Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, a bike that has redefined the way people looked at the company. This Royal Enfield’s first step in the performance game and they have done it without losing the classic retro charm. I have spent a few days with the bike and this will be a short review of my time with the bike. I will take you through various aspects of the bike and finally give you a verdict on the bike.
The first glance at the bike tells us one thing very clearly that this is a classic motorcycle. The frame is completely blacked out and is neatly one with the body panels. From the front, the headlight feels a bit old school. With a prismatic non-clear lens the function is better than the form it is in. With that headlight, one can mistake this bike for an old bike from the 60s. The engine of the bike is completely chrome but as it is subjected to dirt and dust particles it gets these stains which might not appeal to the user.
As a personal preference, the chrome on the engine is a bit too much and could have done with a black powder-coated engine. A tank of this bike too does not carry shrouds and fancy styling which goes with the retro looks of the bike. The bike looks particularly very slim because of this. The seat is flat but it also gets a cruising seat option. There is a problem with the regular seat but we will come to that later in the comfort section.
There are no LED lights for illumination on the rear as well which frankly do not have any place on a retro bike. Now it’s up to you to decide if that is a cost-cutting measure or a retro theme look. The spoked wheels play the part in the design but they do have a downside as the tyres no longer remain tubeless. This is something that the bike should have given as optional. Pushing this heavy bike after a flat tyre is a task.
This is the first bike at the Rs 3 lakh on-road provides with a parallel twin-cylinder. The engine is an air-cooled fuel injected unit which will make enough power to make you feel that you are faster than other bikes on the street. But if you put it against its class then it will have to compete with the bikes from the 90s. Generally buyers put it in competition to the Duke 390 – as that is in the same price range and there isn’t much of a difference in the performance of the two. in fact, we have even done a comparison of the Interceptor with the Duke 390 as well.
The air-cooled engine does not rev very high but it does not need to as the torque is available from low RPMs. The bike does pull in any gear and that is what makes riding it so enjoyable. This classic Royal Enfield character is not only making the Royal Enfield enthusiasts happy but also making the bike much easier to ride. Nowhere will you miss out on the feeling of riding a Royal Enfield as the iconic thump from the exhaust accompanies you all the while. It is more of a muted thump and that does define the way it performs. There isn’t much of an issue with it, but the typical Royal Enfield relation is surely maintained.
What does not make the ride happy is the heavy clutch and the weight. If you encounter traffic on this bike then this becomes the perfect Bermuda triangle to spoil your mood. The same mood is fixed when you hit an open patch of road and gun the throttle. This bike sits comfortably at cruising speeds between 100 to 120 km/hr. The bike does not gallop to high speed but the torque makes it hold those speeds without any effort.
Gear shifts have a mechanical feel and the gearing is pretty tall. You can keep pulling the bike in 3rd gear till the redline and still have a big drop in the rpm when you upshift. The gear lever is not clicky but has a solid feel to it.
The Pirelli phantom sport tyres are great on the road but if you are planning to take this bike to Ladakh (which we don’t advise) then you should look for some dual-purpose tyres. The bike gives a decent mileage but we haven’t done a proper mileage test. The braking ability of the motorcycle is fantastic too. The Enfield is heavy indeed, but it does have very good stopping power on offer. This goes well with its good on-road manners even on twisties.
On the comfort front, the bike is very comfortable over bumps. The downside is that the suspension bottoms out and the adjustment to the preloaded needs to have intermediate settings too. The seat is too soft as said earlier. So the long-distance commute will feel uncomfortable. Opting for the more comfortable seat might solve the problem. Overall the motorcycle has good performance and it does feel lively when you ride it. This makes it an awesome choice for many.
In the city, the bike has a big turning radius. This means there will be a 3 point turn and the weight of the bike will not make it easy either. Also if you are an average height person then flat-footing on the bike is a bit of a problem. The engine is pretty bulbous and the foot levers have to be placed beyond that. This makes the foot-pegs hit the shin and calf many times when driving at slow speeds.
Handlebars are optimally wide and can be adjusted for tilt for added comfort. As this bike can cruise at 100 to 120 km/hr there is a problem of wind blast. As the bike has no windscreen unless you have a quiet helmet you are going to look at good amounts of wind noise. Talking about the comfort, if you are looking at touring, the small fuel tank of the bike means stopping more frequently. With 13.7L and two cylinders being thristy, you do have to pit stop every 280kms.
Lastly, addressing the elephant in the room, the vibrations on this bike are very minimal. This is because of the counter balancers on the new engine and the improved new chassis. Royal Enfield addressing the problem of vibrations on their bike is a bike step. And in this whole process, the way they have not lost the characteristic thump is applause-worthy.
Bang for your Buck
If we are looking at the price at which this bike is priced at then the main thing about the bike, engine capacity is a total value for money. With that being said this bike does miss-out on some of the electronic aids and the technological advancement which is offered in its class of bikes.
The bike feels very solid and nowhere you feel that the parts are tacky. The chrome finish on our test model was absolutely phenomenal. It does pick up some fingerprints but those can be avoided by picking some other colour. However if you are looking for motorcycle that offers a lot of gizmos, this bike isn’t for you.
If you look at the bikes in the same price bracket then there isn’t a bike that offers the same styling of the retro-modern charm. The Jawa does offer a good retro-modern machine but the pricing is a bit low and the engine is also low on capacity and in turn power. The KTM is a good bike but is it for a person who is looking for a mature relaxed machine? No.
At Rs 2,64,919, these bikes make for a very good retro classic machine.
Should you Buy it
Before buying this bike you should ask yourself a question. ‘Where am I going to use this bike?’ For daily city commuters with a smaller commute of 20km, this bike is a good bet. It has a character that would suit an executive and the stance of a Royal Enfield. It would also double up as a Sunday morning cafe bike if you are a passionate rider.
But if you are looking for something to tour on then there are better options out there. If this is your first purchase and you are planning to upgrade in the next 5 years then go for a single-cylinder option like the KTM or the Himalayan. But if you have planned to take this bike down your retirement then nothing would be more perfect in this budget.