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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Royal Enfield 650s in the Flesh: These Could be the Sleeper Bikes Hitting the U.S. Market Next Year (with video)

Although unemployment is down, affordability is still a huge factor when it comes to motorcycle purchases … particularly for younger and entry level riders. Many U.S. enthusiasts don’t realize it, but Royal Enfield is a massive player in the motorcycle industry with more U.S. dealer locations than we realized.

Last weekend, we had a chance to inspect, and throw a leg over, the new RE 650s, including the Interceptor and Continental GT, at the Long Beach IMS here in Southern California. Quite frankly, the bikes are just as gorgeous in person as they are in photos. The fit-and-finish is also quite good, particularly considering the somewhat shocking, low prices. The starting price for the Interceptor 650 is $5,799 while the Continental GT starts at $5,999, as we pointed out earlier. RE says the bikes will be in U.S. dealers next Spring.

Granted, these are hardly high performance motorcycles, given their 648cc parallel-twin engines, which make a claimed 47 horsepower and 38 foot/pounds of torque, but the bikes are relatively light (claimed wet weight for each of them is under 450 pounds).

We were somewhat surprised, and pleased, by some of the details, including the nice, legible analog speedometer and tachometer, the integrated fork brace, and even steel braided brake lines.

What Royal Enfield has absolutely nailed is arguably the most important feature in this category, i.e., the design. Buyers looking for retro-style will not be disappointed by either model, and the simplicity of the air-cooled machines will be a plus for many of them. In short, those riders looking for a 1970s era vertical twin in pristine condition may find the RE 650s the perfect alternative to restoring an older bike. With the conventional forks, twin shocks and classically-styled powerplant, the beautifully sculpted gas tanks round out a near perfect aesthetic, in our opinion.

Yes, you will have to deal with tubed tires (actually preferred by some retro-buyers), but you do get modern disc brakes, including a big 320 mm disc in front. Initial ride reviews have been positive, and MD hopes to get its hands on at least one of these models for testing. Stay tuned.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. Juan says:

    Web site does not work for any country other than India. Oh well, the location says it all, not interested in more stuff from the indian subcontinent

    • todd says:

      You won’t be buying pretty much anything then. The world is now a global market. Countries like India, China, and Pakistan are where everything comes from. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that only “white” people make quality products. You weren’t even smart enough to notice the web address was linked incorrectly:

      • goodlyRun says:

        Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are not racist. At what point did they mention race?
        What about the Japanese? Are they white then?
        South Korean cars? They seem pretty well built as well.
        Race-baiting on this forum will get you exactly zero liberal points that you seem to crave so much….

  2. Anonymous says:

    That overall look is suggestive of a bike I’d seen before and is hauntingly familiar. The Benelli Tornado 650 of the mid 70’s.

  3. Stromrider says:

    I finally have to weigh in on this subject. Started riding in the mid 60’s. Today’s motorcycle designs fits today’s evolution of design. Manufacturers can’t stand by as the years progress when it comes to design evolution. I appreciate and understand these concepts. However, I love the design of these Enfields as well as the price. My vision of a motorcycle is what these Enfields represent. Actually thinking about getting both 650 models and the Himalayan since it will still cost less than some of the higher end bikes. Tubes in tires- accepted. I’ll figure it out if I have problems. Himalayan- looks like the dirt bikes I grew up with. Problems- if you can’t fix it don’t buy it. Maybe I’ll buy a leather duster coat (anybody know what that is?) for the rides on the 650’s and a Bellstaf for the Himalayan. I don’t need big horsepower. My 2006 DL650 has all the kick I need! I think about how folks toured in the 60’s. Enough said.

  4. paul says:

    Judging by the video I would say these bikes are being marketed to dumb-ass riders.

  5. rider33 says:

    these are very nicely designed, well priced bikes. If in the flesh they are as nice as they look, I think they’ll do quite well. Oddly, I’m more interested in them than either the latest Bonnie or W’s, both of which I’ve owned. For $7.5K you can get the top of the line, chrome tanked version with a 3 year warranty and roadside assistance, none of the current offerings can get close to that. Many retro’s look like modern bikes trying to look old. This one, like the original W650, looks a lot closer to the real deal.

    • WSHart says:

      Nice reading, thank you.

      These two models are among the best looking motorbikes available today. I prefer the Interceptor version but either one is gorgeous. So too, is Kawasaki’s W800 but they’ve overpriced themselves with that one. Even if they’d left the totally bitchin’ kickstarter on there, the price is too high for what you get.

      And don’t get me started on that fooking stooopid color they chose for the it this time around…Or the decision to bring only the Cafe’ model to these United States. Dumb. It looks like a pain in the back with those low “bars”. What mentally challenged market-meister thought that was smart?

      This gentlemen does an excellent review on the Interceptor so if you have the time, I recommend viewing it:

      I will not be buying a new Royal Enfield 650 this year but ONLY because of the use of tubes in the wheels. Those that think, or rather “feeeeeeeeeel” otherwise, fine. Knock yourself out and buy one! Yes, I could pay to have the wheels sealed but I shouldn’t have to. It’s the reason I didn’t buy a W650 and I have never regretted that decision.

      I look forward to reading a review of the RE 650 Twiins here. Hopefully they will prove to be as reliable as they are beautiful. All you kiddies that claim to not be bothered or concerned about the tubed wheels, go ahead and buy one. I’m betting most here won’t but who knows? Maybe they will.

