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Old 31st August 2014, 11:21   #1
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Default Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

This is the ownership review of my yellow Royal Enfield Continental GT that I have christened Captain for reasons that will be eventually disclosed. I am rather far from being technically sound (something I strongly suspect this bike might change) so for now I will focus more on the buying and initial ownership and less on the mechanical intricacies of this bike. I am an occasional blogger and will weave some of my earlier writing into this thread, so be warned - this isn’t going to be short and crisp!

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Sigh! Isnt she lovely?

Over the following posts, I have written (at ponderous length, some might complain) about
- my R15
- my first brush with the concept of a café racer,
- the introduction to the Bullet world
- the thumbs up and challengers
- the buying process

From the time I started reading Indian automobile magazines in the late 90s (remember Auto India and Indian Auto?) I have always been a fan of fully faired sports bikes. The timeless R1s from the first half of the 2000s, the 2005 snub nosed cheater 636cc Kawasaki ZX6R, the evergreen Suzuki Hayabusa; I loved them all. The first thing I used to do when getting each new issue of BSM was to flip to the section on two wheelers and read Schumi’s monthly review of an almost always modded superbike. In most cases visceral power was made even more enticing with go faster bits. How could one not be bowled over? As I grew older I began to appreciate the beauty and raw aggression of naked bikes but cruisers, dirt bikes and the rest of the two wheeler spectrum remained firmly off my interest radar.

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Old 31st August 2014, 11:37   #2
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Default The R15 adventures

I was blessed that my Dad bought me a Bajaj Pulsar when I was in college in 2002 and that kick started (no pun intended) my biking adventures albeit on a limited scale. In 2009 within 12 months of starting to work at one of India’s largest IT companies I bought myself a blue Yamaha R15. It embodied everything that I looked for then – it was like nothing else on Indian roads, you could ride it like a pocket rocket and it fit my budget, with a loan of course. From the time it was launched, I knew that I had to buy one.

I have taken the bike to the Madras race track once (in the legendary words of the Legion of Doom - Whhaaattttaarussshhh!) and to most of the interstate rides that have been organized by a biking forum. I’ve done Bangalore to Cochin solo bike trips (much to the chagrin of my Mom) and a half a dozen trips to Yercaud but over the last few years, the demands of my work, the serenity associated with a blissful weekend slumber and the paucity of time have reduced my riding to commuting.

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Setting the race track ablaze .... not quite!

Here is a blog post of mine from May of 2009 which personified what almost all R15 owners went through when the bike was launched at its then relatively steep price and which is something I am sure that I will go through in the coming months as well.


The first part of the set of question that everybody (and I really mean everybody) has been asking me since the day I got the keys of my blue baby has been the same - Why did you spend over Rs 1,00,000 on a bike (that puts out only 150cc)? Whats so special about the bike? Is it worth it? The timing couldnt have been worse. A couple of weeks after I took possession of my bike, Tata announced the release of their game changing Nano. Which costs just over Rs 1,00,000. Which brings me to the second half of the set of questions - So why not the Nano? Why a bike when you can get a good second hand car for the same price? Questions to which I had confident answers until 1 day a couple of weeks back.

While on a random unofficial unplanned mini team outing to the tea shop outside our office we saw a large crowd gathered around a couple of cars. On closer inspection we realised that the ignored of the 2 was the ubiqtuous Indica while the one that had the crowd swarming around it was a Nano, the first which I had seen outside the realms of magazines & websites. Tea plans put on hold, we decided to check out the car and boy was I floored. The seats are incredibly comfortable and the interior space can put almost all other small cars to shame. The car is in a word - brilliant & the only thing I could wish for is slightly more luggage space in the boot/under the bonnet for weekend getaways. It truly is the perfect car for someone like me who will be confined to the endless cycle of home - office - outings within the city 99% of the time. The higher end variants have all the creature comforts I require and would translate to slightly larger EMIs but it is worth the money.

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A few hours later, I was all set to leave office for home when I realised that the sky was covered with clouds that had turned a sinister shade of black accompanied by strong winds that would have been better placed in the Perfect Storm. Even after an hour, the clouds continued to remain well, clouds & hoping that the rain gods would be merciful I set out on my 15km ride home. Just as I reached the busiest junction on the way home I noticed the first drop of rain that had fallen on my hand. In no time the rain dogs errrr gods were at their busiest & with no rain coat in hand, I was soaked to the bone before I could complete muttering my choisiest abuses. The only saving grace was that my phone was safe in my bag & avoided a trip to the service centre. The Nano versus R15 point had been hammered home with all the finesse of a blood thirsty barbarian on a killing spree.

