Rockers’ or the ‘ton up boys’ is a long forgotten
motorcycling subculture which came into existence in Britain through the
sixties. Gone are the days when men and women in black leather jackets, raced
from one café to another café on custom built middle weight motorcycles,
involving in skirmishes with Mods on the way just for fun. Those were the days
when people used to spend long hours on their machines, sitting underneath the
engine block getting their fingernails dirty with grease. The machines they required
were no-nonsense as well, called Café Racers.
The recipe for these was quiet basic and simple. The
objective was to have a light-weight motorcycle which was tuned more for speed
and handling than comfort, often imitating Grand Prix motorcycles of the time.
Multiple brands made their cafe racing counterparts, but the motorcycle in
question here is a resurrection of the 1967 Continental 250cc from Royal
Enfield. Siddhartha Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd, envisions bringing
back the joys of classic motorcycling to the young generations who seem to be
oblivious of what it is all about.
The Royal Enfield Continental GT is what he has created to
make his statement. One look at it and many an aged man would get misty eyed by
its appearance. The Continental GT looks as classic as ink and quill. Cafe
Racers are stripped out to their bare minimum for lightness and agility. The GT
hardly has any body panels on it. The tank is elongated so you tuck your knees
at the sides. The handle bars are low to give that racy stance to the riders,
but not so much that you break your back. The foot pegs have been pulled back
as well. All in all the Continental GT looks every bit a genuine classic street
racer. Royal Enfield invited us to Goa to experience this magnificent machine.
For all the ‘bulleteers’ out there, the news flash is that
it is not a Bullet in any which way possible. The only carryover is the
underpinnings of that 535cc Unit Construction Engine (UCE) from the Bullet
stable. The 500cc UCE has a bigger piston stretching it to 35cc more capacity
resulting in 29.1bhp of maximum power accompanied by 44Nm of peak torque. This
might not sound much but is pretty impressive when you bring it on the tarmac.
The throttle is responsive and you can gently play through the gears. This big
is built for accessible fun. On maximum throttle you would just nudge the
130kmph mark, but it is the delivery till that mark where all the fun lies.
The most attractive variable of riding the Continental GT is
the exhaust note. The heavy thump and the crackle and bang on the overrun are
just intoxicating. You will never ever get bored of it. The twisting turning
roads of Goa gave us a taste of the handling prowess this motorcycle has. The
ride and handling is nothing short of impressive. It is agile and negotiates
high speed corners with ease. The superb handling is partly down to the twin
downtube cradle frame. The chassis development was done by famed Harris
Performance of Hertford, UK. The motorbike went through extensive testing and
fine tuning by Steve Harris who happens to be a genius when it comes to chassis
The engine gently delivers the power rather than catching
you off-guard. Power is very accessible almost all of the time, and the
delivery is very predictable. In a conversation with Siddhartha Lal, he stated
that power is only good until you can use it. He wanted to make a point that
ridiculous power numbers are not useful when normal riding is concerned. Hence,
the Continental GT has been tuned to be fun under the 120kmph mark, as over
that is not practical on public roads. I stand by his statement and applaud his
spirit, but the mad human I happen to be, would have liked tuning for a bit
more top speed. However that is a personal statement and what the Continental
GT offers is more than enough for most of the customers.
The rear suspension is Paioli twin gas charged shock
absorbers and is setup on the harder side. This greatly supports sporty
handling characteristics. Stopping power comes from Brembo, with a 300mm front
disc and a 240mm rear disc. The final piece of the jigsaw is the Pirelli Sport
Demon tyres, a 100mm up front and 1300mm at the rear. These high quality
components show that Royal Enfield want to make no compromise on the
performance of the Continental GT.
Apart from the motorcycle, Royal Enfield as will sell a
collection of cafe racing themed accessories which they are calling, ‘Burn-Up
wear’. These classic styled collection leather jackets, gloves, helmets and
shoes which will bring back memories of the analogue old-school to our digital
pretentious times. The only thing which makes me angry is why now, and why not
earlier. Royal Enfield took their own sweet time in developing and producing
this fantastic machine, but in the immortal words of William Shakespeare,
‘All’s Well That Ends Well’. Or should I say , “...That begins Well..”?
ROYAL ENFIELD CONTINENTAL GT SPECIFICATIONS
Single cylinder UCE
Fuel Tank Capacity
forks/Paioli, twin gas charged
300mm floating disc/240mm disc
R18 Pirelli Sport Demon/ 130/70 R18
Pirelli Sport Demon
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