Words/Photos: Bob Pickett
The 650 Continental is the sport(ier) stablemate to the Interceptor tested last month from the rejuvenated Royal Enfield factory.
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The basics are the same (engine, frame, brakes, etc.), with a few choice tweaks to give it that sporty edge (clip-ons instead of bars, smaller sculpted tank, smaller pegs set slightly further back).
Give me some spec
A steel-tubular, double-cradle frame houses a 648cc air/oil-cooled parallel twin putting out 47bhp @ 7100rpm, with 52Nm of torque @ 4000rpm. It features a 6-speed gearbox (a first for Royal Enfield) with slipper clutch, and an estimated top speed of 120mph (according to the clocks).
Suspension is via non-adjustable 41mm front forks with 110mm travel and twin coil-over shocks with 88mm travel to the rear, mounted on a 100/90-18 front tyre and 130/70-18 rear with 174mm ground clearance. Bringing things (and the meagre 202kg dry weight) to a halt is a single 320mm disc, two-piston ByBre caliper (front), 240mm disc, two-piston caliper (rear), with Bosch ABS.
Any updates from last year?
Brand new model.
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What is like to ride?
What a difference a few changes make. The clip-ons and ever so slightly more posteriore footpegs, combined with the elevated seat, places the rider over the front wheel. This extra weight anchors the front, giving the steering a more direct feel. It also loses the occasionally floaty feel to the handling experienced with the Interceptor.
The downside of this change in position is to place more weight on the wrists and bending your back. If longer rides are your thing then the Royal Enfield Interceptor’s more laid-back stance will suit, but if you want your ride to be more involved then the Continental is the one to go for.
Both bikes share the same 648cc parallel twin, no tweaks, no changes. And it doesn’t need them. It’s a lovely little engine, spinning up quickly, freely and easily, making the most of it’s humble 47bhp output.
I said I’d like a second front disc on the Interceptor, and it’d be even nicer here. Also, it would be good if the suspension could be firmed up on this model (both bikes feature soft suspension to match the needs of the Indian market where both will sell in droves) to match the more sporting aspirations.
If I’m being honest, I prefer the Royal Enfield Interceptor. I’m happier with the more ‘sit-up-and-beg’ position and I’m one of those riders that likes to take it easy unless the mood suits. But if you like the café racer look and/or want your ride to be more committed, then the Continental is the bike for you. Think ‘Baby Thruxton’ and you’d not go far wrong.
Royal Enfield Continental 650, price?
You pay a bit more for sporty. In the ‘Ice Queen’ colour scheme sported by our test bike, it retails at £6,099.
Price varies by scheme up to £6,399 for the ‘Mister Clean’ shiny silver scheme (which does, of course, fit nicely into the café-racer styling of this bike).