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Brought home a used Bullet 500 for Rs 90,000: Initial impressions

After riding this bike in the crowded environs of the city, I loathe to take my Wagon R out.

BHPian PVS recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

A bit of history

Circa 2005, I bought a new Hero Honda Passion Plus bike for my 60 Km to & from commute from home to work and back. The Passion Plus is a dependable and fuel efficient commuter bike, and I sort of liked my stint on it from 2005 till mid 2008. Subsequently the long distances covered on the bike started to take a toll on the body, with neck, shoulder and back pain becoming pretty frequent. Consequently the usage became lesser and lesser. Work assignments took me out of the country between mid 2008 and January end 2012, and in the interim period, my father decided to sell off the bike as it was not being used at all. So 2009 marked the [temporary] end of my motorcycling journey as I switched over to 4 wheels as my commute option.

The Bike Purchase Story

Cut to 2019 whereabouts, the bug of riding a bike, albeit that of a bigger cubic capacity bit me, and I started scouting around for options. I heard many positive reviews about the Dominar 400, and checked out the UG version in the neighborhood showroom. The bike looked big, and well built at its' price range, though I couldn't get a test ride of it. The price at around INR 240000 OTR was a point to consider as well. Somehow, due to various other competing financial demands, the idea of purchasing a new bike was put on the backburner.

At this point, let me introduce a new character into this story, named Mr. X. Mr. X is into the two wheeler spare parts business and runs a spare parts store in the old city area. He was a tenant in one of the flats in our apartment block, and I occasionally ran into him in the common area of our apartment block. We weren't that close at this point in time, and apart from the cursory pleasantries, our interaction wasn't frequent. He did have a Bullet parked in the two wheeler parking space, and I didn't pay much of attention to that bike.

Cut to the fag end of 2020, a few Pune and Mumbai based friends decided to plan a weekend overnight stay at one of the 5 star hotels in Pune - the HYATT. Occupancy rates were low due to the onset of COVID, and room rates were available for a steal. I was pretty bored staying at home, and decided to join the group, but the question was "How to reach Pune?"

Public transportation (Air/Bus/Train) was ruled out by the Home Minister(Wifey) due to the then [nascent] fear associated with catching the virus, and I wasn't too interested driving to Pune and back solo in my car, so I started looking out for a good bike to hire and ride to Pune and back.

A search across various Bike Rental portals didn't elicit a satisfactory response as either the rental rates were too high OR, the bikes available were not aligning with my choice. I called up Mr. X to check if he has any bike owning friends who can loan their bike over the weekend. What followed next was a total surprise.

X suggested that I take out his 2014 Bullet 500 to Pune. He wasn't using it anyways due to an increased workload in his shop, and the bike was idling away at his home. Now this was a tall order for me as I hadn't ridden a Bullet before leave alone a 500. With a lot of doubt and trepidation, I took up his offer.

In the run up towards the trip, I took out the bike for a few local runs, just to get a feel of the bike, and get conversant with the brakes, acceleration an overall handling. Even though I resumed motorcycling after around 11 years, I got pretty comfortable on the bike after a few kilometers. As the D-Day drew closer, Mr. X was kind enough to give me all the requisite riding gear (Riding Jacket, Riding Gloves, Helmet, Riding Pants), Side bags, Helmet Box, necessary spares and a retractable cord for typing securing the side bag. He renewed the bike insurance, and I took a photostat copy of the Bike RC. After having packed all the knick-knacks needed for the three day trip, I was all set, with butterflies in my stomach as to how the trip will turn out.

The long night dragged on, and after having a disturbed sleep, I got up early in the morning of 18th December 2020, got all ready and by around 0430 am, set out on the long ride to Pune. So here I was, aged 46 years, riding a bike again after nearly 11 years, and riding it for a round trip of nearly 1100 KMS.

