Things to Check before Buying used Royal Enfield

by Vargis.Khan

What should a person check before buying used Royal Enfield? This is probably the second biggest confusion for a person opting to buy a used bullet; first one being the dilemma of whether or not he should buy a used one or go for brand new. There is no doubt about the fact that a really close inspection of the machine is must before buying a used motorcycle; and it applies to all, not just an Enfield. There is nothing worse than a motorcycle breaking down and you having to push it to the nearest mechanic after. So if you ended up buying  a faulty motorcycle then it will just ruin your life for good. To avoid doing so, mention below  is a list of few things that you should check before finalizing your purchase of used Royal Enfield.

buying used royal enfieldImage Credit: Wikipedia

I have discussed the question of Old Bullet vs New and which one is better in a different article; so I will not get into those details here but everyone has their own reason for buying old Royal Enfield. Some people buy because they believe the previous models were better; some go looking for the thump which is amiss in new models and some just want to own a vintage motorcycle. Whatever your reason is, you must pay close attention to three factors,

  • Overall condition of the motorcycle
  • Why is the previous owner selling it and how has he used it
  • How much money will you have to spend in order to get it as per your liking

Third factor may not hold importance for a lot of people but still is a must check nonetheless and will relate to the first one. Now the concept of “Old Royal Enfield” can be categorized in two.

  • We are talking an Enfield so old that it is almost vintage, models from 70s, 80s and even 1990s.
  • Enfield manufactured and sold in 2000 and later era
Are you ready?

Talking about the first category, the “really old bullets”; one thing that you must prepare yourself for while buying these motorcycles is the additional money and hassle. Bullet lovers will hate me for saying it but I am putting this point here being a Bullet lover myself. I own a 1980s Bullet and another 2008 Electra.  When I say hassle, I do not mean that it will keep bothering you with frequent breakdowns. No, that is just a stereo type that people who hate Bullet have come up with. In my opinion, love and respect your Enfield and it will return the favor. But any Enfield that is 20 or more years older will definitely require you to take it to the mechanic frequently to keep it smooth.

Also read: Why you should Buy a Royal Enfield?

Think of it from this point, as things get older, problems increase. Even humans start to visit doctors more frequently as they start to get older. Same logic will apply to your Enfield as well. Your machine is now old and require more love and care. You will  have to make it a habit to visit the mechanic every two to three weeks or so; just for a general checkup; to ensure that your motorcycle will not break down on you all of a sudden; in the middle of nowhere. So the first thing you need to check is are you ready for this? Do you have the required patience and time?

Buy from a Trusted Source

Now this factor may not apply to buying a vintage Enfield because there aren’t many people selling those; but if you are buying something that is 10-15 years older than only purchase it from someone you know; or from someone who is a known to someone you know. This way you will get an idea about how the motorcycle was used. Remember, it is not always how many kilometers it has run but also how did the previous owner maintained and used it. I will explain this further in the article.

Used or Abused?

This is more of a mind game really and you will have to be the best judge. It is a given that when someone wants to sell a bike, they will ensure that at least the outer appearance of the motorcycle is good and may not send the true picture out. But is it really as good inside as it is outside? Ask the previous owner some questions about why is he selling it and about the motorcycle?

Also read: Why People Hate RE Motorcycles so Much?

An example of such question would be to ask whether or not the machine can run fast? If the owner responds by saying that it does and he takes it above 100 kmph most of the times, it is a red flag for you. We all know that Enfields are best happy cruising at a speed of 70-80 kmph. Take them beyond 100 for long and they will start showing signs of stress. Someone who has used it as a sports bike, raced with his friends, kept the needle pointing above 100 always has not used but abused the motorcycle and you may not want to buy it.

Being a Bullet owner myself, I know for sure that no owner will sell a well maintained motorcycle. The situation can arise only if he is either in dire need of some money, has no further use at all of a motorcycle or the motorcycle is just not worth to keep. Probe well to find out why the machine you want to buy is on sale

Find a Good Mechanic

Now people will give you an entire list of items you should check while buying the motorcycle but come on, how many of us really have that in depth knowledge? How many of us have looked at the inners of an Enfield so often that we can tell the condition by just one look? Answer is that you cannot and will have to leave this part of the job to an expert. You must find a good Enfield mechanic in your city and get a thorough check up of the motorcycle done.

