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Interceptor 650

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

Owning, riding and modifying the new bike

Some time around the middle of 2019 I became aware of the new Royal Enfield 650 twins. All the testers approached them with an attitude of “Oh not another slow and unreliable Indian Enfield” and all of them ended their test loving them. The history, as I understand it, goes like this. Royal Enfield started making bicycles and then motorcycles in the very early 20th Century and built up a reputation as a manufacturer of well designed and competent machines (The “Royal Oilfield” tag was unfairly attached to some models probably more because of indifferent repair techniques rather than bad design). They also had a history of armaments manufacture hence the slogan “Made like a Gun”. In 1953 the company received an order for several hundred 350cc single cylinder Bullet models from the Indian Army. Starting by exporting complete bikes they then set up a subsidiary company in India which began by assembling knocked down bikes exported from Enfield in Redditch before starting complete manufacture of the Bullet. The British company eventually went under in 1969, their last models being made in an underground factory in Wiltshire. The Indian company, now known as Enfield India, carried on making the Bullet in 350 and 500 variants which became very popular in India, with some exported to Britain. In the late 1990s the Indian company  was acquired by Eicher Motors, an Indian truck company. The chief executive’s son was a very keen Enfield supporter and motorcyclist. He became CEO of Enfield India and set about bringing the company up to date. With new factories, considerably updated and improved Bullets, the acquisition of Harris Performance (a British chassis expert of considerable repute), the re-acquisition of the Royal Enfield name, the creation of a British design facility and the addition of several ex-Hinkley Triumph engineering people, the stage was set for a completely new range of twins. Though they echo the look of a 1960s Royal Enfield they right up to date and rideable by people who have just passed the test allowing them to ride bigger bikes than 125cc as well as being a very easy ride for people that are happy riding at sub warp speeds on a bike that doesn’t look like a refugee from Star Wars. In the words of the dealer where I had my test ride, they go well, steer well and stop well. I tried the Continental GT variant but preferred the Interceptor riding position. At the price it would have been rude not to buy one so I did and have been “enhancing” it ever since “enhancements so far include engine bars, running lights, heated grips, touring seat, flyscreen, touring mirrors, hand guards, heated grips, rear carrier, saddlebags and mountings, freer flowing air filter and intake, two into one exhaust from India (grinder injury incurred while fitting shown) and a piggy back ECU. Watch this space