      So many can’t put their money where their mouth is simply because they’ve got their foot stuck in it. 😉

      • Anonymous says:

        From the above linked site regarding making the wheels tubeless:

        “Another thing to keep in mind is that although the tyres are of the tubeless variety, the rims don’t support tubeless functionality. So be sure you know how to repair a tubed tyre beforehand”…


    • Curly says:

      The wheel/axle/brake setups on these bikes look dog simple to me. So, you can easily find a pair of nice salvage yard cast wheels from a (insert your favorite bike here) and slap them on for probably less than a grand. You’d not have to fear a sudden flat and still be well under the cost of most bikes. Not handy with bike mods? Oh, sorry then.

      • WSHart says:

        …”you can easily find a pair of nice salvage cast wheels from (insert your favorite bike here) and slap them on for probably less than a grand.”
        Really? You think you can do that and all for (probably) “less than a grand”? Really? You’re just fine with doing this? Spending extra for what in this day and age should be standard?

        Okay then. Do it. 😉

        Oh. And it has nothing to do with being “handy with bike mods” and everything to do with expecting what should come standard instead of having to pay extra for it. Harley used to (and may still do so, LOL!) charge EXTRA for their stupid “laced” wheels with tubes. Not a chance, HD.

        These two scoots are gorgeous but even some in the Indian Press thinks tubes shouldn’t be on ’em. To those that do buy them, enjoy them! They are beautiful and I am looking forward to reading Dirck’s thoughts on them after test riding one or both.

        For fun, go check out what replacement tubes for Indian Vintage models run on both front and rear tires. They are NOT inexpensive.

        But hey, not handy with reality. Oh, sorry then. 😉

        • Brian says:

          You sound like a real piece of work, buddy. How ’bout you do us all a favor and Shart elsewhere? Like maybe the YouTube comments section…I’m sure you’ll feel right at home there.

  6. Fastship says:

    For some reason I find these bikes reminiscent of the ’70’s GT250’s/GT500’s , 400 fours and CB550’s and I hope they achieve a similar impact on the youth of today. Why, I’m even going to buy one myself!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Intredasting article about these new REs:

    5 accessories & mods that Royal Enfield 650 buyers must consider:

    Of course, some here ignore such things but even in their country of origin, the truth is understood. They are good looking scoots but they could’ve been better out of the gate. Retro looks does not have to include ancient technology. Unless you’re a Luddite of a motorcyclist like some here appear to be. FTN.

    If it makes some feel better, then call these mods “making it your own”. Pfft!

    • Gary says:

      Whats the point? I was expecting the link to take me to an article describing mechanical issues with the bike. Nope, just some suggested upgrades for lighting, saddlebags, usb, tubeless conversion….oh that was the point. I guess? I do not mind a few quirks with any bike, most have them. I remember an old Cycle World article on the Honda VFR750 or 800? They said something to the effect that the bikes flaw was that it had none. It was too perfect. I prefer something I can tweak on a bit.

  8. the_undecider says:

    That Interceptor with the chrome tank is beautiful, but there are two details I could do without. The piggyback reservoir shocks look out of place (though not on the Continental GT). I also think an un-braced handlebar would look more appropriate. Slight knocks they are, and easy to remedy, but those are my two cents.

    Actually, the more I think about it, the more those two details would lend themselves to a nice scrambler model. I probably would use a different color than gold for the shock reservoirs (black or silver), but throw a set of high mount exhausts and some fork gaiters, and you got a killer looking scrambler that would undercut Triumph’s cheapest scrambler by nearly $4000.

  9. John Bennett says:

    My first big British twin was a 700cc Royal Enfield, I stepped off a 50cc Tohatsu “Run Pet” on to the Enfield and still remember being bowled over by the power.. Likely the best British Twin I owned was a Series 2 Interceptor one of the ones that “Got Away”

    I like the new twin the Royal Enfield has built preferring the Intercepor with Chrome tank, Shades of the Series 2.

    I am a bit dismayed that the bulk of the posts seem to be vitriolic comments regarding spoke wheels and tubes VS tubeless. There appears to be some confusion.

    I have ridden somewhere over the Half million miles, most on Road bikes with tubes latest being 2017 Street scrambler, some on aluminum wheels Street triple “R”, 690 KTM Duke. My memory might be playing tricks but I can only recall two flats with tubes and a similar number with tubeless.

    I noticed the handling deteriorating with all the flats far before the motorcycles handling became dangerous whether tubeless or tubes. I liked the dirt rider gentleman’s comments on tube failures because of too many patches. When I fit tube tires I buy top quality tubes and no patches on front tire perhaps one on rear tires. Road side repairs can be problematic with both. Tubes because the tire has to come off tubeless because of challenges with seating beads.

    Good on Royal Enfield with the new twins a pox on those with rude personal posts

    Tubes or tubeless to me its a wash

  10. mickey says:

    Tubes are not a deal breaker for me. Had lots of bikes with tubes, also had lots or bikes without tubes.

    Having a tubeless tire does not guarantee you will be able to repair a flat on the side of the road with a sticky string. If it’s a small nail or screw in the meat of the tire, you stand a pretty good chance of a successful plug. If it’s a jagged cut or a puncture in the sidewall you are still going to have to call for a tow truck or a buddy with a trailer.I once watched a guy stuff 3 sticky strings in a jagged cut trying to get it to hold air to no avail.