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Helmie perched on the pillion seat

And so days passed by while I searched for closure on this. On my way back home from M.G Road on a friday night, I was waiting at a red light when the guy (mid 20s) in the car next to me rolled down his window & asked me which bike. R15 I replied as I noticed his dad who was driving the car was also appreciating the bike. How much he asked. I told him the price only for him to respond with a big grin & a thumbs up. Whats the mileage he asked. Doesnt matter I replied. The grins on their faces couldnt have been bigger. And then I knew.

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Old 31st August 2014, 12:04   #3
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Default The cafe racer dream

As I dove deeper into the corporate world, I knew that realistically owning a sports bike would always be out of my financial grasp (blame the Indian middle class mindset of car, marriage, flat, kids education) but a wonderful and inspirational thread called My R1 Story – A Papercut Dream came up on a biking forum and hope was restored. Not just for me but for a whole bunch of other young bikers who realized you didn’t necessarily need to have born with a silver spoon in your mouth to be able to own and live with a sports bike. And so I started saving up. I wasn’t sure how destiny would script this tale of mine but I started funneling away money every month, confident that one day I would ride home a litre class keeper.

And yet in July 2011, for the first time ever I flirted with the idea of a café racer, courtesy another inspirational story from the other end of India. My post from then explains how.


If you're lucky, you encounter those rare fleeting moments when life as you know it changes. No longer do you wake up every morning looking at the world through the same rose tinted eyes and chasing the same dreams. Your point of reference while looking at the world in the larger scheme of things has moved overnight and even though you see the same person in the mirror you know that inside you're a different man. For some people, the birth of a child is one such life altering event. When you cradle God's most beautiful creation in your arms, the cranky bosses, omni present EMI's and worries about the future are but a distant memory. Some experience the depths of disillusionment, others the heights of ecstasy, some gut wrenching sorrow and others soul fulfilling peace. To each his own but there are people unfortunate enough to sail through life without experiencing these as yet unnamed moments in life.

A few weeks back I dropped into the Ducati showroom here in Bangalore since a couple of friends (including one who owned a Ducati which justified the visit) were heading there. Now I've always liked Ducatis, there is something about Italians and automobiles (ahem I am a Fiat fan as well) that just seems so right. In fact, money no bar the one bike I would buy without batting an eyelid would be the Aprilia RSV4. Which is also Italian. Back to Ducati though, my first big bike experience was on the Ducati Multistrada 620, an excellent real world bike that you could actually use on a daily basis without having to worry about whether you've covered all your important relatives in your will. But my fascination for Ducati began only when I laid my eyes on the 1198SP in the Ducati showroom.

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Now I like to think of myself as not being a shallow man and I am more than acutely aware of the fact that beauty is definitely skin deep. Especially when it comes to automobiles and women. But the 1198SP mercilessly takes all my principles and flings them unceremoniously out the window. It is a work of art. Forget paintings from Indian artists. Buy one of these and park it in your living room instead. It makes me go weak in the knees. It makes me want to examine my bank account and look at EMI options even though I know I cannot afford it. 15 years from now I will still not be able to afford it. Unless I decide to remain a bachelor and live on fruits and cereal and avoid all forms of shopping. It makes me confused. If I ever did manage to save up enough to be able to afford it, would I buy it in black or red? It worries me. Would I ever be able to handle the insane power? It makes me jealous of the people who can afford it. It makes me angry that the people who can afford it will rarely use it. It invokes primal passion. And for that I am grateful.

I re-rechristened my home loan savings account. A few months ago I renamed it the Aprilia RSV4 fund. Then I called it the Ducati 1198SP fund. Sorry Aprilia. Its still a whole million rupees more expensive that the RSV4, which is itself expensive. And it means I'm going to have to choose between buying a flat and a bike. The fact that I'm seriously deciding between the two ensures that the visit to the showroom was one of those special moments in life.

And so life was split into the pre 1198SP and the post 1198SP eras as I dreamt of winning the lottery & marrying the daughter of a stinking rich industrialist. Until I stumbled upon a very special thread on a very busy day. It was one of those I'm so freakin loaded with work that I dont even have time to get off my seat days that seem to dog the best of us. After a couple of hours of typing away at a customer response document that didn't really change the world all that much, I decided to take a 3 minute break and browse a bit. Suddenly I was engrossed in the captivating tale of the resurrection and metamorphosis of an old (1972 to be precise) and dilapidated Royal Enfield Bullet into a gorgeous cafe racer.

