Thursday, 30 November 2017

Ben's Corner #11: RE's Classic Reborn

'It's not a thump but a rumble,' said Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal when reporters asked him what kind of sound the new 650 cc engine produces. If you didn't understand what I was referring to, well, Royal Enfield unveiled two brand new flagship offerings Continental GT 650 and Interceptor to the world at the EICMA auto show in Milan recently. The bikes which were tested in the nook and corner India for a good two years finally saw daylight.

While the bike was on test for a long time, it was very recently learnt that Royal Enfield would be launching two different offerings with the same engine. As per spy-shots, one was a cafe racer just like the existing Continental GT 535 and the other one was a retro street bike on the lines of Triumph Boneville. The bikes have got typical Royal Enfield design language which is simple yet purposeful. While the chassis has been developed by the brand's subsidiary, Harris Performance, the other crucial components like shock absorbers, tyres, etc., have been outsourced as usual.

Coming to the important aspect which is the mysterious engine which will power the bikes, all this time, enthusiasts were expecting a 750 cc twin cylinder engine. But, shockingly, Royal Enfield rendered every rumour to shame by launching a 650 cc mill. When asked why a 650 was chosen, Siddhartha Lal, said, '750 will be too powerful for Royal Enfield customers, so we settled in for a 600 which eventually rose to 650.'

What came in as a sweet surprise from Royal Enfield CEO was the engine's performance when he revealed that it effortlessly breaches the top speed of 160 Kmph, the minimum requirement of a cafe racer. Feeling excited? There is more is store. This 650 cc engine gets a 270 degree firing angle, one of the segment firsts giving it a powerful and throaty exhaust note. But wait, it won't be a thumping sound like the existing UCE engine which is powering the current lineup. That's the reason, Royal Enfield CEO tagged it with the word 'rumble'.

Finally, coming to the engine's specifications, it's a 648 cc parallel twin producing 47 bhp of peak power at 7,100 rpm and 52 Nm of maximum torque at 4,000 rpm. It is fuel injected, has SOHC (Single Overhead cam) and has a bore and stroke of 78 mm and 67.8 mm respectively. The engine will be mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox with a slip-assist clutch to minimise lever effort. It continues with air-cooling but with an additional oil cooler.

The engine produces more power and torque than the current reigning champ in the segment KTM Duke / RC 390. But it must be seen if it can actually perform better than the former. The recent race video which went viral on Youtube where the new Royal Enfield bike was chased by Bajaj Dominar depicts that the 650 cc engine has the required grunt. If the brand gets the prices right, they already have a winner.

- S Ben Raja,
Chennai, October 31, 2017.

The above review/analysis is completely the perception of S Ben Raja alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only. This author is correspondent for an English daily working on auto beat stories for over a year. Reach him at

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