Royal Enfield Twin Road Bikes Return: Interceptor and Continental GT
Not so long ago, we speculated that Royal Enfield was soon to roll out new, bigger displacement two-cylinder road bikes that would have the power for city streets and the Interstate highways of the US.
We asked Royal Enfield North America CEO, Rod Copes about it in September of 2016 when the RENA headquarters opened in Milwaukee.
As you might expect, we didn’t get much out of Copes at that time, but it seemed certain that with Royal Enfield making huge investments in development facilities, sales network and staff (read more about Royal Enfield Expansion) that there had to be something new on the horizon. Indeed, there was and it has now come into clear view–the new 650 Interceptor and Continental GT.
At the heart of the new bikes is an all-new air-/oil-cooled 648cc SOHC parallel twin engine. Claimed output is 47 horsepower at 7100 rpm from a classically-styled engine in a deliberately mild state of tune.
The goal, Royal Enfield says, is to make the bike very tractable and easy to ride by making the bike’s 38 ft/lbs torque available at a mere 4000 rpm. The engine’s short stroke (2.66 inches) sets it up to spin up the engine speed quickly. So, along with the tractability goal, the six-speed transmission should allow using the bike’s peak horsepower in short order.
As you’d expect, the engine is fed via electronic fuel injection, but unlike some manufacturers, Royal Enfield made no attempt to make the throttle bodies resemble good ol’ carburetors.
In a nod to the riders who value the sound as well as the aesthetics of the bike, the engine features a 270° crankshaft to give the exhaust note the staccato sound that is so popular among cruiser fans.
Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal says the 650 twin has been “an absolute dream for years, maybe even over a decade.” That tidbit of information indicates how deliberative the company has been in the creation of the first twin-cylinder motorcycle engines to bear the Royal Enfield name in nearly five decades.
James Young, head of engine development says that three prototype engine configurations were built and tested before the new 650 went into production, with the 270° crankshaft configuration winning out with the best power curve and usability, as well as sound.
Explaining the inspiration of the new models, Young said, “The original Interceptor was an export model to California; the California style is something I would say the Interceptor embodies.” Similarly, he said the Continental GT has deep roots in Royal Enfield’s long history among café racers.
“The Interceptor has a more upright ride position, it’s more like a roadster style; the GT is an authentic café racer, so it’s got kind of that tucked-in and leaned-over riding position,” Young said, explaining the differences in chassis configuration that target very different riding styles, even though the bikes share their overall engine/transmission/chassis package.
The differences that set them apart are visible in the twin seat on the Interceptor and the solo saddle on the GT, lower clip-on style bars on the GT and higher-rise bars on the Interceptor, mid-mounted footrests on the Interceptor and rear-set pegs on the GT and the shape of the respective fuel tanks.
The Interceptor tank capacity is 3.6 gallons, while the GT tank holds 3.3 gallons. There are three paint options for each model, unique to each, as well. The GT has a 31.1-inch saddle height (solo saddle) while the Interceptor has a 31.6-inch seat height. The Interceptor weighs in at 445 pounds, while the GT is slightly lighter at 437 pounds.
The similarities apart from the engine and transmission package include a steel double-cradle frame with 41mm conventional fork, with 4.3 inches of travel, set with 24 degrees of rake and twin coil spring-over shocks with 3.5 inches of travel.
Both bikes mount 2.50 x 18 front (100/90-18 tire) and 3.50 x 18 rear wheel (130/70-18 tire). Both bikes mount a single 320mm hydraulic disc brake up front and 240mm disc to the rear, and both have ABS.
How well the new twins fare in the very competitive 650cc segment of the motorcycle market may depend on how well they do in delivering the fun factor Royal Enfield has worked very hard to build into the bikes, as well has how much the heritage and history of Royal Enfield twins resonate with buyers—young and old.
We’ll keep you posted.
650cc Royal Enfield Twin Specifications
- 4 stroke, single overhead cam, air-oil cooled, 648 cc parallel twin
- 47 bhp @ 7100 rpm
- Torque: 52 Nm (38.35 lb/ft.) @ 4000 rpm
- Bore x Stroke: 78 mm x 67.8 mm (3.07 in. x 2.66 in.)
- Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
- Transmission: 6 speed
- Fuel system: Fuel injection
- Ignition: Digital spark ignition – TCI
For additional information, visit Royal Enfield.