Pay him for the inspection so that he goes a good job at catching any faults anywhere. While looking for a mechanic, ensure that the one you are talking to is not a known of the previous owner. Because if he is, his loyalty will lie towards the previous owner and he will not give you the honest answer. Try not to do the mechanical inspection on your own unless you really have great knowledge about it all.

Also read: Why you should NOT buy a Royal Enfield?

What to check

With the above being said, if you do however want to run through the mechanical inspection yourself, below is a list of a few things you must check.

  • Borrow an Enfield from a friend, a machine that you know for sure is very well maintained. Ride it around for a while and see how it feels. Listen to the sound, feel the vibrations, throttle, see how the gear shifts and take an overall judgement of the motorcycle. Then ride the machine that you want to buy and do a comparison. Listen to any weird rattling noise, notice any dips or any bubbling while riding.
  • Buy an Enfield without any major modifications like increased crank weight.
  • Check thoroughly for any rust anywhere.
  • Take a look at the engine oil. If the color of it is a bit metallic, do not buy.
  • Check the tires. If too worn out, do not buy unless the previous owner is either ready to replace those or reduces the price buy how much you will spend on new tires.
  • Check that all electricals including ignition light, neutral light, headlamp (both low and high beam), front and rear indicators are in place and functional.
  • Check for brakes, wheel alignment and bends in the rim, any lose wiring, or any lose nuts and bolts, and oil Leaks.
  • Take a look at the bike for any signs of it involved in an accident. Any damages, bends, damaged paint, too many scratches etc.
  • Check the chain set and see if it is too worn out. If yes, then ask the previous owner to get it changed before you buy.
  • Ride the motorcycle, stop and then start again. Notice if there is any pinging while you accelerate.
Get Help

This will give you an idea of both, the current condition of the motorcycle and how much money you have to spend after buying. To be honest I can keep going on and on here and the list will be way too lengthy. You will not be able to check everything minutely unless you have tons of mechanical knowledge yourself. Best way around this is to find a good mechanic, pay him for inspection and get a true picture of the condition that the motorcycle is in.

Also read: Royal Enfield Old Vs New – Which one is Better?

Check that all papers are in place

This is extremely important. Before you finalize the purchase, make sure that all related documents are in place and you will have no trouble in getting the bike registered in your name; or after.

Vintage Bullets

After all said and done, there is no denying the fact that if the motorcycle is from 70s, 80s or early 90s era, it is old and will need a lot of patience to maintain it. It is a motorcycle that has lasted over 25 years, has clocked several hundred miles already and in order for it to function still, it will need someone who can actually take care of it.

If you are completely new to motorcycles or completely new to an Enfield, then I would not recommend you to buy it. Buying a vintage Enfield is really for someone who have owned a Bullet and knows the motorcycle. It is a nice addition to your existing garage but cannot be the only motorcycle or vehicle in your garage. With old Bullets, keep them as a hobby; something that you can cruise around on at 60 kmph while flaunting it. It is not a motorcycle that you can rush around on in the city at 100 kmph. For that purpose, make sure you have another bike.

I have an Enfield that my Dad bought in early 1980s but it is now something that I take pride in. I take it out occasionally once or twice a week just to show it off. Sometimes I just cruise around in the city on it, feeling the Thump. But can I use it to ride around 100 kilometers every day? I really doubt it. For that purpose, I have my 2008 Electra. Just my opinion though that others may or may not agree with.

Buying Used Royal Enfield – Conclusion

I hope the information above was of help. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

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Arindam Bhattacharya August 22, 2021 - 2:48 am

What is your opinion about buying a bullet 2014-15 model?

Pius khan August 29, 2020 - 10:23 am

Sir ji bullet 350 classic new model

Nishat Setia February 22, 2020 - 7:18 am

Kindly guide me about the selling price of a 2008 Electra in 2020


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