The Intercepto­r 650 and Street Twin seem to be quite sim­i­lar when it comes to the over­all pack­age. So how sim­i­lar (or dif­fer­ent) are they?


Two cruis­ers from two dif­fer­ent seg­ments go head-to-head

ALIT­TLE BIRDIE RE­CENTLY TOLD us that one of Tri­umph’s deal­er­ships lost about seven cus­tomers af­ter the launch of the Royal En­field 650 Twins. I can vouch for a sim­i­lar case – a good friend of mine can­celled the book­ing of his Street Scram­bler and de­cided to get an Intercepto­r 650 to turn into his own ver­sion of a scram­bler. Of course, that spe­cific project would re­quire a lot of mods, but you’ve al­ready saved al­most `6 lakh, mak­ing it seem like the bargain of the decade. On pa­per, the Intercepto­r seems to be liv­ing in the shad­ows of the Street Twin. Both get neo-retro styling, both come with 270-de­gree cranked par­al­lel-twin Bri­tish mo­tors, both cater to a ma­ture au­di­ence and they even sound al­most the same! But you can­not ig­nore the fact that while the Street Twin is an en­trylevel Tri­umph, the Intercepto­r is Royal En­field’s flag­ship model. The Street Twin is a ticket for the masses to en­ter the Tri­umph fam­ily while the 650 Twins are RE’s ticket to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. And for the same rea­son, both these retro mo­tor­cy­cles are bound to be dif­fer­ent, even though from a buyer’s per­spec­tive they both seem to be quite sim­i­lar. But how sim­i­lar or dif­fer­ent are these Brit steeds?


Au­then­tic Brit af­fair

Launched in 2016, the Street Twin is based on the Bon­neville but with a more playful bias. To­day, the Street Twin is Tri­umph’s best­selling neo retro mo­tor­cy­cle. And now we have the re­cently tweaked ver­sion in the coun­try which makes an ad­di­tional 10 horses over the pre­de­ces­sor from the same 900cc twin that now red­lines at 7500 (in­crease of 500rpm), new four-pot Bre­mobs and KYB car­tridge forks at the front, and an ad­di­tional 10mm of seat pad­ding, which makes for a sportier rider’s tri­an­gle. Ride-by-wire makes its de­but on the Street Twin which now al­lows you to choose from Rain and Road modes. The 2018 Street Twin may not be all-new but these up­dates have re­ally made a lot of dif­fer­ence, es­pe­cially to the power de­liv­ery and the ride and han­dling setup. Let’s dwell on the ride later and see how the ad­di­tional 10 horses come into play.

The Bon­nie range has al­ways been about torque. In this High Torque avatar, the ’Twin does what it says on the box. You only get five cogs but the torque is so wide­spread that you’ll barely miss the sixth. It all starts at about 2500rpm and as long as you’re in the range, you’ll never need to down­shift. Thank­fully, trac­tion con­trol is switch­able and if you turn it off, the Street Twin can be a hoot. The front-end is not re­ally light but pop the clutch and she’s will­ing to take off. The Pirelli Phan­tom Sportscomp’s take a lot of time to heat up and thus spin­ning the rear is quite easy, mak­ing for a de­light­ful ma­chine for hoonery. And the car­tridge forks re­ally add to the play­ful­ness. The front-end is sure­footed at all times and of­fers a

lot more feed­back than ear­lier. The Street Twin was al­ways sta­ble in cor­ners but the new KYBs bring in a lot more brownie points when it comes to han­dling. Ride qual­ity is plush, sub­stan­ti­at­ing the premium mo­tor­cy­cle feel that the previous-gen Street Twin lacked. Even the brak­ing has im­proved thanks to the new setup.

All of this makes the Street Twin a great pack­age. It re­ally is worth the ex­tra money be­ing spent and you won’t com­plain. But should you be spend­ing the ex­tra money at all?

The desi twist

`2.5 lakh. I’m sure that the fig­ure must’ve not only brought the likes of TVS and Ba­jaj back to the draw­ing boards but even KTM, for the Intercepto­r is de­cep­tively close to not only the RR 310’s pric­ing, but even the 390 Duke’s. Don’t for­get, Ba­jaj and Tri­umph are al­ready work­ing to­gether on low­ca­pac­ity mo­tor­cy­cles. A lot has been said about the 650 Twins al­ready so let’s not dwell on how good or


bad these path-breaking ma­chines are, but keep the Street Twin in our crosshair and delve deeper into the com­par­i­son.

The Intercepto­r feels ex­tremely well built es­pe­cially when it comes to RE’s stan­dards, and de­spite hav­ing clocked over 5500km on the odo, our long term Intercepto­r barely makes any noise, for­get about rat­tles. While the Street Twin with its black al­loys and black­ened pan­els feels solid, the Intercepto­r with its spoke wheels and oo­dles of chrome feels prop­erly retro. And the mo­ment you sit on the nar­row but well-padded seat, it feels even sportier. The pegs are slightly more rear set and the bar is wider too. The clus­ter too seems to have been tele­ported from the same era but it lacks ba­sic in­for­ma­tion and makes do with­out even a clock!

The 648cc par­al­lel twin is down on power and torque by 17bhp and 28Nm. But in the real world, you’ll be strug­gling to find a sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ence. The de­liv­ery is quite sim­i­lar too, but the Intercepto­r feels live­lier in the lower revs and also has the ad­van­tage of a sixth cog. Of course, it gets com­par­a­tively more vibey than the Street Twin but noth­ing that you won’t be able to live with. It may seem to be sportier when seated on the sad­dle, but thanks to the top drawer com­po­nents on the Street Twin, the Intercepto­r can­not re­ally match up when it comes to the dy­nam­ics. It’ll be un­fair to say that the En­field han­dles badly but the Street Twin has a cer­tain posh qual­ity to it, which the RE re­ally has no an­swer to. Although both weigh al­most the same, the RE feels a lot heav­ier and requires more ef­fort to tip into cor­ners. Mid-cor­ner sta­bil­ity too takes a back­seat and the RE feels wob­bly when you be­gin push­ing it to the lim­its. But when you con­sider the price you’ve paid for it, you’ll def­i­nitely end up with more smiles.

To sum it up, I’d say that my dear friend hasn’t been wrong in choos­ing the Intercepto­r over a Tri­umph., de­spite the Tri­umph be­ing su­pe­rior and worth the premium price. Both these mo­tor­cy­cles pro­vide a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence and should be cel­e­brated for what they are. They bring out the joys of mo­tor­cy­cling in the purest form pos­si­ble. So let the man­u­fac­tur­ers fight amongst them­selves. The buy­ers are in for a treat any­way. ⌧

Far left: This RE is def­i­nitely ath­letic. Left: ABS kicks in too soon. Left above: Retro di­als look au­then­tic but lack ba­sic in­for­ma­tion. Above: 174mm of ground clear­ance means no scrap­ing

Top to bot­tom: High Torque badge on the crank case is not a gim­mick; re­vamped clus­ter is eas­ily read­able; torquey mo­tor makes it easy to pop the front wheel

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