All you need to know about the twin-cylinder Royal Enfields

All you need to know about the twin-cylinder Royal Enfields

After months of speculation and numerous spy shots on the internet, Royal Enfield finally ended all rumours and gossip with Eicher Motors CEO Siddharth Lal pulling the wraps off the Interceptor and the Continental GT650 at the ongoing EICMA 2017 in Milan. Royal Enfield also confirmed at the launch that the new bikes are currently undergoing final testing and will be launched in the first markets by April 2018.

Although powered by the same all new 650cc parallel twin that the company recently revealed to the world, the two motorcycles that have been launched span two different motorcycling worlds.  With an upright seating position, tear-drop style fuel-tank, quilted twin-seat and wide-braced handle-bars the Interceptor takes inspiration from the original Interceptor 750 of the early 1960s and follows a retro-roadster design theme. The Continental GT 650 on the other hand explores the other end of the Swinging Sixties’ motorcycling culture with its clip-on handlebars, elongated fuel-tank, rear-set footrests and crouched riding position recalling the quintessential café racers of the mid- and late- 1950s. In the words of Siddharth Lal himself, the Interceptor represents a “California cool” lifestyle whereas the Continental GT650 is all about “tucking in and giving it a bit more go”.

Although from different genres of motorcycling, the bikes not only share the engine but also cycle parts between them. Both use a steel-tubular, double cradle frame chassis and feature the same 1400mm wheelbase. Suspension duties are carried out by 41mm conventional forks at the front and twin coil-over suspensions at the rear. And both the bikes also feature similar disc brake setup on both wheels.

Royal Enfield has confirmed that the engine is powerful enough to take the bike to speeds of more than 160kmph. The engine is air- and oil-cooled and comes in an SOHC configuration with fuel injection, is mated to a six-speed gearbox and also gets a slipper clutch. With a compression ratio of just 9.5:1, the utput from the 650cc parallel twin is rated at 47bhp and 52Nm, which might sound like it’s not enough to many a power-hungry biker, fact is it might just be sound strategy for a company that has aggressive global ambitions. The highlight of this engine is its flat torque curve that will really add to its tractability and useability in urban conditions. Also, this output walks the thin line between ‘adequately powerful’ and ‘learner legal’ in countries like the UK that have a tiered licencing process. As a result the company will not need to work on two different engines for the same set of bikes – one for enthusiasts and one for novices – but continue producing a machine that serves everyone’s purpose.

As for the rest of the bike, it gets 41mm forks up front and twin shocks at the rear. Both the front and the rear wheels are 18-inches and get disc brakes (320mm up front, 240mm in the rear). ABS will be standard on this motorcycle from the time it is launched itself. The Interceptor and the Continental GT 650 are essentially the same motorcycle underneath but they do have minor ergonomic differences. Apart form the obvious visible changes, the Continental GT’s slimmer tank holds only 12.5 litres of fuel compared to the Interceptor’s 13.7 litres and it has a lower seat height (790mm) compared to the Interceptor (804mm).

However nothing is shared with any of the other products in the existing Royal Enfield portfolio. Developed “ground up” is how Lal and Rudratej Singh, president, Royal Enfield, described the evolution of these two machines.

History lesson

The Interceptor and the Continental GT are both inspired by Royal Enfields of the past. The Interceptor name was first seen on on a Royal Enfield way back in the 1960s — it was a 750cc twin that made 52.5bhp and was capable of speeds of up to 185kmph. It was a bike originally designed for the American market — there was a big demand in California for these leisure motorcycles and that lifestyle is what the Interceptor encompassed. The Continental GT, on the other hand, is from the 60s again but was notorious for its sporty intentions. It was one of the iconic motorcycles that led to the notoriety (and desirability) of the cafe racer motorcycle.

These two new twins will be sold across the world in a single specification, and what we get in India will be the same as what Europe, South America and North America will get. In India, these motorcycles will be a step up for most owners as they are used to much smaller motorcycles, however these bikes will be seen as accessible everyday bikes in more mature markets. This is one of the primary reasons why the engine is a 650 and not a 750 — it isn’t overwhelming for developing markets, while remains useable in developed markets. These two new motorcycles are the first products to come out of Royal Enfield’s new UK Technology Centre.

These new motorcycles also lend themselves generously to customisation. Royal Enfield recognise that and will be selling a whole suite of accessories to allow owners to personalise their motorcycles. These functional and protective accessories include engine guards, lifting handle, pannier mounts, and an auxiliary electrical port. It also includes chrome and stainless steel silencer slip-ons, acrylic fly-screens, single and twinseat cowls, soft canvas panniers.

The rollout of this motorcycle will begin by April 2018. The bike will eventually come to India, but after it is introduced in certain key international markets. The reason for this is that the demand for these bikes in India is expected to be high and Royal Enfield will have to ramp up production enough to deal with the demand. There is no word on pricing yet, but Royal Enfield has assured as that it will be competitive and easy to access.

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