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Royal Enfield Continental GT: The Most Legit Cafe Racer?

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Royal Enfield has finally unveiled its production Continental GT cafe racer. The British brand, now manufactured in India, has taken its air-cooled single from 499cc to 535cc, bumping crank horsepower to 29.1 (from 27.2) with a peak of 32.4 pound/feet of torque.

Not “rip-our-arms-out-of-their-sockets” power, but adequate to pull the sub-400 pound machine along smartly. After all, the Continental GT is more about style than outright performance.

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Don’t expect to “do the ton” on a Continental GT as you race from one cafe to the next, but you can certainly look the part. With 18″ wheels, Paioli shocks and a Brembo front brake caliper, there is a bit of substance to go along with that style.

Maybe it isn’t saying much, but this is the “lightest, fastest, most powerful Royal Enfield in production”, according to the manufacturer. The following video will put you in the mood, if you aren’t there already, and you can find more details on Royal Enfield’s web site.

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99 Comments

  1. TheBaron says:

    One would hope the Indians would have the good sense not to let any Americans loose on this bike. The comments range from stupid to ignorant. Why would anyone buy a bike like this, then think of riding it on a freeway? Oh, wait – you people cannot ride on winding roads.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Speaking of stupid and ignorant comments… Or maybe just intentionally insulting? There were only a handful of freeway comments, your post seems a bit forced. We think about riding the GT on a freeway because we have LOTS of freeways. Even for many within spitting distance of curvy, winding roads, freeway use is often still a reality at least some of the time. I am sure the GT is a great bike for what it is, albeit a little expensive in my opinion, but it isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t try to be. And there is nothing wrong with that.

  2. Jmess says:

    Not too bad looking…well from the pictures; up close would be another matter. To answer your questions “most legit café racer?” Nope, not a chance, maybe “most legit, cheap, café-styled motorcycle”. Let’s be realistic, that thing would be boring to most motorcycledaily.com surfers in a week—once the glances it gets wear off and it becomes just an inadequate, uncomfortable, buzzy, motorcycle. I’ll stick with quality and performance.

  3. Gpokluda says:

    From the video, it appears this bike is more of an adventure tourer than a BMW GS.

  4. joe b says:

    I like how he says in the introduction video, “the increase in horsepower is from the weight loss”. say what?

  5. buckwheat says:

    Why?

  6. goose says:

    But the question that has been coming to my mind since this bike was first shown: Why are the shocks upside down?

    Goose

  7. Randy says:

    In the end this bike is a toy, to be purchased by people with enough money to not really care about the practical aspects of the bike. And not enough discrimination, experience, or commitment to skip this junk and seek out a real vintage bike. Garage eye candy that can be purchased on a whim. It doesn’t even have the creed of the iron Bullet. Tuners are struggling to make heads or tails of this engine while an old Bullet can be made to go (with enough money). I’m not a particular fan of the new Triumph twins (having owned one) but there is no question in my mind what I’d spend my money on.

  8. Randy says:

    I wonder how it looks close up. The regular models look pretty good from 20 feet away, you get closer and the build quality and starts looking pretty crude. They are still cool in their way, and I’m not put off by the throwback power and rawness so much as the prices, seems like crude under powered motorcycles from India should be a couple thousand less.

  9. Ken in Oz says:

    Gorgeous. Now, if it only had another 25 ponies..

  10. John Hruban says:

    Flat beautiful, but then I’m 82 years old. What would really set it apart would be a BSA B34 Gold Star single with a huge AMAL TT carb nestled in there. Any it’s very nice for many folks, especially older folks. Rolling Flatulence H.D. riders just wouldn’t understand.

  11. aussie Mike says:

    Love the GT but why not manufacture a 650cc version. When are they going to design & manufacture a “new” Interceptor – 1100 to 1300 parallel twin but with a 270 degree firing order. It would be awesome and a real competitor to the Bonneville

    • todd says:

      good lord, why so big? This is India we’re talking about. The 500 is BIG for their roads and riding style, be glad they’re offering a 535 for the tiny markets like Europe and the US (maybe).

      If it were a twin, I can’t see why anyone would need more than an 650. Oh wait, it would be a push rod twin so it would need to be a 1500 to have at least 50hp.

