1,32,508/- and handed over to accounts at BM. They wouldn't invoice the bike till the DD was remitted to their accounts which happened on Sep. 23rd (Sat). They finally invoiced the bike on Sep.23rd and gave me the engine/chassis number. Since I had to go out of town that afternoon, I just collected the invoice and left.

On Monday, Sep. 25th I purchased insurance from United India and handed over all the documents needed for registration plus the Rs. 800/- handling fees. BM promised to have the bike registered by Wed. Sep. 27th and deliver it by end of day. On following up with them on Wed. they claimed that since the bike was from a new lot they were getting it signed by the RTO (whatever that means) and registration can only be done the next day. I went to the showroom on Sep. 28th and now they claimed that they don't register bikes on Thursday's at my RTO (TN37). It was done only on Mondays and Wednesdays. I was at the limit of my patience and told them to handover the bike without registration with the written assurance that they will get it registered by Oct. 4th after the Pooja Holidays. I have to take the bike on Oct. 4th to the RTO.

The Delivery Experience:

The delivery was pretty smooth. They had the bike prepped. I took the PDI checklist with me. Everything ticked off. The delivery guy handed me a copy of the invoice and asked me to sign a release form that I was taking an unregistered bike at my own risk. They gave me the helmet, handed over the keys and took a couple of pictures. I collected my original Aadhar card which I had given them for registration and left the place with a little bit of relief that I had the bike in my hand. The bike had 4kms on the ODO and I put about 25kms since. I haven't taken it out of our apartment's parking as I felt it was risky riding an unregistered vehicle.

The Scam:

During this entire ordeal I happened to meet several people who had very similar stories as mine. This dealership seems to work with Other People's Money (OPM) and not invest anything. They are very keen on getting full payment when the promised delivery date nears and then take their own sweet time delivering the bike. It looks like they don't invest their own money in stocking inventory. A few people had waited almost 15-30 days after making full payment.

One person was offered delivery in a week for a Rs. 7000/- premium and they were willing to settle for Rs. 5000/-. I think I know what that email about requesting postponement of delivery now means. This a way for them to override RE's booking order to give a customer a bike earlier. People like me who don't toe the dealer's line get shafted. They were refusing delivery to another person because he was not buying accessories from them.

If you are in the market for a RE in the Coimbatore area, I strongly recommend not going to this dealer. These guys are worse than touts at the RTO. The staff will not give you a proper response but are quite arrogant about it most of the time. Most of the staff are incompetent and in general have no clue of what is going on. The MDs (father son duo) and GM are always in meetings and won't meet anyone. No matter how serious the complaint. These guys are the best example of how sales and customer service should not work.

OTR Cost:

Ex-Showroom Price: 1,27,183
Road Tax: 10,825
Insurance: 2,351
Registration: 800
Accessories: 1,410
----------------------------
Total: 1,42,569/-

I purchased a few accessories from a local auto parts store that are yet to be installed. A SS diamond crash guard (Rs.1260), a headlight visor (Rs.110) and a ladies grab handle with bag hook (Rs.40). I will also be getting a seat cover and a tank cover after the bike is registered.

Here are a few pictures that I took after getting delivery.









Initial Impressions:

I will write more about the ownership experience as soon as I put a few more kms on the bike. Initial impressions are what I expected. I had gone through all the ownership threads here and hence did not have much in terms of expectations.

The Looks:

The Electra carries the Bullet's classic time tested look albeit the hand painted stripes and a few other bits and pieces. However, it makes up nicely with generous amounts of chrome at the right places and an elegant Royal Enfield 3D logo on the tank. The colour of my bike is Magic Black and it does have a little magic. It looks black from certain angles and a dark green from others. Addition of fork boots and a slight repositioning of the tail light could have made the bike more pleasing to the eye. The tail light points slightly upward and this spoils rear look IMHO (see the last picture).

Fit and finish is average. The amp meter is not aligned straight as seen in the picture. It's not too bad and I'm going to leave it as it is. The battery cover lock is pretty bad. Once the cover is off it is a pain in the behind to get it back on. I think I have figured out the trick but turning the key in that plastic lock needs you to eat an extra idli or two for breakfast. Gap between the headlight housing and the chrome garnish is uneven. You would think after 70 years of making the same housing and garnish RE would have figured out die tolerances but apparently they haven't!

Saree guard and front mud flap come standard. They could have atleast provided holes on the rear mudguard for fitting mudflaps. I'm not too happy about drilling holes in a brand new bike. The centre and side stands are sturdy. The grab handle and foot support make putting the bike on the centre stand effortless.

