Of the two brand new Royal Enfield 650cc bikes, the Interceptor 650 will definitely be more popular among the masses. We got to ride it during its global launch in California.
The fact that Royal Enfield decided to launch their most awaited motorcycles in California makes perfect sense. How? Well, the Interceptor was a part of a cultural movement that promoted personal independence and freedom around the 60s, and California was flourishing during that time. The idea of freedom, the hippie lifestyle and, of course, the surf and beach culture go hand in hand with the RE Interceptor.
The idea of a carefree and laid-back lifestyle is what the new Interceptor 650 brings to the Royal Enfield brand. The Interceptor looks like a proper modern classic. It’s unlike anything we have ever seen from the stable of RE. The quality has improved impressively, and the bike looks compact, colourful and stylishly vintage. Just like the Continental, the build quality of the Interceptor too has improved significantly, and so has the attention to the details. The footpegs here too get the RE logo, there is no visible loose wiring, the frame is just perfect and the seat and the handlebars are top-notch. RE has definitely upped their game.
The bike also looks compact and has good ergonomics. The seat is cushiony a little narrow. Turn the ignition on, and you're greeted by a very unique engine sound. It isn’t loud at idle, but if you rev it up, you will definitely turn heads. The brand-new twin-engine fits nicely into the frame. It’s a completely new unit that has been in the making for about four years, and the result is simply a work of art. The simple 648cc parallel twin feels very refined and smooth. We managed to reach speeds we didn’t even think was possible. Crossing the 100mph mark – which was what RE intended – was a breeze for the Interceptor. On the highway, the bike feels very calm and composed without any vibrations or rattling anywhere. And like the Continental, the ride quality of the Interceptor is also quite impressive.
The engine gets a 6-speed transmission, which is the first time ever for an RE. Again, the gearbox is 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 eagerly pulls forward, thanks to the 52Nm of torque. Acceleration is not blistering fast, but the bike is light on its feet. Throttle response is also pretty good. The best punch comes in the mid-range. Unlike other Res, where the bike starts to lose its power higher in the rev counter, the Interceptor keeps pulling forward. The power doesn’t run out until you cross about 7,500rpm. On the highway and in the city the bike has more than ample power to enjoy the ride.
The steering setup makes the front-end of the bike feel very loose and light. The bike handles very well and behaves well on fast turns, but it doesn’t feel very well planted at the front. The Pirelli tyres are nice, but I do think a wider rear tyre could have been better. The suspension setup also feels a bit soft, and at high speeds, it can get a little bumpy. The bike weighs just under 200 kilograms, but it still handles well. 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 is the use of ABS. The disc brakes at the front and the rear feel good and have adequate bite. The ABS does a fantastic job in making sure that you don’t skid on the tarmac.
We rode the Interceptor 650 on the highway, in light traffic in the city and on some nice twisty roads in California. The overall performance of the bike feels very good. The price will be very aggressive, and I am sure that the Interceptor 650 will sell in large numbers and be a huge success for the RE.
Also read: Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 Review