    Still I prefer tubeless just for the fact that it ups your odds of making a repair and continuing on your way, but like I said having spokes and tubes wouldn’t stop me from buying a bike. My 2003 Bonneville had spokes and tubes, my brothers 2016 Bonneville has spokes and tubes. We ride all over the country. Not that big of a deal. I seem to get a lot more flats on my tubeless wheeled bikes than he does for some reason.

    What would keep me from buying a bike is a poor dealer network and parts train, and a poor reputation for reliability.

    I like the looks of the chrome tanked model best.

  11. toad says:

    Nice looking bikes at a fair price, bring them on!

  12. Mick says:

    Wow. Some of the guys at MD have a genuine phobia for inner tubes. Noted.

    Is it true that nobody mentioned the tank seam? Are inner tubes the new tank seam?

    The people here seem to be unaware that tubephobes can make tubed wheels tubeless.

    10% tyranisaurus rex. 90% other dinosaurs.

    • joe b says:

      Plus 1. Other websites that have ridden them, give it positive reviews, for a couple dozen reasons not mentioned anywhere in the replies below. Cycle World says the HP isn’t a problem when riding the bike, its not meant to scream at 12k and race on the track. Its half the price of that Norton 650. Not everyone wants a gutless till 10k bike, riding it around in first all the time because they have to. I just dont get all the negative comments, “these are not the droids you are looking for”. So its got tubes, its got a tank seam, its got wire spokes, brakes aren’t radial. No one mentioned there is no gap between the seat and rear wheel? Some of the replies, make me wonder just who are these people? what do they ride? how often do they get out and ride other bikes? That group that condemn a bike, because it has tank seams, tube tires, gap between seat and tire, blah blah blah, I would want to spend a day with them riding around, listening to them at the end of the ride, and try to understand, just where do they come from, whats their experience? I guess I have no clue, I’m too old, I just don’t know? (I was a hon suz bmw line tech for 30 years, currently own dozens of bikes, vintage and modern) This looks to be a good bike, sort of like a new 650 Triumph.

      • Anonymous says:

        “It’s half the price of that Norton 650.”- Your math is a little off.

      • todd says:

        Years ago I was on a group ride. I was leading a pack of sport bikes through some fun roads. I often had to stop and wait for them at crossroads to make sure they were all still heading the right way. I was riding my 1973 BMW R75/5; skinny, tubed bias-ply tires and MAYBE 50hp at the crank running through shaft drive, drum brakes and original twin rear shock absorbers. The rest of the group was on a R6, Buell, SV650, Ducati… when we finally all met up at the end, the guy on the Ninja 636 was complaining about the power of his bike and how he wanted to get the 1000 Ninja…

        • Nick says:

          I’m sure you know the answer to your query about the guy with the 636: he had nothing like the torque/bottom-end power in the twisties that you had on your ‘obsolete’ R75. He might have been able to show you his heels on a big straight boring road, but who wants to ride them?

          • todd says:

            I’ve ridden the 636 and no old BMW could ever out accelerate that thing. You’re completely delusional if you think a R75/5 can pull out of a corner harder than a 636 Ninja!

            Not that torque has anything to do with acceleration but I’m pretty sure the 636 puts out more torque than the R75.

          • todd says:

            Yep, 48 for the 636, 42 for the R75. 100 ft-lb for my old Peugeot moped while I was pedaling…

        • Fast2win says:

          Years ago I sold a new 600 ss to a kid who came back some months later looking for a 1000. He claimed he was in need of more power. When I asked him where he was shifting it , his response was 6-7k.

  13. Azi says:

    Thumbs up – I think RE have found a niche and will hopefully get the attention of newer younger riders, particularly those who consider the motorcycle just one part of their life – rather than the centre of it. They’ll probably catch a few veteran riders with horsepower fatigue as well. Good luck RE.

  14. Gary says:

    At 54 years old I do not have any interest in racing, wheelie-ing or backin anything in. I just safely and ticketlessly want to cruise some backroads ……on a bike like this.

  15. bmbktmracer says:

    Now’s a great time to go through the dusty bins and sell old helmets, leather jackets, and boots. The stubble crowd will pay big bucks for that stuff.

  16. Butch says:

    OK, I’ll bite.

    What exactly is the difference between a flat on a tube tire and a flat on a tubeless tire.

    A flat is a flat, no?

    • bmbktmracer says:

      1. A tube is similar to a balloon, in that when it’s punctured it can explode (worst case) or leak very quickly.
      2. A tubeless tire and rim are designed to be airtight. Thus, a puncture lets air out only as fast as the hole allows.
      3. A tubeless tire can be repaired by sticking a plug in the hole.
      4. A tube tire has to be removed and either the tube patched or replaced.

      • Dave says:

        1. A tube is not a balloon, it is a bladder inside virtually the same strong structure (tire & rim) you rely on now. A tube absolutly cannot “explode” from inside a modern tire.
        2. Possible, but only if/after the tube and tire separate. In most cases, the butyl rubber of the tube has vulcanized to the inside of the tire so air will only escape from the puncture.
        3. True, much easier than removing the tire to perform repairs, though many would recommend not riding a plugged tire for very lone (I’m not one of them..).
        4. Once punctured, anything more than an exterior inserted plug will result in the same amount of labor, tubed or not.

        I don’t also believe there’s any difference in rim/bead seat anymore between tube/tubeless these days. Same tires, what is lacking is an airtight rim bed. If I’m right, that means the same margin of safety exists in an air loss situation.

