Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New Royal Enfield twins setting the world on fire

The new Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 twin.
Let's let Royal Enfield speak first:

"The 650 Twin is the rebirth of Royal Enfield's legendary parallel twin cylinder engine. And it's driving two Royal Enfield classic motorcycles — the Interceptor and the Continental GT. While classically styled and visually beautiful, the new engine is Royal Enfield's most forward-looking yet, with a cleaner, elegant look, fewer components, less weight and easier maintenance."

Until independent motorcyclists begin testing the two new bikes we won't know how they perform. But most people who've written me with their reactions would seem to agree with Royal Enfield's statement.

John Donlon, of Illinois, was so enthusiastic that he wrote directly to Royal Enfield's Simon Warburton, head of product development.

"That new Interceptor is absolutely beautiful and I agree with the decision to make it 650cc. The oil cooler is a very smart move and the six-speed gearbox will do wonders to keep the revs down at highway speeds. My wallet is open and I am ready to buy. The black/red combination has my name on it," he wrote.

The new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 twin.
Warburton must have been pleased — and relieved — to receive such a fan letter. Because there are criticisms, too.

Some just don't buy the explanation from Royal Enfield boss Siddhartha Lal that 750cc would be too much power for customers in India. One comment on my blog put it this way:

"Interesting justification by Lal on the engine displacement. As a Classic 500 owner, I was looking forward to a 750cc and rumours of it were flying thick and fast, what with stealthy test riders being caught on YouTube, etc. And, finally when it does get to see the dawn of the day, it's a 100cc less; the justification that pre-existing RE owners and wannabe RE owners would find it hard to accept a 750cc price-wise!! Bollocks. A lot of disappointed enthusiasts here in India."

On his Red Devil Motors blog, Richard Miller noted that "This seems slightly unfair as it is a classic capacity and there have been some pretty successful bikes the same size in recent years, the (Suzuki) SV650 and (Kawasaki) W650 to name but two."

Predictably, some writers have worried that the new motor will lack the beloved "thump" of the single-cylinder Bullet. And that it doesn't have the traditionally long stroke of vintage British motorcycles. And that it shifts on the "wrong" (and now world standard) left side instead of the right, as of old.

"I love the bikes but find the gold shock reservoirs seem to be out of place," one long-time Royal Enfield enthusiast wrote.

John Donlon appreciates the concern for past glories Royal Enfield showed in bringing back the twins, 47 years after the legendary Interceptor went out of production.

"Length of the new Interceptor is 83 1/2 inches, which puts it right on the scale of the 1967 Interceptor — so yeah, in my opinion, the RE team totally nailed it!"

"Saw the specs," he wrote. "And it looks almost like a 1976 Triumph Bonneville redux. Dry weight: 445.3 pounds; seat height: 31 3/4 inches; gas tank capacity: 3.6 gallons and it doesn't leak oil, has a six-speed gearbox with a slipper clutch (like a five-speed plus overdrive) electronic ignition and fuel injection, a spin-on oil filter, oil cooler and ABS. What's not to love about this?

"Also, look at all that room around the engine and frame. When it comes time for wrench-twirling there's plenty of space, plus all that open area will allow air to flow very nicely through the oil cooler and engine cooling fins. The only downside is having to wait until at least July for the bike to make it to the U.S. I am totally stoked."

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 colors.
Orange Crush, Ravishing Red and Silver Spectre.
Call it a suggestion, not a criticism, but John does have one request:

"I hope when the bike is launched in the U.S. that Royal Enfield offers the traditional  chrome gas tank as a premium upgrade.  I would definitely pay extra for that even though their color schemes are very attractive."

Note: In making these animated images of the color choices available on the new Interceptor and Continental GT 650 I had to flop one version of each motorcycle.

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 colors.
Ice Queen white; Sea Nymph blue and Black Magic.


  1. They look to be lovely bikes but what is going to make or break them is build quality. The "old" Continental GT has a pathetic wiring harness, mine had brake issues, without a Power Commander the idle is chronically irregular, and I could go on and on. It is also a lovely looking bike, sounds amazing with a Motad pipe and I love the styling. These new machines can no longer count on the old single cylinder simplicity thumper excuse, they will have to compete against the likes of the KTM 390, Honda CB500 and others. At this price point they are good but build quality has to match their competitors. Many of us here are enthusiasts, tolerant of such failings, I must be with two RE bikes. The rest of the market of the market will expect a quality competitive product and I hope unlike what seems to be the debacle that is the Himalayan, that RE can deliver.

