The launch of the new twins from Royal Enfield is undoubtedly the most exciting bike launch of the year, so far. Anticipation and excitement surrounding this launch were just insane. And amid all this excitement, we were lucky enough to ride both the bikes. Here's the review of the Continental GT 650...
The Café Racer was a huge style icon of its time, and even today, customers around the world still lust for this beautiful motorcycle style. Picking up on its history and paying tribute to the original, Royal Enfield has once again brought back the Continental GT to life, but this time it gets a 650cc engine. The twins – the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650 – feature the all-new 648cc parallel twin.
The new bikes look brilliant – their design is a tribute to a very important phase in the history of motorcycles. The Continental GT looks like a proper modern classic and a true race bike. It’s unlike anything we have ever seen from RE. The quality has improved quite a bit, and the bike looks compact, colourful and stylishly vintage. The build quality really surprised me. A closer examination of the motorcycle allowed me to appreciate that RE has really paid a very close attention to all the details – the footpegs have RE logos, there is no visible loose wiring, there are no imperfections or any room for improvement in the frame and the seat and the handlebars are top-notch. The build quality is not at par with more expensive premium motorcycles, but it’s a giant leap in the right direction for RE.
The bike looks very compact and has good ergonomics. The bike we rode had the custom single seat, which is an accessory. A stock Continental GT gets the same seat as the Interceptor. I, however, prefer the longer seat on the Interceptor, as the single seat is quite hard and narrow. Young people might enjoy it, but when you have back problems like me, you can’t compromise on ergonomics and comfort.
Turn the ignition on, and you hear a unique engine sound from Royal Enfield. It isn’t loud at idle, but it will definitely cause people to turn heads when you rev it up. The brand-new twin-engine fits nicely into the bike frame. It’s a completely new unit that has been in the making for about four years and the result . . . let’s just say that it’s a work of art. The simple 648cc parallel twin feels very well refined and very smooth. We managed to reach speeds we didn’t even think was possible. Crossing the 100mph mark – which was what RE intended – was a piece of cake for the Interceptor. On the highway, the bike feels very calm and composed, without any vibrations or rattling anywhere. The ride quality is very impressive, to say the least.
The engine also gets a 6-speed transmission, which is the first time ever for an RE. Again, the gearbox feels very well built, and the gear lever slots each gear into position smoothly and effortlessly. About 47bhp is transferred to the rear wheel. The bike pulls forward quite fast, thanks to the 52Nm of torque. Acceleration is not blistering fast, but the bike does feel light on its feet. Throttle response is also pretty good, and the best punch is in the mid-range. Unlike other REs where the bike starts to lose its power higher in the rev counter, the Continental GT keeps pulling forward. The power doesn’t run out until you cross about 7,500rpm. Both on the highway and the city, the bike has more than ample power to have fun with.
While the steering setup does make the front-end of the bike feel very loose and light on the Interceptor, the Continental GT doesn’t have this issue. Because of the clip-on handlebars and the front leaning seating position, there is more weight on the front-end of the bike. The bike handles very well and behaves properly during fast turns. The suspension, however, does feel a little soft, especially if you are looking to ride aggressively. The Pirelli tyres do the job fine, but I do think a wider rear tyre could have been nice. The bike weighs just under 200 kilograms, but still, the handling is easy and smooth. However, it’s not very flickable, and when you hit twisty sections of a road, it does require some effort while changing directions.
Another very impressive feature of the bike is the availability of ABS. The disc brakes at the front and the rear feel good and have a great bite to them. The ABS does a fantastic job of making sure you don’t skid on the tarmac.
We rode the Continental GT 650 on the highway, in light traffic in the city and on some nice twisty roads in California. The overall performance of the bike is very good, and I can say with conviction that the bike is a great product. However, it’s not as comfortable as the Interceptor, and it definitely won’t be practical as an everyday ride. So, if you want the same engine performance in an easier riding bike then you can opt for the Interceptor. The price will be very aggressive, and I am sure the Interceptor 650 will sell in large numbers and be a huge success for the RE.
Also read: Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 Review