Friday, October 5, 2018

Reviews of Royal Enfield 650 twins by fast riders

Motorcycle parked under "Curves Next 26 Miles" sign.
The Royal Enfield 650 twins treated motor journalists to twisty rooads.
Here's what the world's press had to say about the new Royal Enfield 650 twins, after riding and evaluating them in California last week.

The comments were uniformly positive, with some raves and some reservations. I've chosen the excerpts here in part because I agreed with them and experienced the same sensations while riding the motorcycles. In other cases I chose an excerpt because a more skilled rider had something informative to say after taking the bikes to speeds I wouldn't risk.

I haven't included some of the negative comments made because, as excerpts, they give the wrong overall impression. Usually these are in the form of acknowledging that things could be improved if the motorcycles were more expensive. The front brake could have twin discs instead of one, for instance. The motor could be bigger. The bikes could be lighter.

Another reason I ignored some possible excerpts: motor journalists tend to be fast riders experienced on machines that include some of the most powerful in the world. Yes, they make allowances for the fact that the Royal Enfield twins are intended to be street motorcycles for normal riders. But these riders  have developed tastes. I can not imagine the "sharper" front brake one writer wanted, for instance.

So, let's take these comments for ride:

"Start up, and the air fills with the happy burble of a machine quietly pleased with life and its place in it. Courtesy of a 270-degree crank, it’s a lovely offbeat sound, like the love child of a parallel twin and a V-twin, and at speed becomes a satisfying growl, made even more satisfying if you fit the aftermarket S&S pipes for a deliciously visceral snarl." Geoff Hill in The Daily Mirror, London

Gas tanks in different colors illustrate the choices offered.
Color choices for the 650 twins. Glitter & Dust and Mister Clean are the chrome options.
"Royal Enfield has nailed it with its first modern-era twins. The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 are stunning to look at, nicely made and simply a heap of fun for riders of all skill levels... Gripes? Only that the side stand is a little tricky to hook on the Continental GT, courtesy of its location directly below the rearset foot peg, and that the side stand is perhaps a tad short on both. They lean quite a way over at rest, although the side stand does at least have a decent footplate and, as mentioned, the Interceptor also has a center stand. Oh, and there's no hinge on the chrome fuel cap – so mind you don't drop it, scratching that mirror-like finish in the process." Rod Chapman in

"At a claimed 455 pounds gassed up, the Continental GT 650 is not light. I was shocked to see this on the spec sheet because the weight is nowhere to be felt when on the road... When a bike this affordable comes with a steel braided brake line standard, it’s time for the rest of the industry to step up. ABS is standard." Nic de Sena in Ultimate Motorcycling

"Throttle response was smooth and linear. There was never a lag from twisting the right grip to moving forward, and it wasn’t so sensitive that it ever snapped my neck back or induced a whiskey throttle moment. Neither the Continental GT nor the Interceptor will win any top-speed races, but for the everyday rider, both of these new Enfields provide plenty of usable power for daily riding, plus a little extra for more spirited weekend rides." Judith LaPalme in Revzilla

"Key in, ignition on, starter pushed – and the new motor thrums into life. It sounds good, though we’d discover later that it sounds better from the side of the road than from the rider’s seat. There’s a 270-degree crankshaft, that gives an offbeat firing order, and while it’s quite leisurely to pick up revs when you gun the throttle, you get the feeling there’s a pretty solid motor under you. Into gear via the slick, snickety gearshift (the engineers were proud that there’s a bearing on both ends of the shift drum), and the light clutch takes up the drive very nicely indeed... The handling is a real treat, again, more than you (or I) might have thought. Good test riders, and the Harris Performance influence has paid off for sure, and together with those Pirelli Phantoms, you can’t fault the way the 650 responds through a twisty section. It’s also really well balanced at slow speeds – on the way back to Santa Cruz, I was able to trickle up to the millions of typical American 'STOP' four-way junctions at sub-walking pace with ease, and keeping your feet up for a few seconds is a breeze. Nice." Alan Dowds in Visordown

Motorcycle parked by side of twisty road.
Roads like this tested my abilities, as well as the Royal Enfield 650 twins.
"The bike’s lack of vibration is immediately noticeable after pulling away from a stop, and it remains vibration free up to and beyond highway speeds, with mirrors remaining crystal clear. Clutch pull is beginner-bike light, and the six-speed gearbox is probably the slickest-shifting unit I’ve tried in a long time. The lever almost feels like it’s engaging gears electrically, with short, solid throws. In 250 miles of riding, some of it at obscene speeds, it never missed a shift. Gearing feels tall, with the bottom four gears used to handle most of the tighter roads, though the power band is wide enough to pull the gearing without issue." Costa Mouzouris in Canada MotoGuide

"The slip assist clutch is remarkably easy to modulate, and I appreciate the non-adjustable lever’s ease of use. For example, at one point during the second day’s ride, we got stuck behind a truck painting lines on a narrow two-lane road. For almost 15 minutes, we crept along in first gear at approximately 5 mph, working the friction zone the entire time. The slip assist clutch saved the day! Commuters will thank Royal Enfield for including it." Evans Brasfield in

Be sure to see Evan's article for a detailed, if speculative, analysis of suspension shortcomings (bounce and wobble) he sensed at some points in his test ride.

Want still more? Click these links for Royal Enfield's own take on its new Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all these posts since the US unveiling. We're all curious and many of us must be reaching for wallets!


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