How the Royal Enfield Bullet Motorcycle became Integral to the Indian Army

Indian Army and the Bullet

India was not a manufacturing hub for any type of Motorcycles before 1947. During the days of the British Raj a few assorted motorcycles which were imported from England were used by the British Indian army. They were mostly the Triumph and the BSA.

In 1947 the Indian army felt the need for new motorcycles for its use as the machines already with it were becoming old and redundant ( In army terminology class V). The Government floated tenders for bikes with the proviso that at a later stage they would be manufactured in India. No bike manufacturer came forward except the Royal Enfield Company. They offered the Royal Enfield Bullet a 350 cc, 4 stroke motorcycle.

The machine was tested by the army who cleared the machine for use. The government immediately imported 350 bullets for the army and they were put to patrol the Indo- Pak border in Punjab. The Indo- Pak border in Punjab has reasonable good roads and is flat with cultivated fields all around. The bikes were a success, but after about a year the bikes were withdrawn and replaced with Jeeps which were imported by the army.

The Bullet however remained with the army is still in use in 2012. Not much change has been incorporated in the model and engine and the old 1947 model still does yeoman service for the army. As promised an assembly plant commenced at Madras and the Bike came to be made in India.

In the 70s and 80s the parent company Royal Enfield closed in England and the Madras plant bought the logo and license of the company. Now the Royal Enfield is made at Madras in India and many bikes are exported back to England.

The Bullet is the mainstay of army in India. It is used as a dispatch rider, Military police patrol, and ceremonial duties. All out riding duties for the President and visiting dignitaries are carried out with the Royal Enfield bike. Riders who have used the bike vouchsafe for its reliability in the rugged mountains of Ladakh and the hills on the eastern front. No history of the Indian army is complete without the royal Enfield bike. This 18BHP bike with a 4 stroke engine is used only by the Indian army.

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Comments 9 comments

Horatio Plot profile image

Horatio Plot 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, England.

And so the wheel turns full circle. Royal Enfield is now thriving and running double shifts, exporting to Europe, America and Australia.

Great little article. It's funny how things work out sometimes.

Thanks for writing it.

H


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Thank you Horatio for your comment. I spent time in the Air force and in ground tenure commanded a Provo unit. I had 15 Bullets in AF Police colors. They were great fun


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

Interesting history of the motorcycle in the Indian Army.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore Author

Thank you Au fait


Nags 2 years ago

My first rendezvous with bullets were through Army bullets where in Army guys used to come to our college to train my classmates in doing stunts on Bullets. That's when I decided that's the bike I would buy. After I started working in Hyderabad, one day I read a news that Army recently disposed their old bullets at dead cheap rates. Missed that chance. Finally bought a Bullet Machismo 2002 model with AVL engine. Rode it for 3 yrs but my heart was all out for the old cast iron beast. So sold it and bought 1983 Std Bullet 350. Rode it for another 3 years, before seiing it for medical reasons. Finally I am going to relive my dream when I would be getting Thunderbird 500 in my hands. Saga continues.....


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks Nags for your experience


ArindamB profile image

ArindamB 2 years ago from Pune,Maharashtra, India

Wow.. Great article. But you can find other such amazing stories at this link ( http://royalenfieldcontinentalgt.blogspot.com)


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore Author

Thank you ArindamB


Livia 23 months ago

Right ont-his helped me sort things right out.

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