Auto focus

Royal Enfield Desert Storm Review

Petlee Peter | Updated on: Nov 10, 2011












Classic muscular looks, the straight-backed regal ride and a fine matt-finish new paint job are what is evident when you look at the new variant from the Royal Enfield den – the Classic Desert Storm. A war-inspired model that is quite a rare offering to come by for Indian riders these days, the 500cc power-packed machine could pump pride and envy even into the hearts current RE bike owners.

The birth of the Royal Enfield Classic models was in November 2009, and they stormed the market, carving a niche especially for those vintage motorcycle lovers with an inclination for the fine mix of classic design and modern mechanicals. Now, true to its name, the new RE motorcycle rakes up a storm with its tweaked features and pulsating performance. 

For someone who has been riding the RE Standard Bullet for more than six years, the Classic experience a few years ago was the equivalent of a maiden trip to New Zealand and now the Desert Storm gives the adrenaline rush of a bungee jump in Queenstown. Apart from being a unique variant in terms of the skin being inspired by desert sand, the battle-ready Classic Desert Storm is an upgraded version of the iconic RE Classic, which could be your perfect ride to your office and also hold its own on rugged terrain to keep entertained even on off days.

War inspired

The Bullet has inspired generations of Indians and expats to attempt customisation. The brand's macho, rugged image and its association with the armed forces are legendary. Many owners including yours truly have had a history of enduring an exasperating wait for an army matte green paint job for their RE bikes. I remember finally giving up after my own attempts at getting a local painter to deliver the results I desired bore bitter fruit. The quest for an apt font and accessories to get the so-called look ‘with pride of combat' added to the ire back then.

So, it is an impressive effort by the designers at the Royal Enfield factory in Tiruvottiyur, near Chennai to have thought of a model inspired by war – a theme with a lot of relevance for this bike. The matte-finish sand colour paint job, the conventional stickers and rubber pads on the tank and the spring saddle seats identical to the older Classics provides the epic touch to the new model.

The sense of pride in riding home a war model is something many may ridicule but the looks and thump of the Classic Desert Storm will silence critics. Having rolled out the Battle Green version as well, RE can look at introducing some military-inspired merchandise to pep-up the ride for fans like me. And also variants of the saddle seat could quench the thirst for a much newer look on the new machine. 

Tweaked engine

The Desert Storm is based on the same platform as the RE Classic and is also loaded with the same 500cc Twin Spark unit construction engine. The long stroke mill, which is powered by a Japanese-made Keihin Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system, can churn out a good 27.2 bhp of power at 5,250 rpm and 41.3 Nm of peak torque at 4,000 rpm.

The amazing part about this 499cc engine is the fact that its refinement level has improved despite it continuing to be a single cylinder, air-cooled pushrod unit. Of course new technology has contributed to the improvement.

The new Desert Storm will feel much more approachable for eager new buyers coming into the RE fold. The classic feel of a bullet with its addictive, leisurely performance is there, but with the loads of torque available, the Desert Storm can also quickly spool up and spring forward when the rider demands it.

Built into the crankcase, is the five-speed constant mesh gearbox which has already been in the news for improving the performance in the Classic 500. The smooth shifts that it affords and the fact that it perfectly complements the new engine mapping for the Desert Storm won me over all over again.

For those deceived by the retro looks of this motorcycle, the fact that it clocks speeds of 100 kmph to 120 kmph with ease, making it capable of challenging any latest motorcycle of its class out there on the road for a ‘drag', can come as a shocker.

The buffed, shiny engine, the 1950s-style nacelle and toolbox, and the swept upwards short silencer (which is an optional fitment) are all extremely eye-catchy additions in the engine area.

These features and the subtle matt paint work had many onlookers drooling over my test bike. Opening up the throttle and letting the sonorous thump of the exhaust wake up the neighbourhood invoked even more envious stares.

Ride and handling

There has always been a certain charm to the Bullet's vulnerable rigidity. I am sure many enthusiasts would have loved some of the previous RE bikes' whimsical on-road manners and their relatively unreliable parts. While the new Classics continue to be put together with as much passion, their glorious uncertainty is now part of history.

New electricals, switchgear, electrical self-start, combined engine and gearbox parts, EFI and even more rigid components like the new front forks, make the new Classic Desert Storm as reliable and refined as any in the segment.

The new front fork suspensions have been modified compared to the older Classic model to improve rigidity and provide more refined handling. The result is that the Desert Storm also offers much better riding comfort and enhanced braking. There is no feeling of pitchy or late reacting brake performance. Minor adjustments to the rake and trail of the front suspension provide comfortable handling especially on bumpy roads.

Coming to the key element of the ride, the Desert Storm is clearly the upgraded version of the older classic bearing the spring saddle seats and Bullet fans will love it. Zipping through a traffic bottleneck in the city has been never easy with a big Bullet, but the Classic variants manage to do just that. The gearshifts are smooth, with false neutrals being almost non-existent.  

The new Storm takes the experience of riding a muscular RE to a new high. And the best part is that it manages to marry tech with the flavour of the Classics of yore. The famous Tiger's eye headlamp now features a Halogen bulb, the original unit construction engine now has electronic fuel injection and the familiar speedometer with Classic English font now has a EFI warning lamp integrated into it.

The new Royal Enfield Classic Desert Storm offers a mileage of 20 to 25 kmpl (depending to road conditions) and can be your own for Rs. 1,43,967 (ex-showroom, Mumbai). To update the Classic range, RE has also launched the new Chrome edition in the classic red and black colour options, with chrome being the dominant finish for the theme. Running on the fuel tank, the wide mud guards and the toolbox, the chrome finish gives the new variant ‘blingy' looks that many will fall in love with.

Published on November 09, 2011
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like

Recommended for you