2023 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 review: Retros refreshed

    New updates breathe some fresh life into the twins, though a little more could have been done.

    Published on Jun 09, 2023 07:00:00 AM


    We Like
    • Characterful engine is still the star
    • More premium bits at important touch points
    We Don't Like
    • Seats quickly become uncomfortable
    • Instrumentation feels dated, lacks info

    The Royal Enfield Interceptor and Continental GT 650 have remained largely unchanged in the 5+ years since they were first shown. But they’ve had just about enough charm, character and value to have remained successful despite this. In that time, though, other bikes in the RE lineup have taken big steps forward, so these two haven’t really been offering the flagship experience they should. The company has now finally given them an update, throwing in a bunch of new features, but also bumping up the price.

    Tubeless alloy wheels look smart.

    2023 RE Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 review: updates

    One of the most visible and asked-for updates is the long-awaited introduction of alloy wheels. Two colour options on each bike now come with alloys, and they also bring the convenience of tubeless tyres. In the case of the Continental, the tyres are now Vredestein Centauro STs, and since someone buying this bike is looking for a slightly sportier and more engaging experience, it’s nice to see this grippier rubber on offer. What you can’t do, at least through RE’s MiY configurator, is equip any of the other colour options with alloy wheels. The alloys aren’t offered as accessories, so if you want the practicality of tubeless tyres, you’re limited to the colour options that come with alloys. However, the situation on the ground is a little different, with RE dealers in our area telling us that the wire-spoke wheels can be changed over to alloys, at a cost of around Rs 14,000-16,000. The company says the difference in weight between the alloy wheels and the wire spokes is less than 100 grams.

    New retro-style switches are fitting.

    There are other areas where premium-isation has taken place, largely by borrowing bits from the new Super Meteor 650. The LED headlight, aluminium switch cubes, adjustable levers and grips have all been carried over, and you also now get a USB charger. The new LED headlight is a clear improvement in terms of brightness and spread, and the switchgear also looks and feels more premium than before, though the unusual pass switch position will take some getting used to, and never feels as natural as a regular trigger-style switch. There is a distinct feeling of quality from the new grips and levers, and all these changes at important touch points help breathe some fresh life into the bikes. But there are a couple of areas where RE could have done more.

    Dials show very little information.

    2023 RE Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 review: areas of improvement

    The one area where these bikes show their age is instrumentation. Yes, the twin-pod analogue set-up looks great and goes well with the retro theme here. But the inset digital display needs to show more information. You still get just two trip meters and the odo. At least a clock and a gear position indicator would go a long way here – the Super Meteor is able to offer a gear position indicator and a lot more info on the dash.

    New LED headlight performs better.

    Seating comfort also continues to be a literal sore point – the seats on both bikes become uncomfortable after not very long in the saddle. On the upside, there is an in-house solution if you’re willing to pay for it, in the form of RE’s accessory touring seats (Rs 3,465 and Rs 3,255 for the Interceptor and GT, respectively). Nevertheless, the stock seats should offer a better baseline level of comfort.

    2023 RE Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 review: verdict

    Under the surface, the 648cc twin-cylinder engine is now OBD-2 compliant. For an end-user, nothing has really changed, and that isn’t a problem. Every time you jump aboard an RE 650 after a while away, you’re immediately reminded of just what a nice and likeable motor this is. It’s flexible, easy, sounds great and pulls hard enough. Our testing figures revealed both bikes have become a little slower (about 0.5sec to 100kph) since they were first introduced, but you’re not really going to notice this in everyday situations, and it’s likely down to tightening emissions norms.

    Perhaps because of how long they’ve been around or how commonplace they’ve become, you sometimes forget just what sweet motorcycles these are. If you’re not the sort of person who rides very hard very often, the Interceptor and Continental continue to offer a very pleasant motorcycling experience, while now feeling a little more polished and offering more features and convenience. The ask is roughly Rs 14,000-16,000 more than before, and that seems like a fair price to pay, considering the updates. Despite the price hike, these bikes continue to be the strong value propositions they always have been.

    Also See:

    2023 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 video review

    Tech specs are mentioned in this order: Interceptor 650/Continental GT 650.

    Tech Specs

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