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Old 18th February 2015, 17:43   #1
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Default Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

For the hard core Bullet aficionado the Continental GT is nothing but a backache generating machine - the low handlebars, the completely different riding position than one most of us are used to; makes most of us steer clear of the bike.

The Continental GT : The Giant Leap of Faith

As a long time Thunderbird owner - which includes the earlier AVL 350 and the later EFI 500, the decision to book the GT came primarily from the 'thrill' I got each time I saw the bike at the dealership. The bike just sent my pulse racing but my own familiarity with the Thunderbird and my rider buddy's word, "It's not practical", kept playing at the back of my mind. I decided to bash on regardless and booked a Yellow GT. The waiting for the particular colour suited me just fine. Booking the GT was about following an impulse, it was unlike my decision to buy each of my Thunderbirds - there were not too many rational boxes the GT ticked.

What helped me gain confidence was a little goading by my dealer - Tapan Sharma of Aman Automobiles in Gurgaon. Tapan would happily lend me his road test GT for long spells. I would land up at his showroom and take the GT for the weekend, which would extend to the next weekend and a few days beyond. Tapan understood, as he revealed later, that the bike takes some getting used to. Despite this, as the delivery date inched closer I was still not sure if I wanted the bike or not. The mind said No, the heart, on the other hand, was all Yes! Yes! Yes!

When Tapan called and told me the bike had arrived, I went ahead and took the delivery. Yes, the heart won.

The GT is unlike any other Enfield

The GT with it's low set handles, the semi-crouch position was unlike any other Enfield I had ridden. The turning radius was bigger, the different balance of the bike meant that I had to be careful while taking turns at near zero speeds on congested city roads. In fact, a couple of times my GT toppled over leading to considerable embarrassment. My feet weren't firmly planted on the ground when I sat on the bike. In tight parking spots, it wasn't as maneuverable as my Thunderbird and trying to push it back while astride was a pain - the foot pegs would hit the back of my calves.

There were other teething troubles, RE decided to reconfigure the EFI software and after that the bike would stall whenever I took a turn. The problem was pinned down to a faulty rollover sensor and once it was replaced the bike became trouble free.

However, the good thing was the bike on a straight run still continued to excite me. Riding it daily meant I was also coming to grips with its idiosyncrasies. I had figured out a work around most of them. I take slightly larger turns, at parking lots I ask the people to create more space for my bike, that's it, problem solved.

Yet the sporty thump, the stability on the highway makes the GT so much Enfield.

Beauty that is more than skin deep

While the GT attracts eyeballs on the road like nobody's business, it's also a joy to ride. At 80-90 kmph it effortlessly leans into curves and maintains the line you set for it. In fact, leaning in and out of curves is exhilarating on the bike. The suspension soaks up large potholes and bumps without any fuss and the braking is simply superb. The Brembo brakes, Pirelli tyres, the Paoli suspension and the new chassis do their job perfectly. Having experienced their abilities on city roads and in a moment of bravado I decided to hit the hills last year during the long October 2 weekend. I decided to go up to Dhungir in Uttarakhand to meet my sister who teaches in a school there. The first day of the ride I was caught in a downpour near Dehradun and rode all the way till Kempty falls with the rain battering me all along. The best part was the bike never skidded or caused me panic when I had to brakehard. On the second day when I reached Dhungir after crossing some rough patches of road, my arms ached like hell. While returning I took a different route and covered the nearly 500 km in one day and by the time I reached back home my arms were again shot to pieces.

Get the riding position right on the GT and everything is fine

While reading about my arms may make you go, "Aha, we knew the GT is not for long rides" it's far from the truth. The fact is the GT requires you to sit differently. You can't hope to ride it in the normal Enfield posture and feel comfortable. The trick, as I learnt later, is to lean your body forward at an almost 60 degree angle with your spine and head in a straight line. Then hold the handle lightly with your elbows parallel to your thighs. The whole weight of your body now shared by your abdomen and thighs.

This is the posture I adopted during my 10 day, 3000 km round trip to the Rann of Kutch. The effect was fantastic. On the first day I covered 650 kms to Udaipur and all I felt was a bit of soreness in my upper arms towards the shoulder and in my legs. That's it. No back ache, no shoulder pain, no sore butt, nothing. For me, this was new. Even my Thunderbird - the most comfy bike in Enfield's range, is not this comfortable. On it, after 200 kms my tailbone hurts like mad. My legs are so stiff that raising them to get off the bike becomes the most tedious thing to do. I should know, I have been to Leh thrice on my TBird now.

