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Royal Enfield Clubman (2010 - ) expert review

07 October 2011
Royal Enfield Clubman (2010 -      ) expert review  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VERDICT
4 out of 5

 

"The Clubman has true vintage character, with a modern dash display and it performs too – giving 80mpg and capable of 80mph. Ideal for leisurely rides through the countryside. Don’t let the classic looks make you think that this bike is old and unreliable. At the heart is a modern 500cc single cylinder engine (28 bhp) with fuel injection. It steers beautifully through the café racer style handlebars and the bike gives a feeling of nostalgia which other manufacturers would love to imitate.”

 


PROS
Gorgeous classic looks
Sporty riding position
Maintenance friendly

 


CONS
28hp maybe too little for some
Not so practical for long journeys

 

RUNNING COSTS
The cost for ongoing maintenance used to be an issue with Enfields but not anymore. The bikes are built in India and recent models coming out of the factory don’t suffer from the weekly maintenance issues (such as regular tappet clearances) that earlier models had. Over the years, the quality checks have improved drastically, and the 500cc engine is now very reliable. The fuel tank is 14.5 litres and it achieves 80mpg, which gives a tank range of around 260 miles. Expect to service it every 3,750 miles. The Avon Road Rider 19" tyres should set us back about £64 for the front 90/90 and £65 for the rear 100/90.
Our rating: 3 out of 5


VALUE
At £5,795 this is very well priced for us to own a classic-looking machine. Quality is high and although the majority of parts haven’t changed from the 1950s models, some parts are still hand-made. Each machine also passes through an old-school workshop in the Cotswolds with an expert engineer’s eye cast over each one before being sent to the dealer. There’s a nice mix of modern features, mainly the dash, handlebars and brake levers which will make you feel good about paying for. The instrument cluster is very modern and has an engine light, low fuel light and cheeky ‘Royal Enfield’ wording which illuminates with the lights turned on.
Our rating: 3 out of 5

 

RIDE AND HANDLING
The rearsets are quite aft and high, but riding on this feels like a mixture of riding a naked and a sportsbike. The seat is narrow, but comfortable, and when you’re tootling along at 60mph, the whole experience feels engaged, exciting and retro. At low speeds, the biting point of the clutch is quite far out so it takes some getting used to. Gear changes are fine, although the lightness of the bike does mean you can sometimes induce a slight wobble when you clunk up and down. Acceleration is pretty tasty too, sure it won’t knock your socks off, but the growl and popping from the BSA Goldstar-esque exhaust pipe will put a smile on your face (and the rider who’s following you too).  And in corners those café racer handlebars let you turn in nicely with the Avon tyres give great grip and feel. The front brake is superb too – a meaty 280mm disc which will surprise – and amuse.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

PRACTICALITY
Royal Enfield says it sells a large number of their machines to owners of Harleys or BMW GS1200s. The reason is simple; Royal Enfields are nimble, agile and much easier for smaller ride-outs at weekends or to ride to the local shop for a pint of milk. It has a single seat but comes with a removable seat cowl so you can at least carry a pillion, albeit more for a pleasure ride than a serious journey. Again, this isn’t really a machine for loading up with luggage but hey, you could work out a luggage solution. Expect the bike to lose a small amount of performance when loaded up though. Ultimately the Clubman is a bike about cruising country roads and taking in the scenery – not a go anywhere machine. That said other Royal Enfields in the range are used on many adventure rides throughout India and cope well being loaded up in difficult terrain.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

PERFORMANCE
This sounds like a proper bike. A single cylinder gives a certain type of throttle response and acceleration. A twin-engine in this would make it completely fly, but the single helps keep things manageable and just about exciting enough to give a grin when needed. It has 28hp, no rpm gauge, but you can wind on the power harshly and the rev limiter kicks in as a gentle reminder to change up. It may look vintage and delicate but because that 500cc engine has had so much development you can actually really ride this thing pretty hard. Top speed is about 80mph.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

LOOKS
A windscreen would completely ruin the look of the bike so don’t even think about putting one on. Other than that this is a great way to own a café racer looking bike without the expense and time of creating one yourself or employing a custom bike builder to construct one.  The polished alloy tank is a true a work of art – and will attract admiring glances too. The Clubman has wonderful styling with all the history of Royal Enfield seeping from it.
Our rating: 5 out of 5

 

RELIABILITY
The modern engine means less time tinkering and more time riding with this bike. Services are every 3,750 miles and there is a good dealer network to source any spare parts. In the past reliability has been an issue but the factory in India is now fully up to speed and there is great good customer service here in the UK to solve any issues. Purists will love that this has a kick start too.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

 

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