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1953 500 Bullet

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1953 500cc Bullet

I've always coveted a rare 1953 500 Bullet. According to bike legend this model would have been launched a year earlier if renowned tester and race rider ‘Jolly' Jack Stocker had not brought the company's first test machine back from Europe on a ferry which sank! Genuine ones are like hen's teeth. Mine is a combination of a frame and cycle parts from a 1952 350 Bullet (bought in New Zealand in 1995) and a 1954 500 engine, but I've built the bike mostly to 1953 specs with no casquette.

Ace Enfield engine craftsman, Andy Berry, built the engine for touring, although it has been tuned to give more power than a standard 500. The foundation is the Hitchcock's billet steel crank and forged steel con rod. The piston is a forged 535cc item on standard bore. The barrel came off a Big Head Bullet and the head is from an early British 500 Bullet, ported and gas-flowed by Andy. We have used Hitchcock's performance valve kit, standard oil pumps and a pair of cams off a 1960's Big Head Bullet.

Andy's most impressive feat was fitting a belt drive into the original early slim primary chaincase - it's a work of art. The gearbox has been assembled using heavy-duty components from later Enfield twins, although the outer cover is that of a genuine 1953 example.

The Magdyno has been fully overhauled and a new 1 3/16" Amal Monobloc fitted. This item would not have been fitted to Bullets until 1955, but its ease of maintenance and reliability make it a safer bet for touring.

For the same reason there have been other modifications: a 1955 double-sided front brake for added stopping power and an Indian fulcrum-lever type centre-stand. Andy has also fitted a removable rear sprocket which he cleverly sawed in half so it can be changed without removing the rear wheel.

All parts have been stove enamelled black, giving a beautiful deep lustre, although it took almost a year for this part of the process to be completed. Finally, the wheels have been rebuilt with stainless steel rims and spokes.

A rather special journey is planned for the bike in the autumn of 2008. Watch this space for updates!

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