Thursday, 7 February 2019

Featured Bike - Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 (2018)

I've been watching some YouTube reviews of the new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and am pleased that they have been generally favourable.   

Firstly a bit of history. Royal Enfield were a British bike company that went bust in 1971. In 1955 the Indian government ordered a large number of Bullet 350cc singles for use by the police and army. This was beyond the capability of the company so they sold the design to a subsidiary, Enfield India, to be manufactured there.

The Bullet, in 350 & 500cc capacity, has been built in Indian ever since. In about 1990 they started to be imported to the UK. Not my cup of tea but I guess if you want a new 1950's Brit bike…..   

I first saw the Interceptor at the Scottish bike show in 2017. It was quite impressive being a neatly styled bike closely resembling a classic '60's Brit twin. With retro styled bikes very popular (Bonneville, Guzzi V7, CB1100, etc) it seems reasonable that Enfield would want a bigger bike to compete in this sector.

The Interceptor has a new 650cc air-cooled parallel twin with eight valves and a single overhead camshaft. The firing interval is 270 degrees so it had the feel of a V twin. Reviewers praise the smoothness of the engine (it has balance shafts), its grunty power delivery and the simple "back to basics" philosophy. I think the bike will be easy to maintain and repair and it will give plenty of scope for customisation.   

Another strong point is the price - £5,500 in the UK. That's less than a Honda CRF250 Rally.

As well as the Interceptor Enfield have revived another name - Continental GT for a café racer version of the bike with a sporty seat and longer tank.   

Please note that I started biking with Japanese two stokes in the mid-'70's and Royal Enfield were a mystery to me. I researched the history and it might not be completely accurate. 

The original Interceptor - a 1960 700cc. You have to admit there is a similarity.


  1. I have thought these bikes to be intriguing too. Royal Enfield has come a long way in the last few years in terms of reliability. They don't have much of a dealer network in Oregon, I think we have one dealer in the state, maybe two.

    1. I'm not really into retros but I do like the styling and the bike's simplicity. There are two RE dealers within 15 miles of me so I'll have to go take a look at them.