This weekend I’ll be trekking through the twisting roads of Northern California on an Indian-built bike with a British brand name that harkens back to the heady days of 1960s motorcycling. The 2020 running of the Coastal Range Rally is here, and I’ll be the only idiot trying to participate in this untimed non-competitive enthusiast event on two wheels.
(Full Disclosure: Royal Enfield reached out to ask if I would like to test any of its current lineup. I asked if it would be possible to borrow one of its new 650 twin models for a three-day road trip through California, and they obliged. I have not yet seen the bike in person, as I will be picking it up in Oakland, Cal. on Thursday morning.)
We haven’t tested an RE bike since 2015, and the company has come a long way since then.
Royal Enfield has only been back in the U.S. market since 2015, and the Interceptor 650 (technically it’s called the INT 650 in the U.S. market because Honda still owns the Interceptor trademark here) was introduced for the 2019 model year to slot into an under-served segment of the motorcycle market. With a four-stroke parallel-twin SOHC air-cooled engine making 47 horsepower at 7250 rpm and 38 lb-ft of torque at 5250, it’s not a speed demon, but it should be enough to haul my fat ass around.
Considering this bike has By Brembo (an Indian subsidiary of Brembo) disc brakes at both ends with standard ABS, a 6-speed gearbox, and a Harris Performance-designed steel twin-cradle chassis, and a gorgeously simple vintage looks, I’m forced to wonder how they got the price down to just $5,799. If you want a two-tone tank it’ll cost $200 more, and the chrome tank version will run you $6,499. That price includes a 3-year unlimited mile warranty and roadside assistance. I hope I don’t have to use that roadside assistance this weekend.
RE’s Indian factories have completely overhauled their quality-control process to make sure its bikes are up to European and American standards, and that warranty shows the company’s confidence in the INT.
Interestingly, while the Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp tires on this bike are a modern compound, the INT still makes use of an inner tube because of the traditional spoke-style wheels.
Bikes of this style absolutely littered the streets of California in the 60s and 70s, and I look forward to seeing how this vintage-inspired two-wheeler handles life in 2020.
Until I return from my long ride saddle sore and exhausted, please sound off in the comments with the burning questions you need the answers to. This bike is exceedingly interesting to me, and I look forward to answering my own questions about it, but what do you want to know?