Odometer: 1,958 miles
When Royal Enfield unveiled to the world its pair of all-new 650 twins, the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT, at EICMA in November 2017, the anticipation was already buzzing. We’d just visited its sparkly new state-of-the-art UK Technical Center on the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, near Leicester in central England, where the new twins had been wholly conceived, engineered and tested. We had to wait nearly a year, until September 2018, before we were able to swing a leg over each bike and take them for a spin through the redwoods at the global press launch in Santa Cruz, California (Rider, January 2019 and here), and it was shortly afterward that an example of each showed up at the Rider garage for a complete test.
Identical except for styling details, the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT share an all-new air/oil-cooled 648cc parallel twin, a chassis designed in conjunction with Harris Performance and standard Bosch 2-channel ABS. After a few rides we determined that both bikes not only look and feel the part, but considering their attractive price tags ($5,799 for the Interceptor and $5,999 for the GT) and three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty with free roadside assistance, they were also worth a serious look as “keepers.” The question at the forefront of everyone’s mind, however, was reliability. So we hung onto the GT for about seven months, with rides ranging from easy cruises down the coast highway, to full-on thrashing in the tortuous twisties of the Santa Monica Mountains, interspersed with stretches of just sitting in the garage as other deserving bikes got their test rides.
And it never missed a beat. The GT’s riding position is compact and sporty and the seat is about as comfortable as it looks (the Interceptor is a better choice if comfort is a priority), but leaning through the gentle curves of Highway 1, heading west out of Malibu into the setting sun, the Enfield just felt right. Goldilocks would understand. As Milwaukee-based Royal Enfield North America gradually builds a support base, the number and proximity of dealerships is the only concern for prospective new buyers, but if you’re lucky enough to have one close by, the new 650 twins are the genuine article.