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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

  • December 13, 2012
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino

Royal Enfield Unveils 2014 Cafe Racer (with video)

At last week’s Long Beach Motorcycle Show, one of the best looking bikes was a simple Cafe Racer introduced by Royal Enfield. The bike will be designated a 2014 model when it is introduced in the summer of 2013.

The air-cooled single has been punched out to 535cc, and makes an additional 9 horsepower over the standard single-cylinder Royal Enfield models. It is also 47 pounds lighter, bringing claimed weight into the range of 360 pounds. The expected price is $7,295.00 in the U.S. market. Several accessories include a two-person seat and clubman bars. I want one!

The video of the unveiling is worth watching for two reasons, including (1) the beautiful Cafe Racer can be seen from several different angles, and (2) the enthusiasm of the small U.S. Royal Enfield crew is easily sensed in the speaker’s voice.


  1. Clay says:

    I have my deposit down on this beautiful machine. I can’t wait to see how it rides compared to my 2011 C-5 500 cc military!

  2. David Duarte says:

    I like the cafe model, but I’d prefer it with standard bars.

  3. David Duarte says:

    I’d like to see Motorcycle Daily (or Rider, or Cycleworld, or Motorcyclist) get a new Enfield, and do a long term test on it. If RE was smart, they’d do the same, and have someone ride one on a long cross country tour, making stops at RE dealers along the way. If the Bullet was going to break down, that’s where it would happen. It would be great for publicity, and also help showcase the dealer network. I have a feeling that with the new generation unit construction engine, so long as proper maintenance was done, the bike would be quite reliable, but the proof is in the pudding. Hell, if they want to sponsor me, and give me a bike for the ride, I’d do it 🙂

  4. SloJon says:

    Spec Class Racing! Scary FUN!

  5. TheBaron says:

    Gee there are some truly, shockingly ignorant people posting on here. The modern Royal Enfield single cylinder engine is an all-aluminium alloy, unit construction motor. It is not the old oil-leaking cast-iron motor with a chain primary drive to a separate transmission. The old bikes were quirky, and like all old English designs, required dedicated owners, not knob polishers. Once sorted, they ran, and ran, and ran – if regular maintenance was carried out. Which is why almost every tour company operating in India uses them. The new engine is more powerful but has been limited by the dopey Indians following the stupid English management practice of not changing the frame and running gear for decades. Enfield was building about 35,000 units a year a few years ago, and could not meet demand. This new, lighter, better looking cafe bike is a step in the right direction. Next they could build a light weight proper Adventure bike (not one of those idiot Euro things that are three stories high and have enough heft to embarrass a truck).

  6. Philip says:

    It’s not only the $7300. I was interested in the classic model a few years back and it had a $750 freight charge attached, non-negotiable. Add in tax, set up, and all of the other question marks surrounding the brand and it was an easy decision to walk away.

  7. ZREXER says:

    Well, as per my earlier post at the demo I was at 3 out of the 4 Enfield bikes had issues after only the first demo ride of the day. No one walked back, but after going to motorcycle demo’s for the last 10 years of virtually ever other brand on the planet I have never seen a single bike of any other brand have an issue during a demo day (other than some being crashed during a demo ride.)
    Three issues on three bikes in less than an hour does not inspire me to pull out my wallet and buy one. I do like the looks of the Enfield, I just think the build quality is lacking.

  8. sl says:

    Who here has actual experience with a Royal Enfield breaking down on them? I have heard a lot of speculation. WHO HAS HAD TO WALK BECAUSE THEIR ROYAL ENFIELD BROKE DOWN? Not saying it doesn’t happen, but I think most of these reliability comments are pulled from peoples posteriors.

  9. Karlsbad says:

    OK love the bike, but for $1700.00 more green I’d own the 690 Duke

  10. ZREXER says:

    or a GSXR1000 if that’s all that matters.

    The relatively low performance of this bike is a given, I don’t think some one looking at one of these is also looking at a GSXR 1000. My main issue is the poor build quality from what I have seen. I think the first accessory to get is really comfortable walking shoes as you will need them if you get an Enfield and maybe a few tubes of loctite to keep most of the bolts from vibrating out.

  11. Hair says:

    Whatever this bike is, it sure has people talking. This is one of the longer comment sections that I’ve seen for any bike.

  12. Jeremy in TX says:

    9 extra hp – what does that mean? That is makes 25hp now? The look is mouth-watering, but I would without hesitation pony up for a Thruxton or V7 racer without blinking before I bought the RE. If $7295 was my max out-of-pocket, then I would get a gently used Thruxton or V7 without blinking.

