650cc Twin Cylinder Bikes At 2.5 Lakhs INR – Yes – Meet The Royal Enfield Twins.
Big twin cylinder bikes in India have always been expensive, Royal Enfield is trying to change this by bringing the 650cc twins at a mouth-watering starting price of 2.5 lakhs INR ex-showroom. We ride the Interceptor and the Continental GT at the launch in Goa and here is what we think.
650cc parallel twin cylinder bikes at a starting price of 2.50 lakhs – yes that’s the price of the Royal Enfield Twins – The Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650. Royal Enfield has sort of a cult following in India with the 350 and the 500. Now Royal Enfield is entering the middle-weight segment with the 650 twins. We got to experience the 650 twins on the roads of Goa. Riding in the hot Goan climate, tackling pothole infested roads and touristy traffic. We are happy to report that the positives of the 650 twins far outweigh the negatives.
Engine and Performance
Let’s begin with the sound, the signature DUG DUG… the sound of the bullet is not here, what we get instead is a bassy burble from the twin pipe exhaust. The sound is not loud enough to create a racket but the burble from the exhaust is audible to you and others around. The Twins are powered by an all-new 648cc, air & oil cooled, single overhead cam (SOHC) parallel twin cylinder pushing out a decent 47hp at 7250 rpm along with 52nm of peak torque.
The power is more than sufficient to ride in Indian traffic conditions, if you are lucky to find any open stretches of roads then the twins do not disappoint. A twin throttle-body paired to a Bosch fuel injection system and EMS tune results in excellent throttle response throughout the rev range. There is no jerky on-off throttle response like experienced on other bigger twin cylinder bikes. These two bikes provide an excellent experience even for the new riders. The torque is delivered right from the low revs providing ample pulling power in a smooth linear fashion. Four valves per cylinder mean the vibrations are nowhere close to the likes of the single cylinder 350 and 500. The engine is buttery smooth during startup and in operation, an impressive feat from Royal Enfield.
While riding in the 35 degrees Goa heat, the air & oil cooled 650 twins never showed a sign of overheating, even during battling the goa traffic and riding for over 100 kilometres. The big engine does get hot but it was never bothersome. Royal Enfield for the first time has deployed a Six-Speed transmission and it’s a super slick unit, not one false neutral and the gear shifting is positive throughout. Clutchless upshifting is easy and smooth as well. The gear ratios are well chosen and you get quick acceleration in times of need in any gear making riding the twins much easier. Then there is a Slipper Clutch standard which means the clutch lever is light and smooth, no jerky, jumpy surprises here.
The Engine and gearbox combo is spot on, before you know it you would be touching 100kmph, with the rpms hovering around the 4000 mark and the twin exhausts giving out their soft bassy burble. Cruising at 120-130 or even 140kmph is effortless for the torquey engine, a small twist of the throttle is enough for overtakes. We rode the 650 Twins for a couple of hours over bad roads, high-speed sections and in traffic as well, but the engine showed no sign of strain or stress, there was no sign of rattles or any other noise from the body as well.
Ride and Handling
The 650 Twins get 18-inch multi-spoked wheels with Pirelli SportComp Tyres which are specifically developed for the Twins. These tyres offer excellent grip while leaning into corners or even under hard braking. Braking is handled by two piston ByBre callipers with 320mm front and 240mm rear discs. The bikes come with dual channel ABS and it works well, the rear under hard braking does fishtail a bit nothing crazy though.
The Shocks on the Interceptor are on their softest setting and offer good damping while munching up potholes, broken roads and speed breakers without bottoming out. With 174mm of ground clearance, the Interceptor can easily tackle any terrain you throw at it. Yes you can take it to Ladhak and Spiti Valley and it would not let you down.
The shocks on the Café racer styled Continental GT 650 are stiffer than the Interceptor by 2 points at the rear, You also get a lower clip-on handlebars and the footpegs have been moved a bit to the rear. Thus you sit in a sporty position, crouched over the fuel tank and feet a little back. The suspension is a visibly firmer compared to the Interceptor, yet the suspension is NOT back-breaking, its sails through everything you throw at it without crashing or bottoming out. The Sporty seating position ups the feel factor while riding the bike, getting in and out of the corners is easy and handling overall is very neutral.
The Interceptor’s design is California Cruiser, a modern classic. Clean lines and no flashy go fast bits here. A Royal Enfield monogram is placed on the fuel tank and the bike is available in multiple colour choices. The Continental GT is based on the Café racer that Royal Enfield had introduced in the 60’s. Minimalistic body lines and lower clip-on handlebars, the GT surely looks fast. The Royal Enfield 650 Twins are proper big bikes, proportionate in size. The two bikes look muscular and purposeful. There are no expensive bits on the motorcycles as Royal Enfield had to keep the prices low. But that doesn’t mean Royal Enfield has cut corners in build quality. The Frame has proper solid welds and there are no rattles or noises, everything feels solidly put together.
The Royal Enfield Twins are affordable Big Bikes, If you want to make a style statement and ride only on weekends or for the occasional long rides then the Café Racer – Continental GT 650 is the one for you. While if you are looking for a Daily with relaxed ergonomics and comfortable riding position then Interceptor is where the game is at. With the 650 Twins, Royal Enfield has shaken up the middle-weight motorcycle segment globally. And with prices starting at 2,50,000 INR (ex-showroom) this is a no-brainer.