Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 (2022) Review | 2022 with a 47 bhp head-turner

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 in London

For a portion of the year, Alex was granted the opportunity to test life with one of the UK’s biggest selling motorcycles in the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.

Who knew 47 bhp could be so much fun? We spent a portion of 2022 with the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. It’s certainly a head-turner at motorcycle meets, but what’s it like to live with?

Having briefly sampled the Interceptor 650 at a One Ride event back in 2021, I was keen to see exactly what has made the retro-styled inline-twin such a stalwart of a seller since its initial introduction way back in 2018, with its name to this day found at the top of many ‘best seller’ lists compliant for A2 riders and winning loads of awards in its time on the UK market.

Given it’s available at such an attractive price point in the UK, many riders have turned to the raw and basic offering of a classic-styled machine with no rider modes other than twisting the key and firing it up. An added benefit for these riders is the sheer abundance of accessories and modifications available for such a bare-bones machine - it’s for this very reason you’ll see countless custom builds out there, even commissioned by Royal Enfield themselves.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 Price & Availability

Since its 2018 release, the purchase price has steadily increased over the years as new generations find their way onto the scene with new colours and iterations - the current price is listed as £6,039, with alternative colours stretching the price to £6,539.

As tested, the Downtown Drag (as seen in photos, with the tank in a sleek black, cyan and silver) is priced up at £6,399. It’s not my personal favourite colour from the eclectic colour palette (with some seen below), but it’s nevertheless a stylish option.

Royal Enfield’s dealer network is ever-growing, and many dealers will have a corner of the showroom dedicated to the Indian-backed marque thanks to their seemingly endless availability in the UK.

New models are sold with a 36-month (3-year) unlimited mileage warranty. That’s top stuff!

What I’ve been up to with the Interceptor 650

You may have seen my 2022 fleet included the long-term stay of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer, so naturally, for any long-distance luggage-laden tour, my eyes would turn to Team Green. But, for stylish Sunday cruises or local rides, the natural go-to was a spin on the Interceptor. 

Public appearances included a visit to Two Wheel Tuesdays in Old Buckenham, Krazy Horse Customs in Bury St Edmunds, and a few trips to the big smoke of London for days in the office. 

In short, any opportunity for a countryside spin was happily undertaken on the Interceptor 650, quite simply great fun.

Engine

Many spec-sheet snobs will scroll the power on offer here and turn a blind eye to what is otherwise a fantastic unit. The retro middleweight is powered by a Euro 5 compliant air-cooled 648cc twin with electronic fuel ignition, with an A2-compliant 47 bhp on tap at 7150 rpm, and 52.3 Nm of torque peaking at 5150 rpm, but most available nigh on instantly from the 2000 rpm mark. 

Power is put down really smoothly through the 6-speed box with an assist & slipper clutch, and you really get out of it what you put in. Ride aggressively and work the gearbox and you’ll have loads of fun squeezing all of the power you can with the throttle pinned - yet town & city cruises are just as appealing with a lovely burble from the twin exhausts. 
Naturally, your arms won’t be pulled off when accelerating hard from a stop - though I again refer to the old adage of ‘it’s great fun to work a bike to 100% of what it’s capable of’.

If cruising at 60mph in sixth gear you’ll certainly want to click down a couple of gears before putting the hammer down, making sure to work all of the gears to make the most of the torque that’s available down low.

If pushed you’ll (allegedly) meet triple digits, but the steering does start to feel a bit twitchy when hammering away. It’s far happier cruising at 75mph than at full tuck and full twist (of the wrist). If you’re after a long-distance mile-muncher, this may not quite be the plush choice you’re after out of the box.

Riding, Weight & Tech

With the steel tubular double cradle frame, most of the 217 kg wet weight is held low on the bike - the engine holds most of the bulk - and I’ve seen Interceptor owners attempt to shed some of the weight by removing superfluous bolt-ons, including the centre stand, and swapping out indicator and brake light clusters for slightly slimmer and sleeker options.

I’m a 6’3” rider, and whilst I was adequate enough in the 805mm saddle to not ache in pain after longer rides, I did find the bike a tad unsettled when mid-corner as my 88~ kg weight added a tad of top-heavy weight to the mix. 

Moving the bike around when parked was also a tad weighty, but certainly manageable. Asking my shorter riding pals to hoik the bike onto its centre stand also induced a few heavy grunts, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. 

That being said, once the wheels are moving, the steering is exceptionally nippy and it’s an excellent option for a city/town rider who wants to shimmy their way through standstill traffic - I can vouch for it in the centre of London.