After a few kilometers of cautious riding at around 60 KMPH, I got more confidence on the bike, and started cruising at slightly higher speeds. The Bullet 500's long distance cruising ability started growing on me and I started to enjoy the ride, and the distinctive thump of the engine felt like music to the ears. I would equate this thump to the rhythmic chugging of the ALCO diesel electric locomotives, that are fast becoming a rarity on Indian Railways. I will be speaking more about the characteristics of the bike in the detailed report that is to follow.

Long story short, the trip to Pune was completed without any problem. I took on an average around 9.5 hours each way, food and fuel breaks included, which is not bad for a roughly 560 KMS distance between my home in Hyderabad, hotel in Vimaan Nagar, local run arounds for around 10 to 15 KMS and back from HYATT hotel to my home in Hyderabad.

Satiated with the trip, and discovering an entirely new biking experience, I returned the bike to Mr. X thanking him profusely for the ride, and letting him know how happy I was with the bike, and if at all he has any plans to sell the bike, he should let me know first. At that point in time, I wasn't very sure if X wanted to sell his bike. He was very fond of his bike, and had no plans of selling it.

In the second week of February 2021, a mid morning phone call from X, offering to sell me his Bullet 500 got me off guard. He was planning to go in for an Interceptor 650, and made the first call to me to buy his bike. I was pretty excited to buy the bike, however told him that I would revert by evening. I ran the decision to buy the 2014 manufactured bike with my family, and the home minister had her own reservations about buying a pre-owned bike. I had spent quite a lot of money on maintaining our pre-owned car in the US, and she was concerned that i will also be spending a generous amount of money on a pre-owned bike. I assured her that the bike is in a good condition, and maintenance should NOT be a big deal. I convinced her, and finally on 22nd Feb 2021, I purchased the 2014 Bullet 500 with a reading of around 18000 KMS on the ODO from R X, at a cost of INR 90000, which appeared to be a good deal to me.

Thus came home my Pre-Owned Bullet 500. To this date, save for a couple of hiccups enroute, I am contended with the bike ownership, though i do feel short changed now and then.. I will be elaborating on the ownership experience in the subsequent sections.

Detailed Ownership Experience

I will be elaborating on each of the point mentioned in the TBHP guide for posting two wheeler ownership experience:

All the alternatives that were considered and why you zeroed in on this particular bike / scooter:

I checked out only the Dominar 400, however I wasn't ready to spend around 2.5 Lakhs at that point in time, due to other financial commitments. I never had an RE bike on my radar, and I happened to buy this bike due to two major reasons: the long trip to Pune and back which led me to a consider owning this bike, **if at all* I get a chance and two: the fact that my friend decided to make my an offer at an affordable price.

Complete booking & delivery experience with the dealership 

I purchased the bike from my friend and the details are as above.

On-road price & discounts

NA.. The Bullet 500 was discontinued from active production in mid 2020s. I paid around 90 K to my friend for this bike.

Extended warranties & service packages chosen

Not Applicable.. All my servicing needs were met by the mechanic who works in the spare parts store operated by the same friend Mr X.

Be sure to list the engine type & variant you opted for

This is a Standard Carbureted Bullet 500 Manufactured in 2014. Comes with a disk brake at the front, drum brake at the rear, has an analog speedometer, no ABS, and comes with a self start. As basic as it can get.

The good and bad about its features

Positives:

  • Well, it is a pretty simple bike with no electronic gizmos. Comes with an electronic self start, so that can save some effort using the kick pedal.
  • Its a carbureted bike, and it can be repaired anywhere at any local garage. The spares aren't costly either, and are easily available.
  • That amazing torque of 40 NM, that is available from a pretty low rpm range. Pulls like a locomotive and very very useful in chaotic city conditions where you need to close a gap fast. That humongous torque is very welcome for a relaxed cruising on the highways too, with the throttle at 25 to 30%.
  • This bike absolutely munches miles like anything, albeit at a relaxed pace in the vicinity of 90 to 95 KMPH. Its' akin to sitting on a sofa and watch the world go by.
  • The sheer stability and weight of the bike gives a very planted feel on the highway.
  • Shock absorbers are good too, and rumble strips and rough patches and small potholes are dismissed with aplomb.

