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Royal Enfield Enters New Era With Two 650s, the Interceptor and Continental GT (with videos)

Royal Enfield Interceptor

 

Royal Enfield has introduced two motorcycles soon to go into production and featuring its new 650cc twin engine. There are three videos below from Royal Enfield that discuss the new bikes and the new engine.

This whole 650cc twin project by RE has flown a bit under the radar here in the United States, but it is a big deal. RE outsells Harley-Davidson worldwide, and its push into Western markets was limited somewhat by the anemic performance of its single-cylinder machines. RE claims the new 650s are capable of 100+ mph, while their air-cooled design maintains the simple aesthetic the company is known for.

Production models should be available in some markets beginning in April of next year, apparently beginning in Europe (and India) followed by other geographic areas. U.S. availability should follow Europe.

Royal Enfield Interceptor

The 648cc twin, making a claimed 47 horsepower, is the key to RE’s expansion plans, and was largely developed in England at the RE Technology Center in Leicestershire.

Everything about these motorcycles is new, including the steel-tube cradle frame found on both models. RE claims both bikes handle exceptionally well, being both stable and nimble.

The Interceptor is an upright standard, while the Continental GT has the ergonomics of a Café Racer. The 18″ wheels add to the classic look of both bikes, as do the twin rear shocks. Braking is thoroughly modern with discs and ABS.

RE emphasizes the ground clearance offered by the bikes, which permits significant lean angles in corners (you can see this in one of the videos below).

The engine has four-valve heads and a supplemental oil cooler. It will provide strong, low and mid-range power, emphasizing both performance and ease of use. The engine sounds fabulous in the videos.

Royal Enfield Continental GT

A six-speed transmission should provide plenty of flexibility given the broad spread of power expected from the torquey engine. The bikes will even have slipper clutches to prevent wheel hop on deceleration.

Introducing the Interceptor 650, Siddhartha Lal, CEO, Royal Enfield, said: “The Interceptor 650 carries forward the Royal Enfield legacy into the 21st century. While in its essence, it retains the design and old-school character, it has all the underpinnings of a modern machine.”

“It combines agility, usable power, excellent ergonomics and style in an unintimidating manner. However, the Interceptor 650 is more than the sum of its parts; it is great fun to ride and brings a smile on your face every single time you ride it.”

Talking about Continental GT650, Rudratej (Rudy) Singh, President, Royal Enfield, said, “The GT has been an iconic motorcycle in Royal Enfield’s portfolio. Since its launch in 2013, the Continental GT has helped the brand strengthen its position in mature motorcycle markets across the world. In its new avatar, the Continental GT 650 is the absolute definitive café racer that will be loved by discerning riders across the world.”

“Being authentic, accessible and creating motorcycles that are evocative, is at the core of all things we do. As a brand, we encourage our riders in their journey of self-expression and exploration. It is the idea that they relate to, even before they buy our motorcycles. The new 650 twins will help us strengthen this proposition further”, Rudy added.

 


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123 Comments

  1. dingerjunkie says:

    …smart move…looking forward to seeing it in a US debut.

  2. oldjohn1951 says:

    I love the new Interceptor and I’m ready to buy right now. I only hope that by the time it hits the US that the traditional chrome gas tank is offered as an upgrade. Like one comment said on another website: “Don’t bother to wrap it; I’ll eat it right here.”

  3. Grover says:

    Three videos and not one word about improved reliability.

  4. Bluesman77 says:

    Nice-looking bikes. Price will be a large factor as well as the exhaust note – sounds like a 180 degrees crankshaft. One thing that plagued the Kawasaki W650/800 is a 1-piece exhaust – aftermarket slip-ons require cutting (many enthusiasts want to hear that vertical twin sound). With a 180 crankshaft, the sound isn’t music to my ears & I’m sure many others feel the same way. Using the name “Interceptor”, already associated w/ a long-running & successful bikes, seems a little foolish too. Lastly, I think they could have put a little more effort into making the engine look more retro – it’s the bike’s centerpiece for cripes sake.

