Are fresh rubber and paint for RE’s cafe racer relevant?
Published on Mar 27, 2022 07:00:00 AM
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New CEAT rubber offers ample grip.
Soft shock absorbers eat into agility.
An absolutely flimsy pretext is all I have ever needed to ping the good souls at Royal Enfield and ask to borrow a Continental GT 650. Therefore, when word spread of the Conti GT getting a new set of tyres – in addition to new paint schemes and BS6 compliance nearly a year ago – I resolved to loan one again. Feeling judgemental? Oh, please – I’ve done worse in the past!
Fast-forward to my reunion with said cafe racer, and all was instantly well with the world again. That cafe racer stance looks a lot more committed than it actually is, and frankly, I’d happily tour the country on it. For now, though, I was only warming up to its responses and dimensions, until the familiarity would fully creep in again.
It’s undeniable that the BS6-ification of the 648cc parallel-twin has made it a wee bit softer. It’s still a 47hp engine – and that’s ample in any situation – but the relative perkiness of the BS4 motor seems to have been lost in the process of compliance. My counter was to ride it that little bit harder (who’s complaining?) and, thankfully, I found the tyres enabling such antics noticeably better than the last time I tried such a thing. In all fairness, the Pirelli SportsComps were nice tyres, but the CEAT Zoom Cruz
Fs are that crucial bit better. It helps tremendously, especially on a motorcycle that can wag its tail on demand; it still can, thankfully, but it is largely composed and communicative, under all sorts of situations.
In the couple of weeks it lived with me, I rode it hours before I had to be anywhere, every single day. The incentive of bagging heartachingly pretty photographs certainly fuelled the urge to ride it even more, and that such adventures would invariably end with some Irani grub made it the happiest routine I’ve had in a while. Cafe racer, chai chaser... same thing, right?
Having been around for over three years now, though, the Conti GT is working up the wrinkles. For one, that too-soft suspension definitely robs the bike of its natural agility. Also, while I’m a big fan of chrome clutch/crankcase covers over matte black ones, the ones on the 650s seem to suffer from rather intense pitting and lose their sheen alarmingly quickly. Our test bike came with 800km on the odo, mind you. Lastly, I certainly wouldn’t mourn the inclusion of slightly sharper brakes.
Still the stuff of dreams, then? Yes, if a happy, timeless cafe racer is all you want. Perhaps no, if you want your cafe racer to do very proper sportbike things. I’d counter the latter by saying it’s a great base to begin a project bike on, but then I’d also counter myself (weirdo, eh?) by asking you to wait until Royal Enfield does the needful and brings in updates. About time, no?
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