EICMA 2017: Royal Enfield 648 Twin Revealed

Gabe Ets-Hokin
by Gabe Ets-Hokin

India's oldest brand gets two cylinders of freeway-capable power

Update: Following details of its new 648cc Twin, Royal Enfield unveiled two models that will use the new powerplant, the 2018 Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650.

I’ve ridden and enjoyed the latest iterations of Royal Enfield’s single-cylinder models, but none of them, not even the top-spec (29 horsepower) Continental GT café-racer, make enough power to be comfortable to ride in modern, high-speed traffic conditions. Until now, at least.

The 2018 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650.

Let’s give a warm welcome to what may be the first truly all-new mill in the company’s long history, the 648cc parallel Twin. It’s not really a surprise – Royal Enfield has been open about wanting a larger, more powerful bike for overseas markets, and I’ve even seen spy photos of prototypes. Now the company has revealed photos and details.

It doesn’t look like much, but modern ancillaries in a Royal Enfield motor – balance shaft, overhead cam – can lead to a smooth, fun riding experience, especially for entry-level riders.

The new mill drags the 62-year-old Indian company kicking and screaming into the late 20th century. Designed by Royal Enfield’s Technology Centre in Leicestershire, England, it’s a pretty standard piece of engineering that wouldn’t look out of place in a 1970’s Japanese product, but it does have some modern features. It’s fuel-injected, uses an overhead cam and four valves per cylinder, and it’s even got an oil cooler, to keep up with mid-’80s Suzuki technology. It also has pretty oversquare dimensions, with a 78mm bore and 67.8mm stroke.

Exploded diagram reveals all the goodies.

The modern features combined with a fairly zesty 9.5:1 compression ratio yields a claimed 47 horsepower at 7,100 rpm, with about 39 ft.-lbs. of torque awaiting at just 4,000 rpm. We don’t know how much the engine weighs – we’ll find that out on November 7th – but we think the powerplant’s role is to impart an authentic 1960’s Twin experience, only smoother, thanks to a 270-degree crank and balancer shaft.

2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.

Forty-seven hp will let a motorcycle cruise comfortably at whatever legal speeds you want, but it’s not going to win any races, either. However, that’s not Royal Enfield’s goal. In 2014, Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal told us his American customers “want a fun, urban, evocative, period-like cafe racer. So, our idea is not to dominate the market but to bring in something which is very different from what is available.” Younger riders – and Lal told us RE is selling to a lot of younger, first-time buyers – want ease of use, reliability, character and value. A manageable, value priced 40-horsepower retro-Twin could do very well on our shores.

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Gabe Ets-Hokin
Gabe Ets-Hokin

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3 of 5 comments
  • Starmag Starmag on Nov 07, 2017

    Since the engine is going to be relativley anemic, RE better go with a chrome tank like the original to give this bike some bling.

  • Steve McLaughlin Steve McLaughlin on Nov 10, 2017

    There is no real reason their amazing thumper can't put out a LOT more horsepower. Racers have been doing it for 50 years. No real need to make a more complicated engine just a get a few more horses out of it. Pump up the THUMP.

    • Sheshank Sheshank on Nov 16, 2017

      I'm a little concerned about the signature RE Thump. Peak power at 7000 RPM isn't typical of the slow, heavy crank RE engines (peak power typically under 5000 RPM). The OHC (as opposed to their traditional push-rod) makes this sound a lot less like the old thumpers.