Written by William Gee.
Last year, Royal Enfield looked back into its archive and pulled out another gem from its emotive and influential history.
In 1964, the original Continental GT was a 250cc and was used for competition racing due to its spritely potential. The Redditch built bike was also popular with the notorious ‘café racers,’ when they were not bashing the heads of ‘mods’ in.
The new £5199 Indian built Continental is bigger, more refined, yet it manages to keep the atmosphere that only Royal Enfield can produce.
The engine is an all new 535cc fuel-injected single-cylinder, which produces an eye-watering 29 brake horse power. However, do not be put off by this low power output because that is all the bike needs.
The lightweight tubular steel, Harris performance frame and glorious body only come to a grand total of 184 kilograms.
This means the single cylinder is not exactly a snail. It is never going to beat an R1 or a Daytona off the line, but the Enfield does not claims to do this.
As James May once said whilst reviewing the Ferrari 250 California: “It is not about the power output, it is about the nature of the delivery.”
Riding it along the twisting and winding roads of the Lincolnshire Wolds, you can totally understand this statement. The Enfield is raw, racy, it vibrates and when fitted with a Hitchcock’s Megaphone exhaust, it has one of the best sound tracks ever heard from a ‘modern’ motorcycle.
However, it does has some issues. The handlebars are a little too high for the café-racer style and the original chrome exhaust system is prone to rust.
At high rev range the handlebars become a little bit lively from vibration, so long motorway rides are not recommended.
Having said that, I rode mine all the way to the Isle of Man on motorways and in the pouring rain and it wasn’t too uncomfortable.
The top speed is nothing memorable, only 85mph. Let us be honest though, when are you ever going to need to do that on a public road, unless you want to kiss your license goodbye?
A number of reviewers have tried to compare the new Continental to other café-racers on the market, such as the Moto-Guzzi V7 racer and the Triumph Thruxton.
However, you can’t. These two are heavyweights measuring close to 210 kilograms’ and they are much powerful, with huge engines!
Whereas, the Enfield is different. Instead, it has created a Unique Selling Point. It is the only decent lightweight, small engine café-racer on the modern market. This is why I love Enfield, they stick to principle, design and emotion, rather than power output and plastic!Tweet