Ride impressions: Royal Enfield twins

Many Royal Enfield enthusiasts are attracted by the slow and methodical pulse of the single-cylinder engine.

The new Interceptor and GT (pictured) parallel twins have a 270-degree crank like the new liquid-cooled Triumph Bonnevilles, so they are a totally different heartbeat. And unlike the 500 singles, you don’t need to schedule a slot in your diary to reach 100km/h. They will reach 100km/h in about six seconds and cruise all day at highway speeds in a relaxed manner with very little vibration or hand/feet tingle.

The 648cc twin is oil and air cooled with a modest 47 horsepower or 35kW at 7100rpm and 52Nm of torque at 4000rpm. It doesn’t sound like much, but the midrange is smooth and meaty. The engine is mated to a super-slick, six-speed gearbox and clutch with a moderate pull, so it is easy to use in traffic.

With such moderate horsepower there is not a lot of point in spinning it out to the red line every shift. I found these bikes yield satisfactory results if you short-shift through the gears and ride around town in fourth or fifth at 4000rpm.

Out on the highway, they cruise without stress at 4000 revs in sixth. Since the engine pulls lustily from 3000 revs, you can roll on the throttle without having to drop a cog. Despite pushing the bikes along up and down hills, they yielded impressive economy of 3.6 litres/100km. That means range of almost 350km from the 12.5-litre tank.

The twin cradle frame and twin-shock suspension set-up is as traditional as it gets, but it works. It’s not the lightest 650 out there, but the frame and suspension combine to provide a light-steering, agile bike.

I found the American-made Grabriel shocks a little on the soft side for my 80kg frame, even after pumping up the rear preload to the fourth of five settings. The brakes are Bybre which is a discount Brembo offshoot and they have braided steel lines for good feel. Still, a second front disc would be welcome.

Despite the heft, the bike is easy to lift on to the centre stand with a convenient handle beside the seat like on old bikes. There has been a lot of pent-up demand for these bikes since they were announced almost two years ago. Thankfully the excitement and hype are justified.

Find out the technical specifications.


By Mark Hinchliffe