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The riveting story was set in Chandigarh and the author had thankfully shared a load of pictures which showed the hard work that went into making one beautiful old school charmer. Several years ago I actually considered buying myself a Bullet but I realised I wasn't ready for the constant care and affection that it would require. Demand seems a more appropriate word. And I had actually done quite a bit of research on cafe racers and modifying the potentially incoming Bullet into one but common sense overruled the heart at that point of time.

Now however things are different. Ever since I stumbled upon the thread, Ive been checking different cafe racers and have been searching for the perfect paint combination that is signature Neil. I've been quietly looking up prices of second hand Bullets. So what if the Bullet wont have a pillion seat after it goes under the scalpel? It isn't going to break the bank but I will have to save up for it for a while. Since its a Bullet, its not going to be rushing anywhere in a tearing hurry so I don't have to worry about keeping my limbs intact. It will also bring a smile to my face every time I take her out for a spin. A cafe racer for Sunday morning rides seems to be just the sort of indulgence that would make me a very content man indeed. But I wasn't entirely convinced.

But thank you to the gentleman who shared with the world his story of bringing new life into what would have otherwise turned into a pile of rust. Your laborious and inspiring journey was another of those special moments in my life that has given me hope.

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I was searching for the perfect way to end this post and a couple of hours after I got done with the rest of the article, an old friend updated his FB status message with the following

"Over the sound of your alarm clock, your television, your cell phone, the mindless chatter of a meeting room, you hear a calling. It starts off as a whisper and then gets too loud to ignore. That's the call of the road. And there's only one way to respond. Royal Enfield."

Looks like I don't have to make that choice anymore. Sorry Ducati.
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Old 31st August 2014, 12:38   #4
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Default I bite the Bullet , kinda

There is supposedly just one fix for the monotony of corporate life – ride into the mystic mountains in the north and cleanse your soul. After missing out on biking to the Himalayas for a couple of years, my boss and I decided to walk the talk in 2013 and we signed up for a trip through a reputed group. I wanted to make sure that I truly captured the spirit of adventure and excitement that a city dweller like me experiences and in what turned out to be a mammoth near 30,000 word exercise I penned down my thoughts intertwined with musical inspiration in a detailed travelogue. It was the toughest writing exercise I have ever undertaken and reading it can get tiring (it still is for me). If you do have some spare time and have enjoyed my thread so far, feel free to head over to the following links and I would be more than happy if you do share your feedback.

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Ok so maybe I didnt send style street into a tizzy

The prologue - http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...ringsteen.html
Day 0 - Bangalore to Delhi http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...bangalore.html
Day 1 - Manali http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...n-my-head.html
Day 2 - Manali to Keylong http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...ody-blues.html
Day 3 - Keylong to Sarchu http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...garfunkel.html
Day 4 - Sarchu to Leh http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...ill-haley.html
Day 5 - Leh http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...starr-leh.html
Day 6 - Khardung La
Day 7 - Pangong Tso http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...hia-bruce.html
Day 8 - Leh to Tso Moriri http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...ry-leh-to.html
Day 9 - Tso Moriri to Sarchu http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...moriri-to.html
Day 10 - Sarchu to Jispa http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...sarchu-to.html
Day 11 - Jispa to Manali http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...mes-blunt.html
Day 12 - Manali to Delhi http://neilsrandomramblings.blogspot...y-friends.html

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Words do not do this justice

For those who want to skip to the ending, here is the final post from the travelogue

Epilogue : Purple Pills - D12

You really cannot do a trip like this and return to your day to day life without finding that it has changed in so many different ways. The mountains have a way of putting you in your place. You find that for all the big money that you earn at the end of the month and the fancy joints that you frequent across town and the hundreds of people that are below you on the corporate ladder, a stray rock fall or some loose gravel on a dangerous turn will ensure that it is curtains for you. You start appreciating life for what it really is.

I was talking to a friend of mine who had covered the entire region with his buddies after hiring a cab a couple of years ago and he too went through the exact process after returning to his ‘normal’ life. The thing is though, life doesn’t let you get back to the old normal. The mountains give you a rush and it’s like your eyes and your mind have finally been opened. The Himalayas then represent the red pill from the Matrix. It’s the painful truth of reality about the world we live in but often see through the wrong pair of glasses.

“I been to mushroom mountain
Once or twice but who's countin'
But nothing compares
To these blue and yellow purple pills”

Purple Pills - D12

After leaving Manali I encountered several signs which made me stop, smile and reflect on the whole trip and what it really meant.

