Thursday, July 16, 2020

Africa Bullet resurrection

The Bullet in its prime atop the Tlaeeng Pass in Lesotho.

It is just over twelve years ago that myself and my '55 Bullet flew home from Bamako, Mali. I had hoped to make it all the way home by road to complete a circumnavigation of the African continent but lack of money, time and a very sick Enfield put laid to those plans. The bike was leaking oil profusely and needed an engine strip to fix it and the chain and sprockets were worn out too. It needed to be in top form to complete another Sahara crossing so at that point I called it a day, put it on a pallet and flew it home.

And this is how it arrived home. Actually it arrived on a pallet
and this is how it was after being re-assembled.

By the end of the 18 months that I spent travelling with the Bullet I had gotten fairly tired of maintaining it, hence when it arrived home it sat unloved for a very long time whilst other bikes came and went (and a few stayed...)

However I can't stand any more the Enfield looking at me forlornely from the corner of my garage every time I go in to work on something else so I decided a couple of months back that it was finely time to put it back on the road.

On starting the project I had dearly wanted to keep the patina the bike accrued with its travels however unfortunately due to the various welding jobs needed it would soon become an absolute rust bucket if not refinished. So now the mission is to get it back on the road re-painted but keeping as much of its character as possible. I am aiming for a reliable year round bike so it will receive plenty of stainless odds and sods. In the back of my mind I have a yearning to return to Mali and ride the bike home from there to complete the circle so the bike will be built up to be nice and sturdy and prepped for adventure.

The faithful old Enfield is currently a bona fide basket case but will soon be back in one lump. Next stage will be a trip to the local paint shop. For the mean time here are a few of the initial steps and early stage jobs.

Currently in a sorry state and down to its
component parts.

And here's the front end.

Rear mudguard stays got strengthened with concrete
reinforcement bar at a boatyard in Luanda, Angola.
Still plenty of African red mud clinging on.

The frame and original '55 forks. I used an Indian disc front end
in Africa and plan to continue with that set up.

Work starts: the rims are thoroughly wire brushed and then
painted with Smoothrite on the inside. For best results thin
down the Smoothrite - on the tin it says you cannot use regular
thinners. Rot - use them, they are fine!

Always a good idea to fit Enfield stanchions in
to the alloy casquettes or top yokes with some
copper grease. I forgot and this is the result.
They only came out with a lot of heat and gentle
use of a pipe wrench.

I shouldn't really admit it but previously I had cut the saddle bracket
off as it fouled with fitting a dual seat which I needed for the
Africa trip. So, out with the welder to fix it back on.


  1. You KEPT the saddle bracket, and so it can be reattached. Now that is foresight.

  2. rather you than me, no way would you get me any where near Africa,any part of it. As for maintaining it on the road,shame on you, you must have read the story of those two women and their Panther outfit?