Words: Aninda Sardar
Photographs: Royal Enfield
It’s been the subject of rider café discussions for so many years now that you’d be forgiven for passing it off as one of those legends that everyone speaks about knowing this will never happen. Yet, Royal Enfield has dramatically ended all such speculation with the reveal of its brand new 650cc parallel twin engine on the eve of EICMA 2017. The engine was revealed to a select gathering of journalists on the occasion of the launch of the company’s Technology Centre in the UK.
The air-cooled parallel twin 650 – actual displacement is 648cc and it produces a healthy 47bhp and 52Nm of peak torque – has been specifically developed to power the next generation of Royal Enfields. Yes, that does indicate that there will be a slew of new motorcycles from this brand in the years to come but that is the subject of a different story, one that will follow shortly. So keep watching this space. But back to the engine, like in the case of the unit that powers the Himalayan, this fresh-out-of-the-crate engine also uses an oil-cooler. The engine is a modern one that uses four valves per cylinder but with a single overhead camshaft. Compression ratio is an unstressed 9.5:1, so expect the engine to bear the same somewhat laidback character that RE motorcycles are known for. What is significant is that for the first time there will be no carburetted version of this powerplant. Instead, it will only be fuel injection that will be powering big capacity Royal Enfields of the future.
Royal Enfield says that the character of the engine has been carefully tailored to ease rideability so that the rider can use a generous spread of that torque and thus avoid tedious and frequent shifting of gears. The R&D team has used a 270-degree crank (something that is also seen in the engines at work in Triumph’s range of modern classics – coincidence?) to provide a specific character and engine note. For the first time, RE is using a single piece forged crankshaft that the company claims will ensure strength and will be able to handle the 52Nm. Work has also gone into making the engine more refined and smooth running and to that end a balancer shaft has been used to negate vibrations from the engine. In the past, vibrations from the engine has been singled out as a lasting gremlin by RE users across the country, so it will be interesting to see a twin-cylinder from the same maker but with this gremlin gone.
While RE lovers will rejoice at the news of this brand new engine that they have been wanting for years now, they will have to let go of their love of that old “thump”. According to RE, hours have been spent in fine tuning what the company calls a “rumble” from the bike’s twin exhaust.
The engine has been developed at Royal Enfield’s Technical Centre at Bruntingthorpe near Leicestershire in the UK. The tech centre at RE’s spiritual homeland in the UK is a part of the company’s aggressive global expansion ambitions and will act as a hub for innovation, product strategy and development.
Since start of operations two years ago in January 2015, the UK tech centre now employs over 120 people working on multiple projects. “Multiple project” in biker parlance can only mean one thing – more bikes to ride from the venerable brand. Happy news indeed!