Motorcycles

Royal Enfield is going big with its first two 650cc twin-cylinder bikes

The long-lived Indian motorcycle company is trying to take a bite of the American heritage market away from Triumph.

The Continental GT 650 is the more aggressively styled of the two new twins with its cafe racer tail and low-mounted handlebars.

Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield is an old motorcycle brand with a unique history, but it's one that many American riders likely haven't heard of. See, it's been in the US market for a couple of years, but with a limited dealer network and a product line consisting primarily of bikes with single-cylinder, small displacement low-power engines like the Classic and the Himalayan, it hasn't yet achieved the kind of notoriety that brands like Triumph or even Moto Guzzi have.

That could be about to change because Royal Enfield has just launched a pair of new twin-cylinder motorcycles this week that offer a ton of nostalgia and fun for not that much money. They're called the INT 650 and the Continental GT 650, and frankly, they're pretty awesome-looking.

The heart of the Royal Enfield twin-cylinder lineup is the 650-cubic-centimeter air-cooled, parallel-twin engine. If air-cooled and parallel-twin sound kind of old-fashioned, that's not an accident. This engine -- like the bikes that it is bolted into -- is about character and not so much outright performance. The Enfield twin makes 47 horsepower at the crank and 42 pound-feet of torque, figures that aren't impressive on paper but relatively comparable to something like a Moto Guzzi V7, which makes 52 horsepower with its larger 750cc V-twin engine.

The 650 engine comes with a six-speed gearbox and chain drive, all fairly standard for this style of bike. The frame is a basic steel double-cradle unit, and the suspension is made up of a nonadjustable right-side-up fork in the front and dual piggyback reservoir shocks in the rear. A single 320-millimeter disc brake sits up front, and a 240 mm disc in back. ABS is standard.

You're probably noticing a theme here of basic, mostly unassuming components. That's kind of Royal Enfield's thing because the 650 twins' real party trick is their price. The INT 650 starts at just $5,799 and the Continental GT 650 starts at $5,999, compared with $8,490 for the Guzzi V7 III Stone or $9,100 for the Triumph Street Twin. That's nuts and given how good these bikes look, and we imagine that they could be great gateway bikes for new riders.

The INT 650 is a more upright standard-style motorcycle reminiscent of the classic Triumph Bonnevilles of the 1970s.

Royal Enfield