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2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500 review

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500 vibration

I rode a Royal Enfield Classic 500 about 12 years ago and thought it was interesting, but only as a second bike to ride to the cafe.

At the time, I owned a Honda Fireblade so my impressions were jaded.

By comparison, the RE wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, wouldn’t turn, wouldn’t stop, it was difficult to start, the gears were vague and the ride was rough.

While the Classic 500 still looks the same, both the machine and my mind have changed.

I’m not in such a rush these days and I appreciate the scenery as more than just a periphery blur.

Meanwhile, the Indians have been finessing the Classic 500 and updated to a unit-construction engine which is not as uncivilised as it once felt.

In fact, after having ridden the 2016-model Classic 500, I now think it’s a lot more versatile and more than just a second bike with limited use.

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500

While the previous bike strained to reach 100km/h, the Classic 500 will run out to about 120-130km/h and overtake swift enough to be a safe part of the highway traffic.

That single-cylinder thumper doesn’t seem to vibrate as much as has plenty of torque to now springs off the line at the traffic lights.

I love the “whoompa-whoompa” sound and the visceral thump it gives the rider around town.

However, at high speeds and revs it tingles so much you can’t see anything in the mirrors and the numbing tingle through your butt and fingers will probably limit how far you ride.

That’s easily fixed, though, with an aftermarket seat, softer handgrips, bar-end weights and/or high-quality bar-end mirrors.

Riding position is strange. It’s a low bike with low bars and instruments, but a high seat, so you feel like you are right on top of it. The bars feel very close and the 13.5-litre tank seems short which gives the effect that you are sitting too far forward.

Yet it seems like a neutral position that you could maintain for hours on end – except for that seat!

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500

The Classic is under-sprung and over-damped, which makes for a rather bouncy ride. Yet it copes well with rough roads if you keep your speed down.

A couple of new rear shocks for about $400-$500 would sort that out.

Surprisingly, the standard shock and narrow tyres work well on gravel roads.

That front 19-inch wheel doesn’t make steering vague or heavy because of the fairly sharp steering angle and the fact that you sit right up toward the wide bars, so there is plenty of leverage.

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500

So when it wobbles over surface imperfections on a corner, you still have reasonable control. At highway speeds, it’s as solid as an anchor.

Brakes are still on the soft side. The front 280mm disc creates a fair bit of fork dive, but at least it has bite and feel.

However, the rear drum is vague and ineffectual, except for controlling your line in a corner.

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500

The one-down, four-up gears feel smoother than before, although neutral can still be obstinate, and if you work them properly, you get a responsive machine.

I’m not comparing it with a Fireblade, but it’s adequate for most applications.

These days I would compare it with my 2010 Triumph Bonneville T100.

While it doesn’t have the mid-range punch or top end of the Bonne, the grunt off the line is fairly similar.

Where it does excel over the Bonne is in build and fittings:

  • The Bonne doesn’t have a lockable fuel tank. The Classic does.
  • The Bonne doesn’t have metal guards and side panels. The Classic does.
  • The Bonne doesn’t have a centrestand as standard. The Classic does.
  • The Bonne has the key in the side of the forks. The Classic has them on top of the headlight.

I like the handy grab handle so you can easily lift it on to its centrestand, but I don’t like the way the horn sticks out strangely at the side. At least it’s loud, which I guess is necessary for riding in Indian traffic.

There are some other interesting things about the way it is constructed, and not just the fact that it retains a kick starter even though it has a perfectly adequate and reliable electric starter.

For example, the rear wheel comes off leaving the sprocket and chain in place. How handy is that for roadside puncture repairs!

They’ve also considered you might be doing your own mechanical work while out on the road as they do in India, so they have included a comprehensive and compact tool kit in the left side cover. Both covers (the right contains the paper air filter) are lockable and waterproof, and the rubber gasket is only a couple of bucks to replace.

Which brings me to one of the most salient points about owning a Royal Enfield – they are cheap.

Not only do they cost just $8790 ride away (an extra $200 for the chrome model), but they are also inexpensive to run.

Fuel economy is about 3.5L/100km and parts are dirt cheap. For example, a new tank is just a couple of hundred bucks!

However, you will need to service it after the first 500km, then every 3000km.

With its high fuel economy, you can get nearly 400km from a tank, which means it will be capable of some touring.

So, while you may want a Classic 500 for the cafe run, it is capable of a lot more than that.

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500

In fact, some riders could very easily live with this as their only bike.

The biggest drawback of ownership is that you will have to stop and chat to all the admirers and old-timers who want to tell you about their first Royal Enfield.


If you’ve read this far, you are obviously interested in a Classic 500. Well, this particular demo model is available for sale in Brisbane at $1500 off with only 2000km on the odo.

You can test ride it and other Royal Enfield models at the national demo ride day at 22 RE dealerships across Australia on Saturday, February 13.

Customers who participate in the test ride will receive a free event t-shirt and light refreshments at the dealership.

Those who buy a motorcycle on the day will also receive a $250 in-store credit on official Royal Enfield accessories or apparel.