Sign # 1 – I was in a car on the way to the Delhi airport when I heard the rumble of an approaching Bullet. Instinctively my mind knew that it couldn’t be the Man who didn’t know which football club to support as he used to potter around on his bike and the revs that I heard certainly didn’t match his style. It wasn’t My favourite couple of all time, as they used to give the Bullet the stick and this bike sounded more subdued. It cetainly wasn’t Vishal as he drove all out all the time. And then it struck me, I was in Delhi and our group wasn’t riding any longer..…

Sign # 2 – I was wheeling my suitcases out of the Bangalore airport when I heard the couple behind me say something rather interesting. Instinctively my eyes darted to the left and right of my hands that were on the trolley, searching for the rear view mirrors to get a glimpse of this couple. And then it struck me, I was in Bangalore and I wasn’t holding onto the handlebars of my Bullet …..

Sign # 3 – The main road near my place was finally getting tarred but in its current semi prepared state, it was a dangerous mix of loose gravel and fine sand. Something that I would have avoided like the plague earlier. And then it struck me, after what we had been through, this was the equivalent of a leisurely stroll through the biking park and I looked at it with a devious gleam in my eye.

Sign # 4 – I was glad that the trip had renewed my passion for biking and started my bike (the simple pleasure of using an electric start after two weeks of kick starting the Bullet is indescribable) which I have owned for the last four years but strangely it felt all wrong for the next couple of days. I was so tuned to the upright seating position of the Bullet that this sporty posture had my body in all sorts of discomfort. The pin point braking had me really worried because my body wasn’t used to this sudden retardation and I had to relearn how to balance myself to counteract this. The acceleration now matched the twists of the throttle and there was no delay while the bike said to itself “Ok then, time for me to get to work and pick up the pace. On second thoughts, maybe in a minute or so” And finally there was no deafening rumble to shake the windows off my neighbours houses. And then it stuck me, I would certainly miss the Bullet.

Last edited by neil.jericho : 1st September 2014 at 09:22.
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Old 31st August 2014, 17:49   #5
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Default The challengers step up

Earlier this year, I went to the Royal Enfield showroom in Jayanagar to check out the Continental GT and the KTM showroom in BTM layout to test ride the D390. I knew I would be applying for my work visa to the US so I wasn’t really sure whether I would take the plunge and invest in a new bike with so much uncertainty on the work front. But if things did change, I wanted to know what I was in for as I knew that any upgrade debate would start from either of these two bikes and go on to the Triumphs and beyond.

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Temporary Temptation

As fate would have it, the front disc of the Continental GT was warped and it wasn’t in a condition to be test ridden that day. Confirmation that the waiting period was 12 months sealed the deal and hoping for better luck I rode straight to the KTM showroom, anticipating that the D390 would blow my socks away. I believe it was the same weekend that they had track day in Madras and hence the test bike wasn’t available either. The good part was delivery could be done in a couple of days if I made the full cash payment and while I had sufficient funds to buy it then and there, it was an easy decision to say no to myself, despite being tempted. And so I waited for things to pan out before taking a call on whether I would take the plunge or not.


You haven’t truly experienced a monsoon unless you have been in Kerala for those few months of the year. When it rains in Kerala, it pours non-stop and just when you think that it is going to reduce, it picks up its intensity by a few notches, almost as punishment after lulling you into a false sense of hope. It was on one very rainy day during this year’s monsoon season when my then soon to be fiancé and I were stuck in a frustrating traffic jam in Cochin. While we waited patiently I realized that we were stuck in front of a Royal Enfield showroom and I pointed out the red Continental GT that was parked outside and a yellow one that was inside the safe confines of the showroom.

She loved the look of the bike and we decided to talk about potentially getting the bike sometime this year. I had also just resigned from my current job and was starting to serve my notice period which meant that my plans of going abroad would be on hold for a while. With the specter of staying in India for at least the next year and a half looming over me, upgrading from the R15 was a no brainer though I knew that financially it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to get myself a 600 or a litre class bike right now, despite what my heart said. So it was back to researching on the D390 and Continental GT.

The D390 of 2014 was everything that the R15 brought to the table in 2009 when you consider power, looks and relative affordability. It promised to be the equivalent of WCW cruiser weight matches from the late 90s - blink and you miss it thrills, unmatched agility and a pace that was a far cry from what fans were used to. On paper it was an easy choice but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t for me. High speed rides weren’t cutting if for me any longer. The time spent riding a Bullet from Manali to Leh and back had reinvigorated my, by then, watered down biking spirit but fourteen months of corporate drudgery had undone all the mystic healing of the mountains. The D390 would be a short term fix and wasn’t what I needed. The stories of alloys cracking like egg shells made me worry and a long chain of niggling issues from early Duke owners meant the writing was on the wall for this otherwise excellent bike.

