The Charging Bullet - the name is pretty much enough to describe what this is all about, a Bullet that needs charging since it is all-electric. Royal Enfield Bullet is quite a popular one if you're looking for a classic motorcycle in India and also the country it finds its origin in. The man behind the Charging Bullet Fred Spaven started out with Spaven Engineering that specialized in the restoration and modification of classic cars and motorcycles.
A mechanical engineer, Fred found the recent onslaught of electric power very intriguing and aimed for a new adventure on an electric Bullet he built himself. An avid traveller, Fred has previously driven to Mongolia in a Skoda, been to the south of Italy on a BSA Bantam, travelled to Singapore by train and circumnavigated Yorkshire in Reliant Robin. So, his next adventure was to ride the length of Britain on the Charging Bullet.
The Charging Bullet
The all-electric Bullet was built using a donor frame, retrofitted with a new electric drivetrain. After considering several motorcycles as the donor for this project, Fred settled on a Royal Enfield Bullet that was in a terminal state after having spent years on the streets of India.
Fred wanted a frame that was simple but sturdy and uncluttered so there was ample space for the battery packs. For the electrical components, it needed batteries and the only affordable option was lead-acid batteries which are heavy. But then battery technology has moved well ahead and used lithium-ion ones can be bought for lesser than lead-acid. This is the battery tech development that Fred says helped this project come to fruition.
The Charging Bullet is fitted with a DC motor that puts out 11.4 hp. The drive system is held in a steel subframe in place of where the original engine and gearbox used to be. With most of the weight in the middle, the Charging Bullet is a well-balanced motorcycle. The Charging Bullet will do about 64-80 km on one full charge, which isn't much but enough for early morning joy rides.
The first long ride for the Charging Bullet was a 2240 km trip and now it serves as an everyday bike for Fred Spaven. The engineering firm now offers conversion kits if you would like to convert yours. Spaven Engineering offers conversion kits will all parts require or a complete conversion service.
The Charging Bullet weighs the same as a traditional Bullet 350 and is capable of 80 km/h of cruising speeds. The price of these conversions start at GBP 5,000 (approximately Rs 4.55 lakh)
But is it a Bullet now?
Ask any Royal Enfield Bullet fan and they'll talk about the 'thump'. The whole point of riding a Bullet to many is the feel of that petrol-powered torque-biased single-cylinder engine and how the rider interacts with it through a manual gearbox. The Charging Bullet, however, does not have the thump or the manual gearbox.
There isn't much of the Bullet left in the Charging Bullet except it looks like one with big batteries in the middle. But if we're considering the bigger picture which involves the global automotive industry working tirelessly to bring in electric mobility, the Charging Bullet may be where the future will begin from.
Electric cars and motorcycles are inevitable. They may not be a part of the mainstream automobile sector today but they will be and soon. If we are to preserve the heritage of icons like the Bullet for the future generations, the Charging Bullet is definitely one well-engineered way of doing it.