Ever since my interview last December with Rod Copes, President of Royal Enfield North America, I’ve been looking forward to experiencing the new 650 Twin the company developed for the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650. The common engine and chassis underlying these two models represent just one of “several” platforms slated to be released by RE in the next 3-5 years, according to Copes. Additionally, Copes claims that these platforms will all be aimed at the 400-700cc category because Royal Enfield wants to be the global leader in the middle-weight segment, which he thinks is underutilized as most manufacturers have been exploiting the heavy-weight market with its wider profit margins. Since I am a fan of both middle-weights and parallel Twins, these were heady statements to receive.
I was a little surprised my kid liked the new Honda Rebel 500 as much as he did last week, but then all of us are surprised by our offspring, aren’t we? His daily driver lately is my old Yamaha R1. He finally got around to getting his motorcycle endorsement last month – on our borrowed KTM Super Duke GT… so he does have quite a varied motorcycle background for a kid who’s only 23 years old. In an effort to understand the younger moto-mentality, and as a service to all the manufacturers trying to figure out what the hell millennial motorcyclists want, anyway, I drilled further into my child’s mind to get down to the Top 10 of things.
In a world of increasing electronic complexity, Royal Enfield’s Continental GT is a bastion of motorcycling simplicity. And that’s just how Enfield’s CEO, Siddhartha Lal, likes it. Over lunch on our Continental GT media ride, he relates how the more simple a motorcycle is, the more reliable the bike and the easier it is to fix if there is a problem. No argument there, but what’s his underlying point?
India-based motorcycle manufacturer Royal Enfield has a plan, a plan that it thinks is paying off in the US. When viewing the current state of motorcycle sales, it sees a chink in the armor of the American bigger-is-always-better mindset. A growing set of young, urban riders appear to be interested in simple, retro-styled motorcycles that they can use for recreation and transportation. These riders are looking for more than technology and performance numbers; they desire an authentic riding experience – one that Royal Enfield feels it can provide.