Trawling through the internet for reviews of Continental GT, both from motoring scribes and actual owners, brought me to the realization that there are hardly any actual ownership write-ups out there. In comparison, the new Thunderbird 500 had a loyal following and I diligently went through each owners thread and came away thoroughly impressed by the latest iteration of this bike. It had a proper seat for a pillion and promised to be comfortable on long rides, which was something that we weren’t sure we would definitely do but the option of having it meant that it appealed more than the single-seated Continental GT of which there was very little actual feedback. On paper it was an easy choice but I knew I would have to take a test ride to see if it was for me.

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Give me Red!

Back to the Jayanagar showroom and I decided to take a test drive of the Continental GT and the TB500 in what was set to be the final elimination bout. First up the Continental and what can I say, I loved it. Everything felt perfect. So much for my easy choice! The TB500 however was a whole different ball game. I wasn’t fully comfortable with the gear shifter and braking from the front happened in pulses which kept the bike hopping at low speeds while twisting the right wrist didn’t really result in any real world acceleration. It was like standing under an overcast grey sky and hearing thunder that would have woken the dead from their graves but only to find a mild drizzle instead of a torrential downpour and a gentle breeze instead of a tree uprooting gale.

Though I wasn’t really considering it, I decided to take a test ride of the TB350 and it was the surprise of the lot, Royal Enfield has a little gem here that seems to be majorly overlooked. If I was on a tighter budget, this would have undoubtedly been my choice but right now this wasn’t the bike for me. And so my heart was set on the Continental GT and the one month waiting period for red / two months for yellow plus the confirmation of the ability to add the pillion seat was the icing on the cake. But like any Vince Russo storyline, there was an unexpected twist in the tale.

After deciding to take a few days to think it over, I realized that there were a couple of ownership threads on the Suzuki Inazuma that had sprung up at around that time and the quarter litre Suzuki promised comfort and stress free motorcycling at a price point that was high but not out of reach. A test ride of the bike impressed me more than enough to go back and do more research but I knew all along that right now it wasnt the right bike for me.

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Sensible but doesnt stir your soul

And that ladies and gentlemen is the long story of how my head finally agreed with what the heart longed for. Every passionate automobile enthusiast has more than a story or two to share, this is mine. The journey to the Continental GT was years in the making and yet it is only the beginning of another story of ownership and hopefully finding my missing biking mojo. There still is another story that still is to be scripted - one that involves finding and owning my first (and since my fiance is reading this, I should mention last) big bike but that is a dream that will probably take many more years to come alive. Till then, I will continue to look for inspiration and hopefully inspire.

Last edited by neil.jericho : 2nd September 2014 at 20:09.
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Old 31st August 2014, 18:10   #6
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Default Booking and delivery of the bike

Booking the bike was a straightforward affair, all you have to do is hand over Rs 5000 and fill in some details. The booking slip said the delivery period would be 2 months for the yellow whereas the verbal confirmation was one month. Not that I was buying that story .... The same day I received an sms from Royal Enfield confirming my booking of a yellow Continental GT. On the 21st I called up the showroom to find out when I could expect my bike and I was told that it had already arrived in the godown and I need to make the payment. Now I know why all the TB owners used to religiously keep following up with the showroom folks before delivery!

The amount was transferred online and I sent the paperwork to them on the 25th and filled up some forms that day. During almost all my interactions with the showroom folks I felt that the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing which was slightly disconcerting but something that I had to be ignore and learn to live with. For example, after filling the forms and sending the documents to them, I received a call later that evening asking me when I would be coming to the showroom to submit my documents and fill the relevant forms On the 1st of September, I received a call from the showroom folks asking me to submit my documents so that it could go for registration! I told them I was expecting the bike that evening and asked how could they ask me for paperwork now. Confused, the lady said she will go back and check and see. Sigh! All part of the Royal Enfield ownership experience I keep telling myself....

On the 2nd of September (exactly one month after my booking) I received a call saying the bike was ready. I went to the showroom before 4 and they soon handed over the form to be signed which I refused to do until they went through the entire list on it which included tool kit, medical kit etc. I had downloaded the owners manual and had found the bike installation confirmation by customer pages (119 & 120) which has to be returned on delivery.

