Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 – The Best RE!

Pros:
  1. Undoubtedly, the best Royal Enfield you can buy in India. Period.
  2. It’s one of the most Value for a money cruiser bike. You could drive all day long on the good tarmac and still not get tired
  3. Top-notch quality for a bike of this price bracket has come a long way from the days of the bullet which mark its territory while leaking oil
  4. The gearshift is butter-smooth. Thanks to the light clutch which makes the city riding really effortless
  5. The high-speed stability is fantastic. There was not a single moment of nervousness when pushing the bike around the corners at high speeds
Cons:
  1. The pillion will feel uncomfortable on long rides due to the straight seat
  2. The ride quality could have been significantly better especially at the rear when driven over potholes and broken roads
  3. A small fuel tank of 13 L and a mileage of 21 km/L on an average means you would have to stop frequently for refuel
  4. The instrument cluster feels bare-born. A small multi-information display with at least a clock would have greatly helped
  5. The headlamps could’ve been even better especially the high beam has inconsistent throw at night which isn’t the best for highways

Design 

Not many automotive manufacturers have been successful in maintaining the classic retro look into their modern motorcycles. Fortunately, Royal Enfield is one among them. One look at the interceptor 650 and you know it belongs to the legacy of the renowned Indian motorcycle manufacturer. Although looks are subjective, I would leave it to you To decide if this is the most striking design or anything or did it just fall short of it. Once you look into the eyes of the interceptor 650, You are greeted by the old school halogen headlight when other manufacturers are moving towards fancier LED headlights which would have made it look much smarter. The indicators are neatly placed and for some reason, we felt that the front mud-guard fell short of a length. Moving to the side of it, you are greeted with a large chrome painted fuel tank which instantly grabs the attention. If that’s not enough the black thick strip running across the petrol tank with the Golden strips surrounding it uplifts the premium appeal.  The fuel lid is thoughtfully designed but there were some instances where it did not operate as expected.  Well, some of the enthusiasts would be left craving for a stylish rear, Royal Enfield decided to play safe with the subtle design. You get the conventional tail lamps which are surrounded by indicators which slightly feel old-school, but we aren’t complaining much about it. Blink and you still won’t miss the loud Royal Enfield badging on the petrol tank and the Interceptor tag is placed on the right side, just like every other RE. while the debate would be endless if this is the best looking Royal Enfield, the Indigenous motorcycle manufacturer deserves applause for not going too close to the territory of modernistic motorcycles especially in the design department. Something that they have been known for.

Drivability:

The Royal Enfield Interceptor is a very simple motorcycle. The engine is an all-new 649cc twin-cylinder unit and 270-degree firing order for a lovely twin-cylinder thrum. It has fuel injection and is oil-cooled. At 47PS and 53Nm, it isn’t an outrageously powerful motor that’s stress-free and the engine feels stunning in the feel, sound and the melancholy. Royal Enfield also has a new six-speed gearbox with a slip-assist clutch. Once you start the interception 650 you will be immensely happy with the acceleration provided.  Slot the gear into first And you could feel the brisk acceleration kicking back. The handling is not something to write home about but it’s not disappointing either. The heavyweight of 200+ kilograms makes it Challenging to tackle the obstacles on tough tarmac such as larger potholes. The magic starts when you hit the triple-digit speeds the bike feels very stable. The best part is the bike feels less weighed when you’re cruising on the highway. The low end is fine mid-range is brilliant and punchy. Shutterdrives does not recommend over-speeding, we pushed the bike all the way up to 150 km/h to checks high-speed stability and we were mightily impressed with the behaviour of the bike. It’s not the bike that’s going to drop your jaws When you push it around the corners. Once you slot into the sixth gear that’s when you realise the true potential of this cruiser bike. It shows absolutely no signs of nervousness. We found that the bike did emit warm air when it was taken through the Bangalore’s traffic but its nowhere close to being unbearable.

Braking

Unlike the MRF tires on the other RE’s, the Pirellis on the interceptor do a stupendous job of stopping the 200 kg motorcycle in a very short span of time. But thanks for the hefty kerb weight of the motorcycle, it feels like the bike is having some extra momentum before it completely comes to a standstill. The effort from the engineering team is something to be really appreciated. Really wish, to see the other Royal Enfield motorcycles Being equipped with breaking abilities like this.

Mileage

Having said that, I really wish the efficiency was slightly on an optimistic side or at least a slightly larger fuel tank would have done justice to the cruising segment it belongs to. The circuitous drive of 600 km from Bangalore to Chikmagalur returned an average fuel efficiency of 22 kmpl. The bike was still in the running-in period and we expect the figures to marginally increase post that.

Quality

It’s been 13 years of owning a Royal Enfield Electra 5-speed. It’s incredible to see the way this motorcycle manufacturer has transformed in the last one and a half-decade. The quality of the bike ranging from the switches to the cables to the leavers is very commendable. The front riding position especially the seat is something that looks like time travel back to the era of Rajdoot 350. One thing that we found that was acting finicky was the fuel lid which was a task to open sometimes. The foot-pegs especially in the rear could have been bigger. We loved the Royal Enfield branding on them though.

Ride & Handling:

While this is certainly the best engine that Royal Enfield has produced in its over a century-old history, the overall experience would have been even better if the seating was up to the mark in terms of the overall comfort. This would make long journeys very comfortable for them. On the contrary, it slides down a bit in the rear which makes it uncomfortable for the pillion on long drives. The cushioning is decent enough but having an outright flat design leads to discomfort in terms of thigh and hip support on longer rides. That said, you will need to take a break at least every 150 km. We would love to reiterate the fact that this is one of the most effortless motorcycles in terms of manoeuvring.

The suspension is basic too – right-side-up forks and twin gas-charged rear shocks. Disc brakes at both ends handle the braking and dual-channel ABS is standard. The wheels are aluminium spoked rims running tubed Pirelli SportComp tyres. The biggest let down for us with the Interceptor has been the below-average ride quality on bad roads for the rear passenger, specifically. It’s not as bad as the first-gen Toyota Fortuner, oops, no apple to orange comparisons, but just to give you a vague estimation, it will certainly displace you off the seat and you would certainly be craving for better grip from the seat at least.

Who should buy one?

Buy the Interceptor if:
  • You plan to ride for long hours, ALONE
  • Fuel efficiency isn’t a priority for you but performance is
  • You are okay with occasional niggles creeping up uninvited
  • Don’t intend to ride in claustrophobic traffic for long hours
  • You plan to ride at triple-digit speeds on our wide network of National Highways

We wholeheartedly thank Royal Enfield for bundling a well-engineered package of style, performance and practicality in the form of Interceptor 650. With the asking price of its competitors skyrocketing, the Interceptor feels more value for money than ever before.  If you are still confused whether to bring this lad home, toss the coin. It’s not that the coin will help you to arrive at a conclusive decision, but when the coin’s in the air, you would know what your heart is beating for. Most likely, it would be thumping for you to add it to your garage. If not, Orange is the new black!

Shutterdrives Rating: A well deserved 8/10. 

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