It is known to many that Royal Enfield used to sell diesel Bullet motorcycles in India. Also known as the Royal Enfield Taurus, the rare Bullet variant was sold between the late-1980s and 2000.
Today, we don't see the Royal Enfield Taurus that commonly. However, the diesel Royal Enfield is still living its age in rural areas and vintage motorcycle garages. Here are some facts about the one and only diesel motorcycle ever to be sold in India - The Royal Enfield Taurus!
The Highest-Selling Diesel Motorcycle
The Royal Enfield Taurus was the first and last diesel motorcycle in India. Many other diesel motorcycles were sold abroad. But the Royal Enfield Taurus was the highest-selling diesel motorcycle in the whole world. In fact, no other brand thought about making a mass-production diesel motorcycle as seriously as Royal Enfield did.
A Mileage Figure Today's Motorcycles Can Only Dream Of!
When it comes to fuel economy, Royal Enfield motorcycles may not be the best choice. However, things were different for the Taurus. The Royal Enfield Taurus had a claimed mileage of above 85km/l. This figure was even higher than the then two-wheeler benchmark for mileage, the Hero Honda Splendor. In addition to this, diesel was available at half the price of petrol back then.
Underpowered Than The Petrol Variant
Though the diesel Royal Enfield Bullet was ahead in terms of mileage, it wasn't the same for performance. The Royal Enfield Bullet diesel or Taurus had a 325cc single-cylinder engine. Output figures stood at 6.5bhp and 15Nm of torque. The engine was mated to a 4-speed gearbox.
The engines were made by Greaves Lombardini in Italy. At 325cc, the Taurus is also the smallest-engined Royal Enfield.
Other Variants Of The Diesel Royal Enfield Bullet
Outside India, some diesel Bullets (above) were swapped with a Chinese diesel V-Twin engine for more power.
There was another variant of the Taurus called the Royal Enfield Sooraj. It was built by a Tractor company based in Punjab, named Sooraj Tractors, after the original Royal Enfield Taurus was discontinued.
Why Did Royal Enfield Make A Diesel Bullet?
Besides the high mileage, diesel prices were also very low at the time. This reduced the effective price of the diesel Royal Enfield Bullet even more (although diesel engines are generally expensive than petrol engines due to more mechanical components).
The diesel unit on the Royal Enfield Taurus was also easy to work on. Conventional diesel engines are accompanied by a turbo and intercooler unit. The Taurus diesel unit, on the other hand, had a basic diesel layout.
Why Did Royal Enfield Stop Making The Diesel Bullet?
The Royal Enfield Bullet Diesel was notorious in terms of emissions. Being a diesel, the motorcycle used to emit thick black smoke clouds. For the same reason, the Royal Enfield Taurus couldn't pass the emission norms set forward by the Indian Government.
How Was It To Ride A Diesel Bullet?
While the regular Royal Enfields we see today are aimed to give a relaxed riding experience, the Taurus gave the exact opposite. The motorcycle had huge vibration issues due to the high compression ratio of diesel engines. The vibrations were so high that riders used to get aches on their shoulder joints. The 196kg Taurus had a top speed of just 65km/h.
Thoughts On The Royal Enfield Bullet Diesel aka Taurus
The Royal Enfield Taurus is one of the rarest motorcycles in India. Though it had many issues, the essence of riding a rare Bullet is still special. There are many skilled mechanics who can make an old diesel Bullet run like a charm. The ‘unicorn' Royal Enfield is also a collectible for many enthusiasts.
Royal Enfield has now started a pre-owned motorcycle store called Vintage. You can find a good example of the Taurus at Royal Enfield VIntage.