Restoring my old cast iron Bullet 350: Key points to keep in mind

I’ve decided to give this love one last sincere try before I just turn my back on it and get a new motorcycle.

BHPian masterChief007 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I am planning to restore/resurrect my old CI bullet, which is lying in the parking unused and uncared for the past 4-5 years. I would appreciate any suggestions regarding what all work should I concentrate on such a bike.

Background

Owning a Bullet cast iron can be a pain especially if you get a lemon which has its engine seized at the 12000 km mark at 80 kmph on a highway, that too just after a week it got serviced from an authorized service center (Sampangi Rama Nagar, Bengaluru). But as you get addicted to the quirkiness of the motorcycle, you find switching to any other bike difficult (even within the RE stable).

So even when it ditched me on the highway, I kept it running till 24-25000 km during which I learnt a few of the jobs like tappet adjustment, carb setting for air-fuel mixture, and the life-line of clutch cable replacement etc. It still kept giving me troubles here and there, shutting off in the middle of traffic and whatnot.

So finally 4-5 years back I had enough and one day when it was again throwing tantrums, I lost patience and moved over to my car as the primary mover. Since then it is lying idle in the parking and collecting dust.

Recently I was contemplating a new motorcycle for my regular runs (pun intended), which I would take for my morning runs, gym and light groceries and occasionally on long rides (mostly solo). And then suddenly my heart strings got plucked again for this old love.

So I decided to give this love one last sincere try before I just turn my back on it, and get a new motorcycle. Basically, I want to get it restored for the essential bits so that I can determine whether I would keep it for the long run (registration expires in May 2023).

My planned restoration

  • Buffing and cleaning of timing, clutch covers and complete servicing
  • De-rusting and cleaning the petrol tank
  • Cleaning/replacement of the carb and float
  • Getting the engine block opened/decarbonated and if required re-boring (it has already been re-bored after the seizure at 12000k mark)
  • Replace spark plug
  • Change all rubber parts, including tyres
  • Replace all cables
  • Replace all electrical wirings
  • New battery
  • Get new tyres and tubes
  • Get the rim/spoke adjusted/balanced/replaced as it’s lying in dead storage for so long
  • Figure out issues with the alternator as the charging used to be very bad (headlight would be dim, and the horn would be like a lamb’s bleating)
  • Get the gas shockers filled again with gas
  • And of course, all oils and grease replaced engine/clutch
  • Replace chain and sprocket setup (it is busted due to backlash)
  • Replace air filter
  • New Brake shoes

Please advise regarding the above activity so that I can use the vehicle for the coming 2-3 years as a beginning and let me know if I need to add/remove any activity from the above list. Also, a rough estimate that I may need to incur.

Would love to write a travelogue with my Bullet in the coming months.

Once upon a time:

Here’s what GTO had to say about the matter:

Not a motorcycle guy, but one thing I can tell you is = resurrection / restoration budget is always limited. It’s tempting to go the other way, but always prioritize the money & effort on mechanicals over aesthetics. A well-running machine has a greater feel-good factor than one that just looks beautiful.

Good luck with bringing her back to top form.

Here’s what BHPian tilt had to say about the matter:

I had two Bullets – a 1967 army bike and a 1984 one I bought new. The ’67 was amazingly good but the ’84 was a love-hate relationship. I hated the bike with a passion when it was with me and loved it and missed it when it was in the shop (which was for at least 75% of the time I owned it).

That ’84 soured my opinion of Enfield bikes so badly that even today there’s nothing RE can do (or anyone here [including current owners] can demonstrate) to change my mind.

Cheers

Here’s what BHPian tharian had to say about the matter:

If the bike has been lying idle for just 4-5 years, you only have to give it a general full service.

  • Tank cleaning
  • Carb cleaning
  • Spark plug clean/ replace
  • Ignition points cleaning
  • New battery
  • Tyre if you are planning to do rides, it’s better to replace
  • Check wheel bearings
  • Check air filter & hoses
  • Check chain/sprocket
  • The gas shocks cannot be recharged, it needs to be replaced. But the Standard 350s came with oil ones if you want the original set-up.
  • Wheel trewing if required
  • Don’t open the engine till required
  • Wiring and cables can be checked down the line. The cables need to be oiled and they will be fine. They don’t keep snapping like the older bikes.
  • If the battery is not charging properly, you will have starting trouble, so that has to be checked for sure.

These old bikes are quite basic and simple to fix. These models have a good value as well even now. I am guessing this is a 2005-08 model?

Here’s what BHPian keroo1099 had to say about the matter:

What!!! A CI 350 that doesn’t mark its territory can’t be a Bullet.

I have an 82 model that’s spent its fair share with some mechanic or the other but like you can’t seem to let it go. I did sell it when I went to the US, but my wife missed it so much that she bought it back, sigh.

Like you, I have learnt to set the tappets, advance/retard, point gap, carb tuning, etc. which in a way makes it fun to hang on to it but I’m finding it harder and harder to get parts for these old machines. I have done a few mods on mine, a 5-plate clutch which prevents the clutch slippage and a 24mm Mikuni flat slide carb for a better response as I only use the bike in the city.

I just got the fitness done on mine so it’s good for the next 5 years.

Good luck restoring yours.

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