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These were torn off when I was given the owners manual. When I asked them where these pages were at first they feigned ignorance and then went inside and got me the same sheet from another manual. The smile on the face of the receptionist showed she was surprised they were caught on this by a customer. They did not ask me to fill the form and return it to them. I still have it with me. Sigh! All part of the Royal Enfield ownership experience I keep telling myself.....

As for the delivery process, everything was on track except the reserve fuel indicator was blinking despite them saying they had put in the mandatory 3 litres of petrol. After delivery I rode a few kms to the Shell bunk in Bellandur and filled up 9.44 litres (capacity is 13.5 l) so I guess the fuel indicator has a mind of its own which I need to get used to. Sigh! All part of the Royal Enfield ownership experience I keep telling myself.....

The first problem came up when they were adjusting the levers so that they were angled down rather than up. I was used to having the levers and the bars in the same straight line of vision while sitting (i.e. the lever would visually fall behind the grips) and while they were tightening the bolt on the left side it broke off leaving half of it screwed in! This is exactly what happened when I went to take a test ride and I had asked them to adjust the mirrors then. The bike was taken to the nearby service centre and returned only an hour later.

The second problem came up when I was trying to adjust the rear view mirrors after the levers were finally set. As hard as I tried, they just refused to point anywhere towards terra firma! Now if I wanted to track a low flying aircraft (or a Decepticon for that matter) that was tailing me, this would have been fine but I need to know what is happening behind me on the road and not in the clouds. They admitted that there was no point trying to adjust it too much and so I settled for having the levers set higher only so I could keep track of traffic.

I then signed the requisite forms and thanked Mr Ravi who was responsible for delivery and handover. For the initial run in period of 500 kms, I was told up 80 kmph is safe and after that I can take it up to 130 kmph after that. The manual says

0-500 Kms : The recommended speeds for the first 500 Kilometers is below 50 to 60 Kmph. During this period avoid operating the motorcycle with full throttle opening. Stop the motorcycle for about 5 to 10 minutes to let it cool down, after every hour of running. Vary the speed of the motorcycle regularly during running but avoid using the motorcycle above 1/2 throttle opening position.

2. 501-2000 Kms :The recommended speed is below 80 – 90 kmph. Avoid driving the motorcycle with full throttle opening. Vary the speed of the motorcycle regularly but avoid using the motorcycle above 3/4th throttle opening position.

3. 2001 Kms and above : Avoid prolonged full-throttle operation. Vary speed occasionally.

I havent clocked in sufficient kms to form a strong early opinion but from what little I did ride today I can confirm that the acceleration was crisp and the RVMs (after all the melodrama) proved to be more of a fashion accessory than an actual functional component of the bike. What I can definitely confirm is that the bike is an attention magnet in this dashing shade of yellow and I will have to get used to the attention made even more prominent by the exclusivity of the striking colour. Sigh! All part of the Royal Enfield ownership experience I keep telling myself.....

Last edited by neil.jericho : 2nd September 2014 at 20:54.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 11:23   #7
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Default re: Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

Excellent narration Neil. Now that the bike is delivered, do post your riding impressions and how the bike fares in the city and on the open highways.

Good luck with the engine break in.

Wish you many happy and safe miles (and years) on this one.
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Old 8th September 2014, 00:32   #8
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Default re: Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

By now I'm sure the one question on your mind is - so what is it like in the real world? To make things easy I will split my initial ownership review into three sections - the good, the undecided and the ugly based on nearly 200 kms of riding and I will channelize my inner Teddy Long to be the voice of cynicism and to ask the questions that most readers will want answers to.

The Good

1. Hey Hey Good Looking - Yesterday while riding back home, the signal at a large junction turned red exactly when I about to cross it which meant I was at the head of the line for what would be a very long wait. Now normally this would have been a frustration inducing exercise as I would have ended up waiting patiently while pondering what if I was at the signal 5 seconds earlier. This time however things were slightly different. As the mass of humanity moved along the zebra crossing , every male head turned and stared at the bike. Many of them smiled. The women though kept moving, oblivious to what was happening and wondering why all the men were walking slowly. And this wasn’t a one off thing. It's the lingering glances I notice as I ride past groups of people smoking outside their offices and the smiles I get from people who seconds earlier had a dazed look in their eyes while they are stuck in their office buses when they see me across the road.

Now holdonaminute playah, are you suggesting that the Royal Enfields Continental GT is more than just a good looking bike?

I would say it’s definitely more than a good looking bike. Correct that, it's more than beautiful. It’s gorgeous. In this shade I would go so far as to call it stunning. For the record, I find it the most attractive bike manufactured in India.

