The 2018 Royal Enfield Classic 500 has been updated with ABS and more... Here is our quick spin. Review & Images: Kris Hodgson
When it comes to the Classic 500 Royal Enfield have stayed true to an authentic old school thumper, with the bike retaining the character and feel that sets it apart from modern machines.
For 2018 Royal Enfield have made some concessions to safety requirements, with ABS becoming not just an expectation, but in many regions a requirement. So we’ve now got ABS, plus a rear disc brake which makes sense for the ABS, not to mention because mashing that foot lever and locking the rear is probably the most common mistake when it’s slippery.
We’ve also seen the inclusion of a pillion seat on the Stealth Black version, while also boasting an extensive black-out, across the engine and exhaust and some raw metal retained tastefully on the kickstart, wheel spokes, fork bottoms, shocks and engine fins.
In my eyes, not having lived through the era, it seems pretty true to form and while I’d personally lean towards a regular Classic 500 with the glossy paint, or even a Chrome edition, I can see the appeal of the Stealth Black version.
I also felt like this 2018 model had a bit more go than the model I tested back in 2016 (the Squadron Blue Classic 500), although it did have more miles on the clock, which may have helped.
The ABS is also a nice backup, but even in slippery wet weather conditions I had to force activation, or really be doing something silly to get it to kick in. That’s good as it means it’s not overly sensitive, but the brakes don’t offer the kind of performance that lends itself to easily locking wheels, or breaking any stopping distance records. Not that you’d expect either.
For relaxed cruising the bike remains a fun option, still being capable of inner city commuting, so you could certainly ride one of these daily. I had my fair share of wet weather and found the bike easy to manage in slippery conditions, despite it still being a heavy machine.
With the thin wheels and tyres the handling is easy and natural, with good balance, despite the bike being obviously heavy if you’re rolling it around by hand. Combine that with the compliant ride, partially thanks to the sprung seat, and open ergonomics and I felt like I needed to break out a half face helmet, goggles or aviators and find a manly white scarf to truly make the most of the experience.
One area that was noticeable, especially on the freeway, was vibrations particularly compared to our experiences with previous Classic 500 models, and we dropped the press test bike in to Royal Enfield Sydney who explained the most common complaint is vibrations, and this is generally due to loose engine mount bolts, something they diagnosed our machine with, after a quick look.
Overall I think my original thoughts on the 2016 model remain true, so check out the full test – Review: 2016 Royal Enfield Classic Squadron Blue if you want the full run down. The 2018 model benefits from ABS, which is a nice backup, but it’s still that authentic old school thumper.
2018 Royal Enfield Classic 500 Stealth Black ABS Specifications
Price: $7,990 + ORC
Warranty: Two-year warranty, two-year roadside assistance
Colours: Stealth Black (as tested)
Claimed power: 27.2bhp@5250rpm
Claimed torque: 41.3Nm@4000rpm
Wet weight: 190kg
Fuel capacity: 13.5L
Engine: Air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder, OHV, 499cc, 84 x 90mm bore x stroke, 8.5:1 compression, Digital Electronic Ignition, Keihin EFI, Twin-Spark, wet sump
Gearbox: Five-speed, constant mesh
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Chassis: Single downtube, using engine as stressed member
Suspension: 35mm telescopic forks, 130mm travel, twin shock absorbers, five-step adjustable preload, 80mm travel
Brakes: Dual channel ABS, Single 280mm rotor, twin-piston caliper, 240mm rotor, single-piston caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Spoked wheels, 90/90 – 19in (F), 110/80 – 18 (R), Avon RoadRider
Seat height: 800mm
Overall height: 1090mm
Overall width: 790mm
Instruments: Analogue speedometer