Author Topic: New 500 Bullet?  (Read 1466 times)

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AzCal Retred

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on: September 04, 2023, 06:15:18 am
Fillingham at minute 4:10 or so speculates on a 350, 500 & 650 Bullet family. Seems more likely to me the RE video he's basing this on was just having fun using graphics and displaying past model badges.

Royal Enfield BULLET 500 single about to be released? For Royal Enfield(INDIA) 70th Anniversary! by stuart fillingham
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z77OpzwcGNo
A trifecta of Pre-Unit Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.


axman88

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Reply #1 on: September 04, 2023, 07:40:14 pm
Fillingham at minute 4:10 or so speculates on a 350, 500 & 650 Bullet family. Seems more likely to me the RE video he's basing this on was just having fun using graphics and displaying past model badges.

I can't force myself to watch S.F. bloviate through another 20 minutes, so I'll never know what he said.  Can you link us to the article you think he was reacting to?

But, a 650 Bullet, or something very much like what that would be, does seem to be in development.  People have published photographs what appears to be just that, in testing:
     https://www.bikewale.com/news/upcoming-new-royal-enfield-bullet-650-what-we-know-so-far/
 
And, it certainly appears that the OHC 350 Bullet is right on the cusp of being officially released:
      https://www.topspeed.com/new-royal-enfield-bullet-350-details-leaked-ahead-of-official-reveal/ 

As for the 500, although I've been searching periodically for news of the return of the big single, there's been no mention in any articles that I've found, and I haven't heard anything through other channels, ever since a local RENA guy told me "not to tell, but" back in September of '21.    https://forum.classicmotorworks.com/index.php?topic=31645.msg386082#msg386082

With how (surprisingly) well the 350 has been selling in the USA, and UK, as well as India and other markets, perhaps RE has quietly dropped the 500, easy to do since they never announced it in the first place.


AzCal Retred

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Reply #2 on: September 04, 2023, 10:27:36 pm
The "article" was the screen background of the Royal Enfield site regarding the "countdown link", AFAIK. It seems to be different now a couple days on. The tank badge montage bit is just a couple seconds long now before it changes & hones in on the 350 J-Bullet. To me the original version looked like RE was just cycling thru the tank badges of bygone machines.
https://www.royalenfield.com/in/en/bullet-meri-jaan/

As the Meteor sells for $5000 to $5500 and the Interceptor is a $5500 to $6000 machine, I'm not seeing the niche room for a separate 500 single. It'd have to be within $300 of the Meteor/Hunter price, it'd either be a (maybe) 27-32 HP motorcycle against a 48 HP, lower CG twin selling for only $200-$400 more or a sales killer for the 350 J machines. All this against the (maybe) imminent introduction of a new liquid cooled 450cc wonderbike, already with 5 proposed variants.

A $5500 500cc J-model would be easy to do, the question is why clog up the Indian production lines with a poor selling 500cc largely "offshore" machine when the 350 is flying off the shelves at home? Offshore "needs" are already largely met with the 411 Himalayan, 350 Meteor, 350 Hunter & 650 Interceptor, and the (probably soon?) 650 Shotgun/Super Meteor and probable LC450 hoard. If they did built a 500 J-model, it would seem to have to be just an effort to completely take up the motorcycle bandwidth for the buyer with $5500 burning a hole in his pocket.

The stunning sales success of the Mahindra 650 "BSA" Goldstar single can't have been overlooked by RE. I'm thinking a 350/450-ish single is about all the displacement the modern one-lunger market is willing to handle. Time will tell, eh? Maybe the 500 J-model will become a collectors item for the affluent next to their 650 Mahindra Goldstar. The Benelli/CF Moto 400/500 singles are kind of a dead issue in the USA. I'm thinking anyone with $5500 to plonk down will opt for a nice air cooled 48 HP 440 pound twin or a modurne 35-40 HP liquid cooled counter balanced 370 pound single.
A trifecta of Pre-Unit Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.


axman88

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Reply #3 on: September 05, 2023, 12:14:03 am
As the Meteor sells for $5000 to $5500 and the Interceptor is a $5500 to $6000 machine, I'm not seeing the niche room for a separate 500 single. It'd have to be within $300 of the Meteor/Hunter price, it'd either be a (maybe) 27-32 HP motorcycle against a 48 HP, lower CG twin selling for only $200-$400 more or a sales killer for the 350 J machines. All this against the (maybe) imminent introduction of a new liquid cooled 450cc wonderbike, already with 5 proposed variants.

