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26 major work / service done on my old RE Continental GT 535

All said and done, the refreshed Continental GT 535 is back to being ready to rock and roll.

BHPian neil.jericho recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

This Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 ownership thread has been awfully silent for far too long and there are a ton of pending updates that I need to write about. I hope to get through everything in the next couple of weeks. With that mandatory preamble out of the way, let’s get down to business.

As I had mentioned in my last round of posts, I had dropped off my motorcycle with Motonerdz in Trivandrum. While I like to think that I have been rather meticulous in the upkeep of my bike, a bunch of small tasks needed to be addressed. Almost (more?) importantly, after 8 years of hard riding, the Continental GT 535 looked a little tired. It’s safe to say that the motorcycle desperately needed a mid-life makeover.

My brief to the Motonerdz team was simple. I wanted the motorcycle to feel and look like it was a brand-spanking-new motorcycle. Barring a couple of electric problems that had cropped up, the Continental GT 535 has served me very well since 2014. It has survived Bangalore's infamous traffic commutes, the usual breakfast rides, stressful all-day rides, multiple overnighters, track weekends, ill-conceived offroading experiments and everything else in between.

It is hard to explain but of all the motorcycles that I have owned, this once-halo product of Royal Enfield has carved out a very special place for itself in my heart. I was looking forward to many more years of riding it across South India (and hopefully, other parts of our beautiful country), without having the minutest doubts about its reliability nag away at the back of my mind. That, and I wanted it to look like it had just rolled out of the showroom because hey, there is no arguing that the Continental GT 535 is one of the best-designed Indian bikes of all time.

After handing over the motorcycle, I came up with a checklist/wish list of things to be done on the motorcycle. In no particular order, they were

1. New paint job

Unsurprisingly, finalizing the paint scheme and design was the activity that took the longest time. I scoured the internet for a signature colour mix that wouldn’t require an update in the bike’s RC. After shortlisting a dozen design options (including from several classic UJMs), we went with the colour combination from the stunning deBolex DB25 and a simple scheme that was reminiscent of the bigger Royal Enfield Continental GT 650.

The front and rear mudguards would also be painted in this gorgeous yellow shade. The stock grey panels would do a gross disservice to the new paint job.

Initially, we planned to get the exhaust rechromed but after several rounds of discussion, we settled on painting the engine in glossy black and the exhaust in matte black. To complement this combination, the wheel rims were painted black while the spokes retained their OEM finish. The other grey coloured OEM bits were painted in black, to match the overall look of the bike. This includes the footpegs, guards, a new triple clamp (more on that later), mounts and so on.

I think it’s safe to say that the final outcome speaks for itself. That yellow colour absolutely POPS in the real world. The bike grabs attention like it’s nobody's business. Here is a clip of what the motorcycle looks like.

However, there is so much more that has gone into the motorcycle than just a striking paint job.

2. Install anti anti-vibration plate

The Carberry anti-vibration plate is a popular product that reduces the vibrations in Royal Enfield motorcycles, to a perceptible extent. The reviews of the product are largely positive, with the primary negative feedback being its price of above Rs 3,000. One could always argue that the price-to-performance ratio isn’t worth the money spent. In my books, if you are unhappy with the vibrations on your older Royal Enfield motorcycles, you can either try out a product like this or sell your motorcycle and buy another bike that is a lot smoother but with a tenth of the character of what you currently own.

Does the anti-vibration plate actually work? I believe it does help to some extent. How much would be hard for me to actually quantify?

3. Install 90-degree valves on both wheels

My Triumph Street Triple 675 comes with 90-degree valves on both wheels and this simple feature makes checking the air pressure extremely easy, especially while touring. The problem with a motorcycle that has spoked wheels and valve stems that face the wheel hub is that it can be really difficult to fill air at a petrol bunk which has long metallic nozzle extensions. For regular usage, I stick to IOCL bunks that have the newer small nozzles for filling the air. Being a tubed setup, it isn’t possible to install 90-degree valve stems on the wheels of my motorcycle. However, I hear that the alloys from the 650 twins are a direct fit onto the Continental GT 535. If that is the case, I will most likely switch to the alloy setup with the tubeless Vredstein Centauro ST tires that come on the new Continental GT 650. This combination will allow me to install 90-degree valves.

