Say the name Royal Enfield, and many motorcyclists will get poetic about fond memories of driving a Bullet from the 50s, 60s or even the 90s, or perhaps inheriting a Constellation from their father (or grandfather). Established in 1901, Royal Enfield claims to be the oldest motorcycle company; The Bullet is supposedly the longest motorcycle model in history.
More recently, Royal Enfield caused a stir in the American market by introducing the Himalayas, and it is clear that it was just the beginning of Eicher Motors’ plans to insert Royal Enfield back into modern motorcycle conversations. The latest additions to his stable are the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650.
True to its brand, Royal Enfield gave both the Continental GT and Interceptor a very classic look, with slightly different personalities. Both sport a round headlight, dual dial gauges, exposed frame, spoke wheels, and reverse dual megaphone exhaust. The main difference between the two models is the ergonomic configuration. The Continental GT has café racer clip-on handlebars, rear foot controls, and a carved fuel tank to bend the knees during more aggressive riding. In contrast, the Interceptor is more of a standard bike. The handlebars are upright, the two-person flat seat is thicker and more comfortable, the footrests are positioned more directly below the rider’s knees, and the tank is teardrop-shaped, with a gentle indentation.
Both date back to the Royal Enfield heyday of the 1950s and 1960s, but from different subcultures of the motorcycling world: the Continental GT for the café racer crowd, and the Interceptor for the commuter, with possibilities to expand into the territory of the motorcycling. scramblers. Other than those few differences, everything else is the same: engine, tuning, chassis, suspension, wheels, exhaust, and gauges.
The new 650s are in fact 648cc parallel twins. When turning on the new GT or Interceptor, it sounds like the softer-voiced cousin of a V-twin, thanks to its 270-degree crank. Unlike the previous generation single-cylinder Continental GT 535, the roar of the new GT’s engine is smooth and comforting; shows little, if any, indication that he parted himself (or the rider). The engineering team clearly worked their magic with counterweights to keep this mid-weight powerhouse producing good vibes.
Speaking of power, Royal Enfield claims this new fuel-injected air / oil-cooled engine produces 47 horsepower, with 38 pound-feet of torque. How does that translate into real-world driving? Surprisingly, having fun is a ton of power, as we discover traversing the narrow recesses of the Santa Cruz Mountains, in and out of old redwoods towering hundreds of feet above us. Throttle response was smooth and linear. There was never a delay between turning the right grip and moving forward, and it wasn’t so sensitive as to snap my neck back or induce a moment of whiskey acceleration. Neither the Continental GT nor the Interceptor will win any races at top speed, but for the everyday rider, these two new Enfields provide plenty of usable power for everyday riding, plus a bit more for the busier weekends.
As I navigated the narrow hairpins that led us through the trees, I found myself shifting between second and third gear. Between 35 and 65 mph, I was often in fourth gear. With a six-speed transmission, both the GT and Interceptor have high gears in the lower four gears, but the torque curve …