2. Royal Rumbler - I'll be honest, the engine on this bike impresses me every single time I ride it. I can feel it change as it slowly gets over the initial roughness that every new engine has to overcome and starts developing its own character. These 200 kms have been tough on me because the engine just begs me to pull beyond the 60 kmph mark. It goads me into giving the accelerator a heavy hand. The fact that ladies on their piddly 100 cc scooters honk and overtake me pains me no end and the Continental GT almost begs me to leave them as distant memories in the mostly useless RVMs.

I have accidentally slipped beyond the mentioned speed limit only because the bike has done such a great job of masking the speed I'm doing and more importantly because I'm too busy having fun. More than a hand full of times I've looked down to see the speedo at 70 kmph and cursing myself for my carelessness I have then gone back to having the self control of a monk and staying in the safe zone. I cannot wait to finish the two phase run in and give the bike the beans on a long and winding road.

Now holdonaminute playah, arent all Royal Enfields slow plodding bikes?

This bike is definitely quick. It may not do 150 kmph all day but I am pretty sure it will get you to the ton much faster than you ever thought a Royal Enfield would ever be able to.

The Undecided

1. Stop Right There! - Honestly the brakes have been a revelation. The stopping power from the front brake is impressive and the rear does a really good job as well. Some credit should go to the tyres but I havent even scratched the surface of their grip levels so far. So what is it doing in the undecided section, you ask. Well applying the front brake makes a sound that I can best describe as the background noise from insects that you will hear if you watch a documentary on the Amazon forests. I took it to the showroom and Mr Ravi said that the front brake pads are definitely rubbing against the disc even when the brakes are not being applied (which was also causing it to become hot) and that the SVC guys should adjust it. The SVC guys say that this is normal for Royal Enfields and that the wear and tear is par for course. I plan on visiting the SVC in a few days and will get this checked again because the noise is a bit worrying.

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The front disc at less than 200 kms

Now holdonaminute playah, doesnt braking on a Royal Enfield involve copious amounts of pulling the brake lever, stamping on the rear brake and sending up copious prayers to the heavens?

The Continental GT may not be able to stop on a dime like one probably could with an R15. However it certainly doesnt need a hoola hoop sized target either. I am sure that those little rings one uses at carnivals and fairs would be just about perfect for a braking test with the Continental GT.

The Ugly

1. The Gearb(L)ox - Within five minutes of taking possession of my bike, I pulled up to a large signal and tried to shift from first to neutral. Except for the new found pain in my toe nothing happened. Strange I said to myself. At the next signal, the exact same thing repeated itself. In stop go traffic the gearb(L)ox (get it?) obstinately refuses to shift into neutral. My office leathers have taken more of a beating in 3 days of riding the Continental GT than they took in 3 years of riding the R15. Even with my A* SMX 2 it refuses to move into neutral. On the move though the gearb(L)ox works as expected without any issues. With the clutch pulled in and the bike in first gear, even the threat of hell, fire and brimstone cannot make it follow instructions. The SVC guys have said they need to open it up to see what is wrong with the gearb(l)ox. I do not know if this is a common RE 'characteristic' but I'm left baffled when I ask myself how did the showroom folks not spot this during the PDI? Or was there a PDI in the first place?

Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)-m1.jpg
At the SVC, hopefully we dont become regulars

Ok, I'll hold off on the Teddy Long questions for the gearbox till it gets sorted though this does raise enough and more valid questions on the type of testing that gets done on newly delivered bikes.


To sum it up, in the Continental GT what Royal Enfield has is a halo model. It appears that it has the go to match the show. Overall the feedback I hear from many bikers is that quality finally seems to be an actual department within RE and is no longer a deserted corner room in its manufacturing plant bereft of employees. What the Continental GT needs is proper advertising. RE needs to get people to walk into showroom to see the bike and reel them in with more affordable offerings if this is out of their reach. RE needs to get people to see the bike in different shades other than the soulful red and sultry yellow. It could be the bike that this generation's children put up on their cupboards (or as their desktop wallpapers) and dream of owning someday. It may not be the bike that bikers across India need, but it can easily be the one bike that they all want.

Last edited by neil.jericho : 8th September 2014 at 00:55. Reason: Grammar
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Old 8th September 2014, 10:34   #9
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Default re: Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Motorbikes section. Thanks for sharing
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Old 8th September 2014, 17:05   #10
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Default re: Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

Congrats on purchasing the top bike from RE, Neil.

Although there are other members with the Conti on the forum, yours is the first review and please do keep it updated.

The yellow is a very rare color on the GT, all the ones I have seen on roads(a handful) a red. The best part being that the yellow is not a bad yellow, it suits the bike perfectly and carries it of.