4. Check the front brakes

While the brake fluid was new, I wanted everything else to be given a thorough once-over.

5. Replace all rubber hoses

The OEM rubber hoses aren’t known to be particularly long-lasting. It was time for a fresh set of hoses to go in.

6. Tighten the foundation bolts

Self explanatory

7. Replace spark plug

I had heard positive feedback on the NGK Platinum spark plugs. Way back in 2016, a Royal Enfield service advisor had suggested that I try it out but I didn’t want to spend 4 times the money of the regular spark plug. Does the NGK Platinum spark plug really make that much of a difference on a performance motorcycle (ahem!) like the Continental GT 535? That's hard to say without riding it back to back with a stock plug setup. Since I was going all out on making the bike feel like it just rolled out of the showroom, this was a no-brainer.

8. Check the throttle body

Periodic maintenance. Thats it.

9. Check the rear brake

This is similar to point number 4 in the list.

10. Check compression

No particular reason to get this done. Periodic maintenance.

11. Replace the OEM rear bulb with a brighter LED bulb

Better visibility is always, well, better.

12. Check if any engine work is to be done

This was more of a preventive step than anything else. As it turned out, everything was fine.

13. Reshape the double seat

Back in 2021, I had upgraded the padding of the double seat of the Continental GT 535 and while the new seat was extremely comfortable, the aesthetics of the motorcycle had taken a major hit. The seat height had also gone up by a fair bit, which made flat-footing less easy than before. I wanted the seat to be trimmed down enough that the motorcycle retained its classic looks without compromising on the seating comfort.

14. Replace the triple clamp

In early 2016, I had replaced the semi-aggressive stock clip-ons with an upright KTM Duke handlebar setup, in an attempt to make day-to-day living with the Continental GT 535 a lot easier. The daily office commute, with the laptop on my back, was taking a real toll on my wrists. After I moved to the new Scrambler-ish setup, the benefits were instantly evident. Over time, I switched back to the OEM clip-ons. That short-lived but breezy KTM handlebar phase, however, did leave 2 gaping holes on the triple clamp. It was finally time to get a new one and get it colour-matched with the rest of the motorcycle.

15. Replace the front brake reservoir cap

Over the years, the existing one ended up getting slightly scuffed. How that happened, I do not remember. The details are probably buried somewhere in this mammoth ownership thread. In 2020, I requested the friendly folks at the Republic of Bikers to help source this. Unfortunately, this item was never in stock. Despite the best efforts of the team at Motonerdz, they too could not procure the brake reservoir cap in Trivandrum. I will have to see if it's available over the counter in Bangalore. There is nothing wrong with the existing one, barring the visual scars.

16. Fix the steering lock nut

During this slow-speed fall in 2021, the steering lock nut on the right side suffered minor damage. This meant that when the handlebar was at full lock position on the right side, the handlebar was closer to the tank, than what it was on the left side. The team at Motonerdz fixed this and now there is no perceptible difference from lock to lock.

17. Fabricate a fly screen

After the paint scheme, this required maximum brainstorming before we locked down on a final design. Long story short, the fabricator took an awfully long time to make this to our specifications. I simply love how it has turned out, though many of my friends aren’t the biggest fans of the custom fly screen. On highway runs, it certainly does help with managing windblast. If I had an Instagram account, the custom fly screen would have easily earned me an additional 21% in the count of likes and 18.5% in shares, as compared to another motorcycle without the fly screen. So what if the motorcycle now looks like a charging Indian rhinoceros in the rearview mirrors of my fellow riders?