        Sounds like many here have opinions based on experiences with tires from decades ago.

        • mike says:

          RE: Tubes will not blow comment. A NATURAL RUBBER tube is less likely to blow but the less expensive tubes most certainly will. Nothing like losing all the air in your front tire in the middle of a corner. (I know-didn’t drop the BMW though) That being said, that happened once in over 4 decades of riding. So, tubes aren’t an issue to me. (my Bonnie has tubes)

    • bmbktmracer says:

      Now’s a great time to go through the dusty bins and sell old helmets, leather jackets, and boots. The stubble crowd will pay big bucks for that stuff.

    • joe b says:

      Most tubeless tires, have bead retention lips. So, if the tire goes flat, the bead stays in place on the rim. Tube type, if the air deflates quickly (something seldom if not ever happens) the bead will roll off the rim, and the tire can fold, off the rim. Theoretically this can happen, but I dont know of any instances, it often goes flat slowly, and can be felt by a common person, to stop, and repair. One thing I have seen with tubeless tires, is if you hit a rock at speed, some lightweight rims, will dent, and deflate instantly, peeling the tire off, and you better steer straight and hope you have time to stop before you hit something, where a tube tire will slowly leak down, giving you time to feel it, and stop to inspect. As above, a tubeless tire can be plugged, but everyone recommends not to repair it this way, one needs to dismount the tire (as you would a tube type) and use the umbrella patch from the inside. This is to prevent delamination of the carcass of the tubeless tire, which is often thinner, and more easily damaged from this type of damage. Most recommend not to patch at all, must replace. I like tubeless tires, they mount easier, come in current sizes. The old tube type, are generally the old sizes, and are more difficult to mount, considering the tubes. the foam tube replacements are not for the average garage mechanic, they are a pain to install, and are not made for high speed. Both have their place in the world, but for a bike like this, they would be fine.

  17. Gunnar says:

    I don’t understand all the fuss about tubes?? My 2011 KTM 990 Adventure R with 115 HP has tubes, I ride it on and off road, thousands of miles per year. I use Ride-On tire sealant and dynamic balancer in them with absolutely NO issues.
    These bikes are beautiful by the way!

  18. cagefree says:

    Saw them last weekend at the show, looked nice enough. Rep quoted me $6500. and said had not gotten California(carb) approval yet.

  19. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    In 54 years of riding, never had a flat tire other than one in the parking lot at work. Never had a tubeless tire motorcycle of 14 owned. Tubes definitely run hotter ( measured several times on rides with tubeless buddies ). How ? Why ? Always carried a complete kit for repairing a flat, and on real adventure trips a spare tube. Mother Nature won’t let you succumb to Doctor Fate if you are prepared. – – – – Also dumb luck.

    • Ken Howard says:

      I’ve had numerous punctures in my car and bike tires, over the years, in which the nail, etc., stayed in the tubeless tire and I was able to make it home or to a dealer with very little loss of air (if the puncture was in the tread, not the sidewall). My only experience with tube-type tires is with bicycles, having frequent flats – the tire always rapidly losing all air pressure.

  20. Gary says:

    I really like the look of these bikes and I’m sure they are fun to ride. But if I had $6,000 to spend on a new bike, it would be a Z400 all day long. I’d take the money saved and buy top notch riding gear…and still have money left to pay my insurance and buy my first year fuel bill.

    But they do look good.

  21. Mark says:

    These bikes will be hitting US dealers in the Spring but will be hitting the repair shops by Summer. The reliability of RE bikes is dismal.

    • Bigdog says:

      Facts to back this up?

      • xootrx says:

        For a short time, the Royal Enfield site had posted reviews for their bikes. The 650 has been out for a while now, and the reviews were pretty negative, especially in the area of reliability. The same went for their other bikes. I’ve noticed lately they don’t have reviews posted.

        • Ken Howard says:

          These bikes were originally going to be released in the U.S. last summer. Then the release was moved to next year, and RE stated they were serious about making sure the quality is there with this completely new model when it goes on sale. It will be interesting to see the result of their efforts.

  22. Neal says:

    If you buy this over one of the Honda 500s, I will judge you as a silly hipster fop.

    • DP says:

      I do not consider CB500 in same class with RE650. The CB is a modern bike without pretense to be a retro. I own one. I would buy the RE if I had more space in garage. Like a sidekick, not as replacement.

      • Neal says:

        Same power, same weight, same cost… they should be competitors. “Retro pretenses” as a marketing segment is a silly fad IMO. Better than custom choppers were as a fad though…

        If you know what you’re getting into with a RE sidekick, and that’s what you want, more power to you. If you are a beginner and choose this over a Honda because you think it looks cool, you’re making a real mistake and this could sour you to motorcycling generally because of reliability and refinement issues.

        • Provologna says:

          Or…..This RE’s appearance provides the owner w/huge pride in ownership every time he sees it, and the Honda just looks like a kitchen appliance, and this pride of ownership is something on which the owner places a higher priority than do you, and he is willing to risk a little less reliability for that pleasure.

          Then there’s the issue that you apparently think others should buy with their own money what you think they should, which is kind of strange. When you buy things, do you value other’s opinions higher than your own?

          • Neal says:

            I guess don’t understand what there is to be proud of about buying a cheap bike that looks and (presumably) performs like an old bike.

