With the introduction of Continental GT, Royal Enfield tried to revive the iconic brand of 1900’s Café racers. It was in a town called Redditch, about 200km north-west of London, where the company started assembling engines into their bicycles.
Advent of Café Racers:
The company was registered on 24 February 1893 (No. 170,951). An office with showroom was opened at 166 Edmund Street, Birmingham, Warwickshire, and they shifted later, from December 1893, to 94 Snow Hill, Birmingham. The company name changed several times: Enfield Manufacturing Co. Ltd (wound up on 8 January 1897), Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd, New Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd and then reverted to Enfield Cycle Co. Ltd. In 1892 Founder Albert Eadie won a contract to supply rifle parts to the Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield and to celebrate this, a new bicycle design was named the ‘Enfield’ from October that year. In 1893 ‘Royal’ was added (from the Royal Small Arms name) making the model name ‘Royal Enfield’.
The term café racer was coined among British motorcycle enthusiasts of the early 1920s; specifically the Rocker (derisively known as rebellious Coffee Bar Cowboys).The term describes a style of motorcycle for quick rides from one “transport café” or coffee bar to another. Cafe Racers were also common in Italy, France and other European countries.
Royal Enfield has tried to bring back the same legacy of motorcycling with the introduction of brand new RE Continental GT, a glossy shiny beauty packed with grunting power. The continental GT has everything bigger than its predecessor engine. The all new 535cc engine is packed with bigger bore, new piston rings a lighter flywheel, a bigger intake valves, all working together to give it a roaring sound and more power of 29.1 bhp (21.4 kW) @ 5100 rpm, a whole 3bhp more and impressive 44 Nm @ 4000 rpm of torque.
The bike is designed keeping in mind the old heritage of the café racer bikes of mid 19’s that were built to go fast .The massive 535cc engine sits on twin down tube cradle frame. The chassis is design by Xenophya Design and Harris Performance of UK. The Continental GT comes with a factory fitted hamper seat which have been crafted with well define red stitches and good quality cushioning making it a comfortable for the rider. The single seat is optional and can be changed to a double seat if preferred. The clipped bar end, rear view mirrors is a new concept in India and goes well with the overall looks of the bike. Although you may not find it very much convenient with smaller view in comparison to the standard mirrors and they can be changed too, at a price tag of Rs.4000. The tail lamp design is not new and is looks almost similar to Electra. The front is fitted with 41 mm telescopic shock absorber and a Paioli twin gas charged shock absorber. The instrument cluster is taken from Royal Enfield Thunderbird series which contains a speedometer and a tachometer along the fuel indicator.
Royal Enfield boasts that this is the fastest, lightest and most powerful motorcycle they have ever made. The engine takes this beast from stand still to 100Kmph in just 9.5 seconds helped by a optimized and well-matched gear ratios and light-weighted character of motorcycle (184 kg), resulting in a better power-to-weight ratio as compared to Classic’s and Thunderbird’s 500cc versions. The better performance comes at the cost of low fuel efficiency. The bull gives a low, but respectable mileage of 24KMPL.
The fuel tank is slightly longer with a total capacity of 13.5 litres. The engine is mated with same 5-speed manual, clunky, loud gearbox with long throws. The GT is fitted with Brembo 300mm 2piston disc brake in the front and 240 mm single piston on the rear which provide instant feedback and shortest stopping distance.
The vibration of the engine is far less in comparison to other Royal Enfield bikes, because of the twin tube chassis of the bike. However engine tends to vibrate in lower RPM’s which reduces once you shift to higher gear which further reveals once you start pushing it post 100 Kmph. The Royal Enfield has worked hard to make sure that there are no oil leaks even after cruising for long distance , which is a common issue with most RE engines.
Due to the elongated fuel tank, the riding position is slightly leaning forward which puts up bit strain on hands while heavy braking. The foot pegs are rear set which helps rider in flaunting a sporty stance. The foot pegs are all made up of naked steel, which makes you feel every pothole on the road. If you are expecting Continental GT to be just another Royal Enfield, with a comforting touring seating posture, then think again. The sporty stance of the bike makes you push it harder. The forward leaning position and the narrow seats of the ride are not comfortable for long distance journeys and will surely be a pain in the ass. The continental GT fits only for short sharp urban trips. Apart from the fabulous Italian Pirelli tyres, Paioli suspension and Brembo brakes, Continental GT hasn’t offered any modern electronic safety aids like ABS or Traction control.
The continental GT is available in two colors Bright Red and Yellow.
The RE continental GT is priced at 2 lakh ex-showroom (Delhi), which brings it close to KTM390. In performance front KTM 390 is a much better package with its refined engine and greater power to weight ratio. But if you want to savor the vintage flavor of Café Racers, along with the classic thump of a Bullet than Continental GT is the perfect soul mate for you.