They say: “A nod to motorcycling’s finest hour”
We say: “Can’t argue with... Hey, wait up!”
Calling the Continental GT "new" demands a little bit of perspective. Yes, it's Royal Enfield's newest model, fitted with Brembo brakes, EFI, and the latest unit-construction engine from the Indian firm. In fact, the engine is the only piece it poached from other models; everything else is new for the GT. Astute readers will be quick to point out that electronic fuel injection and unit construction aren't especially new; far from it. High tech isn't really the GT's thing, though, as you can probably tell.
"Of course if someone is looking for the fastest bike on the road, this is not the one," explained CEO Siddhartha Lal. He went on to say that this new bike is more of a recollection of the original Continental GT from the mid-1960s. "What we wanted to do was not recreate the same motorcycle, but to recreate the same idea," Lal said, "That's the kind of attitude we wanted to bring back."
With that in mind, the new GT is high on attitude. A long, period-looking fuel tank mates with a purposeful solo seat to create a smooth profile, while clip-ons and rear-set pegs put the rider in a sporty riding position. How legitimate is the vintage theme? There's even a kick-starter. If you're not in the mood to kick, the 535cc, two-valve single can be brought to a calm idle via electric start as well.
A heavy crankshaft and generally mild state of tune mean the engine isn't especially lively, but there's enough torque on tap to keep ahead of traffic. Spin the undersquare, pushrod engine above 3,000 rpm and vibration will be pretty much all you can think about. Fans of the big-inch single will rejoice. Riders brought up on modern machines may wonder if something's broken.
There's no real reason to keep the tach needle above 3,000, with five widely spaced gears ready to mosey along—below 60 mph, anyway. Royal Enfield claims 29 hp from the big single, which is absolutely enough to have fun, but it's better if you're not in a hurry. The two-piston Brembo front caliper isn't especially urgent in its duties either, but again, you probably won't be going very fast.
Where the GT excels is bopping along a country road or drifting through the suburbs at its own pace. It's there that you're likely to find yourself connecting with motorcycling in a different way. Unlike other retro bikes that call back memories of a simpler time with vintage aesthetics, the Royal Enfield will transport you comprehensively to the past. The only thing that feels modern is the warranty.
And that's where the news gets better. Buying a slice of history in the shape of a Continental GT will cost you $5,999. And perhaps more comforting than the warranty is the fact that there are millions of Royal Enfields out there, chugging over countless miles per day, week after week, year after year. It's nothing new, and that's what we like about it.
First, the earth cooled, then God created an Enfield from a toenail clipping...
Honda CB500F, Triumph Thruxton, Yamaha SR400
|Bore x stroke
||87.0 x 90.0mm
||29.1 hp @ 5100 rpm
||32.5 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
||Royal Enfield 41mm fork
||Dual Paioli shocks, adjustable for spring preload
||Brembo two-piston caliper, 300mm disc
||ByBre one-piston caliper, 240mm disc
||100/90-18 Pirelli Sport Demon
||130/70-18 Pirelli Sport Demon
|Claimed curb weight
||24 mo., unlimited mi.
A lovable machine, but archaic in design and function.