  12. DaveJ says:

    Looks like the 1964 Royal Enfield Continental GT, quoted at the time as the fastest 250 in Britain! I bought a used one in “66″ and thrashed it too and from the local cafe. Traded it in for a Suzuki 250 Super Six, which WAS the fastest 250 in Britain!

  13. Azi says:

    I prefer the Sachs MadAss 500 concept by Target Design. Such a shame it never made it to production, and that Sachs Germany imploded.

    http://beforeitsnews.com/motor-junkies/2012/12/sachs-madass-500-concept-2454142.html

  14. Gronde says:

    I doubt if a long trip on a cafe racer with clip-ons would be much fun. I ride with guys 30 years younger than me and they cry to get off their clip-on equipped bikes every hour, if not sooner. Oh well, it’s OK to dream.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I ride with guys 30 years younger than me and they cry to get off their clip-on equipped bikes every hour”

      wankers.

    • Azi says:

      I find leg room, not handlebar height, to be the limiting factor on long touring rides. Gammy knees. In fact, stretching my back out with lower handlebars feels better.

    • LarryC says:

      I’m with Azi. At 64 my knees have survived reasonably well, despite years of abuse by motocross, trail riding and sundry other methods of physical abuse. Yet they seem to be the limiting factor when spending many long miles in the saddle, even on my Tiger, which has a very conventional riding position.

      I think the bars on the RE look pretty humane. They are indeed “clipons”, however they clipon above the fork bridge, not below it. They also are designed with a bit of rise rather than drop, for a pretty upright riding position. I think RE avoided the heavily committed riding position of the earlier Thruxtons, something Triumph rectified in more recent editions.

    • Randy says:

      It’s all relative – have a three level fusion (like me) and the knees kind of fade in importance to not being able to kink your neck.

  15. Mark says:

    thruxton. nuff said. movin on.

  16. Dave Kent says:

    Man, I’m gettin’ old and crotchety…I’m watching the video with great looking bikes, great looking girls, beautiful roads, parties, freedom…..and I’m stuck that a 3rd world border guard is sportin’ an AR….

  17. birdseye says:

    Dirt burnout. LOL!

  18. Artem says:

    It looks like the most legit, imho.

  19. ducatidon says:

    How about saving me a bit of weight and expense by leaving the passenger pegs & brackets off? Just an exhaust hanger, please.

  20. barty43 says:

    Don’t forget, they’re quoting hp figures for an emissions compliant motor….once you get the bike you can open up the breathing and pipes. There are few aftermarket speed outfits selling some good stuff for these bikes now like bored out jugs etc.
    Anyway, I’m an old geezer and got all that need for speed out of system years ago. This bike is beautiful and would make a great around town bike.
    By the way, RE is not a ‘British brand’ and haven’t been for a long time. They should come out with a 900cc air cooled parallel twin and stick it in a beefed up version….they’d sell like hotcakes in North America.

  21. Tom says:

    I think Royal Enfield could sell a bunch of tanks and seats units to the current Cafe Racer crew. The Manx look is that style tank and seat. Use any engine config with them and it would look great in my eyes. Heck even the lowly CX500 looks great with that treatment.

  22. Jdilpkle says:

    ha ha ha.
    I dont think so.
    They didn’t show the parts truck following them…

  23. joe says:

    no thanks…
    i’ll put up the extra $ and get a v7 or thruxton

  24. GuyLR says:

    It certainly looks the part, no problem there, but at that price the engine should make 35+HP and include a balancer. As it is, I think it will be too much money for too little bike. Twenty-nine teeth rattling horsepower are not going to make it a very useful or inspiring ride.

  25. Shriker says:

    This thing would be perfect if it was built by Triumph , had an SRX600 engine , cost $6K , and was available now.

    Maybe that’s asking too much , if they threw in a stick to poke your eye out with , then just maybe….

    • Dave says:

      WHile I’d want more hp too, I find it interesting that the KLR 650 makes 37hp @ 420lb and hardly anyone complains about it being underpowered. Guys ride those loaded too.

