A review of the Continental GT 650

By David Reeves

When I first heard Royal Enfield were going to produce a 650 cc twin I wondered how different it would be to the 500 cc Bullet and 595cc Continental GT  I had ridden in India and here. With such a little difference in engine capacity how different could it be? With an extra cylinder and an extra gear in the gearbox, the differences would start there.

I watched the BIG release in California which was a live broadcast arranged by Royal Enfield over the InterWeb. Everyone at the launch was smiling including those normally grumpy Motorcycle Journalists especially when they were seen dismounting after a ride.

I knew I would have to ride one As Soon As Possible and so I asked John at Motociclo to let me know as soon as a 650 twin was available either an Interceptor or Continental GT.

John contacted me and advised a Continental GT was now in his shop and ready to ride. My real choice would have been the Interceptor for when I ride my son’s Ninja 600 my back reminds me how old I am. Was I confusing Café Racer with Sportsbike?

I don’t think I could have got to Motociclo any quicker. I had arranged for a mate to meet me on the way to the Royal National Park as he is better at photography than I.

The Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 and I departed Motociclo at 9:00 am on a Tuesday and headed away from the city for the Royal National Park. I had decided on the Royal National Park as I only had the motorcycle for a few hours and a ride through the park can still be enjoyable at the 60kph and 80kph limits and I am not one to drag my senior’s knees in corners.

The meeting point was McDonalds and I couldn’t help taking the photo of the son of café racers in front of a Mc (son of) Café.

The son of cafe racers in front of a Mc(son of)Cafe.

We left after a coffee and headed to the park. The weather was great only the traffic was a bit heavy than I had expected and the Army was ahead of us and their vehicles are not design to get there fast.

Though the speeds I travelled were low by true Café racer standards, the Continental just glided along with a wonderful exhaust note which I remembered for my childhood when an English twin would be ridden by. Not the putt, putt, putt, of a Royal Enfield single, a more rhythmic sound that twins produce and when you hear it, you will always remember it.

Preparing for the next set of corners.

The gearbox was a delight with easy movements of my left boot taking us up and down the gears. I was expecting chunkier but it was just smooth and positive.

There are many different types of corners in the Royal National Park and they should be treated with respect for over the years I have seen a few riders not come out as they had expected. I stayed within the speed limit and The Continental just took the corners in its stride. As we exited I felt a gentle push as you accelerated out, a change from the angry shove of some other motorcycles.

On the return trip we travelled the old Princes Highway and the Continent just took it in its stride, I don’t think 100 kph is regarded as the 21st Century ‘ton’ but it is foolhardy to do ‘The Ton’ in NSW and think you will keep your licence.

A stop at Bald Hill to chat with my travelling companion then for coffee at one of our favourite cafes.

Only the rider built up a sweat on this ride.
Time for a quick blessing?
The food of Cafe Racers, I think not.

On the return trip we travelled the old Princes Highway and the Continent just took it in its stride, I don’t think 100 kph is regarded as the 21st Century ‘ton’ but it is foolhardy to do ‘The Ton’ in NSW and think you will keep your licence.

Eventually (too soon) I returned to Motociclo and found I had the same smile those motorcycle journos had had in California and it wouldn’t go away.

Everything you need to know. No clock as you definitely do not need to know the time.

The Facts:

About the engine:

Type 4 stroke, single overhead cam, air-oil cooled, 648cc parallel twin
Displacement 648cc
Bore x Stroke 78 mm x 67.8 mm
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Maximum Power 47 bhp @ 7100 rpm
Maximum Torque 52 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Ignition system Digital spark ignition – TCI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox 6 speed
Lubrication Wet sump
Fuel management Fuel injection
Engine start Electric

About the chassis and suspension:

Type Steel tubular, double cradle frame
Front suspension 41 mm front fork, 110 mm travel
Rear suspension Twin coil-over shocks, 88 mm travel

About the dimensions:

Rake 24 degrees
Ground clearance 174 mm
Length 2122 mm
Width 744 mm
Seat height 790 mm Single 793 mm Dual
Height 1024 mm
Kerb weight 198 kgs
Fuel capacity 12.5 lts

About the Brakes and Tyres:

Front tyre 100/90-18″
Rear tyre 130/70-18″
Front brakes 320 mm disc, ABS
Rear brakes 240 mm disc, ABS

For more information go to https://royalenfield.com.au/models/continental-gt-650/

My Conclusions:

If you are looking for retro and the good old days, this is where you will find them. The look, the feel, the sound with the bonuses of fuel injection and ABS brakes.

It looks like a 1960’s Café Racer and if you want to make it your interruption of the period, you have the perfect starting point.

I can see an interesting future for this motorcycle in our modern world of rediscovery, I am sure the ranks of the Royal Enfield Riders Club will expand.

This is just retro fun and I am sure you will meet lots of folk who just will want to talk to you about the great restoration you did.

It’s also easy on the old back and the seat was comfortable as you can move along its length to find your riding position.

Did I mention that post ride smile?

My suggestion is, find your local Royal Enfield Dealer and try one for size and remember to have your $10,000 ready as you will want to take one home.

Getting in touch with my inner ‘Rocker’

A bonus picture of an earlier Royal Enfield.

You never know what you will find outside Motociclo.

Thank you to John and Nicole at Motociclo for arranging this test ride.