The stunning sales success of the Mahindra 650 "BSA" Goldstar single can't have been overlooked by RE. I'm thinking a 350/450-ish single is about all the displacement the modern one-lunger market is willing to handle. Time will tell, eh? Maybe the 500 J-model will become a collectors item for the affluent next to their 650 Mahindra Goldstar. The Benelli/CF Moto 400/500 singles are kind of a dead issue in the USA. I'm thinking anyone with $5500 to plonk down will opt for a nice air cooled 48 HP 440 pound twin or a modurne 35-40 HP liquid cooled counter balanced 370 pound single.
Once again, framing RE decisions against the backdrop of tiny USA consumption and pricing (or even tinier UK market numbers) seems like a mistake to me.

The place the 500 had status was in India.  A fellow who had spent some years there, described the 500 as the big bike that your cool uncle would have had, back in the days before RE decided to kneecap the model by burdening it with about 90,000 rupees of extra cost for an EFI system that most Indian riders didn't want, a substantial price hit at a time when one could get a RE 350 for ~1.2 lakh.  That basically killed domestic sales, and the export market didn't want them either.  (except maybe for guys like us).

RE still sells 9 out of 10 of their Indian produced machines in India.  I think they will do what's best for that market.  The 650s are the only model where exports often exceed domestic sales.  That can be looked at as a positive in that it has spread the RE brand world wide, or it can be looked at as poor sales performance of a model that no doubt represented a large development cost.  650's make up only around 3-4% of all RE motorcycles sold, including both domestic and exports.  Not a great number for any companies "latest and greatest" product.

If we want to speculate on marketing decisions, I think we should be comparing India pricing.  In India right now, one can get a
   350 Classic for around 1.93 lakh and up
   A 650 Int is priced at  3.03 lakh and up, that's 57% more money.

I see a LOT of space, not a little.

Since the manufacturing cost difference between a 500 and a 350 version of the same model seems to amount to amortizing the tooling and development cost for the 500 specific components, that puts RE in the same position that Harley was in with their 1200 vs their 883 Sportster models.  Specifically, they can price the bigger displacement bike artificially so much higher, that it is cheaper for guys who want the bigger bike, to buy smaller one, PLUS the big jugs and pistons, and do the conversion themselves, than to buy the 1200 / 500.  I actually think Harley chose to price the 883 artificially low to give them an entry level model, because the 1200 cost was so much higher as to make no logical sense.  Fortunately for them, due to "HD perception syndrome", the 1200s still sold pretty well, and I suspect, pretty profitably.

The question is whether 500 still holds the mystique it did in the Indian market, and this I can't even speculate on.

I'd like to hear more about the "stunning sales success of the Mahindra 650 "BSA" Goldstar".

Last I heard, ( and it was some time ago), this machine was still ONLY for sale in the UK, and was being sold at the rate of about 250 a month.  That may be decent as a percentage of UK sales, (2.5% of ~10K/month during riding season) but it's only equal to about 2 hours worth of RE Domestic sales.  With total annual Indian motorcycle sales averaging around 16 million units for most recent years, ( 16,000,000 units!  US is closer to 475,000, UK closer to 120,000), I would think that a good selling model for India, would be something that sells at least 40,000 units yearly.


AzCal Retred

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Reply #4 on: September 05, 2023, 12:50:12 am
I'd like to hear more about the "stunning sales success of the Mahindra 650 "BSA" Goldstar". That was used in an ironic fashion... ;D ;D ;D

That was an interesting tidbit regarding Indian domestic sales you brought up:
350 Classic for around 1.93 lakh and up; A 650 Int is priced at  3.03 lakh and up, that's 57% more money.
As you point out, it's essentially no additional cost to make a 500 from the 350. So RE could easily do as HD did and skew the India prices until the bean counters were happy as they have some slack to work with. An overbore barrel, spec a suitable piston, have a salaried engineer jockey around with the crank balance & counterweights until they found the sweet spot.

Once again, framing RE decisions against the backdrop of tiny USA consumption and pricing (or even tinier UK market numbers) seems like a mistake to me.
No argument there. However, what happens over here? The Hunter is available for $3995, the "pretty" Meteor for quite a bit more. What do the dealers do with their now overpriced Meteor backstock if a 500 shows up for the same money? It has to be cheaper than the Interceptor to move off of the floor. Does it become base350  Hunter $3800, fancy 350 Meteor $4500, mighty "500 Bolide" $5000? Price has to be the discriminator. Will RE take the hit on the 350 Meteor? The Mom 'n Pop dealerships that paid real money for their 350 Meteors hoping to retail them at $5200 - $5700 will be mad if they get stuck holding the bag for RENA. Jacking up the RE 650 prices puts them perilously close to the Honda SCL500, CB500X and 650 Kawasaki's. Enfields sell well because they are cheap up front. Jack up the price and the money goes back to the proven Big Four's "hammers". It seems to me that the span between the 350 Meteors and the 650's would have to widen up downward if a 500 J-bike showed up. Can RENA politely do that?
A trifecta of Pre-Unit Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.