      I also agree that this bike’s price is going to be an obstacle. It looks great but it’s fairly easy to find cafe conversions of CB450’s and stuff like that for $3k used. I also think part of the attraction to this type of bike is the DIY aspect of making them for their owners.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        The KLR is grossly underpowered. There.

        Still. The RE will make 25 hp at the wheel at best which means that the KLR makes nearly 50% more power. That is significant.

      • todd says:

        37hp is at the crank. This Enfield is right in line with SR500s, which were decent performers. The cool GB500 (which I own) is a tad more than that at 33 RWHP and it feels about the same as my XR650L and buddies KLR. What do you expect from a bike like this? Sheesh.

      • goose says:

        Having owned a KLR650 I’d say they are a little underpowered for me but underpowered is subjective. Another rider might think 37 RWHP is perfect, another might think 25 or whatever the Enfield put to the ground is adequate for their needs. A third rider might think any bike under 150 RWHP isn’t worth getting out of bed to ride.

        I appreciate the great styling of the Continental but I’ll never be an owner. Maybe if I could have ten or 20 bikes but not in my current two bike world.

        Goose

  26. ZREXER says:

    Nice looking bike, but it is a city bike or secondary road bike at best. If you were coming from a scooter, I guess the power would seem ok. As much as I like the looks, the lack of power would soon spoil the deal.
    It is hard to go from todays modern bikes with effortless power, back to a significantly less powerful bike.
    There are many times I have used all the power from my current Bandit 1250 for passing or getting out of tight situations. Granted the Enfield has style to burn compared to my Bandit.
    So this Enfield would be a cool ‘coffee shop’ bike, but not much else.

    • mickey says:

      Coming from a scooter? My Yamaha 400 Majesty scooter has less displacement, more horsepower and will actually run over 100 mph…and it costs less to buy new as well. Doesn’t look as cool though.

  27. David Bogue says:

    A grand looking retro bike.

    If memory serves, my first motorcycle, a brand new red 1966 Suzuki Hustler (250cc twin 2 stroke) was also rated at 29 horsepower.

    Royal Enfield Bullet “tech” is on a par with one of my current rides, an HD XR1200. Both are anachronisms with limited market appeal. To me, a modern 600cc single engine with double the horsepower in a stylish retro package like the Enfield would make more sense.

    It’s all fun,
    Dave

  28. Hair says:

    Cool bike, and just like in the video I am the type of person who would flaunt my inner CAFE in front of guys on scooters and guys who get around driving pony carts. :)

  29. Tom R says:

    The video is pretty cool.

    The “burnout” in dirt is amusing….’cause it certainly couldn’t happen on pavement.

  30. Michael H says:

    I am shocked, shocked that there are no comments about the tank seams. You people are slipping.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      It is tastefully seemed. :-)

    • Lynchenstein says:

      They are unseamly? Sorry…I just don’t care :-)

    • Norm G. says:

      i’ve moved to internalizing my grief. on the inside, i’m dying.

    • Provologna says:

      Indeed, I did not notice the seam, and generally don’t notice tank seams till other posters mention them. Possibly the following explains the lack of complaint in this instance. 1. Upon close inspection, in these images the seam is barely visible, which segues perfectly into #2. On a “period” reproduction piece such as this gem, the aforementioned small seam is 100% consistent with the overall design and styling Gestalt.

      Usually I simultaneously disdain and find amusing the gaunt, Germanic, anorexic appearance of the models employed in advertising/marketing videos such as this one. I must happily report I was much less offended than average by these particular models.

      I think I finally figured out the producer’s thinking behind the use of unbalanced (three) models, one female with two males. The unbalance signifies original, off the beaten path, the obvious market for this product. I happily failed in my attempt to find some “relationship” innuendo.

      Overall, a surprisingly good video. Hire me next time for the audio track. I would have done a far superior job. The video itself is very dynamic and keeps the eye and brain highly involved. But the music, as per about 99.99% of motorcycle videos, is too droning, lacks dynamic, lacks resolution, and lacks involvement. BMW does the best audio tracks for motorcycle marketing videos.

      A+, kudos for the vinyl jukebox near the beginning.

