Royal Enfield banks on new 650 twins to lead global midsize bike market

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 07 Nov 2017


Indian two-wheeler manufacturers are making news at the EICMA Show in Milan. A few hours after Hero MotoCorp revealed its XPulse adventure concept motorcycle, Royal Enfield took the covers off its ground-up modern twin motorcycles – the Interceptor INT 650 and the Continental GT 650, thereby reviving its rich heritage of twin-cylinder motors. The Interceptor INT 650 in ‘Orange Crush’ and the Continental GT 650 in ‘Ice Queen’ colours were on display at EICMA. 

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The Interceptor INT 650 (pictured above) aims to usher in the fun motorcycling era of the 1960s. With its classic tear-drop shaped fuel-tank, quilted twin-seat and distinctive wide braced handlebars, the Interceptor INT 650 looks a true-blue roadster.  An all-new, steel-tube cradle chassis makes the Interceptor INT 650 an easy-going, versatile motorcycle which is equally at ease in the city as it is for a leisurely weekend cruise.

The wide-braced handlebars offer comfortable ergonomics and a confident riding position, allowing the rider to make the most of the agile chassis. The motorcycle is equipped with 18-inch front and rear Pirelli tyres and twin shock absorbers, along with front and rear disc brakes with ABS. It has a ground clearance of 174mm and a seat height of 804mm.

Royal Enfield also showcased the all-new Continental GT 650. The motorcycle retains its central café-racer character while bringing in new engineering and design improvements. It shares its engine, chassis and running parts with its twin, the Interceptor INT 650, while offering completely different ergonomics and style. The motorcycle has an eager, front-leaning stance that gives it a sporty look and a speedy form.

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The Continental GT 650’s ergonomics offer easy reach to the mid-level handlebars, for an optimum blend of steering feel and comfort with no compromise to its 12.5-lire fuel tank capacity. Like the Interceptor INT 650, the Continental GT 650 sports disc brakes front and the rear, along with ABS. The upswept exhaust and rear-set footrests give the motorcycle plenty of lean angle, essential for any true café racer. The single seat, sculpted tank, and clip on bars complete the look.

Both motorcycles are powered by the all-new 648cc, air-cooled, SOHC, fuel-injected parallel-twin motor revealed yesterday at Royal Enfield’s UK Technical Centre at Bruntingthorpe yesterday. The engine develops maximum power of 47hp at 7100 rpm and 52 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. This motor is paired to a six-speed gearbox with a slip-assist clutch that facilitates easy riding in traffic with a light feel, and prevents wheel-hop when downshifting gears – also a first for Royal Enfield.

The chassis has been developed from the ground up by the team at Royal Enfield’s UK Technology Centre, and Harris Performance. It has been engineered and fine-tuned for enhanced agility that can handle different terrains and speeds with ease while retaining the period classic style. 

Introducing the Interceptor INT 650, Siddhartha Lal, CEO, Royal Enfield said, “The Interceptor INT 650 carries forward the Royal Enfield legacy into the 21st century. While in its essence it retains the design and old-school character, it has all the underpinnings of a modern machine. It combines agility, usable power, excellent ergonomics and style in an unintimidating manner. However, the Interceptor INT 650 is more than the sum of its parts – it is great fun to ride and brings a smile on your face every single time that you ride it.” 

Talking about the Continental GT 650, Rudratej Singh, president, Royal Enfield, said, “The GT has been an iconic motorcycle in Royal Enfield’s portfolio. Since its launch in 2013, the Continental GT has helped the brand strengthen its position in mature motorcycle markets across the world. In its new avatar, the Continental GT 650 is the absolute definitive café racer that will be loved by discerning riders across the world.”

Bullish on the global midsize motorcycle market
Talking about the significance of the new twins in Royal Enfield’s global foray, Siddhartha Lal said, “Royal Enfield aims to lead and expand the mid-weight (250-750cc) motorcycle segment globally. The Royal Enfield Interceptor INT 650 and Continental GT 650 will help grow this segment. While for our large customer base in India, the new 650 twins will be a compelling upgrade, we believe it will attract customers from other developing markets in South East Asia and Latin America to graduate to the middleweight segment. In addition, the 650 twins will offer a very evocative option to customers in mature motorcycle markets such as Europe, Australia and North America. For us, this marks the beginning of a new chapter at Royal Enfield.”

Both the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor INT 650 are available in variety of colours and two distinct styles – Standard and Retro Custom. A total of 11 options have been developed with the objective of appealing to the discerning heritage seeking rider, just as much as the modern rider seeking a classic motorcycle. While the Standard range of colourways take inspiration from the motorcycles of the 1950s and 1960s, the Retro Custom range is a bolder version of graphics and colours.

Talking about the development process of the motorcycles, Simon Warburton, Head of Product Development at Royal Enfield, said, “The new 650 twin engine and the motorcycles have been developed at Royal Enfield’s new UK Technology Centre with collaboration with the engineering and design teams in Chennai, India.  The entire platform, including the engine and chassis, has undergone rigorous testing and validation process during the development programme at world-class proving grounds with professional riders. It has been subjected to lab and bench tests, in addition to being tested on race tracks and public roads. With over one million kilometres of testing prior to production, more than 70 different tests have been conducted on the vehicle and individual chassis components. Modern CAE techniques and CAD systems have been applied during the development of the chassis and comprehensive data logging and analysis have been undertaken. The gearbox has undergone extensive test miles, resulting in an optimum shift feel, reliability of engagement, quiet notch-free selection and perfect ratio spacing. These motorcycles have been tested for real-world riding conditions in both Europe and India.”

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