The Engine and Transmission:

Much has been said and written about the 350cc UCE mill that powers the Electra and it's siblings that I really don't have anything to add. The engine was pretty to quick to start with the kickstarter or the self starter. Did not feel rough and I did not feel any vibrations. Coming from a 600cc I4 that screams like a jet about to take off and actually goes like a bat out of hell, this does feel sedate. The low end is pretty good. In the 25 or so kms of traffic ridden city riding never once did I feel the need to downshift below 2nd. Can't say much about the top end as I never got the chance to take the bike above 55kmph and I don't intend to do more than 65 till the first 1000kms or so.

The 5 speed transmission is connected to the rear wheel by a chain. Transmission is a little clunky. The shift from 1st to 2nd is rough but the rest are smooth enough. I would dare to say that they are not that different from the Ninja 636. Finding N is a little tricky and will need getting used to. They have added a small plastic(or rubber?) pad above the frame near the front sprocket to prevent the chain from rubbing on the frame. The dealership put too much greasy chain lube and it splatters all over the engine casing near the kickstart lever. I will need to find something non-greasy that is suitable for O-ring chains. Amazon had 3M and Motul products that looked to fit the bill.

The Ride:

The saddle is pretty wide and felt like I was sitting on a comfy chair. I'm a cm short of 6 feet and I can comfortably put my feet down on both sides. The upright stance is what I liked the most while riding this bike. The handlebars are at the perfect height. This was something I did not like on the Classic.

The suspension is telescopic front forks and 5 step adjustable, gas filled rear shocks. For a bike weighing 180+ kgs the ride is quite well sorted. The suspension soaks up the potholes and speed breakers without too much drama. The 19 inch wheels complement the suspension. Both tyres are 3.25x19 with the front ribbed and the rear with a dirt bike like tread pattern. They do a pretty decent job.

I cannot say much about handling as I did not get a chance to put the bike through its paces. However, straight line stability is fine. Weaving through city traffic and making U-turns in heavy traffic wasn't too demanding and easier than I expected. The long wheelbase is not a deterrent and while I still need getting used to it the bike is reasonably flickable in traffic.

Braking is provided by a single caliper front disk and a rear drum. I found that braking is adequate for sedate riding but may test your cojones on a spirited ride or an emergency stop situation. I wish the front brake lever was adjustable. I'm used to a 80:20 front:rear braking style and I usually feather the front brake in thick traffic. Even with my pretty long fingers I found it difficult to reach the lever with my index and middle fingers. Maybe the play on the lever will increase with usage and it will be a little bit more easier.

The Rest:

Switchgear is not premium but it does not feel cheap either. You get AHO, a pass light switch, engine kill switch, indicators with push to cancel feature and hi-lo for the headlight. The pass light works only with low beam. The speedometer console also featues a neutral indicator light and turn signal light.

Electricals are adequate. The headlight beam felt capable enough on a short night ride. The pilot or parking lamps are purely cosmetic. Turn signals get a chrome housing and a clear lens which looks nice. Horn is weak and let's out a wimpy squeak. I have to look into getting a better horn soon.

The choke lever is placed below the fuel petcock amid a jumble of hoses and brackets. This is probably the most inconveniently placed choke lever I have seen on a bike. The lever and the cable do not inspire confidence. Engine oil filler cap is also hard to open. It interferes with a cable and if not removed carefully it will damage that cable.

The left side storage box houses the fuses, toolkit and firstaid kit. It has enough space leftover for some papers and a small towel. The right side storage box houses the airfilter.

The chrome RVMs are again more cosmetic than functional IMO. I found it hard to adjust them to get a proper "rear view". They look good though!


The Verdict:

The overall impression is that this is a capable bike for the role it has been assigned i.e. a simple, practical and comfortable bike for long distance riding, as well as intracity commuting. Is it value for money? I would say not. Maybe at 1.2lakhs OTR but at a price close to 1.5lakhs OTR it will need a few more refinements to earn that VFM tag.

Attachment 1681697

Attachment 1681698

Attachment 1681699

Attachment 1681700

GTO 30th September 2017 10:33

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!

dileepcm 30th September 2017 13:27

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
So many dramatic stories from RE these days and its bit surprising that there is no sign of any improvements. One of my friends went through a lot of drama for getting his delivery done a few months ago.
Later, the bike had lots of problems with electricals making it so frustrating for him as there was no proper service support.
RE is purely selling bikes on emotions of riders and does not bother about services or quality checks. I honestly hope their sales to decline for a while so that they realize the situation and open their eyes.

