Royal Enfield has released two bikes powered by its new 650-class parallel twin, and they’re both quite tasty-looking.
First up, the Continental GT cafe racer: The previous Continental GT was powered by a 535 cc single-cylinder engine that shook, rattled, and rolled—like the bikes of the original Mods vs. Rockers era. The new GT has Royal Enfield’s counterbalanced parallel twin, with 270-degree crank, so we’d presume it runs much more smoothly, and it’s rated for 47 hp at 7,100 rpm, and 39 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, so it’s much more powerful than the 535 engine.
Of course, with that engine, the Continental GT also has EFI and an oil cooler. While the first Continental GT model had a Harris-designed frame, Royal Enfield has purchased Harris in the years since, so the chassis design was able to be done in-house.
That front 41 mm fork has 110 mm of travel; the dual coil-over shocks in back have 88 mm of travel. Curb weight (without fuel) is 198 kg, seat height is 790 mm (793 mm with the dual seat), and fuel tank capacity is 12.5 litres. The bike has 18-inch tires front and rear, and a 320 mm brake disc in front, with 240 mm disc in back. ABS is standard.
While the Continental GT is meant to recall the glory days of British motorcycling on the English side of the ocean, the Interceptor is styled after the models that were successful in the US during that same era.
Looking a lot like a machine that an inebriated Hunter S. Thompson would blast around with in Big Sur, or Bob Dylan might use to escape the paparazzi, the Interceptor is supposed to hail “from a time when all that mattered was that the California sun was out and the surf was up.” Groovy!
The Interceptor has the same basic powerplant as the Continental GT, with that new oil-cooled parallel twin rolling it down the street. Royal Enfield hasn’t said so, but we suspect the frame is pretty much the same as well (ground clearance, wheel sizes, wheelbase, brake discs, rake—all the important numbers are the same). The obvious difference is the styling alone.
But, that’s a clever move by Royal Enfield, as it’s easy to streamline production if the basic package is identical. It also saves money.
The Interceptor weighs 202 kg at the curb (with no fuel).
Royal Enfield plans to sell both of these models in Europe first; we assume we’ll see them in Canada, but we don’t know when, or at what pricing. However, if the company gets its quality control issues under control, we could see this platform being a massive market disruption around the world, poaching a lot of sales from Harley-Davidson, Triumph, and anyone else who’s making money of vintage-styled motorcycles.
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