The launch of the twins from Royal Enfield is undoubtedly the most exciting bike launch of the year. Now, with the prices out, we finally get to ride them on home soil.
The Dominar was indeed a very strong entry for Bajaj in the 400cc category, and it did make some ripples. They even launched an ad campaign specifically targeting Royal Enfield, in which the classic RE bikes were replaced by large, lumbering elephants. This direct swing at RE must have irked the Chennai-based company quite a bit. But we already knew that they were working on something special behind closed doors.
The Twins are now here. The premium 650cc motorcycles have been priced starting at `2.5 lakh. So, ultimately, RE does seem to have something in common with those elephants, for the Indian bikemaker, and the world’s oldest bike company, is now all set to trample its competitors like an enraged elephant. And if that’s not clear, let me put is simply – RE is literally going to destroy its competition. Harley Davidson had better come up with something extra special if they want to launch a bike in this category – something which they have in the works. As for the alliance between Bajaj and Triumph, they may need to rethink their plans too.
But all this talk about business competition is rather dull, so let’s get to the point. How do these bikes behave on Indian roads? We first rode the bikes in California during the global press ride, but those roads are a far cry from the wonderfully diverse roads that we have in our country. But, after riding the bikes around Goa for two days, it’s confirmed – these bikes are pretty damn good!
First of all, as I’ve already mentioned, the engine is a masterpiece. The simple 648cc parallel-twin feels very refined and extremely smooth. The idea was to cross the ton – remember the elephants? – something which both bikes are powerful enough to accomplish quite easily. On the highway, the bikes feel very calm and composed. What really amazed me was the absence of noticeable vibrations or rattling anywhere. The engine never feels stressed, even when redlining. The power just keeps on coming, even after you’ve crossed the 120km/h mark. It’s unlike anything that we’ve ever seen from RE, and it is, without a doubt, the best engine they have ever made.
Comfort levels of the bikes are also good. We’ve already talked about how well the bikes handle, and how easy they are to ride – irrespective of the rider’s skill level. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a professional, the bike is very usable, fun and confidence-inspiring. And it’s affordable, making it accessible to all. The front suspension is nice and soft, with good damping and suspension travel. You can fly over speed breakers without feeling anything. Broken roads are also not a problem. The rear suspension, however, is a bit stiff. If you go over bumpy roads, you do feel it taking a hit – but that’s only on large potholes. The ride quality, on the whole, is superb, and the suspension is set up to take on a wide range of road conditions. If you’re looking for a bike to use it everyday, you can’t go wrong with the Interceptor. The GT, because of its aggressive stance, might be uncomfortable as an everyday machine though – or for long distance touring for that matter.
Book one now?
At the end of the day, the new RE twins are a breath of fresh air when compared to older RE models. I really can’t find any faults, and, believe me, I tried. But if I must say something critical, well, I’d say that the bikes could have come with an LED headlight and, maybe, also a digital instrument cluster. Also, the tyres could’ve been better in the dirt – while they’re just fine on tarmac, they provide little or no grip when you go off the beaten path. Also, the gearbox also has a false neutral, which is something that might irk you at times.
But, performance wise, these bikes are faultless, and they look really good too. My favourite would be the Continental GT in chrome. The overall quality is not at Triumph Bonneville levels, but for a 650cc Royal Enfield it is impressive. These new bikes will most certainly be a hit, for owning a nice mid-segment 650cc modern-classic has just become a hell of a lot easier. Even with the three month waiting period, I plan to book one very soon, and I know that a few other auto journos have already done the same.
- Royal Enfield Twins
Engine: 648cc Twin-cylinder Air-oil cooled
Power: 47bhp @ 7,250rpm
Torque: 52Nm @ 5,250rpm
Price: Rs.2.5-2.85 lakh (Ex-showroom)
• Comfortable & refined
• Brilliant engine
• Very light steering
X-factor: The most affordable high quality modern classic on the planet.
• Good handler
• Very affordable
• Not comfortable
X-factor: The most affordable high quality Café racer on the planet.