  5. paul246 says:

    After watching the press presentation video I was left with a feeling that said “this is phony flim-flam”…. again. References to authentic heritage does not mean that this bike is going to be much better than the previous crap the RE handed us. That CEO comes across as a total A-hole that thinks he is smarter than the rest of the world. He keeps boasting about numbers of sales that are mainly in India, due to their high population, rising wealth, and basically a lack of competition in the 500cc class (Bullet). Just read some of the owner forums in India and you will see past this hype from the CEO. RE does not give a flying shite about customers once they have their money, that is absolutely clear.

    I suspect this new 650 will be just another tarted up piece of crap like the Bullet. Expensive nostalgia. Hopefully I’m wrong, but I’ll let someone elses’ money prove me wrong.

  6. My2cents says:

    I’m just going to say the more I look the more I seem to see and the more seam I see. It’s pretty on many levels and air cooled. I hope workmanship in India exceeds that of the crud from China.

    • MGNorge says:

      Just as an adjunct, if you’ve ever been up close to a Royal Enfield you’ll know there’s been room for improvement. Also, I wouldn’t dismiss the Chinese too much. Yes, they do build some cheap, built to a price, stuff that’s subpar but they can produce some very well built kit.
      Just remember how people thought of the Japanese when they were in the same position. Look at them now!

  7. RyYYZ says:

    Looks great, should appeal to quite a few people, even outside India. Big question areas will be quality/reliability/fit and finish. The old singles sold as novelties pretty much anywhere outside India – basically a newly built 1950s Enfield, with all that implies both good and bad.

    Presumably RE would like to go mainstream and get some credibility and sales outside India, and even inside, as a properly modern quality bike equal to any Japanese brand.

  8. Rufas Y Nought says:

    Gee – a motorcycle. I thought all motorcycles looked like a dumpster full of scrap metal, with a 1/2 scooped seat for the lads that can’t hold on, and automobile cooling. Thanks for the memories.

  9. Doc says:

    Every once in awhile my wife brings up her missing the first W650 I owned.(owned 2) It was fun. Only 43 hp at the back wheel! Tank seams!! Drum rear brake!!! Spoked wheels with tubes!!!! What the hell were they thinking? What the hell is she thinking?? What the hell am I thinking??? What the hell is anybody thinking???? WTFT! Anyway, showed her the Interceptor and she liked it right down to the color. By the way, I’m starting a new bitch. I hate round tires! Pass it around.

  10. patrick says:

    I had a Royal Enfield 750 Interceptor when I was a kid. The first bike I ever went 100 MPH on. Every time I rode it I had to re-adjust the primary chain as the tensioner would not hold it in adjustment Vibrated less than my Triumphs and faster. Great power, but like all British bikes of that era, always some minor thing to fix. No dealer network to speak of. Still I would buy another (old original Inerceptor.

  11. RD350 says:

    These are nice looking bikes. I hope they sell well.

  12. edbob says:

    dammit, where’s the kickstart? If I’m going retro, I want a kick start, it’s part of the nostalgia. Yes really. Skinny tires, spoked rims, aircooled – battery start? I guess they took their advice from the movie Tropic Thunder – NEVER GO FULL RETRO!

    • Bob S. says:

      Manufacturers of “classic” retro models found that putting a kickstarter on the bike implied that it had an unreliable electric starter system that needed it as a backup. I think perhaps the only, or at least one of the few, current retro street bikes to still have a kick starter is the Yamaha SR400. No button to push.

      • johnny ro says:

        …agree overall but the SR400 is not a retro bike. It is a living fossil, with FI. On my short list.

        • Bob S. says:

          Yup, goes back to the ’78 SR500, only it’s more “retro” looking than the SR500 as they were never offered with wire spoked wheels in the USA. Had those new fangled cast wheels that looked so out of place.

  13. Tank says:

    The Interceptor is a nice looking bike. Too bad it’s a Royal Enfield.

  14. Grover says:

    Nice bikes to look at but not so nice to own. Perhaps one day that will change. I will let others step up to the plate with their money to help RE develop bikes that rival bikes built in Japan. Until then, my money goes elsewhere.

  15. Vrooom says:

    A single front brake on a 650 qualifies as thoroughly modern? It doesn’t appear oversized. I’m surprised that Honda hadn’t copyrighted the term Interceptor, but perhaps RE has a model predating theirs?

  16. PN says:

    Hey, pretty good. I hope they’re bringing it up to the standards of their competition because there are a lot of choices nowadays.

  17. Wendy says:

    I hope it leaks like a sieve and vibrates like crazy like the last RE Interceptor.

