Thanks! As such, retro- and vintage-style bikes are back in fashion, with all big motorcycle manufacturers producing some sort of retro-classic-styled or ‘old new’ bike to cash in on the trend. Ground clearance is not an issue, I only touch the ‘pegs down a few times all day, and the basic old school clocks and dash are simple to read. They are rock solid. I expected a more head-down-bum-up riding position just looking at the bike but it is not at all like that. We stop at our first photo location to get some nice scenic shots overlooking the ocean (which, like 90 per cent of my images and all of my pro shot video, has not arrived, thus the month long delay publishing my test. Sorry if I sound like I’m nitpicking. The frame is a tuned tubular steel cradle frame designed with the famous Harris Performance team, a company now owned by Royal Enfield. Despite only a single disc up front compared with the dual-disc setup on most middleweight competitors, braking was totally fine. Rare not to see it nit-piked to death. The team, including CEO Sid Lal, tested 180º, 360º and 270º firing orders at Bruntingthorpe and in the end all agreed the 270º was the most fun. The bikes are priced very close to Enfield Classic 500. Another neat feature is how the engine has been designed to be able to run on lower-octane fuel, thanks to conditions in India where the bikes are produced. This is a chassis that thrives on rear brake input through the turns, and I am a rear brake destroyer, so as I carve through the corners I am impressed by the rear brake feel and the way the sweet chassis responds to rear brake input, with a little ‘peg input, just pulling it in tighter into the turns…. As we carve through the smooth, hotmix high speed sections, head on the tank, rev limiter in top gear type riding, the Interceptor is impressive. I have no trouble at all pulling the Interceptor up from stupidly high speeds into turns I don’t know, downhill, corner after corner for up to 30-minutes at a time and if that is not a test for a single rotor two-piston caliper set-up then I don’t know what is. Only half an hour into our ride, there are smiles being exchanged but not too many opinions being given away. The front brake and clutch levers are not span adjustable, however I’m sure there will be aftermarket options in no time. One of two 650 twins that Royal Enfield has brought to market to take on the likes of the Triumph Street Cup and Kawasaki W800. Are replacement parts readily available? Finish is top notch on the Interceptor and GT but lights are conventional, no fancy LEDs. Thanks to the slipper assist clutch, shifting on the Continental is a breeze, and I never found myself running into any false neutrals. The Continental does decently in the sound department, too, with a subdued rumble that might be better appreciated with an aftermarket pipe. Producing a claimed 47hp and 51.52Nm of torque, the Continental’s mill will comfortably deal with whatever you throw at it, whether it be carving up the twisties or cruising down the expressway at a leisurely pace. Ergonomically the bikes are quite different, with the upright nakedbike/roadster riding position of the Interceptor offering a more commanding, relaxed position than the cafe racer styled Continental GT. Maximum power is 47hp at 7250rpm, which means the bike pulls long gears or responds to sportier shifting and riding. I sat on the Interceptor, got comfy and fired up the twin. Weight: 202kg wet (INT) 198kg wet (GT) I was disappointed not because I did not like the machines but because I liked the gt more than the interceptor. The result of the hard work are two sensational bikes that we recently spent a few days riding flat out around the hills behind Santa Cruz, California…. In a cool twist and to avoid arguments, we drew key tags out of a hat and we were put in our respective groups. The finish of the twin powerplant is superb and reflects the heritage of the bikes. Sometimes simple is better. With those traits, the Interceptor engages and I’m drawn in by the bike as I push on through the hills, easily finding a comfort zone close to the edge but having a bit of extra margin available for the odd surprise tightening radius turn or debris on the roads. The positions suited me but everyone is different. The Continental GT has a thinner, lower seat, narrower tank, rearset footpegs and clip-on handlebars mounted to the top of the forks, giving a sportier cafe racer riding position compared to the Interceptor. The seat easily accommodates Filipino riders. In the end, the head stock was moved back around 20mm very late in development, which meant other components had to be redesigned. Designed to make riding easy in traffic while still being fun in the hills, the twin delivers torque right through the rpm range with 80 per cent of the 52Nm available from 2500rpm and peaking at 5250rpm. I would prefer it wasn’t there but I wasn’t that bothered by it, as the steering is oh so sweet… 15,000 kms? I also have no complaints with the grip provided by the Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp tires that not only grip the road reasonably well, but also add a bit more vintage flair and appeal. There is a high speed weave that may be an 18in wheel issue, and sharp bumps cause a quick ‘bar shake but it all corrects quickly and never progresses. The Royal Enfield Interceptor and Continental GT 650 Twins launch held at Santa Cruz, California, was one hell of a big deal. It gives front tyre feel and confidence (despite 18in wheels). Royal Enfield has kept rider comfort in mind when designing the Continental, adding engine guards that protect your legs from touching the twin-cylinder powerplant (which gets a little bit hot when in traffic) and indents in the fuel tank for your knees to grip onto. 41mm non-adjustable conventional forks have 110mm of travel and the gas charged piggy-back reservoir shocks have five-step spring preload adjustment and 88mm of travel. Whether you pick the Continental or the Interceptor depends on your preference of handlebar setup, but fundamentally, both these bikes would be a great purchase for someone who wants to experience the fun and style of owning a big retro bike in a hassle-free way. It is a really fun motor that punches above its capacity despite the simple design. So how does the Continental GT handle compared to the Interceptor? I did not measure them so can’t confirm it but the GT ‘bars feel quite a bit narrower than the Interceptor and through the tight switchbacks I found myself gripping the ‘bars at the very ends of the balance weights, trying to get the same leverage or flick-in speed as the previous day. Continental GT 650 is a cafe racer offering from Royal Enfield and is powered by the company's first parallel twin engine. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. True to its classic image, the Continental comes equipped with a round, black headlight trimmed with chrome, wire-spoke wheels, dual rear shocks, and dual-exit exhaust pipes. 20-years testing and 23-years racing means I ride a lot of bikes. It really is a nice bike and as we cruise back into Santa Cruz in some light traffic at the end of a big day, the bikes were all ticking along perfectly despite spending the best part of six-hours on the rev limiter! It is compact in width and is quite short, with a six-speed gearbox developed on road and racetrack and a slipper clutch that is cable actuated. Even the name of the paint job, ‘Ice Queen,’ sounds cool. Electronics: Bosch Two-Channel ABS, Bosch EMS. Close to 100 motorcycle journalists from all over the globe were invited to the event that included in-depth technical presentations and interviews with the Royal Enfield team from engineers to designers and test riders… The narrow Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tyres impress and don’t move all day. For me, I welcomed it and much prefer the handling gains than the bump stability or comfort trade off, however, some of the Indian journo’s, who were bloody fast riders I might add, had concerns about the firmness on some of the bad Indian roads… Here in Australia, I think it will be fine. We also experienced two days of flat-out riding through the mountains and along the coastline with CEO Sid Lal and his development team and it all finished with a giant beach party! It is priced at a sweet Rs. Fun… and a really, really loud horn! Seat height: 804mm (INT), 790mm (single GT), 793mm (dual GT). The INT650 and Continental GT are Royal Enfield’s first real global products since the brand’s rebirth, and these motorcycles required international input.

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