It was during the winters of 2018 that our Editor was one of the first few lucky ones in India who got a chance to spend a couple of days with the brand new Royal Enfield 650 twins. Well, personally, back then, I was not a big RE fan as to me, all Royal Enfield thoughts in my head were about lazy, rattling machines that absolutely hate speed and thrill. Moreover, to be quite honest, I never thought I would ever be buying a Royal Enfield in my life (until my retirement) as I used to think that the VFM quotient on these bikes is quite low. And then, around a year later, Royal Enfield offered us a long-termer – the Interceptor 650 – a bike that single-handedly changed my perception about the brand.
If you have been following us regularly, you must be aware that the Interceptor 650 has been a part of Express Drives’ long-term fleet for almost 10 months now. So, now instead of going gaga about how it gets a retro-looking rounded headlamp upfront being a modern classic or how lovely looking that fuel tank is, I’ll cut it down short. To me, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is hands down, the best-looking bike in its class and it has a commanding road presence too.
As it was my last month with the bike, before handing it back to Royal Enfield (which I obviously didn’t want to), the thought of doing an interstate run popped up in mind for two reasons. First, the Interceptor always felt happy doing 400 km trips to my hometown (Ajmer, Rajasthan) from Delhi in a single go so why not put it to a longer torture, errrr, test? Second, it was Covid-19 scenario and all thanks to the WFH thing, it was quite feasible to spend some days with the family and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity. Needless to say, the road trip was done with all the necessary precautions in place.
So, I got the basics of the bike checked, got it washed and lubed, installed a phone mount and started at 4 AM in the morning from Ajmer one fine day. One quick press of the starter and the parallel-twin motor comes to life with a growling sound before it settles to its normal idling. The destination was Bhopal and hence, it was a 560 km trip. Google Map showed an estimated time of 10 hour 50 minutes but I was pretty sure that the Interceptor would certainly beat that. Ajmer to Kekri that happens to be a 90 km stretch is a single lane village road with a lot of speed breakers and uneven tarmac. This is where the softer suspension of the Interceptor 650 proved quite beneficial as it helped in maintaining a decent speed while gulping down the uneasiness of the road. Only the bigger potholes felt a bit troublesome while the rest got filtered out quite effectively.
Cross Deoli and you are welcomed with the six-lane NH-52 highway and the 648cc, parallel-twin engine truly shows its magic on such roads. Just twist the throttle from 3,000 rpm and the bike zips past the traffic like a hot knife going through butter. All thanks to the super-strong low and mid-range, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 offers brisk acceleration and the engine is always wanting to be revved further. With a kerb weight of 202 kg, the Interceptor 650 is slightly on a heavier side but all that weight seems to diminish once you are on the go. The sweet spot of this engine is around 3,500 to 4,000 rpm and speeds ranging from 80 kmph to 110 kmph where the motor feels the most lively.
Video: Our Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 getting serviced through RE Service on Wheels:
Gearbox is a six-speed unit and the gearshifts feel smooth and precise throughout even on the longest of journeys. The slipper clutch too works like a charm and you don’t have to worry about those engine braking jerks during sudden downshifts. What I liked the most about this engine is its versatility as it feels equally at home, not just on highways but during city rides as well. With 80 percent of the torque available at under 3,000 rpm, the Interceptor 650 certainly feels like a horse always ready to prance.
After hitting the highway, I maintained 110-120 kmph for almost 80 km and the bulletproof engine didn’t show even a small sign of stress or discomfort. The motor is buttery smooth almost throughout the rev range and vibrations only creep in once you cross 110 kmph. As mentioned before, the suspension is set slightly on a softer side but it still strikes a perfect balance to keep the bike composed around fast corners. Add to that the fact the Pirellis offer brilliant grip even under wet conditions certainly makes the Interceptor 650 a fun bike on twisties too. However, the rubber do takes some time to reveal its true character and you will experience a better grip after these get a bit warm once you clock a few kilometres.
I took my first break after around 300 km in Jhalawar but at that point, one thing that I was wishing over anything else was the seating comfort. The Interceptor 650 comes with a flat bench styled seat that is a bit narrower for the rider compared to the pillion. While the cushioning is quite apt, it fails to offer enough thigh and hip support and comes across as the only Achilles Heel when it comes to long-distance touring. But don’t get me wrong here, you can easily do 150-170 km in a single go with this set-up and hence, you can plan your breaks sensibly if you don’t want the seating to become a major issue during your journey. Another 4 hours from Jhalawar and I reached Bhopal at around 12:45 in the afternoon. As I had assumed during the start of the journey, Google Maps’ estimated time was beaten as I completed the journey in around one and a half hour lesser time
All this while, I was praising the Interceptor for its brilliant and reliable 650cc engine, the spot on riding dynamics and the impressive ride quality. Even after keeping the engine boiling for most of the time, the bike returned a fuel efficiency of close to 24 kmpl during this road trip which is certainly not a bad figure! With its 13.7-litre fuel tank, I had to stop only once for a full top-up while covering the Ajmer-Bhopal stretch. At the end of the journey, it felt like the Interceptor 650 is one such motorcycle that can easily prove its point in those ‘Man vs Machine’ debates. A bike that certainly pushes you to push your limits as it showed absolutely no signs of fatigue during the most exhausting (for us) road trip we ever did on it.
During this lockdown roadtrip, I also did a Delhi-Ajmer-Jodhpur and you can read my experience along with detailed road conditions including FASTag status in the report below:
One great thing about owning a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is the maintenance part! Just like its low on-road price, which is almost half than its closest competitor, the bike promises low maintenance costs as well. The Interceptor 650 comes with an impressive service/oil change interval of 10,000 km. The bike consumes 3.1-litre of engine oil and every time you get the oil changed, folks at RE replace the oil filter too in order to ensure good performance of the bike. We got our test bike serviced through Royal Enfield Service on Wheels and you can read our detailed experience below.
Talking of the faults occurred, well, to be honest, there were hardly any, on a broader level! The bike passed the reliability test with flying colours and not even a single thing malfunctioned during the 10 months that we had the bike with us. We just had one puncture and since the bike comes with tubed tyres, you can get it fixed at one of the puncture shops. Though one thing which I want to highlight here (which you might have heard from other Interceptor 650 owners as well) is the rust issue.
We noticed that our Interceptor 650 test bike started catching up rust on the rear view mirrors and the chromed engine casing after 4-5 months of it entering our fleet. In order to get rid of that, you can get buffing done which is available at almost all Royal Enfield service centers across India. Moreover, as we mentioned in our previous reports as well, the fuel gauge is a bit inaccurate towards the last 2 bars. The unit abruptly starts to blink after two bars even when there is over 2.5-litre of fuel left in the tank.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is hands down, the most value for money and practical motorcycle that you can buy in India right now under Rs 3 lakh (ex-showroom). During 10 months of its amazing journey with us, surprisingly, the bike didn’t give us any trouble and turned out to be a trustworthy companion. The 2,300 km trip during lockdown covering four states across India was certainly one of the finest ways how we could have done justice to the prowess of the Interceptor 650. So, if you are planning to buy one, there is currently no other bet in India matching this one right now for the price it comes with! We had the BS4 model with us in our long-term fleet and the new BS6 model is currently priced at Rs 2.65 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Final odometer reading – 7,867 km
Average fuel efficiency – 27 kmpl
Best recorded fuel efficiency – 29 kmpl
Lowest recorded fuel efficiency – 22 kmpl
Top speed recorded – 166 kmph
Part replacements – Oil filter
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