    • foster says:

      Don’t all tanks have to have some sort of seam? Not something I would have paid any attention to and certainly not as noticeable as the seams Honda had running right down the centre of the tank on their ’60’s models.

  31. Boris says:

    It’s time for a 900 Interceptor twin with this styling. Enfield would sell a bunch of ‘em.

  32. denny says:

    Kind of resembles Laverda 750SF, if it was twin. That’s the bike I like to see revived.

    • Provologna says:

      Digg. Back in the 70s/80s, nothing quite caught and glued my eyes and brain like the Laverda models of that era. That medium green paint on the tank was pure icing on the overall design. Who didn’t love the sound those bikeske?

      How did the Italians get such a corner on motor vehicle design DNA?

      • denny says:

        That motor, especially top head mount awful lot resembles Honda 200/175 models. This is my favored argument when someone starts to claim that Japanese were ‘just’ copying Europeans. Baloony, all learned in process.

        But in truth, that unrepeatable laverdish scent is intoxicating….

  33. MGNorge says:

    There are a number of thumper fans out there that would poke their eyes out with a stick to have this. Takes one back to a simpler time.

  34. ElTigre1 says:

    This thing is absolutely gorgeous. I want it as a twin with the same was-wasted engine profile and about 100hp. Think I’ll put a picture of it on the wall and toast it with a Guinness on rainy nights.

  35. Jeremy in TX says:

    Beautifully designed. That bike lights a fire in my soul as much as the Guzzi V7 Racer does. Also like the Guzzi, unfortunately, the engine is just too underwhelming to keep the flames going once underway.

  36. Tim says:

    One of the best looking bikes I’ve seen, but too expensive to have a sales impact, when a few hundred more buys the new Yamaha triple.

  37. Mike Simmons says:

    A gorgeous bike! RE needs to work on a 750 parallel twin to return the marque to it’s greater glory. The low HP single just doesn’t match the beautiful styling.

    Mike

  38. mickey says:

    Beautiful motorcycle. Ok very artsy film but a couple things cracked me up in it ..like when he kick starts it to life and it sounds like a Z 50 Honda, and when he does the tire burn in the sand because it doesn’t have the power to tire burn on anything solid. Also the power slide on the dirt road.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’d take one in a heartbeat if someone gave it to me, but if its really $7300 bucks, I’d rather toss in a few more bucks and buy a Triumph Thruxton in green/ gold please

  39. Wendy says:

    The perfect bike for Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride.

  40. Starmag says:

    Timeless beauty. I’m sure there will be howls of “horrible retro!” from the transformers crowd, as if there’s not enough insect bikes already. Too bad it’s a bit wimpy power-wise for American freeways where, in my experience, everybody drives 80mph. I doubt this will hold 80mph comfortably, much less have passing power. Too bad too, because the riding position without a windshield seems made for it. Get used to the slow lane and lots of merging. I’m sure it’s charming in town or on mountain two lanes if you live near those.

    I wonder what the passenger pegs are for with this seat. Maybe there’s an optional two-up seat I don’t know about.

  41. Z-man says:

    I love Cafe Racers, and as far styling goes this one is just gorgeous! Just a shame that it’s not a twin as it should be. It would then probably even do the ton……

  42. clasqm says:

    About as much power as my SR500 had 30-odd years ago. It’s in the ballpark for a big air-cooled single. Boost it any higher and it will vibrate itself to pieces. If you like this style but you simply must go faster get a Triumph Thruxton. Don’t be too surprised if a good rider on this bike stays with you on a tight, twisty road.

    As for reliability, this won’t be a Honda. You’ll have to walk around it with a spanner set from time to time tightening things. Just like in the good old days.

    Damn, I think I’m talking myself into buying another new bike …

    • Guy Reynolds says:

      The SR500 had 33hp at the crank and around 27-28hp at the rear wheel. It also had a shorter stroke and less vibes than the Enfield. So in my mind this bike really needs 35hp and an engine balancer to make it into a useful bike that can do short cruises, commuting,and general around town highway work. Without the extra punch and smoother engine it will be relegated to being a nostalgic profiler that could easily have been so much more.

  43. Krisd says:

    Anything made in India worries me, particularly when your life depends on it.
    I’d rather pay the equivelent for a Vespa!