  18. MGNorge says:

    Displacement aside, my first thought was of Honda 350/450’s back in the day…replete with tank seams.

  19. Gham says:

    They may want to reconsider and put dual discs on the front to haul down all that power.

  20. clasqm says:

    Royal Enfield moves into the area vacated by Triumph. Simple, air-cooled, traditionally styled bikes. Nicely played, with impeccable timing.

  21. Ken says:

    That Continental 650 twin looks like what the current Continental 535 single (which is a very pretty bike in its own right) should have been. Nice one RE. I’ll bet they’ll sell a bunch of these.

  22. Fastship says:

    It reminds me of the 1970’s BSA concept bikes. BSA never got around to making them but RE have!

    They will sell shed loads here in the UK.

  23. GreenMan says:

    Both bikes look sweet, but I’m more inclined towards The Interceptor.

    But…

    Considering the fact that single cylinder Continental GT sells for about $6,000, how much these new bikes cost?

    $8,000 for the Interceptor and $9,000+ for the Continental GT?

    In that case, why not get the excellent Triumph Speed Twin or perhaps the all Italian Moto Guzzi V7? Not only these bikes have larger displacement, but they also possess “REMARKABLE” build quality, fit and finish, excellent resale value and a better badge on the tank too.

    Indian made Royal Enfields aren’t exactly known for their build quality, reliability and attention to detail, ya know?

    Oh well,

    G’Day!

  24. WSHart says:

    As Dirck said, some people will be surprised at just how well this bike will sell. Of the two I favor the Interceptor for it’s classic good looks. This is why the term “standard” is used to describe such a bike and not that priapic term, “naked”. It is the STANDARD for others to follow and admire. Style, plenty of usable power and comfortable ergonomics.

    Dirck, would you happen to know if the engine uses the hydraulic lifters as do the RE 500cc thumpers? I recall reading the 500s used a method licensed from Harley. This would go a long way toward enhancing desirability as would (one can dream) tubeless rims.

    Regardless its good to see a bike that isn’t a ripoff of Harley style. One that pays homage to its own roots, rather that rutting through another’s garden, if you will.

    I’m fortunate to have local dealers for both Royal Enfield and Moto Guzzi so I will get a look at both the Interceptor and the V85 Goose (should the latter reach production this model year) as soon as possible.

    • todd says:

      I doubt RE needs to license anything from H-D. No one has a patent on hydraulic lifters as they’ve been around for more than half a century.

    • GKS says:

      Being a single overhead cam engine, this new 650 does not employ lifters as would a pushrod actuated valve train. As best as I can tell from the exploded view of the engine (in the initial press release) they appear to be conventional rocker arms, perhaps with roller bearings on the cam ends.

    • Bob S. says:

      “would you happen to know if the engine uses the hydraulic lifters as do the RE 500cc thumpers?”

      Based on photos of a disassembled engine, I’d say no. It’s a single OHC, forked rocker arms with valve lash adjusting screws on the valve end of the rocker.

  25. Doc says:

    I’d like to find the guy that got this tank seam thing going and give him a swift kick in his seam! I’ve never seen so much whining over something so insignificant since the last episode of the Kardashians my wife watched. Geez! By the way, I like the bike. As a previous owner of a W650, I think they nailed it. Maybe a chrome tank will be an option.

  26. Richard says:

    I see no mention of counterbalancers in the description. Does anyone know if that’s true. If it has the traditional 360° firing, it will shake your fillings out.

  27. Rene says:

    The tank seam does not bother me. I think both bikes look great, even with the seam. I only wish it had a kick start included. I am pleased to see it has a centre-stand!

    • Provologna says:

      You need a kick start like a cage needs a crank start.

      • Martin B says:

        If you are unable to ride for a while due to health issues, and you fail to start the bike sufficiently often to keep the battery charged, at least with a kick start you can turn the pistons over and prevent them from sticking in the bore. Then after a battery charge, the bike will get going again. Bikes need kick starts, at the very least so you can look cool in front of someone attractive.

      • Rene says:

        In colder weather, sometimes the battery doesn’t have enough cranking power to do the job. A kick start solves that problem.

  28. mcmotohistory says:

    I can’t help but notice the difference between this beautiful little Royal Enfield and that insect looking Husqvarna in the article right below. What has happened to modern styling?

