2014 Royal Enfield Continental GT | First Ride

A Single Shot of Indian Café

By Zack Courts, Photography by Kevin Wing, Brian J. Nelson
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.

tech SPEC

EVOLUTION:

First, the earth cooled, then God created an Enfield from a toenail clipping...

RIVALS:

Honda CB500F, Triumph Thruxton, Yamaha SR400

Price $5999
Engine type a-c single
Valve train OHV, 2v
Displacement 535cc
Bore x stroke 87.0 x 90.0mm
Compression 8.5:1 
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 5-speed
Claimed horsepower 29.1 hp @ 5100 rpm
Claimed torque 32.5 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Frame Steel-tube double-cradle
Front suspension Royal Enfield 41mm fork
Rear suspension Dual Paioli shocks, adjustable for spring preload
Front brake Brembo two-piston caliper, 300mm disc
Rear brake ByBre one-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front tire 100/90-18 Pirelli Sport Demon
Rear tire 130/70-18 Pirelli Sport Demon
Rake/trail NA
Seat height 31.5 in.
Wheelbase 53.5 in
Fuel capacity 3.5 gal.
Claimed curb weight 405 lb.
Colors Red
Available Now
Warranty 24 mo., unlimited mi.
Contact enfieldmotorcycles.com

VERDICT: 3.5

A lovable machine, but archaic in design and function.

Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!

*Please enter your username

*Please enter your password

*Please enter your comments
Comments:
Not Registered?Signup Here
(1024 character limit)
Motorcyclist
  • Motorcyclist Online