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Interceptor - there are quite a few vehicles to have worn that badge like the ultra-cool Jensen Interceptor, the Ford Interceptor, the Royal Enfield Interceptor from the 1960s and of course the 2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650!
It was in November 2018 that Royal Enfield launched the much-awaited Continental GT 650 and Interceptor 650 motorcycles amidst much fanfare. Thanks to CVS Motors in Bangalore, we got to take the motorcycles for a spin and find out what the hype is all about.
Royal Enfield is the oldest global motorcycle brand in continuous production. It's history spans over a 117 years! With such a long span of time to improve and develop, one would expect them to produce the most technologically advanced motorcycles that look like something out of science fiction!
Royal Enfield However decided to take their own sweet time in evolving and decided to stay true to their retro motorcycle roots. The Launch of the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 is one of the steps in this evolution process. In fact it is the biggest such step taken by the company in over half a century.
Design & Styling
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is a neo-retro motorcycle and hence takes styling cues from the 1960s RE Interceptor. It is classy and elegant. Up front is a good-old reflector type circular headlamp with dispersion-style lens. The turn signal indicators too are old-school with orange-coloured lens.
When viewed straight up front, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 does look slender. The chrome-finish handlebar complete with the cross-bar further adds to the retro design. The mass and bulk is only seen from the side profile. The engine itself plays a big role in defining the side profile of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
The 650cc mill looks pretty sizeable and adding definition to it all is the upswept exhaust system. The crankcase is finished in chrome and so is the twin-exhaust system. At the rear is a simple tail-lamp setup with orange-capped indicators on both sides. Overall, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 sports clean lines with a no-fuss, classy design.
Engine & Performance
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is powered by an all-new, air and oil-cooled, parallel-twin-cylinder engine. The 648cc motor puts out a maximum power output of 47bhp at 7,250RPM and a peak torque output of 52Nm at 5,250RPM.
With the Interceptor 650, Royal Enfield has upped the game and has moved up to a 6-speed gearbox assisted by a slipper clutch. The output figures are not exactly stellar for a 650cc motorcycle, but it is an under-stressed engine and it was not designed for a high power output in the first place.
With the Interceptor, the signature Royal Enfield thump is missing but we do get that evergreen parallel-twin sound. The parallel-twin engine has a deep, bassy rumble, that is just loud enough to make its presence felt whether the motorcycle is cruising out on the highway or just puttering around town.
The way the power is put down to the road is just as unique as the motorcycle itself. As much as 80 percentage of the torque comes in at lesser than 3,000RPM and that makes it a delight to ride at lower speeds.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 has an in-city mileage figure of 23km/l, which went up to 27km/l out on the highway. Performance is pretty brisk, and it has to be so, as it is the fastest Royal Enfield motorcycle we have seen in decades.
The dash from 0-100km/h is done in under 6.5 seconds and when shown a nice long road, the Royal Enfield Interceptor will touch a top speed of over 170km/h. Triple-digit cruising speeds are reached with absolute ease and the Interceptor 650 will comfortably hover around the 120km/h mark all day.
For the first time, the rider too can ride for such a long time without breaking into a sweat. Royal Enfield's motorcycles are typically known among seasoned motorcyclists, to have a vibey feeling. We are pleased to say that the vibrations are gone!
The second cylinder balances out the movement of the first and a counter balancer further smoothens the movement of the engine. This makes the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 smooth and the rider can comfortably stay on the saddle for a long time indeed.
Ride & Handling
I spent over eight hours with the motorcycle in just one day, and rode in varying conditions while we shot the motorcycle. The conditions included rush-hour traffic, short highway blasts, quick accelerations from the red-light and riding on some country roads for the pictures.
If asked to describe in one word what the Royal Enfield Interceptor feels like in all these conditions, ‘Impressive' is the word. The motorcycle is well-balanced, the engine is smooth, gears shift well, and it rides well overall.
The suspension is quite supple and soaks up bumps and potholes pretty well. The front end is suspended by a conventional fork while the rear end has twin gas-charged shocks. The setup is simple, but has been tuned well.
At lower speeds, shocks are absorbed very well but the best bit of the suspension is felt between 40-60km/h. It almost seems like the potholes on the road are missing at this speed and rumble strips are soaked up like they never existed. The texture and the cushioning of the single-piece seat also adds to the comfort offered by the motorcycle.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 was never designed to go around corners fast, but it does feel pretty confident when asked to do so. However, the rider would soon get tired of trying to push hardin curves. This is a motorcycle that needs to be ridden at a laid-back pace even while cornering.
It rides on Pirelli Phantom SportComp tyres that were specifically designed for the Royal Enfield 650 twins by the Italian tyre giant. The tyres offer brilliant levels of grip on tarmac but break loose on even small patches of dirt. This is primarily due to the tread pattern.
A 320mm disc up front and a 240mm disc at the rear, both from Bybre brake the motorcycle. The brakes offer confidence as they have good initial bite and are powerful. ABS comes as standard fitment on the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, further increasing the braking prowess of the motorcycle.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is a straightforward motorcycle with a pretty simple build and does not boast of a lot of fancy electronics and the like. Up front is a simple instrument cluster with two large analogue dials for the speedometer and tachometer. Within the speedometer dial is a tiny digital display for the odometer and tripmeters.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 comes with a high quality paint job and quite a few attractive colours. I'm not sure if the paint job and the colours could be counted as a feature, but the paint job is important because, the pricing is based on the colours and not the equipment.
Orange Crush, Glitter & Dust, Silver Spectre, Baker Express, Mark Three and Ravishing Red are the various colours that the Royal Enfield Interceptor is available with. The least expensive colour is Orange Crush, while Glitter and Dust is the most expensive colour costing nearly Rs 20,000 more.
The one we picked up from CVS Motors was Silver Spectre, but we would have loved to ride the dual-tone Baker Express or Ravishing Red.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 does not have fancy electronics, neither does it have a truckload of features and nor is it the best-looking 650 out there, but what it does have is, immense value for money. Just Rs 2.5 lakh for a 650cc parallel-twin-powered motorcycle that features ABS and a classic retro design. Sounds almost like a dream come true.
Stephen Neil Thinks!
I have never been a Royal Enfield fan. If anything, I might have been labelled as an RE critic. After riding the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 though, things have changed. The amount of developmental work the company has put into producing the 650 twins is very evident right from the moment it is shifted into first gear and the clutch is engaged. If this is the direction Royal Enfield is going in, the future is exciting for us.