The GT is a capable tourer and that's the big surprise

The trip to Gujarat in which I was riding almost 400 kms a day proved to me that the GT is no slouch on the highways. I was constantly riding between 80-100 kmph and sudden potholes or speed breakers didn't ruffle the GT. The braking was superb and on a few occasions saved me from certain disaster like when a herd of goats decided to make a run to the other side of the highway. On the twisties between Udaipur and Ahmedabad, I was taking on the curves at a good 80 kmph without breaking in to a sweat. On this solo ride, the GT did everything I asked of it and it won my respect as a tourer. Next trip? Has to be Leh, right? The ultimate test.
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Old 18th February 2015, 21:42   #2
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

An insightful report. If it is not too much of a hassle, can you post a pic of yourself astride on the bike in the ideal seating position that you described.

Thanks
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Old 18th February 2015, 23:13   #3
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Finally, a Royal Enfield Continental GT thread by someone who has been able to use it for touring extensively. I hope you will share your experiences and photos from different trips. What are you using for carrying your luggage? Have you done long distance trips two up?
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Old 18th February 2015, 23:36   #4
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Nicely written report out there. So, finally someone has said that the GT can go touring! What's even better is that he rides two TBirds and is a passionate biker himself. Much appreciated sir!

Just hoping that RE dealers become that friendly in our locality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ZedMae View Post
An insightful report. If it is not too much of a hassle, can you post a pic of yourself astride on the bike in the ideal seating position that you described.

Thanks
This would be very helpful.

Waiting for the ownership review and numerous travelogues by you.

Last edited by petrolhead_neel : 18th February 2015 at 23:38.
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Old 19th February 2015, 10:28   #5
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Gopalmg, not only was that an interesting read it also provided an unconventional view of the GT's touring ability. 3000kms on some great roads, must have been a delight.

Loved reading you review.

Cheers,
Sting
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Old 19th February 2015, 11:04   #6
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Great write up. I too am a secret admirer of the Continental GT but have not had the courage to take the plunge just yet. I just have a few questions:

1) Have you tried this bike with a Pillion rider? What are your thoughts and views with regards to touring 2 up over long distances?

2) Also how did you find the "Thump" of the continental compared to your Thunderbird? I found it to be a little too muted. Or am I mistaken?
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Old 19th February 2015, 18:00   #7
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Very nicely written. Nice to hear good things about a Continental GT from a Thunderbird user.
How is the vibration at high speeds compared to the Thunderbird?
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Old 19th February 2015, 18:40   #8
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post messages that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further. We request you to post ONLY when you have something substantial to add to a discussion.

Last edited by GTO : 20th February 2015 at 14:52.
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Old 20th February 2015, 13:21   #9
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Congrats on a real head turner. More close up shots if possible please :-)
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Old 20th February 2015, 15:29   #10
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Quote:
Originally Posted by gopalmg View Post

Get the riding position right on the GT and everything is fine

The trick, as I learnt later, is to lean your body forward at an almost 60 degree angle with your spine and head in a straight line. Then hold the handle lightly with your elbows parallel to your thighs.

The GT is a capable tourer and that's the big surprise
Next trip? Has to be Leh, right? The ultimate test.
I am glad to find a fellow GT rider who is in love with GT for the highway capabilities. You are absolutely right about the riding position, In fact the owners manual recommends exactly the position you describe. During my highway trips on my GT I maintained around 45 degree and ensured that I didn't apply any load on the arms/handle bar. I had no issues at all. A few weeks back I rode for 260 Km and came to office at 1015 and spent a busy day in the office without any sort of fatigue. I am approaching 55 years in a few months

I have one question: Do you find the vibrations to be high between 90 and 100 KMph(2700 to 3000 rpm)? My rear view mirror vibrates so much at those speeds that I can't see anything in it.

Leh is on my bucket list and I am enrolling or empowering a few of friends to get back to biking.
I am looking forward to your Leh trip and report.
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Old 20th February 2015, 15:32   #11
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Congratulations on your new possession. Review is very nicely written. I never thought GT535 would be fit for long distance touring. It was the main reason that pulled me back from buying the GT535. A few questions.

1) How is the pillion seat?
2) Which is that saddle bag you are using?
3) At what speeds does the vibration starts to creep in?
4) How is the wind blast at 90-100 kph?
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Old 1st March 2015, 12:25   #12
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.O View Post
Congratulations on your new possession. Review is very nicely written. I never thought GT535 would be fit for long distance touring. It was the main reason that pulled me back from buying the GT535. A few questions.