  13. Todder says:

    Common Ducati, please bring back the GT-1000 with a metal gas tank and better rear suspension!

  14. Mr.Mike says:

    It looks very nice. Yes it’s a bit pricey but I believe the price is reasonable for a boutique bike and it’s still less expensive than the most basic Sportster.

    • Miles McMillan says:

      My Sportster has over 50,000 miles without a mechanical issue. It has even been bored out to 1200cc’s with Andrews cams and still remains as reliable as a rock. I don’t think that this Royal Enfield “Cafe Racer” will even go 1000 miles before you have mechanical issues. It’s lower price reflects lower quality overall, thus, you get what you pay for.

      • bikerrandy says:

        ‘It’s lower price reflects lower quality overall.’

        Not necessarily since your HD is built by union employees, who I’m sure get paid a lot more $ per hour than RE employees. ;^ )

      • LarryC says:

        “…as reliable as a rock.”

        Freudian slip?

      • Mr.Mike says:

        That may be true but reliability isn’t the only quality that matters in this situation. Someone buying this is probably not going to be doing long distance touring or even putting many miles on it. I would guess the target demographic is someone who already has one or more bikes and is probably looking to tap into the history of the brand and the aesthetics and uniqueness of the model.

        • Miles McMillan says:

          Royal Enfield’s history is one of building junk motorycles for third world nations. True, this new offering looks attractive to a lot of riders unfamiliar with the brand, but I hope they love to push their motorcycle as much as ride it. $7295 for a bunch of parts loosely held together seems to be quite a bit of money for anyone familiar with this brand of bike. But what the hay, if you’ve got the money to waste (and don’t mind walking), go for it!

  15. ZREXER says:


    ‘It was nice to look at, but really ‘NOT’ very good to actually ride.’

  16. ZREXER says:

    I was at a demo and had a chance to ride a 500 Bullet that had the then available cafe kit added to it. this was the current generation fuel injected bike, not the older even less reliable generation. It was easily the worst machine I had ever ridden (a Harley 1200 Sportster being the second worst of all time)
    Very low power, I mean a 250cc scooter would run away from it. It had false neutrals all over the place unless shifted very deliberately. Lots of vibration, poor brakes, not very good handling.
    It was nice to look at, but really but very good to actually ride.
    All three demo bikes that day had issues. One bike blew the seal around the kick starter and was spewing oil, on one the electric start would not engage and the other lost a bolt from the front brake caliper and the caliper was close to coming loose (might have been poor set up)
    I do like the looks of the new cafe bike, but I think actually owning one would prove to be a very frustrating experience.

  17. Jim says:

    Goose, Enfields are not Urals. About 15 years ago, I did a month-long trip from New Delhi to Tibet, then through Kashmir on mostly atrocious roads. Rode an Enfield and it never missed a beat. A few years ago, my wife and I toured northern India and Bhutan on Enfields. Again, no problems. When we got home, we each bought one here. Though we both have other bikes, when we want a nice, relaxing ride through the mountains around here, the Enfields are our go-to bikes.
    Granted, $7200 is kinda spendy, but the bike is unique. If you like it, go for it. They’ve been building these things in one form or another since 1953. They’re well sorted.

    • ROXX says:

      I know about they’re reputation for reliability, but it comes down to dollars for what you get.
      $7299, plus tax and license, registration, a couple of accessories and and you’re looking at roughly $8500 out the door for a simple and basic 500cc single.
      Not a good value in my humble opinion, no matter how reliable it is.
      You can buy one hell’uva used bike or even a brand new last year or two clearance model for that much scratch.

    • bikerrandy says:

      Jim, what you failed to share is what speeds you rode yours. I’ll bet because the roads were not like what we have in the States(mostly paved and smooth), you didn’t get up to speed over 50 mph on it very long. I have never ridden a Bullet 500 but from other road tests I get the impression these 60 year old designs are what you get. Now if I’m out of touch with this model, a road test would show that. 8^ /

  18. Blaine Newell says:

    The new Royal Enfields come with a 2year warranty. This one also has a lot more power than the old ones. My year 2000 Bullet was 500cc and 7-1 compression. These are 535cc 9-1 compression, fuel injected, electronic ignition, hydraulic valves. My 2000 Enfield was smooth and fun at 55mph, and would do 65mph comfortably. It’s top speed flat out giving it all she had, was maybe 80 mph. These new ones are way faster.

  19. goose says:

    It is beautiful but why are the shocks upside down?

