First shown at the Indian Auto Expo almost two years ago, and having since wowed crowds at prestigious International motor shows including Long Beach, California, Royal Enfield’s eagerly anticipated café racer, the evocative Continental GT has finally broken cover. We’ve just finished an extensive, fast paced test ride in the fitting location of UK, riding this classic looking new Royal Enfield around the London region, where it feels and looks completely at home.
The Continental GT has been painstakingly re-created by Royal Enfield, with such a keen eye for attention-to-detail. Smashing looking, and with standout styling, the GT shows off classic lines from a magical era long since gone. The motorcycles round headlight is surrounded by an alloy steering brace and clip on handlebars that house Royal Enfield typical switchgear and rider controls. Royal Enfield will sell after market bar end mirrors for the GT, and we couldn’t recommend these more, for being so functional and solid, despite their tiny size. The GT comes with an elongated 13.5litre fuel-tank, tastefully adorned with neat logo, and equipped with a beautifully sculpted filler-lid. This leads into its single saddle (dual seat available as an optional) with smart exposed red stitching and a rounded tail surround. True enthusiasts will admire the GT’s exposed frame sections around its flank panels, its dual colour metal mudguards, alloy constructed spoke rims, as well as smartly shaped chrome silencer. Continued..
The Continental GT comes with a single-cylinder, air-cooled, 535cc Royal Enfield heart, this beating out a soft, yet evocative and crisp bark that had us blipping the throttle more often than usually. It makes 29.1bhp at 5100rpm of maximum power, 4.49kgm of peak torque at 4000rpm and fuel-injection is standard. The motorcycle comes with a smooth shifting five-speed gearbox, operated in the universal, one-down, four-up pattern, with shift lever on the left of the bike. The GT feels quick enough for what it is, capable of cruising at 100kph comfortably, at which point the tachometer needles hovers around 3500rpm. When pushed hard by us, the Continental GT achieved an indicated 140kph on flat road, even managing 150kph with the throttle wound open to the stop while racing down a slight gradient, and surprising us to hold these high speeds over prolonged durations, without much protest other than to send more than a fair share of vibes up to the rider. The Continental GT powerplant feels and performs similarly to its siblings, with some improvement, and a noticeably more rev happy nature, with improved top-end performance available now. On the downside, fuelling needs to be better sorted out, especially towards the bottom end of the powerband, where the GT power delivery feels a touch snatchy and calls for large dozes of throttle when dealing with stop and go situations.
The Continental GT is a reasonably comfortable motorcycle to pilot, its saddle feeling supportive, roomy and wide. The footrests aren’t placed overly far behind, and the lean down into its clip-on bars isn’t so pronounced as to make you uncomfortable. It’s clearly the sportiest riding position of any Royal Enfield bike built today, but still useable over long distances, just not as comfortable as other Royal Enfield built bikes such as the Classic series or Electra. Unlike those, the GT comes with a double downtube steel frame, perfected by Harris Engineering, and Royal Enfield has tried to pare down weight to a minimum, 184kg, while providing top class, gas charged suspension at rear, courtesy Paioli. Ride quality feels firm, especially from the front telescopic forks, while the bike handles with Enfield trademark stability, going round corners with confidence, and a nice sure footed feel from its tyres, which are Pirelli front (100/90) and rear (130/70 section) on 18 inch rims. The GT comes with a steel, elliptical section swingarm and single disc units front and rear. Braking feels powerful, with a nice progressive feel at the lever. Despite riding extensively for the better part of a day, we rarely found the need to feather the rear brake pedal, with ample stopping power available from the front (300mm disc, twin piston) when combined with healthy engine retardation by coming down the gearbox. Royal Enfield has done well to provide a floating front disc rotor, and steel braided brake lines at both ends. Continued..
The Continental GT will first start UK deliveries in October. Following which it should reach Indian showrooms by November 2013. The bike is priced at GBP 5200 in UK, Eur 6350 in Europe and USD 7200 in America. We can expect it to be priced at Rs 2-2.25 lakh ex-showroom in India. The best Royal Enfield bike today? We didn’t even need to think before responding with a thumping yes! Look out for a more detailed review in the shortly upcoming Autocar India, October magazine.