The first thing I thought when I opened the garage door and the Royal Enfield INT650 was sitting in the driveway with a company rep standing next to it was, “I need to buy a bow tie!”
Immediately this appears to be the perfect bike for going on a Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, if I can find a suit that still fits me after the pandemic fattening.
It is a strikingly good looking motorcycle with its chrome tank, diamond-stitched seat and two round clocks that reminded me of the Smiths used on early British bikes.
I can picture my dad standing over me, rest his soul, saying to me as a kid, “Don’t even think of coming inside until every inch of it has a shine that would make a sergeant major proud.”
Royal Enfield did a very good job on this, reproducing the look of the original 1960s RE INT650. Upgrades from the original include disc brakes, ABS, Brembo calipers (Bybre), digital readouts on the analog clocks, fuel injection, and suspension that is a step up from the original, the rear having an adjustment, and a nice locking cap for the gas tank.
So what is all this shininess going to cost you? Around $5800 and up depending on the options you choose.
If you couldn’t justify spending hard-earned coin on some other brand’s retro bikes at two to three times the price, or buy an old original British bike and be scared to take it out for fear of damage or loss, this could be the bike for you.
It fits nicely in between a dirt bike and a big ADV bike for use on urban adventures.
But how does it ride?
Initially, as I sit on it, it fits. The ergonomics are right, the seating position putting you in a natural position without forcing you to reach or stretch too much. The seat is wide and comfortable.
Pulling away for the first time I was amazed at how light the clutch felt and how smoothly the bike went through the gears.
Normally on media test rides you get the bike for a short while and ride in all conditions suited to the bike. A hundred miles or so is the norm, for me anyway.
So far I’ve filled it up twice and I’m not giving it back anytime soon. On the last fill-up, I made a note, 135 miles ridden when the reserve light came on; I put 2.5 gallons/9.4 L into the 3.6 gallons/13.7 L tank.
On my calculation, that’s around 54 mpg on a bike with a little less than 50 hp and that was all urban stop-and-go riding.
So what is this bike aimed at?
Riding, just riding in the purest form, no luggage, no destination just to go out and cruise locally. Maybe for someone who needs a fuel-efficient, reasonably priced bike to commute to work and back.
How about your first bike, maybe a parent-and-kid bike, used to go to school during the week, and its all yours on the weekends.
I was riding the 650 around Phoenix at 75 degrees, stopping to take photos all over the deserted city, and at one point I looked back and saw someone else with a phone out, also photographing the Royal Enfield.
Later, I jumped on the freeway to see how it felt; 70–80 mph (roughly 110–125 km/h) was great. The six-speed transmission, a first for Royal Enfield, went through the gears smoothly with the slipper clutch.
Now, if a bow tie and DGR isn’t your thing and you are harking back to the days of the “ton-up boys” and silk scarfs, Royal Enfield has you covered there, too.
I stopped over to see the guys at GOAZ Motorcycles and on their showroom floor they had the Continental version of the 650, more of a cafe racer style.
There are a few subtle differences between the two models; the Continental has a different tank, and a chrome version is an option.
The seat is stepped and the foot controls are more rear set.
And the bars instead of one piece are more clip-on clubman style, though I’m sure if you wanted you could flip them and bring back your inner 1960/’70s racer.
Also, there is no centerstand on the Continental.
As I was leaving, the guys at GOAZ in Scottsdale said if anyone wants to come over and do a test ride, they are more than happy to oblige, and might even join you so they can get out for a while.
The sun was starting to set and it was time to go home but I resisted and went out and burned another tank of go-juice first and did some riding in the warm January night air.
For more details go to the Royal Enfield website and if you get the chance take a test ride and be prepared to find space in your garage.
Price: $5,799 US / $7,599 Cdn
Engine 648 cc parallel twin
Engine Power 47 hp
Bore x Stroke
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Fuel System Fuel injection
Torque 38.3 lb-ft
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Final Drive Chain
Suspension Front 41 mm fork, 110 mm travel
Suspension Rear Twin coil-over shocks, 88 mm travel
Brakes Front 320 mm disc, ABS
Brakes Rear 240 mm disc, ABS
Tire Front 100/90-18
Tire Rear 130/70-18
Fuel Tank Capacity 13.7 lts
Color: Glitter and Dust, Silver Specter, Baker Express, Mark Three, Ravishing Red, and Orange Crush, Chrome
Overall Length 2122 mm
Overall Width 789 mm
Overall Height 1165 mm
Ground Clearance 174 mm
Seat Height 804 mm
Curb Weight 202 Kg
Warranty *3 year unlimited mile warranty & roadside assistance with the purchase of any Twins model.
Huge thanks to GOAZ Motorcycles of Scottsdale for the use of their Continental.
All images were taken by rtwPaul