Having said, the drama is over and time to ride on. Safe ride.

Theyota 30th September 2017 15:39

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
If I was in the shoes of the OP, I would have cancelled my booking after the second visit to the dealer and not bought a Royal Enfield at all. Royal Enfields are no holier than thou machines that a customer has to go through all this drama to get hold of these technologically obsolete machines. An artificial shortage is created by RE. If RE wants, the capacity can be doubled in 12 months. Manufacturing motorbikes is no rocket science in this day and age. If Vikram Lal is really ambitious to go global like he wants to, he needs to work on reliability and customer centricity of his products and company.

marcussantiago 30th September 2017 16:14

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Theyota (Post 4278814)
If I was in the shoes of the OP, I would have cancelled my booking after the second visit to the dealer and not bought a Royal Enfield at all.

As long as fiercely loyal RE customers keep buying them, nothing will change. It's a simple case of 'if it ain't broke then don't fix it.'

Honestly, think about it logically. RE is making mountains of money and sales are only going up every year. From a purely corporate profit point of view, why should they change anything? :Frustrati

Theyota 30th September 2017 16:17

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by marcussantiago (Post 4278820)
From a purely corporate profit point of view, why should they change anything? :Frustrati

For one and only one reason. If they do not change, 5 years down the lane, history will repeat on RE. But this time to the worse....

marcussantiago 30th September 2017 16:44

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Theyota (Post 4278823)
For one and only one reason. If they do not change, 5 years down the lane, history will repeat on RE. But this time to the worse....

Meh, I dunno. I was saying the exact same thing five years ago when I was dragging my brand new Thunderbird to the service center every other week for constant repairs, and look where we are now :/

green_ninja 1st October 2017 10:49

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dileepcm (Post 4278776)
Having said, the drama is over and time to ride on. Safe ride.

Thank you but the drama is not over till the registration is done and I get the RC in my hand. This thread will see a few more updates on this topic!
Quote:

Originally Posted by Theyota (Post 4278814)
If I was in the shoes of the OP, I would have cancelled my booking after the second visit to the dealer and not bought a Royal Enfield at all.

Quote:

Originally Posted by marcussantiago (Post 4278820)
As long as fiercely loyal RE customers keep buying them, nothing will change. It's a simple case of 'if it ain't broke then don't fix it.'

I'm not fiercely loyal to RE nor a fanboy. I did contemplate cancelling the booking about a dozen times. But then what? I would still be without a bike that fit my need. This bike is the only one available at this price point that delivers MOST of what I need in a bike. The bad sales experience is a one time deal and the equally bad A.S.S. is something that can be negated by finding a good FNG.

I think Indian manufacturers are sitting on a potential gold mine that they haven't realised. There is a market for a bike with a 150-200cc engine and ~15 bhp. Plonk it on a upgraded CD100/Splendor/CT100 type frame with better suspensions, electricals and bigger tyres and price it around 80-90K. This is not impossible given that the engines for Pulsar, Unicorn etc exist. The frame,suspensions and electricals exist. It is a question of manufacturers making up their mind. Until then, people like myself are at the mercy of RE and its unethical, unprofessional, unwhatever dealerships.

The reason I persevered with this dealer is that they need to learn that they cannot take a customer for granted because they have market leadership in an area, artificially created or otherwise. They need to understand that a customer will not bend over and he/she will fight back. My experience shared with the community through sites like TBHP will encourage others to send a message to RE. The more people take the fight to RE the sooner they will realize their folly.

Geo_Ipe 1st October 2017 12:47

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Congratulations on your new machine!!

Quote:

Originally Posted by green_ninja (Post 4279045)
I think Indian manufacturers are sitting on a potential gold mine that they haven't realised. There is a market for a bike with a 150-200cc engine and ~15 bhp. Plonk it on a upgraded CD100/Splendor/CT100 type frame with better suspensions, electricals and bigger tyres and price it around 80-90K.

Aren't there motorcycles that fit your description available in the market already?
- Honda has the Hornet 160
- Bajaj has the new Pulsar 160
- Apache has a 200, dunno if they still sell the 180
- Yamaha has the FZ and Fazer

Why didn't you consider any of the above machines?
Also, why not the Dominar?

