Sunday, September 23, 2018

Royal Enfield turns loose its new 650 twins in California

Royal Enfield's new Interceptor 650, left, and Continental GT 650 in California.
Disclosure: Royal Enfield provided transportation, accommodation, food, entertainment and keepsakes to me at this product launch. The following opinions are my own.

What do you say when you get on a hotel elevator and there is Siddhartha Lal, the business leader credited with saving Royal Enfield in the modern age? And you're here, in Santa Cruz, Calif., to see him introduce to the world's press the new Royal Enfield 650 twin-cylinder motorcycles?

I'm lucky enough to be one of the people invited to ride both the new Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650.  Of course I am humbled by this. Just seeing these beautiful looking motorcycles displayed in the hotel lobby is a kick.

But then Gordon May, motorcycle author and historian, walked over to chat. He has ridden his classic bikes all over the world and he has ridden the new 650s in Britain.

He told me that these new Royal Enfield twins will measure up against real world motorcycles. It won't be a matter of a new Royal Enfield model competing against Royal Enfields of the past — of course almost any concession to progress could improve my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet.

The new twins have the stuff to compete with thoroughly modern designs from other makers, Gordon said.

Their best feature? "It's the handling," he said.

Yeah, but what about reliability? Canadian enthusiast Chris Overton posed that question to one of the engineers from India here for the launch. Will the new bikes have the reliability they'll need to build a reputation for quality? The answer was unequivocal.

"I assure you, they will," he said.

Chris is at the launch, at Royal Enfield's request, to show his original 1966 Royal Enfield Continental GT. It's a lovely machine, a 250ccc single, but formidable looking with its cafe bars, slim and sculptured tank and racy fly screen.

It's more petite than the 650 Continental GT parked next to it. Despite its small size, it is the machine that told the young people of Britain in the 1960s that Royal Enfield knew what they wanted and would deliver it.

Nearby was an original 736cc Interceptor, specially restored for this launch, parked next to the new 650 Interceptor. This was the machine that made Royal Enfield's reputation in the U.S. in the '60s.

(Sorry, no photos yet; it was dark by then in the parking lot.)

Will the same magic spell work in 2018? We shall see.

A bride and groom pose for photos after their wedding on the beach in Santa Cruz.


  1. Great news. How come the wedding picture at bottom.

  2. Young people with great old ideals. The Circle of Life. Tradition, born anew. The beach. California. Sunshine. It's hard not to feel the joyful mood surrounding the launch. My other photos didn't turn out so well...


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