The Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 mark a new chapter in the long journey of Royal Enfield. It’s taking the iconic bike brand on a path they haven’t been on in a while. If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast you’ve been looking forward to these bikes for some time now. If you are a Royal Enfield rider you’ve been waiting for these bikes even more. Due to the annual Rider mania Goa has almost become the second home for the brand and this is where the prototypes were first shown exactly one year ago. From then it’s been a long wait full of hype to see the first RE twins in almost half a century. The roads of Goa were an ideal place to test out these bikes. A carefully planned ride route took us through good roads and bad, winding and straight and traffic laden as well as empty.
There a lot to like about the way these middleweights are designed. They are compact and look ideal for the purpose they are made. India had a brush with the Continental GT 535 a few year back and this café racer looks a step ahead in terms of design. That because this bike is a little taller and the fuel tank a bit shorter. The sculpted fuel tank, rear set footrests and race-style clip-on handlebars all look the part and are ergonomically designed to give you a comfortable ride. The GT also gives you the option of having a single seat on the bike and it comes with a black wheel that stands out. The Interceptor comes with a different seat and a handlebar that is slotted higher for a more upright and relaxed ride position. Bikes from the brand have always been known for extensive use of chrome on them and the same is true for the Interceptor as well. The exhaust notes too look beautiful on both the bikes. The twin dial instrument cluster is mostly analog but there’s a small digital screen that gives basic information. Also the bikes miss out on LED lights.
The bikes run a 649 cc twin cylinder oil cum air cooled engine that churns out a really impressive 47 bhp and 52 Nm. That just means there is a lot of power and torque to play with. The pickup is quick on this fuel injected engine and it’s not very tedious to achieve speeds that cross over 150 kmph. It’s a very refined engine and there are hardly any vibrations that can be felt. These are things you don’t really associate with the brand but these bikes are very different. Also, to enhance the classic appeal of the bikes liquid cooled technology wasn’t used and it’s not really missed either. The famed bullet thump is missing here but the company has used the 270 degree firing order to retain some of that feel in the twin setup along with ensuring lower vibrations. This is also the first time we’re seeing a 6-speed gearbox on a Royal Enfield and clearly the best you have seen on any Enfield till now, more so with that slip-assist clutch.
Ride & Handling
The agile chassis is developed at the company’s UK Technology Centre with legendary sports motorcycle frame builder Harris Performance and that explains the efficient handling of these bikes. The purpose built Pirelli tyres for these bikes also do a great job providing good grip and therefore good confidence. The bikes provide a very stable and reassuring ride and the more time you spend on them the more confident you feel. The ride quality is a good too and only feels a bit at really high speeds. Probably one of five different suspension settings will take care of that. However, your long ride on the Interceptor will be much more comfortable than the GT which is more suitable for shorter rides. That is generally because of the more relaxed and upright ride position the Interceptor offers. And what both the bikes can offer you are seats with some more cushion. Dual channel ABS is also a welcome addition to the bikes and ensures a safer ride.
Of all the things that work for these twins you just cannot miss the prices. A well performing twin cylinder middleweight starting at Rs 2.5 lakh is unheard of and Royal Enfield deserves accolades for pricing these bikes so well. In fact in states like Kerala and Karnataka where the on-road price of the base variant will cross Rs 3 lakh the ex-showroom cost will be reduced even further. You also get custom and chrome options with these bikes for a little more money if exclusivity is something you long for. Less of gimmicks and pure motorcycling fun, that’s what defines the Continental GT 650 and Interceptor 650.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars