It is no secret that we at Express Drives love the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. It is unlike any Royal Enfield bike we have experienced so far. It is smooth, vibe-free, largely reliable, and has a feel-good factor around it. There were a few niggles like the fuel gauge calibration and a few parts that required attention like the clutch wire clamps fitted on to the frame. So, when the BS6 models arrived and with minimal price hikes, we were wondering if RE had actually changed anything to give its near-two-year old models a revamp. The wait was long for us to get a test bike mainly due to you-know-who. But, finally, we got our hands on the BS6 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and it sure didn’t disappoint. We found out new things about the bike as well. Read on to find out in our review what these are.
The bike looks the same as before and this is a good thing. We’ve appreciated the way the bike was styled and even the goodies it came with. Nowhere is it evident that this is a BS6 bike except for on the vehicle papers. However, if you notice closely, the pilot lamp is a LED now whereas the headlight is a clear lens halogen unit (works quite well at night). The bike comes with a slipper clutch and it is a boon. The effort required to clutch in is much lower and helps a lot if you commute in the city. So, no visible changes in the bike though we wish there was a LED taillight and a much elaborate meter console.
The engine is the star here and the 648cc, parallel-twin, air as well as oil-cooled motor still produces 47hp of power and 52Nm. This engine is paired to a decently smooth-shifting 6-speed gearbox. The RE is also quick to start with just half a touch to the electric starter more than enough to wake up the engine. The engine also feels a tad bit refined than before. This being said, the bike doesn’t like low revs too much and so you will often find yourself in first or second gear in traffic. However, the engine revs cleanly till 6,500rpm and picks up pace rapidly. It is no match for a Z650 for example but in the end it is a Royal Enfield. More of a leisurely enjoyed product than one for outright acceleration.
Maintaining a speed of 120kmph is a no issues affair with the Interceptor BS6 and it can even hit a top speed in excess of 150kmph if shown an empty road. However, anything above 120kmph and the front feels a bit unsteady. This will rob you of the confidence to push harder. We quite liked the brakes too. They are sharp and offer good feedback from the levers too. The Pirelli tyres too offer good grip. It is also easy to tip the RE into corners. Ride quality is decent as well with only the sharpest of potholes catching it unaware.
With the BS6, the vibrations seem to have crept in a bit. These can be felt in the mirror vibrations which creep in after 100kmph. There are also minor vibrations through the tank. Perhaps it could be limited to this particular unit. One ends up constantly shuffling in the seat after a few hundred kilometres. Thankfully, RE is aware about this and offers a Tourer seat at a price. This one is suited better for long distances.
Unfortunately, the erring fuel gauge hasn’t been fixed. It still fluctuates badly and the only two ways of knowing how much fuel is left is by opening the cap and checking it. The second method is to check the kilometres covered. However, on this particular test bike, we noticed that the efficiency too was a tad low. In the city, the Interceptor BS6 returned around 18kmpl whereas on the highway, the number went up to 21kmpl.
In city speeds, one will also particularly notice the heft of the motorcycle. In fact, during this test, we found out that the BS6 Interceptor was a bit hard to put on the main stand (it explains why all the images are with the side stand on). We also found out that the clutch wire routing points are much better clamped than before.
This is a must-buy if you are on the lookout for a retro-classic themed bike with ample grunt, refinement and reliability. While the traditional RE rider might not take a liking to the Interceptor 650, everyone else who is riding it for the first time will be pleasantly surprised. The Rs 2.64 lakh – Rs 2.84 lakh price band is way lower than what you pay for some single-cylinder engines with lesser power. This is the right stepping stone to the twin-cylinder territory and given RE’s widespread service network, will be taken care off in a better fashion too.
Images by Donald Dsouza
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