30 October 2020

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650: A classic relived

The Adelaide Hills in Spring make for perfect riding conditions (R Eime)

The gorgeous Spring riding weather in Adelaide presented the perfect opportunity for our long-overdue road test of the new(ish) Royal Enfield (RE) twins.

We picked up the sparkling Interceptor 650 from local RE dealer, Motorcycle Revolution at Melrose Park, and disappeared into the hills. Revitalised after some generous rain and bathed in the radiant Spring sunshine, the Hills are recovering well from the devastating fires at the beginning of the year.

1968 Royal Enfield Interceptor (Motorcycle Classics)

We won’t go into the rich history of Royal Enfield in this post (we did that here) instead we’ll just update you on the latest 650cc parallel twins which were introduced in 2018. Similarly, we won’t go into boring technical detail other than to tell you that the delightful engine is a wet-sump, 648cc, air-cooled SOHC, 8-valve, parallel-twin fuelled via Bosch injection with electronic engine management.

The name ‘Interceptor’ is no random coincidence either. In its previous life, the 692cc parallel-twin Interceptor was produced at the Royal Enfield Redditch factory in the UK between 1960 and 1970. So the new 650 is a respectful ‘homage’ to its significant forbear.

The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 channels the 60s and 70s bikes (R Eime)

The overall ‘retro’ style and feel are accurate and useful. Two large analogue dials display speed and revs, with a tiny LCD for fuel, odometer and trip meter. It’s all you need. Electric start, of course, brings to life a sewing machine-smooth engine that purrs through the revs rather than ‘buzzes’ with the exhaust tuned through a pair of prominent tailpipes.

Europe? No. Basket Range.
Heading up into the leafy landscapes around Lobethal, Basket Range and the Onkaparinga River, the Interceptor feels light and agile with enough ‘poke’ to join the many corners with a quick blast of throttle without heart palpitations. Front and rear discs with ABS make braking a cinch.

The 6-speed gearbox is silky smooth through all changes up and down, with ratios sensibly spaced for energetic riding. That said, we both experienced a couple of false neutrals during the ride and, wondering if it was just my clumsy foot, I note there are mentions of this event on the RE forums. I’m not able to confirm this is a mechanical or production fault, so let me say that you should simply make sure your changes are firm and positive - like they should be on any bike - to avoid this issue.

For two 50-something test riders with contrasting experience, we both had similar findings. I spend almost all my saddle time on big cruisers like my Harley, while Nick (who you see in the pictures) is back from a riding recess and is what we call a “returning rider”. Gear issues aside, we both loved the Interceptor for its light, nimble feel and easy riding stance. Neither twisty mountain roads nor suburban commuting presented any difficulty for the 650 and made our time in the seat completely enjoyable.

Test bike supplied by Motorcycle Revolution, Melrose Park.

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