2019 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 Twin SOLD!
2019 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 Twin – Ice Queen
``...the company is looking at these two machines as filling an entry-bike void in the US market. One where the terms ``inexpensive,`` ``simple,`` and ``fun`` coexist with ``cool`` and ``user-friendly.``
The anticipation for this series of bikes from Indian manufacturer Royal Enfield (yes, they used to be English) came and doesn’t seem to have left, despite a virus trying to halt humanity in its tracks. Marketing campaigns show attractive, young riders cruising through urban cityscapes and curvy backroads yada yada, kinda like every other marketing piece from every manufacturer, save for maybe BMW. It’s true, we need to reach younger riders and by doing so we can revitalize an aging and slumping landscape of good ‘ol boys and cults-of-personality who shun those who do anything different. For too long now motorcycling has been dominated and so defined by who has the most displacement, the most power, the most onboard gadgets; and by who spent more at the dealership – or conversely got a heck-of-deal.
We have forgotten the one thing about motorcycling that dragged us from the illusory safety of cars and busses and set us atop a machine that offers us something different. Freedom? Sure, that’s one moto-trope that never ceases to wax poetic. Efficiency? Fuel savings are nice, yes, and no one can get upset with fewer pollutants in our air. But let’s not miss the point: Motorcycles are fun.
I’m here to tell you. Royal Enfield has made a fun motorcycle.
In a 2018 article from Cycle World highlighting the virtues of the new and expanding line-up from the century-old motorcycle manufacturer they asked and – through an anecdotal tale of their own perspective – answer a rarely asked but important question: where does this bike fit in? They summed it up quite elegantly in reference to the “INT 650” and this, the Continental GT.
“These two middleweight motorcycles are not intended to be competition for other bikes with similar displacements and/or styling; the company is looking at these two machines as filling an entry-bike void in the US market. One where the terms “inexpensive,” “simple,” and “fun” coexist with “cool” and “user-friendly.” “We’re not looking to take market share from anyone,” RE CEO Siddartha Lal said, “We are here to grow the market by creating our own category.” – Cycle World, Noc 19, 2018
The first thing people notice about it the bike, duh, is the way it looks. The Continental GT is has been taking its styling cues from the English cafe racer scene of the mid-twentieth century since, well, the mid-twentieth century. First produced in 1965 as 250cc single making 21 horsepower the Continental GT was the perfect bike for would-be racers to get their first taste of two-wheeled thrills. The UK limits new riders to a maximum of 250cc and the trimmed down bikes with clip-on bars and rear-set foot controls were prepped and ready for a fun night at the cafe bar.
55 years later, modern engineering has done nothing short of maximizing that potential and offering today’s new rider an exciting, affordable, and competitive edge in a class of motorcycle which frankly hasn’t existed since (and maybe due to) the creation of the Honda Rebel. Not to slag off the noble and reliable Rebel, which I have reviewed in other articles as the perfect entry-level bike, but here we have something completely different. Here we have a new generation of engine design built for a new generation of riders in a new and brave world. With features such as air-to-oil cooling, 8-valve roller rocker heads (adjustable intake side), Mikuni throttle bodies with fuel injection. The engine is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden, with a silky smooth throttle response that surges with power to the rear wheel from off idle and pulling with no sign of letting up, all the way to the 7,000 RPM. And it does this in each of its six gears right up to its top speed. Throw your beloved stats sheet in the recycling bin because you’ll not give a care that it only reads 47bhp.
The frame was designed by Harris Performance, the front forks and rear reservoir shocks built and tuned by Gabriel, the 320mm front and 240mm rear disc brakes come from a division of world-renowned Brembo. Laced and spoked 18″ wheels are wrapped in Pirelli Phantom Sportcomps. The sweeping analog speed and rev counters are attractively retro and are backed up by a nifty LCD display for the vitals. The cafe seat comes with an optional cowl to complete the cafe look which starts first with a bucket headlight, GT clip-on bars, an attractive 3.3-gallon tank with knee notches, rear set pegs. The upswept inverted cone exhaust spread like wings from either side of the frame but if you’re looking to make a statement are replaceable from the factory with the sexiest sounding S&S Custom stainless mufflers you’re likely to hear for a bike that cost less than used Toyota.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a worldwide event held simultaneously in hundreds of countries, with thousands of cities hosting millions of riders; men and women alike donn their fanciest dress, polish their classiest vintage or classic-looking bikes, and zip around town in an effort to raise money for men’s mental health awareness and prostate cancer research. Over 300 of St. Louis’ finest examples of classy motorcycles and sidecars hit the streets in support. I had the extreme pleasure of assisting the riders as an event organizer and corner marshal, controlling intersections, and helping to make sure the ride never suffered an avoidable slowdown.