Negatives:

  • The Headlight can be improved. There are many options in the open market like LED headlights, auxiliary lights et al that can improve the visibility on the road.
  • The legendary vibrations. Life at 100 KMPH can result in a bone jarring ride. The bike can do even more speeds, but you better hang on to dear life. The rear view mirrors are useless anyways at anything above 100 KMPH.
  • Absolutely no safety features like at least a single channel ABS. However prior to getting discontinued, this bike did come with dual channel ABS, front and rear disc brakes.
  • No gizmos like an electronic trip meter or fuel gauge. As old school as it gets.. I am not complaining though.
  • Just 27.57 PS of power on a 500 CC bike? Heck, 250 CC bikes of the day produce as much power, whereas 400 CC bikes crank up close to 40 Plus PS of power. The R15s and other smaller Cubic Capacity bikes do run circles around this bike, in terms of top speed.
  • Safety, electronic riding aids & related equipment
  • Absolutely nothing not even single channel ABS in my bike. However as per Bikedekho, subsequent versions of the Bullet 500 did get dual channel ABS, Front and Rear disc brakes.

Details on your riding gear

I have a post in the Riding gear thread. You may refer that post. I will be putting in close up shots of the riding gear soon.

Very recently, I picked up a pair of riding gloves from VIATERRA. These are the Viaterra Holelshot short riding gloves. I paid INR 3500/- from them, and picked them up from a city based riding gears store.

Accessories installed (protection, storage, cellphone holders, aux lights, quick shifter...)

  • Cellphone Holder - BOBO BM4 JAW
  • AUX Lights

Storage:

Saddle Bag: - RYNOX Expedition Saddle Bag. Cost - INR 6950/-

Tank Bag: Guardian Gears - 18 L for INR 2100/-

The Tank bag contains essential spares including spanners, fuses, Cables, Tire Inflator and and additional spark plug.

Number of km at the time of writing your review - 33500

Your usage pattern

I primarily use it in the city. Three days a week home to office and back 60 Kms round trip. Apart from that this is my vehicle of choice if I intend to go solo in the city and occasionally to take my wife or child to shopping or tuitions as the case may be.

And yes, I have done multiple long distance trips:

  • Hyderabad to Pune and Back - December 2020 - Around 1140 Kms
  • Hyderabad - Jogulamba Temple - Hyderabad - Day Trip - JAN 2021 - Around 440 Kms
  • Hyderabad - Kerimeri - Hyderabad - Day Trip - JULY 2021 - Around 695 Kms
  • Hyderabad - Srisailam - Doranala - Hyderabad - Day Trip August 2021 - Around 535 Kms.
  • Hyderabad - Jogulamba Temple - Hyderabad - Day Trip - JULY 2022 - Around 470 Kms
  • Hyderabad - Vagator - Hyderabad - Rider Mania 2022 - November 2022 - Around 1450 KMS

Comments on the styling & design

Overall build quality, fit & finish and paint quality

Build Quality is OK, though a few parts have accumulated rust over the years. Fit, finish and Paint quality are also OK. Of course, 9 years have passed, and I am thinking of getting a paint touch-up on the bike. Of course the Achilles heel on this bike is the excessive vibrations at speeds above 90 KMPH. The bike is beefy, hefty and heavier than the 350 CC, so riders need to have adequate strength to balance the bike when it is stationary.

Wheels & tires

The bike comes factory fitted with spoked wheels and tubed tires. I have retained the same set up. Regarding the make of the tires, my friend replaces the stock rear tire with TIMSUN TS 822 130/80-18 as the rear Tire before selling it off to me. Eventually I changed the front tire too to Vee Rubber VRM 307.

Tubes are DOLFIN BUTYLY Tubes for the rear tire and CEAT BUTYL tube for the front tire.

Continue reading BHPian PSY's review for more insights and information.

 
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