I particularly ask you because I want to get myself a comfortable long distance tourer motorcycle sometime next year. The RE's would be my default first choice, but the inflated price tag and dealer, A$S attitude like you mentioned are drawing me away from the brand!

Theyota 1st October 2017 13:05

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by marcussantiago (Post 4278828)
Meh, I dunno. I was saying the exact same thing five years ago when I was dragging my brand new Thunderbird to the service center every other week for constant repairs, and look where we are now :/

Unfortunately, you are right :Frustrati . But I see it this way. The majority of the potential RE market in the past was & in the next few years will be first time RE buyers. The first timers have either no other choice in this price range or are made bhakras by such scum of dealers. But the future market will not remain first time buyers market. And I don't see any repeat buyers for RE. So if RE does not take responsibility for its product reliability or dealers honesty, few years from now, I see not so nice days ahead for them.

green_ninja 1st October 2017 14:08

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Geo_Ipe (Post 4279088)
Congratulations on your new machine!!



Aren't there motorcycles that fit your description available in the market already?
- Honda has the Hornet 160
- Bajaj has the new Pulsar 160
- Apache has a 200, dunno if they still sell the 180
- Yamaha has the FZ and Fazer

Why didn't you consider any of the above machines?
Also, why not the Dominar?

I particularly ask you because I want to get myself a comfortable long distance tourer motorcycle sometime next year. The RE's would be my default first choice, but the inflated price tag and dealer, A$S attitude like you mentioned are drawing me away from the brand!

Thanks for your wishes!

None of the bikes you mentioned have what I call a neutral stance. When you sit on the bike your back needs to be upright, shoulders relaxed, thighs and elbows parallel to the ground, feet comfortably forward. The same ergonomics you would want in your office chair. I was also looking for a multi utility bike that can comfortably carry a pillion rider especially ladies who sit one sided and carry a small load tied to the back once in a while. I don't want a fairing however small it is, neither do I want clip-ons. I am looking for the sort of bike that your milkman or small grocer would use.

My ideal bike would be a CD100 type bike with a bigger engine, better suspension, electricals and tyres. Most of the poster's here look at a bike as a commuter, tourer or a sport. But there is a whole other market out there that has uses for a bike that most of us here can't even begin to imagine. The RE 350 STD/ES is probably the one closest to it. How many milkmen do you see on a Dominar? :D

greenhorn 1st October 2017 14:36

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
there is such a bike called the avenger :D

green_ninja 1st October 2017 14:59

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by greenhorn (Post 4279112)
there is such a bike called the avenger :D

Yes, there is. But the cruiser like styling makes the rake and trail slightly larger than the utility bikes I talk about. That makes maneuvering in thick city traffic a pain. Plus the low slung seats are not as comfortable IMHO. Experiences may vary but it is just not my cup of chai :thumbs up

YDS 1st October 2017 20:44

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
1 Attachment(s)
Congratulations green_ninja! Wish you millions of happy miles with Electra.

Electra is definitely the best VFM (among all REs) & has better riding posture without compromising maneuverability. I had once taken Electra on rent to Himalayas and it's a pure torque converter; since then I am looking forward to buy one. I would like to share two problems which I experienced in my 5-day trip.
1. The front forks developed a leak on the way back, so IMO it will be better if you get a rubber bellow over your suspension cylinder rod. The rubber bellow might save front suspensions from dirt. Like this:
Attachment 1681285
2. I broke brake shoe springs twice while on hills (My riding habits might have caused this), you can keep them on check. (Also, it's good 187kgs which demand a disc at rear, May almighty Nature wake up RE soon)

For this worst buying experience, I would like to clap for your perseverance. It's good that you didn't lose hope and got insurance done from your end. I hope the wounds given during buying experience will heal up through quality rides & tours. :)

petrolhead_chn 2nd October 2017 03:26

Re: The Drama of buying & owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 350ES (Electra)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by green_ninja (Post 4278362)
These guys are the best example of how sales and customer service should not work.

You rubbed shoulders with an egoistic sales guy who takes pride in working for a shady/poor management team that does not bother to confront customers and their issues just because they are supported by their ASMs/local influencial people who are again free to do what they think is right. Huh... What else could we expect from them? All they expect us to do is pay and wait. Such dealers should probably put a notice on their walls, "Professional thugs inside. Smart customers are not allowed. Beware!!!." They have the guts to comment that none of their customers are allowed to take insurance outside dealer? I pity the trouble you had to go through. Be happy that you got your bull in good shape.

Happy thumping now....


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