My ride was an INT 650 twin from Royal Enfield, nearly identical to the Continental, mechanically speaking, and its performance is on par though I can see where the INT would benefit from a few of the Continentals upsells. The line of bikes stretched for over a mile down State Highway 30 in South St. Louis County. I at the back was keeping an attentive eye to the future knowing that somewhere ahead of our sweeping treeline suburban road, out here on the edge of the upper-middle-class neighborhoods, lie a more complex system of city streets and stop lights, where motorists were commuting away their Saturday morning. Possibly leftover from the previous night’s entertainment, with booze still hot in their blood and phones in their ashen, yawning faces. This was before the age of COVID when going out was still a thing and people hunted deep into the night; maybe for love or thrills, or any sign of life to prove there was more to living than just the 9-5 drag. Now we wonder if life will ever get back to those norms we so callously took for granted.
The sun was rising and so was the temperature over the long and winding line of bikes, each keeping pace with another as they paraded down the road, suit jackets and dresses and skirts flapping in the wind like battle flags. I was somewhere in the middle of the pack with some riding buddies of mine not far away. The first intersection that was a point of interest to the ride organizers was fast approaching and I needed to make it to the front of the pack. The 650cc twin was whirring along beneath me, its exhaust smooth and subtle at sustained speeds but about to ignite more to the tune of Kenny Loggins, Danger Zone. With just a flick of the throttle, there was a surge in the seat and the blast of exhaust echoed off the sides of bikes as I accelerated, needles climbing in sync as the speed multiplied. Navigating the field of bikes was as simple as willing the bike towards any opening I chose. The melodic blast of two stainless trumpets rang in muy ears like the horns of an invading force as the riding field stretched out beside me in a blurred line of metal and leather and craning necks. Some riders were upset. Some felt challenged and tried to catch up, a mock dogfight ensuing under the spattering of tree-shaded morning sunlight. Gear shifts were swift and precise as I pressed on and I, with a slight adjustment to my weight, overtook more, followed by another bike in my pursuit of the leading edge of the first attacking wave.
As the first intersection came into view just over a rise, an easy two-fingered squeeze of the brake lever slowed me to a stopped in a graceful and quiet fashion, and I noticed my heart was the only thing the brakes couldn’t force to a halt, no matter how hard I squeezed. Ignoring the honks, feigned verbal violence, and revving engines of the cars to my immediate right I waved the battalions of bikes through a dogleg intersection, the 650 twin gurgling quietly beneath me.
My heart was smoothing now, even as the tempers of Saturday morning drivers soared and raged. A few even put down their phones in a huff, as though to punctuate their impatience. There were miles of intersections ahead and more overtaking than a Wall Street market surge before the closing bell. My investment into the Enfield was one that was promising a huge payout and confidence was nearly as high as my anxiousness to get out of that intersection and race off towards the next one. However, investments and costs and industry standards and market trends were not on my mind as I waited for the last few stragglers to join the fight ahead. Important as those things may well be, my mind was in a different zone and whatever was going through my head at the time, all I can remember is how much I enjoyed it.
On the subject of price, how’s $6000? Nothing much more to say there. Oh, a great warranty covering just about everything but you dropping it from an overpass.
So then. Are you the fastidious, cost-conscious consumer seeking reliability in brand identity? Are you looking for the most powerful bike for the least amount of money, with the best rider aids and tech? How do you as a rider approach buying a motorcycle, new or used? That in itself is a long conversation and can be examined from so many viewpoints that already haunt sales floors around the world and can make selling a bike more than a little difficult, but that is another article all its own and for a later time. As you shop never forget that most important part of owning a motorcycle and ask the question of whoever is trying to hand you the keys to a bike you’ve never heard of: IS IT FUN? In the case of the Continental GT, it is an undeniable, yes.
Engine: 648cc, air-/oil-cooled, SOHC, parallel twin, 4 valves/cylinder
Fuel delivery: Electronic fuel injection
Power: 47 hp
Torque: 38 lb-ft
Front Brake: 2-piston floating caliper, 320mm disk w/ ABS (by Brembo)
Rear Brake: 1-piston floating caliper, 240mm disk w/ ABS (by Brembo)
Wet weight: 450 lbs (wet)
Seat Height: 31.2 in
For further information, to schedule a test ride, or to purchase, please fill out the form below. Come take her for a spin and see for yourself.