We have been talking about the 650cc Royal Enfield motorcycles for a long, long time now. It’s been about a year since we got to see how these motorcycles will look like and a few months ago we were one of the first ones in the world to ride the production version of these models all the way in California. But now, that time has come. Both of these motorcycles have been launched in India at a very lucrative price tag. We got our hands on both these motorcycles in Goa to find out whether they make sense for your money, or not.
Starting off with what is arguably the best part about these motorcycles, which is, that engine. It is a 648cc parallel-twin unit which is unlike any other Royal Enfield engine that you have ever heard, or experienced so far. It makes 47 bhp and 52 Nm of torque but what makes it so different is the level of refinement that comes along with it. There are almost no vibrations whatsoever and the motorcycle can do highway speeds all day long without breaking a sweat. The highest speed that we clocked on it was a shade over 170 km/h and even at that speed, the motorcycle did not feel stressed. The engine is fuel-injected, oil and air-cooled, has 4 valves per cylinder and it comes with Royal Enfield’s first-ever 6-speed gearbox - and boy, have they done a fantastic job with that. It allows the rider to be aggressive with the gear shifts and not once did it give a false neutral. Overall, the drivetrain is happy to get along no matter how you ride these motorcycles, you can lug the engine if you want or you can go bonkers with it, either ways, the motorcycles are happy to comply.The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 new engines and a new gearbox too. (Photo: Royal Enfield)
The only difference between the two is how the rider sits on them. As compared to the Interceptor, the Continental GT gets clip-on handlebars which now sits a bit higher as compared to the older GT and the fuel tank is a bit shorter in length as well. Couple that with the rear-set footpegs and the different seat, and you have a commanding riding position and a sportier feeling motorcycle.The Royal Enfield Continental GT 650. (Photo: Royal Enfield)
The Interceptor 650, on the other hand, has relatively centre-set footpegs, different seat, different fuel tank and a higher, braced handlebar – all of which comes together to make for a relaxed riding position.
As for the riding experience, the motorcycle feels confident, light and agile yet manages to feel friendly and doesn’t take time to adapt to. That’s largely due to the chassis on board which cannot be praised enough. So much so, that we also dared to take the Interceptor for some light off-roading and it did not disappoint there, either.The Royal Enfield 650s get a rather simple instrument cluster. (Photo: Royal Enfield)
Also, even when we pushed the motorcycle hard through corners, we never ran out of cornering clearance and that’s fantastic. Due credits to the tyres on board which are purpose-built for the Royal Enfield Twins by Pirelli and have ample grip on offer. Then, comes the brakes which are Bybre callipers front and back and come with dual-channel ABS – which is the only electronic rider aid on offer. The feedback and the bite from these brakes are good as well. Speaking about the ride quality, the suspension takes up any sort of terrain with grace. We were concerned about how would it handle Indian roads and it has passed with flying colours. If we had to nitpick, though, we have to say that the front-end of the motorcycle tends to feel light when you are pushing it hard in corners but that’s only when you are going all-out and leaning the motorcycle quite a lot.
But the thing that got us by surprise was the heat management. We were riding in the heat of Goa and never did it feel too hot or unbearable and that’s simply magical given the fact that the engine doesn’t have the support of liquid-cooling.The Royal Enfield 650s have a single disc brake at the front and honestly, we didn't feel the need of having a twin-disc setup. (Photo: Royal Enfield)
All in all, these motorcycles hit the nail on its head when it comes to getting the basics of motorcycling right. They are fun to throw around, they don’t cost a bomb, they look good, sound good, feel good and really, it is the modern classic that we all have been waiting for.The Royal Enfield 650s manages heat in traffic conditions well. (Photo: Royal Enfield)
Both of these motorcycles were built for a specific purpose and that is to deliver a global level product at a very accessible price tag. And no motorcycle is perfect, you can almost always come up with arguments like it could use better suspension, better tyres, more electronic rider aids and so on and so forth. But that is not the case with these two motorcycles and that is a rare thing. And especially when you consider the price that these motorcycles come at, well, these two are some of the best value for money motorcycles on sale in the Indian market, right now.