            I don’t value other’s opinions higher than my own, and they shouldn’t value mine over their own. But I’ll still think you’re hipster fop if you’re a young guy on one of these.

    • Neil says:

      I had a CB500F and the look of the bike was rather dull. These bikes look very nice and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about power. It’s about hitting some mid speed roads and having fun with a really nice exhaust note. I like a seat you can move around on. Round bar swingarm, please, however.

  23. Jabe says:

    I think these bikes look really nice. I don’t know where the closest RE dealership is and have only once ever seen one on the road, so I have no experience with the brand.

    It was not so long ago I read many negative comments in this very forum regarding the durability of RE motorcycles from people who actually owned them. I view those opinions as having more value than the journalist who throws a leg over one for a few days of riding and picture taking. Does anyone out there know if the reliability has been improved?

    • Anonymous says:

      Too early to know, but RE knows how important these bikes are to the future of the company. I bet these bikes prove to be a lot more reliable than previous models. Time will tell.

    • BadgerStan says:

      I have read elsewhere that these come with a 3 year unlimited mile warranty with roadside assistance, which should ease some concerns.

  24. Anonymous says:

    So how much would it cost to upgrade to tubeless tires?

    • SharkGuitar says:

      My first thought exactly.

    • Provologna says:

      On bicycles you get a kit with special tape to wrap around the inside center of the rim, over the spoke nipples to seal the air, and of course install a tubeless valve (usually a European Presta type). Then of course the tubeless fluid which helps seal the bead but more importantly seals small leaks.

      In the late 70s/early 80s I noted that the bead on motorcycle rims for TL were slightly different from tube type, to better and more securely seat the tire bead.

      Bicycle rims and tires are now labeled “TL ready” to indicate they are suited to the swap described above.

      I won’t ride tubes on my bikes anymore. Picked up about 20 infamous Utah “goat head” needles on my front tire (weird the rear tire was clear…I heard the air escaping as I stopped to open the garage door). The orange sealant sputtered as I pulled out each and every needle with needle nose pliers (no pun intended), I topped off the pressure, and never thought about it again. (This is a mtn bike.) If there was a tube it would have ‘sploded fer sure.

  25. John Bryan says:

    Though I’d much prefer tubeless tires – yes, I’m old enough to have survived a tube-tire failure on a motorcycle, not fun! – tubes are not a deal breaker. Modern tires and tubes are much less failure-prone than the stuff from the 60s and 70s. That being said these are pretty much what I’m looking for in a new motorcycle. We’ll see how they hold up to real-world use…

  26. takehikes says:

    I thought I had bought my last motorcycle but maybe not.
    How about just some kind of fun? Cheap enough you can just ride the shit out of it.
    When riders weren’t pussies we rode bikes like this all over America.

    • Dino says:

      All the great features of modern bikes, it is easy to forget how much fun we had on bikes 20-30 years ago, and on paper, many of those bikes licked monkey ass.

      Throw a milk crate (ok, a nice milk crate) on the back and just use a bike like this instead of a scooter. They really do look nice. Very tempting!

  27. Navek says:

    I am amazed at how many very knowledgeable marketing experts there are on this site, all of who seem to have the magic combination of what bike will sell.
    I think RE will have to have more dealers in order to make a success of this enterprise. I bought a red Continental GT in 2014, did a few mods on it, exhaust, engine management programmed and a K&N. I loved this slow, relaxed 2500rpm = happiness bike. Put it away for the winter in my unheated garage, come Spring the alternator stator had failed taking the voltage regulator with it and some wiring. My 150 mile away dealership had given up on RE which left me dealing with Marks Motosports 350 miles away in Connecticut. To their credit they jumped through hoops for me but the parts were unavailable. I eventually got the bike running in late September, a whole summer and nearly $1000 lost as the bike was just out of warranty. Once bitten twice shy.

  28. fred says:

    Not my cup of tea, but it looks like Royal Enfield has a lot of potential here, both with experienced rides and beginners. Like wshart above, I fail to understand why they would choose to run tubes. It just seems to be a poor choice. Other than that, the 650 should be a fun bike.

    • joe b says:

      Think back to the biggest bikes, when they still used wire wheels and tube tires, Say a Suzuki GS1000E. this bike has half the HP and torq, do you think you really NEED to have tubeless tires? for that you need either cast aluminum wheels, built up aluminum wheels, or wire spoke construction with special spoke mountings (different manufacturers do it different ways), but they are all more expensive, or with solid wheels change the look/fasion. Having tubeless, isnt necessary for a bike with this Hp and torq. I would guess, its a matter of fashion, and costs. What I dont understand, is why someone would say that, “why they would choose to run tubes”, like all bikes have to run tubes. Many modern mx racing bikes still run spoke wheels and tubes. One just needs to understand, this isnt the Norton, that is for sale for twice the price, claiming to be “affordable”. the person who buys this bike, will be fine with wire wheels, and tube tires. Probably stopping during his casual ride, at a cafe to eat and have a coffee. Do you really need a perimeter frame, tubeless tires, traction control, and all that jazz? really? if you cant, then I couldn’t explain it to you.

      • WSHart says:

        Horsepower and torque are NOT the deciding factors in whether or not a bike runs tubeless but rather safety and convenience. But you knew that.