1) How is the pillion seat?
2) Which is that saddle bag you are using?
3) At what speeds does the vibration starts to creep in?
4) How is the wind blast at 90-100 kph?
The seat you see is the double seat, minus the cowl. It is quite comfortable.

The saddle bag I used was a ViaTerra Claw bag which stays on the seat and doesn't hang on the sides. The advantage is that if you tie it tightly it doesn't slide forward and acts as a reference point as to where your butt should be.

The vibrations start above 100 kmph.

I didn't feel the wind blast much as I was leaning forward which made my body shape aerodynamic. I am guessing that's the reason.
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Old 1st March 2015, 12:35   #13
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.O View Post
Congratulations on your new possession. Review is very nicely written. I never thought GT535 would be fit for long distance touring. It was the main reason that pulled me back from buying the GT535. A few questions.

1) How is the pillion seat?
2) Which is that saddle bag you are using?
3) At what speeds does the vibration starts to creep in?
4) How is the wind blast at 90-100 kph?
Quote:
Originally Posted by amrisharm View Post
Great write up. I too am a secret admirer of the Continental GT but have not had the courage to take the plunge just yet. I just have a few questions:

1) Have you tried this bike with a Pillion rider? What are your thoughts and views with regards to touring 2 up over long distances?

2) Also how did you find the "Thump" of the continental compared to your Thunderbird? I found it to be a little too muted. Or am I mistaken?
Hi Amrisharm if you like it just take the plunge. As to your specific queries:

Honestly, I haven't done 2 up touring on it so really can't say. As for the thump, the Continental GT has a more sporty sound and to me it sounds great. The 'Enfield Thump' was really the old cast iron engine's preserve and the later AVL or Lean Burn and UCE engines never delivered it because of sound emission norms coming into force. I have installed the company made free flowing exhaust and the sound is good. The bike has a growl which I feel adds a new dimension to the Thump.
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Old 1st March 2015, 12:46   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arulpeem View Post
I am glad to find a fellow GT rider who is in love with GT for the highway capabilities. You are absolutely right about the riding position, In fact the owners manual recommends exactly the position you describe. During my highway trips on my GT I maintained around 45 degree and ensured that I didn't apply any load on the arms/handle bar. I had no issues at all. A few weeks back I rode for 260 Km and came to office at 1015 and spent a busy day in the office without any sort of fatigue. I am approaching 55 years in a few months

I have one question: Do you find the vibrations to be high between 90 and 100 KMph(2700 to 3000 rpm)? My rear view mirror vibrates so much at those speeds that I can't see anything in it.

Leh is on my bucket list and I am enrolling or empowering a few of friends to get back to biking.
I am looking forward to your Leh trip and report.
Hi Arul as to your issue about the rear view mirrors vibrating, try the bar end mirrors. I have those on my bike and they don't vibrate. When I rode with the factory fitted mirrors, the bike seemed to vibrate more because the mirrors, which were in my line of sight, vibrated so much. It's a bit psychological but changing the mirrors help.
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Old 19th April 2015, 15:18   #15
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Default Re: Royal Enfield Continental GT: The underrated tourer

Royal Enfield Continental GT: The Service Experience

While I had narrated my touring experience on the GT, I felt it was high time I spoke about the new Enfield customer centric service philosophy. After all, buying is a one-off experience but what keeps the love affair alive with is the service and support we riders receive. There are 4 incidents - two that happened to me and two with friends, that has convinced me that Enfield is taking its customers very seriously.