axman88

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Reply #5 on: September 05, 2023, 06:25:56 am

No argument there. However, what happens over here? The Hunter is available for $3995, the "pretty" Meteor for quite a bit more. What do the dealers do with their now overpriced Meteor backstock if a 500 shows up for the same money? It has to be cheaper than the Interceptor to move off of the floor. Does it become base350  Hunter $3800, fancy 350 Meteor $4500, mighty "500 Bolide" $5000? Price has to be the discriminator. Will RE take the hit on the 350 Meteor? The Mom 'n Pop dealerships that paid real money for their 350 Meteors hoping to retail them at $5200 - $5700 will be mad if they get stuck holding the bag for RENA. Jacking up the RE 650 prices puts them perilously close to the Honda SCL500, CB500X and 650 Kawasaki's. Enfields sell well because they are cheap up front. Jack up the price and the money goes back to the proven Big Four's "hammers". It seems to me that the span between the 350 Meteors and the 650's would have to widen up downward if a 500 J-bike showed up. Can RENA politely do that?

Didn't RENA show how much they cared about the Mom and Pop shops back in 2017/18 when they started canceling their contacts and replacing them with larger, multi-brand dealerships?  It was just business then, and it would be the same now.

My impression of those multi-brand dealerships, is that a lot of them would much prefer to sell me a BMW, Triumph or Piaggio.  Our local RE dealership seems very well financed, hardly a mom and pop, and had precisely 6 RE's on the floor when I last visited.  I don't think they'd be too heartbroken if they were forced to mark down the two that were 350s.  No doubt the situation is different elsewhere, and some dealers stocked up, but I doubt those local situations concern the folks making the decisions over in India on whether an OHC 500 will be born or not.

As you point out, pricing over the whole line seems somewhat biased towards the high end.  I have a hard time believing that shipping containers full of machines is so expensive, that it turns a 1.93 lakh (that's $2329 US) 350 Classic into a $4500 list price machine in the USA.   That's a $2171 difference to ship it and sell it in the USA, not counting dealer fees. 

Looking at the same calculus for a 650 Interceptor at 3.03 lakh ($3657 US) in India, which is list priced at $6150 in the US, we get a difference of $2493 to ship and sell in the USA.  It seems apparent that RENA is using an adder, not a multiplier to come up with pricing strategy for their machines.  A forty foot container can be shipped from Chennai to Houston for about $6000. Information I found online suggest that about 35 - 40 bikes will fit in that 40 footer, so that's something less than $200 to get them here.

I suggest that the bulk of the additional price to purchase a RE in the states, is going to supporting the RENA corporate structure.   And, since USA sales are phenomenally up, with revenues more than tripling in the last 3 years, it should certainly be possible to recalculate that overhead somewhat, if not substantially downward to create a nicely spaced pricing strategy.
https://forum.classicmotorworks.com/index.php?topic=32734.msg458785#msg458785

To bad that the cost associated with importing a new model includes all the rigamarole of getting it approved for eligibility by the NHTSA .   https://www.nhtsa.gov/importing-vehicle/importation-and-certification-faqs#:~:text=NHTSA%20makes%20import%20eligibility%20decisions,.gov%2Fimporting%2Dvehicle.

If it wasn't for this, and I ran the zoo over at RENA, I'd open the entire catalog for USA sales, and let the dealers special order whatever machine a customer thought they wanted and were willing to pay 35% up front for.

That's not going to happen, but still, with all the many models that RE is releasing for each engine, it shouldn't be that hard to pick and choose models that divide the line nicely into very low, low, and moderate priced offerings.  I've been waiting for the call from RENA to work from home on this stuff, but so far, I'm stuck with my "real" job.


AzCal Retred

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Reply #6 on: September 05, 2023, 04:02:16 pm
Nice analysis! The probability of you cracking into the RENA hierarchy is zero and firmly governed by the Peter Principle: "Never hire anyone smarter than yourself".  ;D  Those worthies are like the CEOs & Upper (mis-)Managers of my old job. They believe that the very fact that they occupy the chair imparts divine powers and infallibility. Rather like that Supreme Hero of the Rodina, Vladimir Putin.

Here's some words of wit 'n wisdom that inspire fantods & night sweats in most of the "Overseer Class":
"Bee note the firft bye whome the new is tryed nor the laste to caste ihe olde aside..." B. Franklin
Their primary mantras: "Change = bad" & "Of all the ideas I hear, I like my own the best".
A trifecta of Pre-Unit Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.