Riding the Royal Enfield INT650 and Continental GT

We were given a Royal Enfield INT650 and Continental GT to take to our Ride ’Em, Don’t Hide ’Em Getaway and share our thoughts on both bikes.

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by Phill Hall
The INT650 in front of a setting sun, complete with Orange Crush paint.

Royal Enfield INT650/Continental GT650

Engine: 648cc air/oil-cooled SOHC parallel twin, 78mm x 67.8mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio, 47hp @ 7,250rpm (at crankshaft)
Top speed: NA
Fueling: Bosch multipoint sequential fuel injection
Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 12v, digital electronic ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle frame/55.1in (1,400mm)
Suspension: 41mm Gabriel telescopic fork front, twin Gabriel gas-charged piggyback shocks w/5-stage adjustable preload rear
Brakes: Single 12.6in (320mm) disc front, single 9.4in (240mm) disc rear
Tires: 100/90 x 18in front, 130/70 x 18in rear
Weight (dry): 444.4lb (202kg) INT/435.6lb (198kg) Continental
Seat height: 31.7in (804mm) INT/31.1in (790mm) Continental, 31.2in (793mm) dual-seat Continental
Fuel capacity: 3.6gal (13.7ltr) INT/3.3gal (12.5ltr) Continental
Price: Starting at $5,799 (INT650) and $5,999 (Continental GT)

Riding Royal Enfield’s new twins

I’ve had the chance to ride a handful of Royal Enfield singles over the years, and while I enjoyed them for what they were, I was never really bit by the bug. Though full of character and enjoyable for an afternoon trek, after 100 miles, I never wanted another 100. Though the torque of a big single always makes for a lively riding experience, I never missed our Bullets when they were gone. I already miss both the INT650 and the Continental GT650.

The folks at Royal Enfield arranged for us to borrow a Continental GT650 and an INT650 to take to Pennsylvania for our Ride ‘Em, Don’t Hide ‘Em Getaway this last August, and I had a chance to spend a full day on each bike. The two models are much alike: Seats, handlebars and footpeg location are the main differences between the two models. On both bikes, fit and finish is much better than the singles: Everything just works as it should. Thanks to electric start and fuel injection, they’re both easy-to-ride, easy-to-live-with motorcycles. The fuel mapping is clean, without any low-rpm hiccups, and the modest power is smooth and tractable. Both are happy to cruise around town, and while there’s not much grunt below 3,000rpm, from about 3,500rpm to 6,000rpm there’s a nice, torquey powerband. The sound is punchy yet pleasant. S&S Cycle already offers a set of slip-on mufflers that you’ll want as soon as you hear them, and ABS is a nice thing to have, especially in today’s traffic

The Continental GT650

Six hours, with a couple fuel and map-check stops thrown in, taught me many things about the Conti on Friday, our scouting day. The café style of this thing looks great, and the low bars give the bike excellent feedback once the pace gets cooking. The suspension is compliant and not too rigid. In the corners, the GT650 held its line well on power. I found the brakes to be plenty strong and easy to modulate, but then I’m used to vintage stoppers. This is one of those bikes where the experience is a “slow-bike fast” sort of thing. On the curvy but not-super-technical roads we traveled, you could use all of the throttle in most any gear once you had things pointed in the right direction, without any concerns of loss of traction. But I’m just the wrong size for this bike. At 6 feet 3 inches tall, this setup is just a bit too cramped for a full day’s ride. The first 100 miles of the day were great, but after that I needed to stretch about once an hour. If I were 5 feet 10 inches tall, it would be a different story.

The INT650

I rode the INT650 on Saturday, the day of our big ride. As soon as I sat on it, I knew the upright bars and lower pegs were going to be a better fit for me. Short of a different steering feel thanks to the higher bars, which we later adjusted to be a bit more pulled back, the INT is just as nice to ride, whether you’re cruising or ripping, as its café-dressed brother. The better ergonomics changed my view significantly. Short of high-speed touring, this could really be a do-everything street bike. And with some soft bags and a short windshield, it wouldn’t be too bad at that either.

It’s hard to go wrong with either bike, especially at the price. If I could have only one bike in the garage, the INT650 would do just fine. But if I already had something for touring and just wanted a bike for canyon carving? That’s where the Continental GT shines. — Landon Hall

Another view of the INT650

The beast is willing. I picked up the Enfield INT650 from Editor Hall’s home in Topeka, Kansas, the day after we all returned from this year’s Ride ‘Em event. For this ride I was following Editor Backus back to Lawrence, about 30 miles if you go the fun way. He was on his Laverda RGS, and the smaller displacement Enfield had no trouble keeping pace with the 1,000cc machine. We weren’t on the super slab, so the speed limit was lower, but there were occasional bursts of 70 to 80mph, and he was never able to get ahead by much for very long. I didn’t even use the 6th gear overdrive until above 60mph.

Once I had it on the lift in my garage, I began to work to make it fit me better. The shifter lever was too low for my taste, but the turnbuckle adjustment brought the shift lever up where I wanted it. I also rotated the handlebars a few degrees toward the rider, they seemed to be too far a reach for my torso. Next I had to do something about the long travel of the brake pedal before the rear disc engages. Again the turnbuckle adjustment brought it up to where I wanted it. Finally I increased the rear shock preload by one click to set the sag for my weight. After a few more days of riding, my opinion didn’t change much. The seat seems a little soft for long travel, but that might just be me. The rear brake, once pedal height was adjusted, worked well with the front brake to bring the bike to an efficient halt. I even hammered it hard a time or two while traveling in a straight line to bring the ABS into play and it worked as expected.

It was a big hit at our monthly vintage bike meetup. People loved the look of the machine and the price. With four vintage bikes and one modern bike in my garage, I don’t have room for it (yet!), but given the chance and space, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one. — Keith FellensteinMC

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