Royal Enfield Ramps It Up
Proving the company is serious about dominating the mid-capacity market (bikes of roughly 400cc to 750cc), India’s Royal Enfield has launched a trio of new machines headed this way. The first of the new machines to roll out was the Himalayan, which was introduced in 2016, an all-new single cast in the adventure bike mold. Sharing nothing with RE’s venerable line of singles like the 500cc Classic and the 535cc Continental GT, the Himalayan is a clean-sheet design. Starting is electric only and the engine, a 24.5 horsepower 411cc single and RE’s first overhead cam design, features unit construction and a 5-speed transmission. Fuel injection and electronic ignition are featured, along with disc brakes front and rear. Expected to sell for around $4,500 when it finally goes on sale here in the U.S. in mid-2018, the Himalayan represents a serious challenge to many of the Asian lightweights and an excellent option to the popular but huge and heavy liter-plus adventure bikes from BMW and others.
Royal Enfield stirred things up even more at last November’s 2017 EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy, where it introduced a pair of new twins, the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650. Variations on the same theme, both bikes are powered by yet another clean sheet design from RE, this time a 47 horsepower air/oil-cooled 648cc overhead cam 4-valve per cylinder twin. Designed to look like a traditional pushrod engine, the new twin even features cylinder finning to further evoke an image of days gone by. Fuel injected and electronically sparked, the new engine features a 6-speed transmission with a slip-assist clutch, a first for RE. Designed in RE’s U.K. tech center, both bikes harken back to a British past, but using modern technology. The Interceptor — a name last used by RE England back in the ’60s on its big twin — is a standard-style machine cut much in the mold of a Hinckley Triumph Bonneville T100. The Continental GT650, on the other hand, is the café racer of the pair, a hip-looking machine with styling cues pulled from the current single-cylinder Continental GT. Frankly, we think both bikes look fantastic and we can’t wait for the opportunity to swing a leg over one. Expect both machines to be priced somewhere in the $5,500 to $7,500 range.
Now the world’s largest volume manufacturer of two-wheelers, RE is aiming for a production capacity of 900,000 motorcycles in 2018. Fully 96 percent of RE sales are in India, making the U.S. and other overseas markets, still poorly served in terms of mid-capacity bikes, potentially huge hunting grounds.
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