The Longest Running Motorcycle Model May Surprise You

Royal Enfield is a motorcycle company well-known for many things, but many folks don’t know that Royal Enfield actually makes the longest running motorcycle model. In fact, this particular Royal Enfield bike has a long history that spans decades and across two distinct companies. Here’s a look at the Royal Enfield Bullet, the longest running motorcycle, and the history behind the Royal Enfield company.

The Royal Enfield Bullet, the longest running motorcycle, has been around since the 1930s

A Royal Enfield logo on a black tank. The longest running motorcycle.
Royal Enfield Bullet | Getty Images

Like Top Gear wrote, the motorcycle model that holds the title of being the longest running motorcycle model in history is the Royal Enfield Bullet. The bike was unveiled in 1932, but it’s been in production ever since 1931. This means that the Bullet has been in production for well over 90 years, and Royal Enfield will probably continue building the bike for the foreseeable future.

At the time it released, the Bullet was offered with three engine options, a 250cc, 350cc, and 500cc option. Since those were engines from the 30s, they were not very powerful, with the 500cc engine getting only about 25 bhp. That being said, these bikes found a lot of use in the British military, as they became the go-to bike for couriers looking to deliver a message. 

A brief overview of the Royal Enfield company

However, after World War II ended, Royal Enfield built bikes like the Bullet for the civilian market but also the military. One of those customers was an Indian company named Madras Motors, and it ordered 500 Bullets for the Indian Army. That order was placed in 1952, and by 1955, Royal Enfield and Madras Motors had strengthened their relationship even more. The two created Enfield India, which built Royal Enfield bikes in India.

A couple of years later things went south for Royal Enfield. Japanese manufacturers like Honda and Kawasaki were building motorcycles that were better than Royal Enfield’s bikes in almost every way. The Japanese bikes that were entering the market were cheaper, more reliable, and faster. Royal Enfield couldn’t compete with them, and by 1970, the original Royal Enfield company was no more. 

The Bullet’s story continued. As Top Gear wrote, Enfield India was still going strong, and eventually, the company took its parent’s name and became known as Royal Enfield. Since Enfield India was given the license to produce the original Royal Enfield products, the company continued producing the Bullet. Enfield India even started exporting the Bullet back to Britain in 1977.

The specs of the modern Royal Enfield Bullet, the longest running motorcycle

Obviously, Enfield India didn’t simply build the same Bullet all those years. The company improved the design along the way. After all, Enfield India makes a lot of great bikes other than the Bullet, such as the Himalayan. In any case, the modern Bullet is similar to the original Bullet that was designed and built in Britain, but there are a lot of apparent upgrades and updates. 

The overall classic look of the bike is one of the things that has remained relatively unchanged. There are some design updates, but it retains the classic look many customers are looking for. The specs are where the main changes have happened. Enfield India changed things up over the years in terms of engine offerings. Currently, the Bullet will be offered with a 350cc engine option and a 650cc one. The 350cc option gets about 19 bhp, while the 650cc will get over 42 hp. 

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