Abhishek may have never been a fan of Royal Enfields. But the long-term Interceptor 650 turned his world upside down. Read on to find out
I had never experienced the joys of owning a Royal Enfield ever in my life. I’ve always been more of a guy who’d rather take in the Thrill of Riding instead of just ogling at the beauty of the machine or learning the nuances of servicing. I may have been wrong though for every month, Royal Enfield had been selling the ‘experience’ to over 60,000 enthusiasts for several years until the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. I even balked at the idea of putting the Royal Enfield Twins on the cover of the November 2018 issue because we are ‘Fast Bikes India’ and Royal Enfields have never been anything but fast. But the Twins exploded on the motorcycling scene, especially because of the tremendous Value for Money proposition. You still don’t see many Twins on the road but that’s what makes them even more special. Wait. Royal Enfield and special? Yup; that’s what my long-term Interceptor 650 has managed to make me say about a Royal Enfield! But How did it manage to change my skeptical view about Royal Enfield?
Well, for starters, the Interceptor is properly fast. I’m a proud owner of a KTM but on any given day, the RE can give any KTM (not the 790 Duke maybe) a run for its money. Traffic light drag races have been tremendous fun and I even managed to surprise an RC 390 owner during a Lavasa ride out. I still remember the first long ride that saw me riding a healthy 40km to Chavan for the 125 Duke first ride last year. I was blown by the engine especially. The tractability is so good that you can ride it even in the sixth cog on dual-carriageways without any effort. But that doesn’t mean the RE is only meant for lazy-bums for it can be super fun for the enthusiasts as well. And I can vouch for that after taking several long-trips to Mumbai, Nashik, Bengaluru, Goa and several other places.
We- the bikers know about the universal law that if you’re riding, you’re never immune from accidents. The RE too has seen a couple. The first one was when a Pulsar hit the RHS exhaust pipe which got it bent while the second time, some folk during Rider Mania in Goa attempted to steal the same pipe! Kudos to the build quality though for the exhaust managed to stay put for almost 9 months. And when it comes to build quality, the Interceptor 650 is exceptionally good. No rattling, no vibrations and absolutely zero delays when it comes to parts availability. The Triumph dealer we know was suggesting to us that a lot of buyers had cancelled their Street Twin bookings after riding the Interceptor 650. When we put them against each other, the results were tremendous. The Street Twin costs almost four times the money but is slower when it comes to in-gear acceleration! The Interceptor isn’t really far away when it comes to the ride and handling as well. It ain’t a KTM, no but it ain’t a regular Royal Enfield even. The stability is excellent on highways and even around twisties but the tyres aren’t up to the mark. The Pirellis on our bike lasted for about 8,000km before giving up. Of course, I have taken the bike off-reading too so we must not discount the wear and tear.
The Twins are very popular in the accessories market too and our bike was fitted with a Powertronic ECU and quickshifter. The power and torque figures were bumped up and the bike even managed to hit 100kmph in 5.8sec - which is almost as quick as the maniacal KTM 390 Duke and half a second faster than the stock INT650. The quickshifter too has been working seamlessly and we haven’t faced any issues at all with the whole kit. And if you’re looking to get one for yourself, do not hesitate. It is worth the money. Recently, RE even took the bike back and fitted it with a bunch of accessories including a weird-looking fairing and touring seat. The fairing makes a thudding noise but the seat is great and those who do long-rides must opt for it I’d suggest.
Today, I have clocked over 10,000km on the odo and am a staunch believer in Royal Enfield - the brand. Well, the Interceptor isn’t perfect for sure - the footpegs are awkwardly positioned, the clocks don’t feature a basic clock and the suspension is slightly dodgy but other than that, there’s nothing to complain about.
Well, when RE lent us the bike, I literally had to fight against the boys and pull ranks in office to get hold of the INT650’s keys. I couldn’t have been gladder.