“Eleanor” by Frontwheel Motors…
Introduced all the way back in 1931, the Royal Enfield Bullet is the longest-running motorcycle model to remain in continuous production. Obviously, the Bullet has changed in the last 90+ years, but it soldiers on today with much the same character and charm as its forebears.
One of the biggest updates arrived around 2010, when the Bullet received Royal Enfield’s new all-aluminum Unit Construction Engine (UCE) in 350cc and 500cc displacements. While unit construction (engine and gearbox in the same casing) is nothing new in the motorcycle world, the new engines represented a major step forward for a marque so deeply rooted in its heritage — an evolution that some long-time Bullet aficionados scoffed at, preferring their finicky old cast-iron mills.
Still, the new Bullet 500 won fans with its blend of nostalgic style and modern reliability.
“This is a motorcycle with a lot of charisma – a throwback from a bygone era. It’s endearingly different to modern bikes, which can be a positive thing if you’re looking for something different. Warm to it’s character and you’ll have a massive grin on your face as you thud gently around the back lanes.” –MCN
Our new friend Chandra worked for several years as a mechanic at Royal Enfield Jakarta before opening his own custom workshop, Frontwheel Motors. “FW” tends to build custom bikes along a flat tracker theme, but this project would be a bit a different — a 2017 Bullet 500 built in collaboration with REA Racing, an auto racing team.
Chandra says the moto and auto enthusiasts were united in their vision for the bike:
“A performance bobber with a mix of sand-flat racing; there is a little touch of flat track too, because I don’t want to be separated too far from the FW character.”
Anyone who follows beach drag racing events like those at Japan’s famed Chirihama Sandflats can see the direct inspiration in this build. Like the car in Gone in 60 Seconds, they nicknamed the bike “Eleanor,” said to mean “sun ray” or “shining light” in ancient Greek. To that end, Chandra worked with RSSQ to finish the modified frame, bodywork, and various accessories with plenty of polish, chrome, and chromium paint to make it shine.
The engine was punched out to 535cc with oversize valves, and the EFI has been ditched in favor of a single big Keihin FCR39 carb. The burly 16-inch wheels are wrapped in Allstate Dirtman tires for traction on the beach, and a Motogadget miniscope speedo has been recessed in the tank — one of the most challenging aspects of the build, says Chandra. As with many Indonesian builds, bolt-on solutions were eschewed in favor of handmade solutions, such as the bespoke bodywork.
All of the laborious time and effort was worth it, as “Eleanor” outshone the competition at Kustomfest, Indonesia’s largest annual “kustom kulture” festival — the most prestigious show in Southeast Asia. Says Chandra:
“We won best of show for European chopper and bobber, as well as a choice award from the international guests!”
Those international guests included none other than Have Fun! Flat Track and Toshiyuki “CHEETAH” Osawa (Japan), Winston Yeh of Rough Crafts (Taiwan), and Mooneyes Bangkok and Masse Jacop (Thailand) — some of the top names in the custom world!
Congrats to Chandra and everyone at Frontwheel Motors and REA Racing Team for taking a championship trophy and so many awards — well deserved, indeed! Below, we talk to Chandra for more details on the build.
Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Bobber: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Hello, my name is Chandra. I founded Frontwheel Motors in 2019. My basic experience is as a mechanic. Since childhood, I have been enthusiastic about the automotive world. I worked at Royal Enfield, Jakarta, Indonesia for about four years and then opened my custom motorbike workshop. I am self-taught, having studied custom culture with an eye toward styles, flow, and detail.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
Royal Enfield Bullet 500, year 2017. The model is a performance bobber with a mix of sand-flat racing; there is a little touch of flat track too, because I don’t want to be separated too far from the FW character.
• What was the design concept and what inspired the build?
This was a collaboration between two different cultural divisions united in one passion: Frontwheel Motors and an auto racing team, REA Racing Team. Motorcycle enthusiasts and car enthusiasts united together for one concept, namely a performance bobber adapted from the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 engine.
• What custom work was done?
We applied chrome color and hairline brush to this motorbike to make it look shining and natural.
In terms of the engine, we upgraded it to 535cc with oversize valves, using 38mm for the intake and 34mm for the exhaust. A Keihin FCR39 carburetor handles the fuel supply.
As for the wheels, to make it look solid, we used 16×350 rims with Allstate Dirtman tires to match the concept. The handlebar riser was inspired by the H-D pan/shovel models.
We also put a Motogadget miniscope speedometer on the tank; it was one of the most difficult jobs but worth it.
We prepared this motorbike for the 12th annual Indonesian custom show (Kustomfest) and won best of show for European chopper and bobber, as well as a pick award from the international guests!
• Does the bike have a nickname?
We gave it the name “Eleanor,” which means “light.”
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride the completed bike?
I feel proud whenever I ride a bike I built. I put a lot of effort into building the motorbike until it can be ridden.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I was proudest when I saw the results, which I think exceeded our initial expectations. There were a lot of difficulties when making the bodywork, so it was amazing to see this motorbike becoming the winner at the Kustomfest event.
• Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Thank you to everyone who has supported FW over the years. The team, customers, family, and friends.
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