Royal Enfield launch two new 650 twins, and we ride them
O Royal Enfield shift up a gear with new 650 twins
Nearly 12 months after first unveiling them, Royal Enfield have launched two new bikes: the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650. Sharing the same powertrain and chassis, the main difference between the two is styling and riding position – one’s a café racer, the other a more traditional roadster – but the delivery is essentially the same.
Ready to rumble
The burbling heart of both is Enfield’s new air-cooled 648cc parallel twin, which produces 47bhp and 38ftlb of torque. While that’s not going to blow your wig off, it’s enough to comfortably reach 100mph, one of Enfield’s goals. It’s also a considerable increase over the 28bhp of the old 535cc single.
It also has a 270-degree firing order, which gives the delivery, character and sound of a V-twin. Enfield say they originally considered a 600 before increasing to 650, so it was a step up from their current bikes. The six-speed gearbox is also new and there is a ‘slip-assist’ clutch, to give a lighter pull at the lever. Both also have a brand-new, tubular steel cradle frame designed by Enfield-owned Harris Performance.
Twists and turns
The Continental GT is arguably Enfield’s most well-known model, with its good looks and sporty riding position. The existing single cylinder version was already fuel injected and had ABS and, although around 95% of the parts have changed and improved in quality, the bike’s delivery remains the same – pure Café Racer.
Charging around the hills in Northern California, its clip-ons and rearsets pitch your weight much further forward than the Interceptor. This gives the steering a more direct feel and seems to help mask the ‘floaty’ feel of the budget suspension – although it does come at the expense of a little comfort.
Other than that, it turns, stops and goes just like a bike should and it’s not long before you’re flat out with your chin on the tank. As a fun Sunday afternoon bike it’s great and if the price is right (currently unconfirmed, but expected to be around £5995), it could leave current Triumph Street Cup owners feeling a little sick.