Pace and Grace
RECENTLY LAUNCHED in Goa, Royal Enfield’s new 650 cc twin cylinder motorcycles break the monotony of the sixties’ throwbacks with a look that’s fresh, but completely retro. True to the brand’s promise of laid-back fun where ride is concerned, the bikes are greater than the sum that their modest specs would imply.
On the one hand is the Interceptor 650, a hip homage to the ’60s’ roadsters, with an upright riding position, wide-braced handlebars and a laid-back vibe that the company tags as ‘easy got back’. The other is the racier, swoopier Continental GT 650 inspired by the café-racing ‘ton-up’ boys. It features a lean and sculpted tank, clipon bars, rearsets, solo seat and upswept exhausts.
Both bikes use a new air- and oil-cooled SOHC, 648 cc, parallel-twin engine. Boasting 47 horsepower and 52 Nm of torque, it’s supported by a conventional steel double-downtube cradle frame designed by renowned chassis builders Harris Performance. The 41 mm conventional fork-andtwin reservoir-equipped shocks are from Gabriel, and the 18-inch spoked wheels and Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp tyres are vintage spec.
Thumb the starter and the characteristic twincylinder rumble emanates from the upswept mufflers. The clutch is light and easy and the six-speed gearbox snicks through shifts with nary a false neutral! A handful of throttle and the 270 degree crank rewards you with a punchy realworld mid-range, making overtaking effortless—both in town and on the open road. Gobs of quick-revving torque make the engine fun to use, from just off idle to around 7,000 rpm, where it
begins to run out of breath. Vibration is minimal. The Gabriel fork and shocks keep the chassis stable; it’s only at an expert-level pace that the twin’s chassis begins to protest, but most riders will never see that pace anyway.
For far too long, emotion has been Royal Enfield’s strength and performance its weakness—the opposite of most motorcycle brands. But with performance and style in plenty at an unbelievable price—not to mention a stunning three-year, 40,000 km warranty—these gorgeous 650 cc twins will convert a lot of sceptics and cynics to the cult of Royal Enfield.