  29. Denis says:

    That Intercepter pushes a lot of my buttons. I love that tank shape and those upswept mufflers, the front fender, the polished cases, and that handsome emblem right where it belongs on the gas tank. If RE can convince me that they make a reliable bike, and if the price is right, I may be convinced to exchange my Guzzi dreams for an Enfield. I think that the future sales numbers might be quite surprising. What’s old is now new—and I love it.

    • Denis says:

      Just noticed that the foot controls look like nothing more than flat metal stampings. I can get around tank seams, but those look pretty cheesy. I hate to be nit picky, but they are functioning items that catch the eye. They don’t have to be machined, sculpted beauties, but they don’t have to look like wrenches from a cheap tool set either.

  30. azi says:

    I sincerely wish RE the best with this new model. Looks like it picks up the flag that was dropped by the W650/800 and aircooled Bonnevilles. 50hp is plenty for a bike in this style. Let’s hope they nail it with build quality and reliability.

  31. Butch says:

    Shades of W650.
    Only thing missing is a kick start lever and and about 3hp, which shouldn’t be hard to find on this under stressed mill.
    That extra gear is a plus.
    If they can keep the price south of 7 grand, I predict big sales.
    Nicely done

  32. dt 175 says:

    2018 looks like the beginning of the professionally engineered BIKE EXIF trend. the morini, the husky and the RE GT look like every sporty-minded hipsters dream. the colors on gutsy and the shapes on the cb-r look like classic BIKE EXIF one-man engineering/market research/I-don’t-care-what-you-like-this-bike-is-for-me mindset. and after the orange county chopper/fat-tail craze of a decade or so ago, and the more recent insectavorus-look, i’m not complaining…

  33. Tom R says:

    Tank seams forever!

    Ask not…what tank seams can do for you…

    Give me tank seams, or give me death.

    OK I’m done.

  34. VLJ says:

    The Continental doesn’t even have a pillion seat, so why does it have passenger pegs?

  35. Jeremy in TX says:

    Pretty bikes. Moto Guzzi might be getting a little nervous. They currently own the market when it comes to pretty bikes with barely adequate performance. Royal Enfield is making a move!

  36. Trpldog says:

    The “moderation” is over the top. Either someone is getting paid off or there is no sense of humor anymore at MD. I’ve been here for years. Too bad.

  37. Randy D. says:

    Is anyone now really going to accept a new version of a `70’s 650 Yamaha twin that had 53hp then for a 2018 47hp 650 4 valve twin now? Good Luck Royal Enfield

    • Dirck Edge says:

      You will be surprised how well this bike sells, IMHO.

      • Randy D. says:

        My remarks were only in reference of how this new bike will sell in the USA. I own an `04 Moto Guzzi 750 Breva that has 48hp and I’m happy with it at 74yo. Like others have pointed out, in India this bike may sell just fine.

    • Gary Turner says:

      I’m guessing most sales will be within India and in those other still developing regions where less than a 1st world reality exists. In other words 47 hp retro styled bike will be a real hot rod, full of fun & excitement when matched against the typical traffic & road conditions to be found in such places. My old 1967 Triumph TR6 probably even had less than 47 hp and I was quite content with that although my next 1971 750cc Norton Commando was certainly a leap forward from that Triumph. I (an older fuddy dud) do like the looks of these new Royal Enfields. Lots of neat videos are now online describing the engineering, design & marketing hype (hopes). Those looking for a high HP modern looking high tech crotch rocket will look elsewhere.

    • MacSpoone says:

      I’m pretty sure that RE has its eye on more than just a European or American market. These bikes are gonna sell just fine.

    • Bob S. says:

      They’re being held to 47 hp by design to make them compliant with A2 licensing requirements. As an oversquare, ohc, 8 valve twin tuned for low end and mid range torque, this engine is capable of a lot more power than it’s producing. I think you’ll eventually see a 750 version. The bore is 78mm. Make it square with a 78mm stroke and it yields 745cc.

    • Dave says:

      There are many bikes in this category that sell very well. Honda Shadow, Triumph Street Twin, HAD Sportster 883 & Street, Guzzi V7. They’re all slow and nobody cares at all. Speed is not what they’re in it for. If this comes in appropriately priced (less than the others because, India) it will sell very well.