I have been eying the GT for months now. I had done a couple of test rides. Hated the sound, but loved the way it moved for a RE. It was a perfect upgrade from my 96' 500. Hopefully, I will join you soon.

I had the same dilemma as you. The D390, Inazuma , TB500 and the Conti. Being a RE crack, it was the TB500 (mind) and Conti(heart) .
But like you had the Ducati , I have the Ninja 300

It is sad that there still niggles , especially on a more export oriented bike like the GT. Regarding the gear not falling to first, did you check the clutch lever adjustment?From what the Service Center said, I am guessing it is a result of the plates not fitted in well. It is a small job.

Enjoy the bike and ride safe.
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Old 9th September 2014, 01:58   #11
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Default re: Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

Wonderful write up and nice to see a ownership experience of the new Continental GT. Its indeed a really stunning looking bike from RE.

Ride safe and wish you many many miles of enjoyable motoring
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Old 9th September 2014, 03:57   #12
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Default re: Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

Neil: Thank you for a most excellent write-up.

The front brake dragging is not normal for the CGT or any other vehicle. It must be fixed by the RE mechanics. (I would explain the process but you indicated you are not mechanically inclined).

The most likely cause is the brake fluid has been overfilled and this excess fluid is causing the brake pads to rub on the disk.
There is really no adjustment that can be done on a disk brake but bleeding the system to remove any excess fluid should repair the problem.
As this problem can happen with the rear disk brake too, ask them to check the fluid level on that master cylinder while they are repairing the front disk brake.

As for not being able to shift the transmission into neutral when the motorcycle is stopped, that is most likely due to the clutch not fully releasing when the clutch lever is pulled in to the max.
Looking at the clutch lever from the front of the bike, apply a small amount of pressure to the lever. Just enough to cause it to remove the slop in the system.

In this position, you should see a gap between the lever where the cable is installed to the fixed portion of the brake lever. The gap should be about 2 to 3 mm.
If it is greater than this, you have found the problem.
The mechanics should be able to easily adjust the cable to set the gap in just a few minutes.

If the gap is 2-3mm (or less) the problem is most likely with the clutch plates inside the engine.
In this case, the RE mechanics will have to remove the left hand side cover and replace the defective parts.


Last edited by ArizonaJim : 9th September 2014 at 04:00.
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Old 9th September 2014, 11:30   #13
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Default Re: Booking and delivery of the bike

Originally Posted by neil.jericho View Post

I can confirm that the acceleration was crisp and the RVMs (after all the melodrama) proved to be more of a fashion accessory than an actual functional component of the bike.
Hi Neil,

Congratualtion on the new CGT and really liked the style of your writing.

For a Cafe racer configuration, what you need is "Bar End RVMs". Get a set at the earliest and your pain in this area will be taken care of.

For your info, the CGT is going great guns in UK. I was told by some one associated with the UK distributor of RE, that they are selling more that 20 units every month in UK. I guess the nostalgia notwithstanding, the bike must be more reliable than the others and hence the off take.

Best Regards & Ride Safe

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Old 9th September 2014, 11:44   #14
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Default re: Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 : Ownership Review (29,000 km and 7 years)

Congrats Neil!First full length review of the Conti here on t-bhp.Eagerly awaiting your long term riding impressions.

Excellent write up.Enjoyed the read.The bit on braking behaviour of old Enfields struck home for me.I lean slightly towards the front aswell.

In that picture of 3 Contis,the one on the far left has a different tailamp.Is that an available accessory?

As you said,in the looks department,definitely it is one good lookin motorcycle.Initially I was a bit disappointed since they really didn't up the ante(read twin) in the power department.I suppose that is something that may take a long time to change.

I'm curious,did you spot the Conti first at the showroom on Chittoor road?I've only seen one so far here in Cochin(Red).
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Old 9th September 2014, 14:50   #15
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Default Re: Booking and delivery of the bike

Neil, congratulations on the Continental GT. It's indeed a looker. I was terribly impressed by their video advertisment which was really lovely

Great write up too. Look forward to more pictures of your bike

Originally Posted by r_nairtvm View Post
For a Cafe racer configuration, what you need is "Bar End RVMs". Get a set at the earliest and your pain in this area will be taken care of.
Ram, its a bullet and whatever you do RVM will always remain a fashion accessory after 60kmph and for some maximum till 80kmph

My bullet's RVM becomes completely hazy post 60kmph and will just indicate there is someone in it without giving any clue about distance and sometimes you cannot even make out if its a 2 wheeler or 4 wheeler in the mirror
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