        A great many people aren’t even aware that some bikes run tubes. Why? They’re either newbies or just plain ignorant and by ignorant I mean that it most likely does NOT occur to them that a manufacturer would use archaic and unsafe tech in a modern vehicle capable of sustained highway speeds. If memory serves, Honda’s mid 80s 450 Rebel ran tubeless spoke wheels but over 30 years later a more modern RE doesn’t? You’re fine with that? You’re fine with flatting and not being able to plug a puncture and get home SAFELY? You’re fine with trying to laying your bike on it’s side, removing the wheel and TRYING to break the bead on the tire to get to the tube and either patch or replace it?

        Yes, motorcycling is NOT going to be a “safe space” for people 😉 but really now. You’re fine with bicycle wheels on a vehicle (again) capable of highway speeds?

        RE could easily put tubeless spoke wheels on this and not charge more because of what is known as economy of scale spread across their HUGE inventory would more than allow this, but NOoOoOoooOOooo…(LOL!) We should just accept that this motorcycle, capable of sustained highway speeds that a fall from a BLOWOUT due to running bicycle wheels and getting as nail in the tire is fine and dandy because, why? Tubes have been used for decades? Tubes are used on motocross bikes? Some people claim to “prefer” tubes?

        Puhleeeeeeeze! 😉

        Like I said, put tubes in your modern car, flat two of them in the middle of nowhere WITHOUT cell phone coverage and get back to us. At least in the car you won’t have a tankslapper. Or will you? 😉

      • Mark says:

        Have you ever had a flat?
        With tubeless tires you whip out your string patch kit and mini compressor (each of my bikes has one), pull out the nail, insert the sticky string, pump up the tire and you’re on your way in fifteen minutes. Done it a dozen times to either my bike or a friend’s.

        With spoked tube tires, if you haven’t a full tool kit to R/R the wheel and a spare tube then its call your buddy with the pick up truck and ramps. Or call for a tow to a repair shop.

        I won’t even look at a bike with tube tires.

    • Scott says:

      The four Japaneses motorcycle companies and H-D offer 50+ models with wire wheels .

  29. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    They look a little bit low to me, but a sensible motorcycle look. We have been loosing RE dealers on the NW coast for some time now. I have not found a you tube RE650 road test by anybody that was not English or Indian which makes me suspicious of their conclusions.

  30. rg500g says:

    I’ve got a ’71 BSA A65L in the garage waiting for Spring. Rebuild Amals, gas in tank, sync them, and off I go, so long as there’s light. The RE 650 has me seriously pondering passing the BSA on to someone who might be interested. I’ve ridden BSAs for close to 50 years, and the Enfield might be the sole bike in my garage. The 2008 BMW K1200gt will be gone next Spring, and I’ll have to take a hard look at the BSA and ask myself if it will be kept or not. I won’t miss the idle mixture changing significantly as the carbs heat up, that’s for sure, nor the vibes above 5500 RPM, nor the headlight filament that breaks when I really need the light. I wish I could find a direct fit or easily wired in positive ground LED that put out enough light, but that would taint the bike’s character, wouldn’t it? Heaven forbid, Mikunis next? Rather the RE than such mongrelization.

  31. todd says:

    Very nice bikes and plenty of performance for just about any situation. Nice cost of entry too. They have a winner on their hands. First image looks like the fork springs collapsed already though…

  32. Mike J says:

    Just need to wait and see what the new Mahindra BSA’s look like and at what price.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I got to see, and sit on, these at the Barber vintage Festival in early October. Royal Enfield had a big display and several custom variants of the 650, including adventure style and a fat tired, flat seat, high pipe scrambler style that will surely appeal to younger riders. They’re basically British designed, with Harris performance designed chassis, and manufactured in India. Simon Warburton, ex Head Of Product Development for Triumph, is Product Manager at Royal Enfield. The bikes were well finished, appealing, and will be a success in my opinion. I could see one next to my modern Bonneville.

  34. mcmotohistory says:

    I predict a HUGE hit for Royal Enfield with these bikes. The horsepower wars are over!! People are tired of insect bikes with there ass in the air, I don’t care how fast they are there is no pride of ownership in an ugly bike. And at these prices anyone can afford something stylish and simple just for the joy of riding.

  35. Sleeping Dog says:

    RE may have more dealers that you expected, but huge swaths of the country have no dealer with in 2 hours. Hard to see a younger rider, who is likely also a new rider traveling from say North Andover, MA to Enfield, CT to buy a bike.

    Like the bikes, they push all the right buttons. Could imagine owning one except I have 2 vintage bikes in the garage that push the same buttons.

    • Fred M. says:

      You wrote: “Like the bikes, they push all the right buttons. Could imagine owning one except I have 2 vintage bikes in the garage that push the same buttons.”

      But when you push the button on these, they will probably start. 🙂

  36. ApriliaRST says:

    No, they are not high performance, but I just spent the day riding two up on a motorcycle with ten fewer horses pulling us through the mountains and more than once wondered why I didn’t miss having my hundred plus hp bike for the ride. Beginner or not, these bikes look great and would make a fine daily rider.

  37. WSHart says:

    I don’t have to deal with tubed tires because I don’t buy scoots that use them. Too bad RE cheapassed out and fitted what are essentially bicycle wheels to these two beauties. Braided steel brake lines but tubes in the wheels? 320mm disc brake up front but tubes in the wheels? Remote reservoir rear shocks but tubes in the wheels? Fuel injection but tubes in the wheels?

