I was highly optimistic of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 following in the footsteps of its café racer brother, the Continental GT 650 that I rode the previous day, of being a brilliant motorcycle overall. I thought it would have a softer approach to motorcycling and would not be as exciting as the Conti but boy was I wrong. And after riding it for close to 160 miles, I am thoroughly convinced that the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is the best bike that they have made and certainly one of my best rides in 2018.
“Call it simple and not over-done, the Interceptor 650 will appeal to the traditional Enfield buyer as well as conforms to the original 1960s Interceptor 700 with its Californian surfer design”
Royal Enfield wanted to make something that could be easily replicated and did justice to two different genres of motorcycling. It had to be a single rolling chassis with minimal differences between the two. And that is exactly what they have done. Strip the two bikes of their fuel tanks, footpegs, seats and handlebars and you have a clean canvas. Thus, on the Interceptor 650 you get straight handlebars, a flat low seat, neutral set pegs and a round fuel tank that is unmistakably British. Call it simple and not over-done, the Interceptor 650 will appeal to the traditional Enfield buyer as well as conforms to the original 1960s Interceptor 700 with its Californian surfer design. Even the colour selections are done to bring out the warm welcoming characteristics of the motorcycle. And as whacky as the colour names go, I loved the Baker Express (white all round with a lower red band) and the pictured Orange Crush (as the name suggests) colour themes.
There is a bit of sportiness to the riding stance of the Interceptor 650. Sure it hasn’t got an attacking mindset like the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 which demands you to be aggressive all the time but it isn’t as laidback and chilled as the Classic 500. Rather, this slightly arched forwards riding stance allows you to be in better control of the motorcycle. Like I mentioned earlier, the wide and raised handlebars offer great leverage, which will definitely come in handy in our cities. The pegs are lower and in a more natural neutral position. And despite the optional ‘Touring’ seat kitted to our test bike, there was more than enough room to move around. I just wish the seat cushioning were a bit softer.
I am not going to bore you guys with the chassis design, engine build and specs for that matter as they are completely same for both the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 and you can read all about it here in my first ride report of the latter.
It was but obvious that our ride route for the day would not be filled with as much of cornering action as the previous day on the Continental GT 650. There was still going to be a lot of twisty bits to encounter but they were more of the wide-open type and not the fast switching one. But we began our ride with the way we ended the first day, riding up the Pacific Coast Highway. I was stupid enough to brave the chill and ride with my mesh jacket. And while my teeth were chattering inside my helmet, the Interceptor 650 was cruising along quite nicely at 120kmph.
“Give it a bit more and she will accelerate easily up to 145-150kmph mark”
With the motor in the sixth cog for almost the entire duration of the highway run, I could not help but fall in love as how stable and easy going the Interceptor is. Give it a bit more and she will accelerate easily up to 145-150kmph mark. It is a bit slower to get to the ton, because she weighs four kilos more and the aero shape on the Continental GT 650 allows you to cut through air swifter.
“Picking her up and flicking her into another direction also takes a bit more effort than the Continental GT 650. But she feels so much more stable and confident as you are leaned over”
As we broke off the highway and on to the mountain roads heading up to our lunch spot, I began appreciating the Interceptor’s welcoming charm. She isn’t as easy as the Continental GT 650 to go down into the bends but that more due to the lesser weight on the front wheel that your body is exerting. Picking her up and flicking her into another direction also takes a bit more effort than the Continental GT 650. But she feels so much more stable and confident as you are leaned over. But I would rather have a motorcycle that does 85 per cent great in all situations than 100 per cent in just the one.
The Interceptor has so much more going for it than the Continental GT. It is no doubt that it is the softer and the safer choice of the two but it is the more loveable one as well. And I already know of the potential that the Interceptor has when it comes to customisability over the Continental GT, a beautiful canvas for future creations. If Royal Enfield has already started work on it or not I don’t know, but I would definitely build a scrambler off it and get ready to hit the beaches even though may all not be California. If the US prices of the 650 twins are to be set as an indicator for the Indian prices, I would not be surprised if one could get the Interceptor 650 in India for 2.7 lakh ex-showroom, if not lesser. Start saving up, fellas!