    • halfbaked says:

      Yeah they’ve only been making RE’s over there since the fifties so they’re probably still pretty sketchy.

    • Gary says:

      I guess you also won’t be buying particular KTM’s, Honda’s, or I’m sure other major OEM bikes now or soon as some of those are also manufactured in India. Some of these same major manufacturers are also sourcing parts or complete machines from China, Korea, and others. World economy- like it or not.

    • denny says:

      I understand. We are effected by seedy public images of India and the video just enforces it. That invokes question: how people from such unappealing environment can produce good product?
      That’s the image part. In reality though, India’s technological capabilities have quadrupled it last ten years. It’s just a matter to keep discipline in place and convince the world.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Agreed. India’s manufacturing capabilities are very similar to those in a lot of other countries I’ve dealt with: You have some operations that aren’t worth a flip, lots that are pretty darn good and on par with “developed” world quality, and a handful that would make 80% of the mfg operations in this country look like a bunch of fools. I don’t know which category Royal Enfield falls into.

        • denny says:

          Right on! I have worked on contract in industrial valve building plant last year. The valve bodies castings and machining came from India. First class job, I was impressed.

    • Martin B says:

      I’ve owned two Indian made motorcycles (well, one was a Honda scooter) and had no problems at all with them. One was a Kinetic GF which was able to travel at our 60mph motorway speeds. There might have been a sense of time travel (technology from an earlier era) but the quality was fine. Overall highly recommended and well done, India.

  44. Scotty says:

    The GB500 was 30 years ago? Man I’m old! Not sure Provo but I would geuss about 38/42 HP something like that similar to my 1986 SRX600 in stock form.

    I agree with you – its a gorgeous bike though my own prference in that line is for the Guzzi Cafe 750 with the lime green tank (NOT the Racer – too gaudy!)

    • JVB says:

      V7 “racer” fender and fairing kill that bike for me. Keep my V11 for now.

      Would love a manx style bike, but honestly afraid on Enfield quality for now.

      Been thinking of a CBR250 with a 450 single swap. Yes, I can do valves.

  45. xootrx says:

    Beautiful bike. The web site linked in this article appears to be the U.K. web site. I checked the U.S. site and there’s no mention of it. Is it possible this bike won’t be available here? The only Continental model mentioned on the American site is the kit that Royal Enfield has been offering for their bikes for years, and not the same thing at all.

  46. nickst4 says:

    Cor, you need to be well’ard to ride one of them!

    Quite pretty though, and a massive change from all the other RE options. Somehow, the styling is unbalanced at the back but with named components (Brembo etc), the price will need to be higher. I wonder if RE’s version of a big single ‘sportster’ will sell any better than other manufacturers? Nostalgia will be the key.

  47. Provologna says:

    Open the Royal Enfield Excel program. Move funds from the ad/marketing column over to engineering and maybe they can squeeze a few more HP out of the engine.

    Styling wise I’ll rip my clothing and toss ashes on my head if I read a critical comment. Wow. Styling rocks, no doubt.

    How much power did Big H’s GB500 make 30 years ago? The GB was close, but this piece is dead center bull’s eye.

    Why are the Japanese Big 4 allergic to such beauty?

    • BlackCayman says:

      Kawi made the W650 & W800… They could quite easily make a “Cafe Racer” version and bring it to the states….

      • Provologna says:

        I see exactly what you mean. Even lately, I looked closely at Kawi’s attractive W650 and W800 and considered buying one and modifying it for a better look, i.e., like this gorgeous Cafe bike.

        By your words “could” (quite easily), we seem to agree that Kawi got very close, but did not quite get to promised land (styling wise). At least not to the extent of this Royal Enfield.

        Last spring a guy rode up on his Royal Enfield to park it at USU (Utah) near my home. Man, did that thing look and sound the part!

  48. Nick says:

    Any guess on pricing?

  49. Sean says:

    Great commercial, crap bike!

  50. Spider says:

    Holy Cafe!!
    Great video. Gravel burnout, great riding shots, and even the un-PC about to drink a highball in a bar! Those bikes would look good in your garage or living room.