THERE'S a reasonable chance that a Royal Enfield has never appeared on your personal ‘might buy one’ list but with the planned introduction of the firm’s new 750cc twin next year that could well change.
These two examples were spotted in India where the final development of the bike is underway. They show that RE appears to be building two versions – one a Contiental GT-style café racer, the other a more straightforward retro naked bike.
Both are made around the firm’s new 750cc twin-cylinder, air-cooled motor. While it won’t be a hugely powerful thing, it’s certainly got a convincing retro style thanks to those cooling fins. At the moment retro-style bikes are proving hugely popular, particularly the likes of Triumph’s latest Bonneville and Street Twin models. The new Royal Enfields promise to be bargain-priced alternatives, and thanks to the Royal Enfield name they have the heritage to carry those old-style looks.
While the bikes are being tested in India, the development has happened in the UK. A huge number of engineers have been tempted away from Triumph to work at Royal Enfield’s Bruntingthorpe-based UK R&D department, including former product planning boss Simon Warburton. Even the ex-Ducati styling boss Pierre Terblanche worked there for a while and may have had a hand in the new twins’ design.
The chassis is the work of Harris Performance, which Royal Enfield bought back in 2015 after it successfully developed the Continental GT’s frame.
The raw ingredients, then, are promising. Even though the new engine isn’t likely to make much more than 50hp, if that power is allied to a fat, flat torque curve and a sweet handling chassis, it could still be enough for plenty of fun.
The new picture reveals that the two versions of the bike share the same engine and frame, but have a different stance and style. The café racer has a more sculpted tank and clip-ons – albeit ones shaped to position the actual handlebars above the level of the top yoke. The roadster, in contrast, has a more rounded tank, flatter seat and single-piece bars running above the yoke. The pegs on the café racer are also further back, and this example is fitted with a single seat, but is missing the hump that’s sure to be fitted to the back of the finished example.
The bike’s price will be the other key to its success or failure. With Triumph’s 54hp Street Twin starting at £7,750, it’s vital that the Royal Enfield alternative undercuts it. At the moment, a single-cylinder, 535cc Continental GT is £5,199, so we’d expect the twin to be in the range of £6,000-£7,000.