Royal Enfield sells more 250–750cc motorcycles than any other company in the world. With more than 800,000 units sold in 2017, Enfield's 350cc and 500cc singles are incredibly popular in India where they're manufactured, but haven't found the same mainstream success in American and European markets. Now with the new 650cc parallel-twin platform and two new models, the INT650 and Continental GT 650, Enfield has a bigger bike that's fit for highway travel. With classic styling, versatility, and decent performance while keeping reliability as a high priority through design and manufacturing, the 650 twins seem to have it all—and for under $6,000.

When most of us got into motorcycles, we hadn’t made up our minds between sportbikes, cruisers, adventure bikes, or what have you because, well, we didn’t have to. There was this wonderful genre called Universal Japanese Motorcycles (UJMs), like Honda’s CB line of the ’70s, that sat somewhere in the middle of sportbike and cruiser vibes with a relaxed but upright riding position powered by versatile midsize engines. We have seen a resurgence of this category of bike, now simply referred to as “standards,” and they harken back to those glory days without “cruiser guys” and “sportbike guys,” and bring it back to the simple focus of the ride. That’s where the Royal Enfield twins sit: comfortably in between genres as something everyone can appreciate.

2019 Royal Enfield INT650 and Continental GT
2019 Royal Enfield INT650 and Continental GTJeff Allen

I really wasn’t expecting the INT650 and Continental GT to boast the engine output of an XSR700, Triumph Street Twin, or other sportier bikes in the class—these are Enfields, built with other sensibilities in mind, like fuel economy and reliability. But the styling is there. Classic, timeless Enfield looks don’t try too hard to be a replica of past models but capture the essence very well. The 648cc air-and-oil-cooled engine has a mild compression ratio of 8.5:1, which dynoed at 44.36 hp and 38.29 pound-feet of torque. The rev limiter hits just as it starts to wind up and it feels like it comes on too early, but I got used to quick shifting in no time. Engine power is not super strong, but it’s not weak either. You can pick it up into a wheelie if you know what you’re doing and it’ll confidently pull you out of the corners, but passing at high speeds might take a little time and some extra planning.

Royal Enfield Gas Tank
Timeless badging is an essential part of the new Royal Enfield's styling.Jeff Allen

Ergonomics on the INT650 are relaxed and upright. As a taller rider at 6-foot-4, I felt a little big for the bike but not overly cramped. I imagine longer rides would have me wanting to stretch out. On the Continental GT, which comes with classic café racer styling, the ergonomics are much more aggressive, with a lower bar and rearset foot controls that had me wadded up a bit more, and less comfortable around town but more confident through aggressive riding sections and twisty turns. Other than ergonomics, the differences between the two models are primarily styling pieces like the gas tank, café seat, mirrors, and paint schemes.

Two round gauges
Two round gauges provide a vintage feel, but the digital readout inside gives you more information than was available in the pastJeff Allen

The suspension is nothing new or crazy, but it does its job well. Dual coilover shocks provide 3.5 inches of wheel travel and a 41mm fork offers up 4.5 inches of travel over the front wheel, eating the small bumps and staying smooth and stable through the turns. Two 18-inch wheels are wrapped in Pirelli Sport Demon meat, which are a great tire, and in that size owners will have a huge variety of rubber options when the time comes to replace them. Although the brakes say "ByBre" on them, they are manufactured by Brembo's Indian operation and offer similar performance to the company's other products. That being said, the bike would benefit from a second front disc brake but stops adequately as is.

Royal Enfield Continental GT
The Royal Enfield Continental GT is right at home in the twisties with its rearset foot controls and low handlebarJeff Allen

The fact is, companies have been making retro-looking bikes to try to attract new buyers for ages, but the cheapest of them still comes in close to $10,000—a huge hurdle for anyone looking to start something new. The Royal Enfield 650s have the potential to get more new riders out on the road by offering them a reliable, brand-new option for a price comparable to used bikes on Craigslist. The tubular steel chassis is ready for a huge range of customization, and I’m sure there are plenty of ways to pull some more juice out of those 648 cubes. This bike does everything pretty darn well, and we really think it has potential to jump over to European and American markets. From what we have seen online already, the fans are into it and the people want to ride these bikes! Now RE just needs to make sure it has the dealer support network needed to keep up.

INT650
Ergonomics on the INT650 are a bit more relaxed but not out of place on a winding roadJeff Allen
Rear shocks
Gold reservoirs come on the rear shocks of both modelsJeff Allen
brake calipers
Bybre (Brembo's Indian counterpart) brake calipers grip the floating front disc brakeJeff Allen

2019 Royal Enfield INT650 / Continental GT 650

PRICE $5,799 (as tested) / $6,249 (as tested)
ENGINE 648cc, air-/oil-cooled, SOHC parallel twin, 4 valves/cylinder
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 44.36 hp @ 6,840 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 38.29 lb.-ft. @ 38.29 rpm
FRAME Tubular mild steel, double cradle
FRONT SUSPENSION 41mm conventional damping rod fork, 4.5-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Twin coilover shocks, adjustable preload, 3.5-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE 2-piston floating caliper, single 320mm disc w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE 1-piston floating caliper, single 240mm disc w/ ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 24°/106mm / 24°/105mm
WHEELBASE 55.1 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 31.6 in. / 31.2 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.6 gal. / 3.3 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT 445 lb. (all fluids, no fuel) / 437 lb. (all fluids, no fuel)
AVAILABLE Now
CONTACT royalenfield.com/usa