Trouble near Ahmedabad

I had a chance to sample Enfield's customer centric approach near Ahmedabad. I had ridden from Udaipur and had just crossed Ahmedabad when I had to honk at a car coming very, very fast on a roundabout. That's when I noticed my speedo needles go down and the bike seemed to shut down for a fraction of time before firing back to life again. I was a bit puzzled and stopped the bike thinkingthat it may have over heated. I decided to call my dealer, Tapan Sharma of Aman Automobiles in Gurgaon. On narrating the problem, he told me to stay put there and asked me if the horn was working and to check if the bike started or not. I did all that and reported that the self wasn't working but the kick was. He asked me to stay put as the problem was serious and he assured me that I would get help in 15-20 minutes. Sure enough I got a call from Manish, the Regional Service Manager and he organised assistance from the Ahmedabad dealer - Kaveri Motors. Two guys came from Kaveri and towed the bike to the dealership where they replaced my battery. However, after riding a 100 kms further and towards the evening, the problem resurfaced. Getting back to Ahmedabad was out of the question and after a round of calls, I was directed to the Surendranagar dealership - Old Soul Motorcycles. The moment I pulled my sputtering, stalling bike in the dealership I found them expecting me. The head of service called Manish and my bike's rectifier, magnet and battery checked. They replaced the faulty rectifier and magnet and I have had no issues. I completed my trip and a service later the bike is running fine. To be honest, I didn't expect this kind of support and it felt good. Of course, one could argue that my bike was very much in the warranty period and this level of support is par for the course and I agree. But the second incident is related to my out of warranty Thunderbird 500.

Enfield replaces my Thunderbird 500's Injector Jets

The second incident happened a week ago, I was riding my 2 year old Thunderbird when I noticed my engine was stalling and the power delivery was a bit jerky. Again, I visited Aman Automobiles, where they opened the fuel pump and and injectors discovered they was clogged. The culprit was adulterated fuel which had flaked off the inside of my fuel tank. THe pump was cleaned and the injectors replaced free of cost. Again, Tapan of Amsn Automobiles had spoken to Dhanna Lal the Regional Service Manager and they decided to replace the parts free. Chalk up a point for support, I was expecting a bill and was pleasantly surprised when informed that it was complimentary. No labour charges too!

Enfield replaces the fuel pump on my friend's out of warranty Desert Storm

My colleague, Gulshan had a bizarre experience. He had gone riding to Gangotri on his Desert Storm, when on the return the bike refused to start after filling up petrol. He had the bike loaded on a tempo and came down to Rishikesh where he went to Ranjit Motors, the Enfield dealer. This is where the story gets bizarre, the owner of Rajit Motors told him that all Desert Storms have faulty fuel pumps and that he advises his customers to convert their fuel injected Desert Storms to a carburetted version. Of course, at a fee of 15-20K. Since Gulshan was unsure, he told him to replace the fuel pump. The Ranjit Motors guy graciously offered him a second hand pump for 7K with a caveat that he would offer no guarantee on how long it would last. Then he added a zinger for good effect - that even new fuel pumps come with just a 3 month warranty. When Gulshan narrated his tale to me in the office, I found the whole faulty fuel pump story a little incredulous. So I called Tapan to check and when he heard the tale, he asked Gulshan to write a mail to him which he did. Tapan again took up the matter with Dhanna Lal and now Gulshan will get a brand new fuel pump, that too free of cost under what is called 'Goodwill Guarantee'.

Sahil and his Continental GT issue

Another friend of mine, Sahil, who bought a Continental GT when it was launched was riding when his bike seized. He towed the bike to his Mayapuri dealer who on opening the engine found that the timing chain (or whatever it is called, the chain which is in the clutch compartment) had snapped and had ruined the engine. Again Sahil's GT too is out of warrantybut he is gettinga new half engine kit free. In fact the Territory Service Manager is calling a company engineer from Chennai to fix Sahil's bike.

These incidents highlight a few things:

1. Enfield needs to improve the quality of their parts. While significant improvements have been made, they still have some way to go.

2. Unscrupulous dealers like Ranjit Motors have to go. They will neither support their customers (from whom they are looking to make a quick buck) nor strengthen the brand with their antics.

3. The quality of mechanics is a problem. But this is a problem that is across companies and service centers and it stems from the attitude of the dealership owner. In a dealership like Ranjit Motors, the mechanics are probably under pressure to mislead customers so that the dealership can earn more. Then there is the work ethic, traditionally and culturally a blue collar profession does not accord status to the practitioner, hence, they are just not highly motivated to provide a better quality of workmanship. Most times, they have to service about 20-25 bikes and the service team is just not geared in terms of people to do that. There is usually one senior 'Ustaad' and below him there is no quality manpower, and that means he has no time to get to the root of problems. So we are forced to go 2-3 times to get a problem properly fixed. Maybe the solution for the manpower issue could be that Enfield starts a rewards and recognition programme for mechanics and finding some way to provide them a greater sense of self by utilising the best as trainers etc.

As someone who likes his Enfield bikes, I want to start a conversation around this. Maybe someone, somewhere in Enfield might actually hear us and improve things further. Their increased customer focus gives me hope that it might just happen.

Would love to hear from you all on what you think.
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