Royal Enfield Continental GT 650: India’s very first review of the upcoming motorcycle

Siva Sankaran AG, a motorcycle enthusiast and a Continental GT 535 owner, who also runs Madras Customs got to sample a pre-production version of the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 for a short spin somewhere near Chennai. Here are his impressions on what the brand new twin cylinder Royal Enfield motorcycle feels like.

How did I get to ride the new Royal Enfield Continental GT650?

I was shocked to see a twin exhaust motorcycle zooming past my Continental GT 535 which was already doing 130 Kmph on the outermost lanes. The seat cowl seemed familiar but I was still confused about the twin exhaust. Oh yes, I know what it is, it’s the CGT 650 and its being test driven. My poor 535cc machine with all the weight saving and up-jetted carburetor couldn’t keep up with its big sister. When I felt disappointed for having missed the opportunity of meeting the most anticipated motorcycle, it was there waiting for me. The guy understood what I wanted and was also kind enough to let me take a spin on it.

What’s new on the Royal Enfield Continental GT650?

[In this video that has a lot of background noise, Siva is seen talking about the rumble of the motorcycle after thumbing the starter. He seems quite impressed with the exhaust note.]

Well, even before I sat on the motorcycle, I spent around 10 mins just admiring the motorcycle and visually finding the difference between its little sister. The very first thing one would notice is the chassis and it has been stretched a bit to accommodate the bigger twin pot engine.  The engine was the most pronounced part of the motorcycle, it looked huge lying exactly under the fuel tank lines. The engine itself was very unusual in design but in a very likable way, the gearbox portion of the engine looked antique, yet it contains a modern assisted clutch. The handle bars were different, it was not the true clip ons that we get on the CGT 535. The triple tees, the seat, the tyres, the twin exhausts were all different.

More comfortable than the Continental GT535!

Now that I’ve had enough visual clues about this motorcycle, I decided to sit on it. Immediately it was clear that it was heavier than its little sister and that was not surprising. But the most surprising feature in this motorcycle was the seating position. I have no idea how Royal Enfield was able to pull this off, but they have done it. It was surprisingly comfortable. The aggressive riding position of the Continental GT 535 has been tempered on the GT 650.

The engine, and the ride…

The instrument cluster had something surprising, the top end of the gauge marked 200 Kmph and the tacho redlined at about 7,000 rpm. When I thumbed the starter of this 650cc motorcycle, a different breed of a power plant came alive. It wasn’t the usual thump from the single cylinder engine, it wasn’t like the roar of the three or four-cylinder engines either. It was different, it was more like a rumble, a sweet one which would make any petrolhead climax right there.

A typical metal clunk from the gearbox signaled that the first gear was slotted. The moment I released the clutch, the motorcycle stated moving. Throttle response was crisp and as I got jealous with my wrist, there was this sudden outburst of torque from the engine and it stayed there on till it hit 7000 red line rpm, as I climbed up the gear ratios and shifted to 6th, I was already doing 150 Kmph. It was just a breeze and the engine had no sign of losing its breath.

The ride quality was comfortable, since I believe the suspension is kept at soft mode, and certainly hasn’t affected its handling either. The ABS equipped Bybre brakes were good enough to stop the bulk of the motorcycle. Maybe it’s the first time ever one can ride a Royal Enfield confidently knowing that getting this motorcycle to a stop won’t involve drama. There wasn’t much vibration in the motorcycle, and it’s very obvious that the twin cylinder engines counteract their reciprocating effects. Even at high revs, the vibrations were more of a faint buzz than the severe tingle the 500cc Royal Enfields produce.

What I liked?

Engine, exhaust note, ride quality, riding position and Pirelli Sports Dragon tyres.

What could have been better?

Royal Enfield could have used USD front forks, a new instrument cluster and new headlamps/indicators.

PS: This is a user-generated first ride impression of the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650. Cartoq has edited the ride impressions for style, form and grammar.