    Spoke to friend who’s parents took a chance on an oddball bike (Ural) earlier this year. If I got the story right they are on their third transmission, the bike is back in the shop for a (still) leaking rear crank seal, and the dealer they bought it from refuses to provide the support they promised so it is in another dealership for the work. It seems to be normal that the mechanism that puts the bike in two wheel drive can lock up in 2WD, he said it was very interesting riding home on pavement with the rear and sidecar wheels driven without a differential.

    Having owned (and loved) a semi-oddball bike (Guzzi) I strongly encourage people to think twice before buying a bike like this, no matter how beautiful. It could be the best thing you ever did like my Guzzi, it could also be a lot of money down the toilet like the Ural.


  20. bikerrandy says:

    This is a case of test ride before you buy it. Yes, it looks GREAT, but you better make sure it’s what you think it is. ;^ )

  21. ROXX says:

    Nice but not $7 G’s nice?
    That’s more than I paid for my used ST1300 with only 14k miles on it.

  22. BlueSkyGuy says:

    Costly for a new “retro” but it is a nice looking unit. At $7000.00 plus I think I could invest in another motorcycle like a good used Triumph.

  23. Artem says:

    The best

  24. Provalogna says:

    How do I not buy this bike?

  25. Gary says:

    Congratulations Royal Enfield! I’m glad to finally see something that is not quite so vintage looking as your other offerings. Although I am not in the market for a bike like this, I think it will do well for you. I hope more modern bikes are being developed by you as well, and wish you luck with this latest addition.

  26. Cowboy says:

    Dayum! That’s a really good looking bike for around town, or a tight, winding road.

    There’s nothing like a single and a twisting stretch of tarmac, lads. This one looks like it has everything I need to get lost on a day off…


  27. Miles McMillan says:

    Overpriced for anything with the “Enfield” name on it. Pass

  28. Dave G says:

    Nice looking bike. Simple, like the marketing plan behind it….You get what you need, not what you want. And at a fair price.

  29. YellowDuck says:

    Hmmm…so, if we lose the fender, headlight, speedo, centre stand, and replace the stock exhaust with something lighter, what would a track version weigh I wonder? Would need an adjustable front suspension too I guess. Could be fun though.

    Wheels might be the big issue – who wants to run tubes? If they are going to try to run a spec series they might like to contact Excel or someone about some tubeless Al rims that could be laced to the stock hubs.

  30. Gary says:

    Every time I see a Royal Enfield it stops me in my tracks. Beautiful. I can literally study one for hours. You can actually trace the path of power from internal combustion to the rear wheel. Very elegant. The bike harkens back to a simpler time. But then I consider the fact that I can probably ride a bicycle faster and it reminds me how deadly dull it is to ride one of these paint-shakers. Fun to look at. Snoozers to ride. So I’ll just enjoy looking.

  31. Blaine Newell says:

    The New Royal Enfields are nothing like the ones from 10 years ago. I used to have a year 2000 Enfield Bullet. Kick start, 4 speed trans, drum brakes front and rear. The new ones changed drastically a couple of years ago. Fuel injected, disk brake up front, hydraulic valves , 5 speed trans, electric start. Much much more reliable.

    • Denny says:

      So, looks like uniqueness is going away; becoming more like mainstream… ? Good. That will create space for another super-retro in future. I like to see resurected Laverda SF750.

  32. Jobie says:

    Great looking bike, reminds me a lot of the Ducati Sport Classic’s when they were around. Will be interested to see one in person, I think the new frame makes it look wonderful. Good job.

  33. John says:

    This looks like a great retro bike. Problem-the price. Given the reputation of Enfields and the competition it faces in its displacement class, this bike is about $1,500.00 too expensive. If it were $5,700 or thereabouts, I might give it serious consideration. For $7,300.00…PASS.

  34. MGNorge says:

    Those nine extra ponies and reduced weight just might open this bike up to more riders who otherwise may have passed an Enfield up for lack of performance. It still won’t leave a blaze of fire behind it but this may make it interesting to more.

  35. Denny says:

    Lovely, this is how motorcycle should look like!

  36. Seth says:

    Did he say the increase in horse power comes from the decrease in weight of the overall bike???

    • Travman says:

      Yes. I caught that too. I think he just jumbled his words. He sounded a little excited or nervous. I don’t think he actually meant to say that. Perhaps he should have said that the CafĂ© Racer would be quicker due to a decrease in weight and an increase in horsepower. Otherwise, he is a dumba$$ and knows very little about motorcycles.

      • JOBIE says:

        Why not just leave it at, “he jumbled his words”. Do you know him in person, why call him a dumb@**?

  37. Michael H says:

    Or buy a Honda NC700X for about the same price. Easy decision.

  38. 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!