Bookings are essential and you can register online at

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500

2016 Royal Enfield Classic 500

  • Price: $8790 ride away (extra $200 for the chrome model)
  • Service: 500 km, then every 3000 km
  • Warranty: 2 years parts and labour
  • Engine: 499cc single-cylinder, 4-stroke
  • Bore x stroke: 84 x 90mm
  • Compression: 8.5:1
  • Power: 20kW @ 5250rpm
  • Torque: 41.3Nm @ 4000rpm
  • Ignition: Digital electronic, electric and kick starters
  • Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh, wet multiple clutch, chain drive
  • Lubrication: Wet sump
  • Engine oil: 15W 50 API, SL Grade JASO MA
  • Fuel supply: Keihin EFI
  • Suspension: Telescopic, 35mm forks, 130mm travel; twin gas shocks with 5-step adjustable preload, 80mm travel
  • Wheelbase: 1360mm
  • Clearance: 135mm
  • Length: 2140mm
  • Width: 790mm
  • Height: 1090mm
  • Wet weight: 190Kg (with 90% fuel & oil)
  • Fuel: 13.5L
  • Economy: 3.5L
  • Tyres: 90/90 – 19; 110/80 – 18
  • Brakes: 280mm disc, 2-piston caliper; 153mm rear drum
  • Colours: Black, Lagoon, Tan
  • Website

  1. funny how there 3000 USA in India but 9 to 12 ooo grand in USA and Canada . Kind of prices them out of 500 cc market with 5 to 6 grand getting something from Japan. Great looking bike but the price is the issue . Used market is ok pricing for the older Enfield 2 to 4 grand depending on age . 10 to 8 years old will get you one for that .

    1. In Great Britain the Classic 500 sells for just under £5000 on the road, which converts to around $6800 or 435,468 INR.

  2. As of 2016, Royal Enfields in the USA are selling $4995 (Bullet) to $5995 (GT) plus $1000 to $1500 in stupid fees and taxes. They’re also $2995-$3995 used in good condition. (California prices)

  3. Where are you getting your prices from dav? It’s way cheaper that “9 to 12000 grand” in America. You must’ve been scammed!

  4. I had a RE-Bullet. What a Royal piece of Shit! I live in SF and out of 12 shops I went to not a single mechanic would touch it.

  5. I am a dealer thinking about taking these on board. Any dealers here monitoring this site? Input would be greatly appreciated.

      1. Decatur, Alabama USA!
        2608 Beltline Rd. SW
        Decatur, AL 35601
        256 355 9706

  6. Guys Classic 500 is a piece of shit. It has heavy vibration you can not go above 100 km/hr in highways. If you go above 100 the bike will start vibrating like hell. Also every time you complete a ride one or the other net or bolt will be out and it will start giving troubles. Its not a good bike for long ride.

    By look wise its great, but performance I can only rate 2 out of 10.

  7. I drove one around India for six months back in 96. I bought it new in Delhi. Before this I took a Harley Davidson around the world. I was still in my 20s at the time. Bike back then was a piece of junk the metal quality was questionable quality. I had problems with the cylinder a few times. Charging problems. The rear wheel collapse completely. Granted I was driving in India on horrible roads. I see them now with disk brakes and all electronic starters. Can’t really say how they are now being back in the first world the roads would be a lot kinder sent to the machine. Although my knees hurt and I was 6 feet tall. But I was young with a girlfriend on the back of the guitar . Saw one in a Yamaha dealer the other day man approached me. Told him my little story. My last words were, piece of sh/t. They look cool though.

  8. Had the same model Enfield for about 8 months now. In the UK it’s a serious headturner and talking point. Sone older blokes always think she’s a rebuilt and refurbished 1955 model and can’t believe she’s a 2016 Chennai built bike. I bought her as a run around town bike as I had a kwacker 1400 gtr. The kwacker is sold and the Enfield does all I need. A bike and a half for the price.

      1. Thank you for your question. At 310 kilos the 1400 became too heavy for me particularly around town I found I was struggling too much when stopping at lights and in heavy traffic. Hence the sale. The Royal Enfield 500 is ideal for what I need these days as I no longer do lobg rides nor do I tour any longer and she went to someone who appreciates her and who tours quite a bit. Hope this answers your question.

        1. I was thinking someone used to so much power and now looking for a smaller bike for around town riding would get a Yamaha mt07 or street triple 675 or a triumph Bonneville for retro looks and relaxed riding posture. Or something even more smaller and great fun too like a duke 390.
          Although I get it that riding fast on public streets is not everything and even bikes low on power can be enjoyed. The classic 500 does fit your usage criteria well and looks and sounds good too!

          1. I agree with your thinking and I did consider a bonny and an American but found the Royal Enfield Classic 500 so easy to handle very manouverable and economical after the GTR 1400 that she was the bike for me and I have no regrets at all a great little bike just for having fun.

  9. I am at 300 miles on my new Classic 500. It is a blast to ride and my head pipe has not even blued. Starts right up and hums down the backroads at 50 MPH nicely.

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