  2. Anonymous11/08/2017

    Blasco , my dear fellow , one knows that a fledgling journalist must make news wherever he can and of course the new twins are the biggest Royal Enfield news for several years - quite so !
    But lest your more sycophantic Enfield admirers get too carried away with their praise of said bikes .Let Bunty throw a few stats into the melee .
    The humble BSA Thunderbolt 650 with ONE CARBURETOR produced 46 hp .The BSA Spitfire considerably more . The Norton Commando 750 with a Combat engine produced close to 65 hp .You have already included the specs for the RE Interceptor .
    And yet these bikes are 40 good old British lbs lighter and at least forty yeard older than the new RE s , food for thought - mmmn what .
    Consider ye the Soooziyuki SV 650,quoted above,chucks out a jolly 70+ hp .Yammahaha produced a solid ohc 650 with 50+ hp from the late sixties.With an oversquare engine to boot .( check on your stroke figure for the new Enfields there's a good chap.)
    Bunty concedes that RE have produced a bike that will suit the new affluent Indian market and bravo to Saddharta ( despite the silly haircut ) for that , but this 650 does not inspire this old codger .'Deed not !
    A pretty bike no doubt .
    I have loaded the disapointed pathetic weeping wretches that pass for me servants into the sidecar and we are orf to the Kickstarter's Arms for a pint o' Bathos Bitter .
    A toast :
    The Interceptor Magna is dead !
    Long live the Interceptor Minor !
    Your servant .
    Maj Bunty Golightly . MBH . Defender of the Kickstart . Companion of the Royal Floatchamber .( former chief test tickler for AMAL ) .

  3. Wm. Richter11/08/2017

    An interesting quality to note about the beautiful(-ly flawed) W650: "It was a sales disaster and we don’t have to look too far to see why. The quirky looking engine puffed out a measly 50 bhp, chuck in a dry weight of 195 kilos and you’ll understand that it was a pretty dull performer. Even allowing for its nostalgic slant, it just wasn’t enough. The whole retro scene hadn’t quite kicked in yet and, in the real world, even Kawasaki’s own ER-5 commuter was more exciting to ride."

    I am very excited to see and ride one in the flesh, but this is ~10 kilos heavier and ~3 bhp lighter than the W650. Hmm...

  4. I agree with previous authors that RE should look into putting a few more horses inside the very attractive engine. Also, personal opinion here, a chrome GT tank but with the interceptor double seat would be a nice option on the GT.
    Looking forward to the independent reviews and to see what a certain parts supplier in the (UK) Midlands will dream up for the bike.
    Stay sunnyside up

  5. Kevin Mahoney11/09/2017

    I always said that to be successful RE's didn't need to be the best bike nor the fastest. They just had to be good enough. Along those lines quality has improved especially since the US arm of RE is prepping each bike themselves before they go to a dealer. It removes the vagaries of issues from the factory. Prior to that the customer had to rely on the dealer to do a good prep job. Most did but some did not.

    Fast enough means you can ride it on the freeway comfortably. No customer expects an RE to compete with a Ninja. While I don't buy the "750cc is too big for Indians" story, 650cc is plenty. Sure it could be lighter, faster etc. but that's not why people buy them, not at all.

    RE has always had a VERY conservative approach to HP. They now have some of the best engineers the west can offer - don't you think that if HP was what they were after it would have been built? Why build an engine that you are wringing every last drop out of? You aren't selling an engine you are selling an experience. Look at is as an opportunity to add aftermarket upgrades and experiment as Americans (and others) are prone to doing. We can't leave anything well enough alone.

    Lastly, why anyone would expect a twin to sound like a single is beyond me. There is a reason that singles are called "thumpers" and twins aren't. Having said that I think the design will ensure that a distinctive RE sound will be there.

  6. Anonymous11/09/2017

    The thumper thing is out the window when you add a cylinder,but it brings the possibility of a rhythmic idle and smoother power delivery when power is increased.The power of this new engine may not be a world standard,but it is close to double that of the single.This is the move forward that many have wanted to see.


Follow royalenfields on Twitter