Royal Enfield wows with its first pair of mid-size twin-cylinder models at EICMA 2017 in Milan

By Abhijit Mitra
  • Published 19.11.17
Royal Enfield’s Interceptor INT 650

They comprise the first pair of twin-cylinder motorcycles to carry the Royal Enfield (RE) name since 1970, and the first twins since the RE branded motorcycles have been made in India. Naturally then, there was a lot of anticipation for Royal Enfield’s Interceptor INT 650 and the Continental GT 650. And the manufacturer, which unveiled the pair in Milan at EICMA, the world’s most important two-wheeler show, did not disappoint.

In fact, RE has played its retro-style-modern-bike-maker card to the hilt with these two. For, the Interceptor, with seats for the rider and a pillion, looks straight out of the 1970s, which is when the British made Interceptor 700 went off the production lines in the UK.

The other new model, the Continental GT 650, which uses the same underpinnings, has got the single-seat, cafe racer look.

RE is now one of the biggest mid-size (250cc to 750cc) motorcycle makers in the world. A 650cc twin is a good bet for markets where “commuting” by motorcycle isn’t very common.


So, what are the machines all about? Well, the main thing, evidently, is the new engine. It’s a four-stroke, parallel twin, with a single overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder and fuel injection. The capacity is 648cc and it has fins to aid cooling by air as well as a radiator to aid cooling by engine oil.

It isn’t designed to be a very high revving, with the peak power of 47bhp coming at a fairly modest 7,100rpm (modern petrol cars often rev up to 6,500rpm and sports bikes to over 10,000rpm) and the peak torque (pulling power) of 52Nm coming at an even lower 4,000 rpm. So these are likely going to be more of relaxed rides rather than hyperactive beasts.
According to RE: “The engine has been designed to offer the right balance between power, torque and usability so as to ensure a smooth and unintimidating riding experience. It will offer a broad spread of torque, which will make the motorcycle easy to ride without frequently shifting gears.” This is interesting considering the fact that this is a short-stroke, over-square engine, a configuration typically used to make high-revving sports model engines. In this case, it has been designed to do exactly the opposite, that is, deliver low-end torque.

The other thing is that while it is a twin, capacity-wise it isn’t much bigger than the single 535cc engine on the Continental GT, although power output is significantly higher. But the compression ratio has been kept at a relaxed 9.5:1. So, yes, one gets a sense that the Interceptor’s street bike styling is more in character with the engine than the Continental GT 650.

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650

This is an almost totally new bike. The frame, however, with its twin downtube cradle, is more akin to the Continental GT’s than the single downtube configuration of the Bullets or Classics. The new motorcycles use separate exhaust pipes for each cylinder, giving it a very cool twin-tailpipe look and keeping things simple at the same time. That is if you discount the hours the company spent to tweak the tailpipe sound to be like the characteristic thump of RE’s singles. 

The 650 engine is mated to six-speed gearboxes. Both the bikes will have disc brakes both front and back quipped with anti-lock brakes to keep safety levels up to modern standards. Halogen headlamps will likely be standard as well.

And now comes the most important part. The two bikes will likely be priced between Rs 3.50 lakh an Rs 4 lakh. And they will be available in India from April 2018. RE has managed to really bump up the excitement with the EICMA unveiling. Now it’s just the wait for it to hit the showrooms.

Royal Enfield’s new Technology Centre in the Bruntingthorpe Proving Grounds, UK, is where much of the new parallel twin engine has been designed.