Bullet & Madras Motors 1931 to 1950

1851 - 1900
Early days
  1900 - 1930
  First motorbikes
1931 - 1950
Bullet & Madras Motors
1951 - 1970
The legend is forged
1971 - 2010
The Bullet comes home


The Bullet & Madras Motors 

In 1931, a four-valve, single-cylinder motorbike was introduced and would make Royal Enfield unforgettable. The 'Bullet' had an inclined engine and an exposed valve gear. Other features included a longer stroke, four-valve head, and a heavily finned crankcase. 

The most well known Royal Enfield offering was the 'Flying Flea,' also called 'Airborne.' In the second world war, this lightweight, 125cc bike was capable of being dropped by parachute with airborne troupes. The Flea was fitted into a steel tubular cage with a parachute attached. As well as motorbikes, Royal Enfield was called upon by the British authorities to manufacture a variety of special instruments and apparatus to use against enemy forces.

The 1939 Bullet 350 was a kick-start to the post-war designs. Two rocker boxes were used to enable better gas flow. Another design feature that put Royal Enfield at the forefront of the motorcycle industry was their hydraulically damped telescopic single front fork suspension. Combined with its swinging arm rear suspension system, the Bullet was a formidable bike for its time.  

In 1947 Enfield made a J2 - the first model with a twin telescopic front end, followed in 1948 by a 500cc twin (Enfield's 25bhp answer to the Triumph Speed Twin), which stayed in production until 1958.

In 1949, the 350cc Bullet was launched in India when Madras Motors received an order from the Indian Army for a supply of motorcycles. This action began the reign of the Bullet in the subcontinent. Madras Motors started out assembling motorbikes that were shipped in pieces from England. Later, Enfield engines were sent in parts to be assembled in India. Eventually, the manufacturing and assembly of Royal Enfield bikes was exclusive to India. For the next 30 years,  the loyal following of the Bullet resulted in the design remaining unchanged.