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Story of my 1961 model diesel Royal Enfield Bullet-restored

The story of my NEW 1961 model diesel Bullet started out as a fantasy in 2008. Somebody told me that it is the Bull, which gives the highest fuel economy in two wheelers. I simply laughed at them thinking that a giant like Bullet cannot give more miles per liter. But my investigations proved me wrong. The mileage king diesel bullets usually run around 75 to 105 kilometers per liter of diesel. The thought of owning one, started growing its roots deep in my mind. Luckily I got and old 1961 model bull, from my co-brother. My father’s eldest brother was using a bullet in 1961 and later he fitted it with a diesel engine in 1981. But the bike is now old and bed-ridden after its long 45 years of service. I thought of giving it a rebirth and welcomed it to the 21st century.

Some facts about Royal Enfield diesel bullet

  • Diesel bullets are fitted with third party diesel engines used in pump sets and generators. Mine was fitted with a Lombardini engine from Italy, which resembled Greaves engine in India.
  • They can deliver a mere 7 bhp, though they had 575 cc of displacement
  • Diesel bullets are about 25 kgs heavier than their petrolheads
  • Their fuel efficiency is enormous and somewhere between 75 and 110 kilometers per liter. Mine delivers 85 kmpl
  • Diesel bulls starts the same at any weather. No cold start or hot start issues at all.
  • Never dry up the fuel tank. If the engine die off due to fuel starvation, it is hard to restart. You have to remove air which entered the fuel line
  • Starting a diesel bull engine is an art, difficult to master. I bet with my friends to start it as a fun.
  • They produce black smoke, typically being diesel powered
  • Vibrations and vibrations- they vibrate like hell because of single cylinder diesel engine
  • Well tuned diesel engines sound just like petrolheads with an additional tick-tick noise of tappet and valves
  • Diesel engines have a long life of 5,00,000 kilometers before an overhaul; they even have a run-in period of 10,000 kms, compare t the 1000 kms in petrol heads
  • They need just 1 liter of engine oil and oil change interval is 3000 kms
  • Air filter, fuel filter etc. are almost maintenance free units.


Here is the RC (registration certificate) book of the machine, old and new..

Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc

royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored rc book 2016-11-25-06_56_05-bullet-klt-4802002-jpg-%e2%80%8e-photos 2016-11-25-06_59_16-start

Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc


Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc

In 2009, I found a guy named Rajan (Rajan auto works Parassala Phone: +91 9447496788), in Kerala, who is a specialist in repairing and restoring Royal Enfield Bullets. After consulting him, I made up my mind to restore the old chap. I went to the old shed where the bullet was kept. It was not in full condition and rust was there in almost all parts. However it looked restorable. I hired a carrier and took the bull to the workshop. I didn’t have a perfect idea on how the bull should look like, after the restoration. A new one or the same old 1961 model? I was confused. Later I made up my mind to stick with 1961. I had to get some parts of 1961 to give it perfection. The wheels, handlebar, kicker lever, speedometer, speedo cable, etc. were some among them. Anyway, I assured the mechanic that I will get the parts in  no time. I went to some automobile shops to get them, but they were not available. The shopkeepers cant even order the items for me, as they are not easily available with their suppliers. I was disappointed and was about to drop the idea. But still, with a ray of hope, I thought f waiting sometime to get the parts.

As slow as a diesel bullet, my waiting and laziness ate up a long time. In 2015, I made up my mind again to restore the bull. I went to the mechanic to see whether the machine is still in good condition. it was there, loyally waiting for me. I went to Chennai, where there is a market in Pudupet. I got almost everything I was looking for, from there. Went back and handled the items to Mr. Rajan, so that he started working. Here are some pics of parts I got.


Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 wheelCycle hub wheel of old bulls


imageSmiths odometer showing miles per hour (Nowadays, Indian vehicles show speed in kilometers per hour)



imageOld bulls have speedometer cables attached to the rear wheel.

royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored

After a waiting period of 6 long months, I got him in good condition. He looked like this. However, I experienced a few issues with this. The old cycle-hub wheels were not so good at braking. I found them harder to clean too.

royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored


So, I purchased a set of Parado alloy wheels for just 8500 Rs, exchanging the old wheel set for 8500 Rs making the effective cost 0.

Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc rearI preferred gas filled shocks in the rear than the original 1961 shocks. There are far more comfortable.


Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc shocks

The powerplant is here.

2016-11-25-07_04_34-start 2016-11-25-07_05_55-new-notification

Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc engine

Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc engine

There are some custom made parts in my bike. They are:

  • Stainless steel lockable box in the right
  • Custom made backrest with pocket
  • Custom made replica of cylindrical bag
royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored
royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored


imageimageimageimageBy the time of writing, I have covered about 4000 Kms in my NEW bull. So far so good and I have done long rides of about 300 kms 3 times. I am planning for a few upgrades to make rides more comfortable. They include..

  1. Carrier in the rear with a high placing of backrest for better support to the back
  2. Windshield, which I would like to custom make
  3. A bit wider handle bar with weights in the tip to reduce vibration
  4. Replacing fuel tank and mudguards with chrome plated ones for better looks.
  5. Small profile luggage boxes in both sides, which do not hinder passenger comfort
royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored
royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored
royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored
royal enfield bullet 1961 diesel restored

Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc

Royal enfield diesel bullet 1961 575cc

How is my restored bull? I would like to publish similar articles, with you and your vehicles as heroes. Why waiting? Drop me an email with all details to .

One comment

  1. Hi, This is Chris from Cochin . I would like to know about this bike a bit more and if it is for sale. Best regards Chris/9349584897