    At least they cost a whole lot less than the overpriced W800 that also uses tubes in the wheels. It really must be difficult to make a spoke wheel that runs what were once called “SAFETY” wheels (i.e. tubeless)…NOT. Anyone that claims to “prefer” tubes is full of themselves and lying like a politician and I hope they flat the poo out of their RE650, LOL! Look how well the SR400 has sold here in the USA. Tubes and no electric starter. Genius Yamaha.

    So get a blowout at 65 mph and enjoy the puberty inducing tankslapper and if you live, get back to us on how freakin’ easy it was to change the tube out on the side of the freeway.

    After,that is, you’ve changed your shorts out. 🙂 😉

    Oh yeah…you can just call a tow truck. How fun will that be on a nice ride with your friends. You ride the flatbed home and they continue on down the road on a nice sunny days putt.

    And that’s if you get off easy by not having a get off. More often than not, tubes blow out when they flat. They lose air NOW! Spokes look bitchin’ but there’s no need to have them run tubes as they can be made tubeless at the factory. But no. They want to fit your ride with turd world tech. FTN.

    Gorgeous looking bikes (I saw them at the shows) but while I enjoy retro looks there’s no real reason to shod such a ride with wheels that can at the least strand you in the middle of nowhere. It could be worse than the aforementioned trip down puberty lane, you know.

    Put some tubes on your modern car, flat two of ’em in the middle of the desert, out of cell phone range and get back to us. If you get back to us. Gorgeous motorbikes but I will pass on them until they do it right.

    • Going with spoked wheels and tubed tired allowed RE to make these bikes look more traditional while at the same time allowing them to cut about $1,000 from the bike’s retail price. A win-win.

      If you want, you can easily mount cast wheels to this bike. But if you shop around, I think that you will be shocked at the price of cast wheels. You will also be defeating the whole reason for getting this bike in the first place. For $1,000 more you can get a Yamaha FZ-07. A similar parallel twin-based bike that’s a far better performer, if not as well styled. (The FZ-07 has cast wheels, dual front disk brakes, and is quite a bargain in its own right if you are looking for a modern twin in this displacement class.)

      Every time a new bike shows up on this site there are folks who go overboard complaining that this bike isn’t for them because of one minor flaw or another. My strong suspicion is that these folks are baby boomers who already have one or more bikes in their garage and that they really have no intention of buying a new bike ever again. Really guys, it’s not necessary for you to give us an excuse for you not wanting to buy this or that bike. We know that you aren’t in the market in any case.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Going with spoked wheels and tubed tired allowed RE to make these bikes look more traditional while at the same time allowing them to cut about $1,000 from the bike’s retail price. A win-win.”

        *SNICKER* Sure it did. About $1,000 from the retail price”, sure it did.

        Like you’re in the market for anything at all, kiddo. What was given was a valid REASON, not an “excuse”. Go ahead, champ. You buy one.

        As if. *SNICKER*

    • Dave says:

      While I would choose tubeless, I fail to see what’s so difficult about “dealing with tubes”. They hold air inside of the exact same tires that would be tubeless on other rims. If you’re getting so many flat tires when you ride, I’d suggest buying different tires because flat tires while riding roads is extremely rare.

    • smithe says:

      Weird, my $11k+, 74 HP, fuel injected, ABS Brembo braked, WP suspended Husky 701 Enduro came with tubed tires and works just fine at speeds and conditions that these RE’s will never see. I suspect they will be just fine just like the millions of motorcycles that have also been fine over the course of the past 100 years with tubes in them. If this bike isn’t for you, then just say that and don’t use a non issue as your reason.

      • Anonymous says:

        The issue is a valid one. Regardless of your (claimed) experience, it truly is a valid issue. So your expensive motorcycle uses over priced bicycle wheels?

        Like that’s something to brag about?

    • JQ says:

      Being a dual sport rider I have had my share of flat tires (5 in one day is my record, on both tubes and tubeless!). Some of these have been at low speed, some on the highway. I’ve never experienced the “More often than not, tubes blow out when they flat. They lose air NOW!” scenario.

      I have been able to repair the tube every time and get where I needed to be. The day I had 5 flats was because I was an idiot and started the trip with used, patched tubes, both on the bike and as spare. The old hole would rip past the edge of the patch. 2 or 3 more and I would’ve been in trouble, but we had plenty of patches (dual sport- flat preparedness is part of the game). One of those flats ripped the tire to the point you could see daylight through it. Would have been a day-ender if it was tubeless.

      The 5 tubeless flats in one day were all the same hole.. it kept spitting the plug out so I would only get about 5 miles before it would be flat again. I made it to a relative’s house and borrowed his bike for the rest of the trip. Other than that, I’ve plugged at least 5 tubeless flats, and never had a plug fail.

      If I had to choose, for a road bike I’d prefer tubeless, but not by much, and not enough to post a big rant about how stupid tubes are. For a dual sport, tubes please.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah yes. Uses the word “rant” to describe a logical argument against the use of unsafe bicycle wheels on a motorcycle capable of highway speeds.

        So then, might we surmise that you enjoyed spending all that time “fixing” the same phooking phlat tyre? If so, why did you then borrow a relatives bike for the “rest of the trip”?

        No one here thinks for a moment that you really enjoyed having to “fix” the same tube five times that day but you keep telling yourself “tubes please” for your “dual sport”. Right?


        • Uncle Stashu says:

          Hey you know what?? Don’t put gas in the tank either… could leak and the bike could catch fire. or explode. Or…. the bike could explode at the exact moment the tube fails, causing such a disturbance of the space time continuum that a black hole will form and we will all be crushed by gravity even greater than that found in your musings regarding tube tires.

