Bite the Bullet

They say that you can wait hours for a bus – then three turn up at once. It seems to be much the same with Royal Enfields and Watsonian sidecars. Just a while ago Mick Payne reported on the Himalayan model fitted with the company’s new International model and remarked ‘Look great on the new Bullet Trial, wouldn’t it?’ Well, they’ve only gone and done it!

At the recent Motorcycle Live show, at Birmingham’s NEC – which Dan Sager of the company commented was “One of the best we’ve had” – they not only had the Bullet Trial International outfit but also the new Interceptor model.

The 650cc twin was fitted with a colour-matched GP resplendent in Orange Crush – it seems a lifetime away that sidecars were just black or white gel coat, colour matching is definitely the order of the day now.

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I’ve not ridden the Interceptor but have experience of several Bullets attached to sidecars and found them capable, if a little underpowered for dual carriageways.

It was a very early 500 and Squire ST1 that taught me that twin leading shoe front brakes don’t hold an outfit on a hill. This was probably in the days of Slater’s importing them, but they have come a long way since then.

They are now imported by MotoGB following a few years of Watsonian themselves doing so.

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Not ideal for motorway work, but perfect for back roads and green lanes.

The Trial Bullet is inspired by the exploits of Johnny Brittain in the 1950s and is finished in the green and silver so well-known from those machines.

The International has been painted to match, with chrome effect panels to echo the bike’s tank. Now whatever you do, don’t admit this at your local VMCC section, the chrome is vinyl wrap.

Yes, the same stuff that footballers use to rethink their already tasteless supercars. Northwick Business Park has had several guises through the years but now houses many small industries including, of course, Watsonian.

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“The paint was done just a couple of units away,” explained Dan; this means that they have a good degree of control over the refinishing.

The GP on the big bike is colour-matched to the bike’s orange and silver paintwork although the lower portion is left black. Suits me, as any chip damage should be taken on the black portion, making the paintwork easier to keep looking pristine.

The new twin claims 47bhp and 52Nm of torque with about 80% of the latter being produced at 2500rpm.

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Coupled with a six-speed transmission it’ll cruise at the motorway legal limit, which is something the Bullet and chair really isn’t going to do.

These two outfits are really drawing on the strengths of the individual models and I think the Trial/International pairing is the best yet for the 500 and would be my preferred mount for local work. If I wanted to venture further then its bigger sibling would come into its own. The GP will suit less adventurous passengers too.

The parallel twin Interceptor fitted with Watsonian’s GP sidecar.

As is usual for Watsonian, they leave the bikes with the OE tyres; in the Interceptor’s case they are Pirelli Phantoms, both in 18-inch size.

My memory of Phantoms from the late 1970s is that they wear fast but with the traditional diameter a square section sidecar dedicated tyre could be substituted. Either a Heidenau K28 or a Metzeler Block K would fit and look good into the bargain.

The Trial has an 18-inch rear tyre but the front is an inch larger so you could use tyres to suit your requirements, be a pity to not go off-road…

So, the bottom line, how much mister? Well, the Interceptor as seen here would set you back around £12,500 and the Bullet fitted with an International sidecar starts around £9000.

Fitting kits are available separately at £475 and £375 respectively. See more at or give them a call on 01386 700907.

Please let me win the lottery in 2020!

Read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of Old Bike Mart – on sale now!

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