When it comes to tech… there’s little to nothing on offer, but that’s to be expected on a retro-influenced machine. You have no gear indicator or fuel gauge on the analogue dials, and whilst there’s the LCD to display your mileage, other factory options are few and far between. Though I hazard a guess that nobody is buying one of these for native smartphone integration.

Brakes & Suspension

With 18-inch wheels front & rear, braking power is provided by ByBre in the form of a single 320 mm disc up front, and 240 mm disc at the rear. Dual channel ABS features and braking performance is soft in application but adequate, particularly for riders looking for an easygoing feel.

Suspension comes in the form of 41 mm telescopic forks with 110 mm of travel, and twin rear shocks with external reservoirs (which look very Öhlins). It’s not the best suspension setup ever seen on two wheels, with successive bumps in the road able to unsettle some of your forward momentum thanks to a really soft way of life, but again it’s certainly adequate for the regular rider. 

If after any significant modification upgrade to the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 ’s performance, I’d certainly be casting an eye at uprating the suspension. 

Customisation Potential 

Speaking of, the sheer number of aftermarket accessories for the Interceptor 650 will give the average evening garage tinkler a breath of fresh air. In a world where ECUs and parts require nothing short of an engineering degree to apply, being able to get to work with a 10mm and a can of your favourite lager (with no post-ride test, of course) is a real blast from the past. 

Personally, I’d look at a little fly-screen to facilitate a bit of comfort from the wind on longer rides, heated grips (because I love heated grips), and a little scrambler-style infused into the setup with new suspension for one. 

Oh, and once the supplied Zoom Cruz rubber is worn, I’d be searching for an alternative pair of shoes. They’re fine, but can feel a bit squirmy in adverse weather.

Realistically, the canvas is entirely blank, and you’re able to really stamp your own personality onto the bike in whatever way you wish. In my book, that’s a serious plus point for a machine that’s already certain to turn heads. 

General notes

I suppose the touring ability is worth a mention, given that many households will nowadays be one bike per resident. 

The 805mm bench seat can begin to feel a little firm on day-long rides, and carrying a pillion is possible if you don’t mind being scooted right up to the tank (for me, anyway). Pillions may find the seating arrangements a little uncomfortable over distance.

You’re given a 13.7-litre tank, and a fuel warning light that’ll illuminate with around 2.9 litres remaining. This is enough to give you around 120~ miles of real-world riding before you’re wide-eyed and searching for the nearest fuel pump, the listed consumption is 4.2 litres per 100 km (but I found closer to 55 mpg, or 5.1 L/100km).

A fuel gauge would be nice, but not vital, and adds extra retro flair to this modern-day classic.

As a final point, I found the lights fairly decent when riding at night - it’s a standard lamp that illuminates the road in front of you, and high beam offers a soft illumination above the dipped beam. It’s not great, and certainly encourages you to take it easy when riding an unfamiliar route home.

What we like & dislike about the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

Like

  • Stylish retro middleweight option
  • Customisation potential is outstanding
  • Easygoing city rider

Dislike

  • A tad weighty
  • Suspension is soft
  • Not comfy for long days in the saddle

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 Verdict

Many may argue that modern motorcycles are losing a touch of charm and character, and these are qualities that the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 really excels at. It may not be topping the charts for power and raw spec, but that hasn’t stopped it from being one of the top-selling motorcycles in the UK since 2018. 

Dealers will tell you that it seems to be a revolving door of these coming in and heading back out, and the appetite for a raw 648cc twin has by no means dulled in the 5 years it’s been turning heads on the road. 

Chief amongst the appeal is the near limitless customisation potential, that retro flair being accentuated by endless personalisation options both bought and built. 

My time with the Interceptor 650 certainly lived up to my expectations. It may not be the epitome of a perfect bike on the road, but given a spanner and a dream, you can build whatever your heart desires on a truly accessible platform granted by Royal Enfield. And it's just simple fun when the wheels turn. 

I personally think that’s exactly what Royal Enfield has done right - and consistently does with its other releases. Make it attractive, make it fun & simple, and make it affordable, and the buyers will come, as they have been and will continue to.

Would I have one? Absolutely.

Thanks to Royal Enfield for the chance to sample the Interceptor 650, it’s a bike that has certainly gotten the Visordown stamp of approval, well worth a test ride - I can all but guarantee you’ll be returning to the dealership with a smile on your face and hundreds of ideas on what you can do.

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