          • Anonymous says:

            How pedantically pedestrian. No, really. A worthy effort laddie, but truth be told, the truth is not debatable. Tubes suck.

            And these two REs, in spite of that are still beautiful. But an informed buyer can decide for themselves.

        • JQ says:

          Comprehension if you dont mind. The tubeless bike was the one that I left at my brother’s house and borrowed his.

          Also, if you could, please indicate where you got the idea that someone would enjoy flat tires?

          Or in general, is there any relation to your post and the one you replied to?

          For reference, I prefer tubes for dual sport because my particular dual sport rides also get used for trail duty. Cut tires and bent rims are not unusual.

    • todd says:

      Yes, we get it. Every post you’ve ever made on this site has been about how much you hate tubes. I am sorry for you and sorry that it makes you miss out on the portion of motorcycles in the world that have tubes. its time to move on with your life and let it rest.

      • Anonymous says:

        And you? You read like one of those glassy eyed idiots that claim to “just love” every bike out there. You’re “sorry” for me? Don’t be ridiculous.

        No…Wait! I bet you’re one of those kids that moans about horsepower and weight. The former is never enough while the latter is always too much, huh? One of the many here that time after time, chime in that they “…just LOVE the looks and would buy one in a heartbeat if only it had more horsies and weighed a few pounds less!”

        Exempli gratia? The Ninja 250 becomes a 300. Then the Versys 300 comes along but now there’s a Ninja 400 and “…if only it had the 400 motor and weighed less I’d get one NOW!”. And maybe you would. Until Kawasaki announces the ALL NEW NINJA 500!! 😉

        Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

        Reality is that you probably aren’t one of those folks. Reality is you’re probably a nice guy.

        But you read like one.

        • todd says:

          If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’d know that I’m not at all like that. I like bikes as they are, prefer less power and smaller engines. I am a nice guy. You my friend, are coming across like a big dick.

  38. DP says:

    Again, the second most important part – engine’s sound is missing. What are those marketers obsessed with? Don’t they know sound is important?

  39. VFRMarc says:

    Sorry, younger riders will not be interested in an under-performing, 70’s style vertical twin. For RE to succeed with these bikes, they will have to sell them as a loss leader and prove themselves on the track. Impossible with this design. Maybe some nostalgic geezers will go for them, but not this particular geezer.

    • DP says:

      Unfortunately, you are correct. This is not bike for masses with juvenile name Ninja on it. Perhaps in States, there are couple thousands of dedicated retro-lovers ready to spend for purposely underpowered bike, but not in Canada. One example for many: for several years the fabled Moto Guzzi is doing what they know to market their V7, but I do not see them on road.

      It’s lost case, I am afraid.

    • joe b says:

      Well, not everywhere. From what I have seen, many millennial’s don’t really care about real performance, they are mostly interested in how “they look”. this has that, “the looks”. Also many times the other big monthly payment, insurance, has a big hand in what they choose. Not everyone lives in So Cal, where a canyon bike is looked at as the “only bike to have”. As an alternative to the cruiser/custom bike, this will be well recieved by those who dont want a race bike for the street, nor the big insurance payment that comes with them. Sorry vfrmarc, i bet you are in ca? (i have 4 VFR’s by the way)

      • Spiderwatts says:

        Ditto. Glad to have another low cost choice too.

      • Selecter says:

        What Joe says.

        Simplicity, minimalism, affordability – those are the hallmarks of the bikes that the so-called Millennials really want. Go look at Pipeburn and Bikeexif… THAT is the look and feel that this demographic is after. Supersports hold little allure (at least presently) for the twenty-to-thirty-somethings. Supersports are for old farts (Gen-Xer here) like me. They’re expensive to buy, expensive to insure (doesn’t matter as much once you near 40…), and generally demand more sacrifices of the rider.

        I’m not a “retro” bike guy (bought and quickly sold a new-old-stock V7 Special earlier this year… did not love it), but the potential for RE’s 650 twins in this market can’t be overstated. I’m not sure how many they’re planning on clearing through customs this year, but I have a feeling they won’t have a problem selling every one they can ship in. My questions all have to do with RE’s dealer network and their willingness or ability to support their product.

        Minneapolis has one RE dealer – a small scooter shop that deals Royal Enfields on the side. I have to wonder if they’ll even be able to deal with the volume, service-wise, that this bike could possibly sell in. Whereas the RE singles are really, seriously only desirable to an extremely small cross-section of motorcycle buyers (a bike that demands more concessions of the rider than almost any other bike on the market here), the 650 twins branch out to appeal to much of the riding population in general.

        Also… even at $5800 to start, this bike will in no way be a loss leader. This is nearly $2300 more expensive than what they will be selling for in their home market (a bit over the equivalent of $3500). Even after certification and shipping, RE will be making a pretty penny off each unit, with good margins.

        • Dave says:

          If these are successful, you will see them on the floors of more mainstream dealers that anchor their businesses with the bigger brands. A well run scooter shop may ride that wave to more success for themselves.

    • Dave says:

      Young Americans are almost completely unaware that motorcycle racing is a thing. 5 people I know bought new motorcyes this year. Only one bought a high end sportbike.

    • Jason says:

      The young riders where I live are riding old Honda CB350s turned into cafe racers or scramblers.

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