  39. DaveJ says:

    Looks like the 1964 Royal Enfield Continental GT, advertised at the time as “Britains fastest 250”. Purchased a used one in “66” and thought I was the envy of everyone at the local cafe! I traded it for a Suzuki 250 Super Six, which WAS the fastest 250 around!

  40. Tommy See says:

    50`s returns from Royal Enfield. Would love to own a modern day Norton Manx or BSA Gold Star. Triumph I`m waiting for your entry!

    • fastship says:

      Good news for you then – you can buy new Manx Nortons, DBD34 Gold Stars and also new Matchless G50’s, G85’s and 7R’s. The Manx is made not far from me using modern machines and materials to the original drawings. If you want a racer put the engines in a Seely frame which are also available. New/old Norton Commandos are also in production here (not the “new” Commando). Check out, ABSAF and Minovation Racing. Don’t check out the prices though – that would spoil it!

    • Craig Jackman says:

      RE Triumph – see Thruxton

  41. skybullet says:

    I am a thumper guy with a Honda GB-500 and a Suzuki DR-650 modified for simi-supermotard. Big singles are so different from multis, even twins. They are light and handle so much better for it. The low end torque band is wide and strong compared to similar displacement multis too.
    OK, what about the new Enfield? It’s beautiful to my eye… unfortunately the engine is an antique. The vibration is unbelievable. Counter balance shafts have been around for decades, update the engine and I could get interested.

  42. Montana says:

    Nice looking bike, but no-one trusts the reliability. The only way it will sell is with a full coverage, unlimited-mileage 3 year warranty — just like BMW used to offer.

    • Fred M. says:

      Everyone who knows squat about motorcycles trusts the reliability of Royal Enfield. For f***’s sake, they sell them in India where entire families ride around on them, all at once, on roads that would not pass for cow paths in the U.S.

  43. John says:

    The only thing I don’t like about this bike is the motor. I have an XR500 engine wasting away in my garage. There appears to plenty of room for just about any big thumper….

  44. mickey says:

    It really is a beautiful bike. Engine displacement is about right. Has quality looks and a great warranty, but a poor reputaion and an even poorer dealer network. Too bad, looks like it would be a hoot to ride.

  45. George Krpan says:

    Really cool. It’s too bad Honda didn’t make the naked version of the new CB500 more along these lines. I like the low bars and the set back seat, it will enable the rider to lay on the tank to fight the wind, a good thing on a naked.

  46. Tim says:

    I’m guessing this will be a big seller for them. Looks sell, and this is a beautiful bike, underpowered or not.

  47. John says:

    WAY too expensive for the engine that’s in that thing.

    • Fred M. says:

      That’s exactly the kind of engine that’s suposed to be in a cafe racer from the 1950s or 60s; a single cylinder vertical thumper. What did you expect? An inline four that displaced a liter or more?

  48. Nobody says:

    Aircooled? How did they ever sneak it past CARB? Someone is fibbing. Either bikes really don’t need liquid cooling and fuel injection, or this isn’t available in CA.

    • Andrew says:

      In fact the correct answer is the first: bikes don’t really need liquid cooling (and fuel injection for that matter) – not until you start pushing displacement and power/cc ratio through the roof. Then there is the matter of emissions regulations…. But for modestly sized and not particularly stressed engine air cooling is perfectly fine. And that’s not just singles, Honda’s retro CB1100 is a 4-cylinder, 1100cc engine but it works just fine with air cooling.

    • Jake says:

      Andrew is correct — Ultimately, they’re all air-cooled (some just add the complication of a liquid — water or oil — in-between…). :o)

  49. kjazz says:

    Reminds me of my Honda GB 500 (1989 model).

  50. sl says:

    I agree, a little over priced, but cool. They are the first to create a light cafe racer, and I hope they are rewarded for it.

  51. Motowarrior says:

    The quality of the Royal Enfields has been steadily improving, and the current ones are acceptable bikes. This is a pretty little bike, light weight, with reasonable HP. At $7295 it faces a lot of new competition from Honda and others, but if you want the vintage look at an affordable price, this isn’t that bad of a deal. I’d like to see Triumph with a 500cc cafe racer in the same price range, or less. I hope they have good luck with it.

  52. Andrew says:

    What a wonderful bike this would be if it was made in Japan instead of India! I would happily pay an extra 1,000 bucks for proper quality. As it is, it’s not that cheap anyway…

    • Dave Kent says:

      I agree. Gotta be reliable. Check out Ryca Motors, then scout Craigslist for a clean used Suzuki S40. A couple weekends in your garage with hand tools and their 100% bolt on kit, and you’ll have exactly what you’re looking for, for considerably less than the Enfield.

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