18. Install Simtac indicator LED and flasher

Like the rear tail light, brighter is better. I wanted a flasher for the few times when the bike was parked on the side of the road in poor visibility conditions. Simtac's products are supposed to be the best of what is available in India right now. The company confirmed that it is a direct fit for the Continental GT 535.

19. Fabricate clamp for right side horn

In 2017, one of the two clamps that held up the horns had broken due to low morale, me(n?)tal fatigue and/or #JustREthings. It was time to get another clamp installed so that the motorcycle went back to the twin horn setup.

20. Replace the accelerator and clutch cable

Over a decade ago, the accelerator cable on my Yamaha R15 gave up at the infamous Silk Board junction and I had the distinctly unfortunate privilege of pushing the motorcycle for a few kilometres, in peak traffic, to my FNG. Since then, I’ve made it a point to replace the accelerator and clutch cable on my motorcycles every 10,000 kilometres. I consider this a small price to pay for complete peace of mind. As this experience taught me, one can never be too careful with such matters.

21. Check crush washer

The drain bolt for the engine oil needed to be replaced. Preventive maintenance.

22. Fix the underside screw on the RHS handlebar to remove the play

This issue had to be sorted out. This was a simple fix.

23. Cone set check

Periodic maintenance. Thats it.

24. Sheathing of the entire wiring harness

Despite all the warnings about mechanical impropriety and endless electrical gremlins that I got before buying the motorcycle, the Continental GT 535 has only left me stranded on two occasions. Both were on account of electric issues. The first was due to the well-known issue of the wiring harness wearing out over time due to frequent physical contact. The second was due to damage to the wiring from a fall. Later, I caught a wiring-related issue early enough and replaced the entire wiring harness with a new one. Not wanting to experience electric issues for a third time, I got the Motonerdz team to put a protective wrap around the wiring harness. Sometimes, it is better to be safe than sorry. And now for 2 unexpected entries.

25. Royal Enfield touring mirrors

A fellow TBHPian had these optional touring mirrors on his Royal Enfield motorcycle that he sold a few years ago. He was not a fan of the stock oval-shaped mirrors on my motorcycle and gave them to me to try out on my Continental GT 535. Compared to the stock mirrors which used to vibrate at multiple points of the rev range, these touring mirrors are in a whole different league altogether. They are crystal clear almost throughout the rev range, which is a trick and a half. I only wish they were a quarter of an inch bigger, for a wider field of view. At Rs 6,850, these touring mirrors are frightfully expensive but the quality (both build and visibility) is fantastic. Dare I say it, these optional mirrors are actually worth the money.

26. Mad Dog LED headlight

Again, these were lent to me by the same TBHPian. The cutoff from the headlight is pretty sharp and the intensity is surprisingly good! With a few really early morning starts for rides, these headlights have been put to the test and they have performed admirably well. I know in the absence of aux lights, LED headlights can usually prove to be ineffective in the rain. So far, I haven't had a chance to test them in those conditions and I hope it stays that way!

I have a feeling that there are a few more updates that I might have forgotten about.

Overall, the team from Motonerdz has done an excellent job. The motorcycle was ready to be picked up a long time back. A combination of me being busy, touring on my Suzuki Gixxer SF 250, procrastination, life's usual head-scratching shenanigans and more, meant that the motorcycle was in their safe custody until I could get around to picking it up.

All said and done, the refreshed Continental GT 535 is back to being ready to rock and roll. Coming up in my subsequent posts are updates on:

  • a thankfully rainless monsoon ride from Trivandrum to Cochin
  • a most eventful ride from Cochin to Bangalore (keep your popcorn ready for this one)
  • a breakfast ride (with familiar old faces) to savour the best dosa ever
  • a worrying new sound and nailing down what it stems from
  • a 4-day 1000+ kilometre chasing the rain clouds (away !) ride took us from Bangalore to Agumbe to Kalpasa to Madikeri and finally, back to Bangalore.
  • a quickfire breakfast blast with the newest Ninja 400 on the forum.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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