      • MGNorge says:

        I have a question, where does slow end and fast begin? I mean, I never did get the “that bike’s slow or that bike’s fast. Is it measured by how many years it takes off your life from scaring oneself to death?

    • Jonny Blaze says:

      They did say the emphasis is on torque. Hp is not a concern as the bike was not intended to ridden very fast.

      My Triumph Street Twin 900HT, produces 55hp, which is about 10hp less than my Versys 650. But it produces 80NM of torque, coming in at ~3250 rpm. It pulls hard right above idle.

      The 10hp was not missed, and the versys was sold.

    • Neil says:

      I had two Suzuki TU250s and all I wanted was more wheelbase at 5’10. On a ride more than 50 miles I started feeling cramped. Low tech bikes feel fun at lower speeds. My FZ1 felt like I was holding it back all the time. “Open the throttle”, it always said. I opened it up in 3rd getting on the highway and left my wife in the dust behind me in her car. On a low tech ride there is no need to do that.

      • mickey says:

        it’s a machine and doesn’t care how it’s ridden as long as it isn’t lugged or over revved. I never took my FZ-1 over 6,000 rpms and it was fine for the 40,000 miles I owned it and the 10,000 miles my younger brother owned it

        I’ve put over 100,000 thou on my ST 1300 and have never been over 5K and 36K on my CB 1100 also never over 5K.

        The thrill of acceleration is an endorphine in our brains, but the motorcycle doesn’t care one way or the other how it’s ridden be it a TU250 or a liter FZ-1

  38. Aussie Mike says:

    These REs look great.
    Hope they bring out a 1000cc version as 650cc is a bit “gutless”.
    I always thought the original Interceptors were beautiful and hope they bring out a model with the chromed tank.
    I hope it sells well as they look fabulous.
    Some MINOR criticisms:
    1. there is a flange on the petrol tank;
    2. am presuming the tyres are tubed which is a deal breaker for me.

    Maybe they might even do what Triumph & BSA did in the 60s and produce a triple (as per the Trident & Rocket 3) or a four cylinder (as per the Quadrant which Triumph developed in the mid 60s but management in their incompetence never put into production) air cooled motor. The basis for the Trident & Quadrant was the Triumph Daytona 500cc engine. They simply added one & two cylinders respectively.

  39. Bob says:

    Old dudes like me can’t help but love this bike. My 2000 Bullet was very poorly built and had dangerous brakes, but his looks really good.

  40. Gary says:

    Very cool indeed. I wish they included a kick starter for days you just want to give it a jab.

  41. sliphorn says:

    Beautiful bikes! I love the Interceptor and hope it shows up soon in the USA.

  42. kyle says:

    If you dont want a tank seam why are you into retro. Tank seam is beautiful. That is fact.

  43. Bill says:

    Wow! Inclined heads like a Norton (also an Interceptor) but reminds me of my old BSA. And reminds me of how old I must be. Still; a beautiful bike-hope it sells well.

  44. DP says:

    Goood news. It will save us form insectoids!

  45. joe mcglennon says:

    good lookin bike…….except for the tank seam.

    • kyle says:

      If you dont want a tank seam why are you into retro. Tank seam is beautiful. That is fact.

    • mickey says:

      I looked at the bikes, read the comments, and then had to go back and look at the bikes again to see the tank seam. No biggie to me. The bikes look pretty good to me. Not of a fan of the quilted seat on the interceptor and I think the tail on the bum stop on the GT is too short.Love the pipes though. Very Dunstall Nortonish

      I read some stuff about them yesterday though, that they are only for India for now, and are really low on HP.

    • Gary Turner says:

      My 1971 Norton Commando 750 stock fuel tank had no seams whatsoever but it was made of fiberglass. Seamless tanks just look a bit better for some folks (smoother? sleeker?), as if the manufacturer cared a bit more or cost was not an issue. Should not be a deal breaker if the overall bike is appealing.

  46. Dave Joy says:

    Very Triumph Bonneville and Kawasaki W650 looking, but good luck to them. Lets hope build quality is better than in the past! It will be interesting to see if it sells well in North America and what the price will be when it gets here. As a senior ex-pat Brit the name itself conjures up great memories of my biking in the late sixties. You never know, the Interceptor could replace my 04 Bonneville!!

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