Ownership log: My Rocker Red Royal Enfield Continental GT 650

Very few bikes have that place of honor in her book.

BHPian deepfreak15 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

As far as I can remember, I have always loved Cafe Racers. Many years ago, if someone had given me a blank cheque and told me I could buy any motorcycle I fancied, I would have picked up the Triumph Thruxton RS. I still remember being very excited when Royal Enfield decided to launch the Continental GT (535). I rarely take test rides of motorcycles but I headed straight to the showroom and test rode it. Somehow even though I loved the looks, I could not get over the fact that the engine was under-powered.

Fast forward a few more years and the moment RE launched the 650 twins, I booked an Ice Queen Continental GT 650 online. But for some reason, the day I was supposed to get my bike, I got cold feet and backed out. I ended up buying a touring ADV and that turned out to be a good thing as pillion comfort is very important if I wanted to go on long rides.

In 2020, we had gone to Goa and after a couple of lovely brews in the Royal Enfield Cafe, we popped into the showroom and the Mrs. immediately pre-approved the Continental GT.

Very few bikes have that place of honor in her book (Triumph Speed Twin, Triumph Tiger, RE Himalayan, Continental GT) and there are two brands that have her automatic rejection (Any KTM, Any Kawasaki). Dont ask me why!

Post that, it took me almost a year to make up my mind if I should buy the bike or not. No thanks to our resident RE Continental guru (Neil.Jericho). Every conversation would end up with "When are you booking your RE650". Eventually RE launched the MiY app with a non refundable booking and I decided to "throw my hat over the fence" and go ahead with the booking. That too almost ended with me cancelling and getting my refund but I am grateful to Mr. Tamilselvan at Acclaim Motors for ensuring I rode out with this beauty. I had posted what had transpired in this thread.

This by no means is going to be a detailed review of the Continental GT 650 as there are many threads out there especially CrAzY dRiVeR's. This is currently the "go to" thread for anything related to the twins as all owners have been collectively updating it.

Though after going through a lot of forums (domestic and international), I have come to the conclusion, almost no two RE twins are the same. The level of customization is insane and everyone has or is in the process of making their bike truly their own. So I would like to take a leaf out of Neil sir's book and create a thread for my bike.

First the reason(s) for my choice apart for the fact that I love Cafe racers. I needed a bike that I could use both locally and for spirited highway runs and having just completed a couple of track days, something that could be used on the track. My first choice was a Yamaha R15 V3, however at the back of my mind I knew it would end up being a one trick pony, would be brilliant on a race track but I am pretty sure would have been tiring on the highway. I briefly thought of the Husqvarana Vitpilen but the Mrs "No KTM" policy came into effect. I did not consider a Ninja 300 because I did not want another "exotic" service experience and again the Mrs "No Kawasaki" rule came into effect. Though, had the Ninja 400 still been on sale, it might have been a different story altogether. TVS teased an updated Apache 310 but that topic died out, I was looking forward to that release. I do not have the temperament required to buy a used motorcycle so I quickly backed out of that option.

Some of the reasons I love about the bike (straight out of the shop floor):

  • The looks: RE has stuck true to the Retro classic blueprint
  • The engine: Enough power for both city and highway use
  • Handling: It feels so easy and nimble to ride

Somethings I don't feel very comfortable about:

  • The weight: I am on a weight reduction mission (on the bike)
  • Front wheel tram-lining: This gets me everytime and its very disconcerting. I know lot of people recommend tightening the coneset, change tyres etc. but I have strong suspicion its the steering geometry and 18"rims. I honestly don't think both Pirelli and CEAT tyres can have the same defect.
  • The tyres: I have done ~3000 kms on bone dry and fully wet highway roads and have had no cause for alarm but at the back of my mind, I always have this fear that it can never match the Metzlers and Pirellis.
  • Tubed Tyres: Come on, in this day and age!! Spoked rims should have been an optional extra in my opinion.
  • Riding geometry: Though the bike looks like a cafe racer, the riding position is not committed enough. The clipons are upswept and the foot pegs can be a wee bit more rearset. I opened up the clipons to drop them down but in the stock position, there is a locking tab that keeps it in place and its held by only one screw. If I drop it down, I lose the locking tab and almost all reputed aftermarket clipons have two locking screws to keep the handles from moving around the the fork.
  • Rider footpegs: I hate them! The rubber has zero grip and even in full dry conditions when leaned over, the sole of my boot slips away, you dont have to be leaned over in the wet! Even under heavy braking my foot slips.

On to the things I have done to make it mine.

The bike came with a touring seat as stock, so the only OE accessories I opted for were the bar end mirrors and sump guard. RE hasnt enabled the dealers to place orders for the new color scheme accessories so waiting for the rear seat cowl.

Current orientation of the bar end mirrors. I have always wondered if I should change the orientation to hang below the bars. When taking corners if I look at the outside rearview, it points to the sky and that view is of no good. I have seen a lot of bikes with the mirrors below the bars, I have a feeling that might help.

The first thing I wanted to do was to make sure the engine could breathe freely. Scouring through multiple websites and forums, I came across a few common terms.

  • Free flowing air filter
  • Air filter cover delete kit
  • Booster plug
  • Air Injection delete kit

Now this is where it gets interesting. The airfilter and cover delete kit were pretty straight forward special thanks to BHPian Captain Slow's brilliant idea of just cutting the plastic of the stock cover to maintain an airtight seal around the airfilter. In goes a DNA airfilter with a local air filter cover delete kit. The duct tape is because I could see the seal between filter and housing was not air tight. The next time I clean the filter, I'll buy another stock cover and cut it.

Booster plug: The official blurb states that only when opening the throttle, the sensor cheats the ECU into thinking the intake air temperature is colder than it really is. Again, this depends on where you place the sensor. For obvious reasons, if you place it near the engine or exhaust, it would be reading the hot temperature as the ambient reading. So placed an order on hitchcock's website and now its sitting in customs. Whats worse is after placing the order, I find this stated on the booster plug website. In short, what it says is, if your model has a 2021 ECU and you fit any device (Powercommander etc..) to "cheat" the ECU, it would throw errors galore when you plug in a diagnostic tool so they no longer make these plugs for 2021 models. I am afraid to check the model number on my ECU but nevertheless once I get delivery, I will still install it. If I get any check engine light errors, that plug goes into my Dad's Classic 500!

Now for the "Air Injection delete kit". As per RE, to meet regulatory norms there is a snorkel that is attached to the cylinder head that redirects waste gases to be burnt again via a tube that goes below the fuel tank. I almost placed the order for the delete kit (consists of a blanking plate and a sensor plug) when I took a look at my 2021 bike.

From CD's initial post on the thread (pic courtesy:CD). You can see the snorkel header but I dont see any tubing (could be the angle):

And on my motorcycle, there is a brilliantly camouflaged blanking plate already! I asked around in international forums and was told European and Australian 2021 models come with the snorkel. I took a peek at my neighbors pre-BSVI engine and it didnt have the snorkel but I havent asked him which year model his vehicle is. I'm glad I didn't spend some pounds on something I wouldn't be able to use. But I'm still curious why some models have it and some don't.

Once I get the booster plug installed, my intake mods come to an end.

Now for the Exhaust

I had my eye on the Zard slipons, they are an Italian brand, a bit pricey but looks almost OE and to the untrained eye (traffic cops), it looks stock. However, my experience with their Indian importer was not very pleasant, very condescending. So I decided to look elsewhere. Neil.Jericho to the rescue! He pulled some strings and managed to get me S&S slip-ons at a very very competitive price, thanks buddy!

I am NOT looking for any performance (bhp) gains but I am on a weight saving mission. The fact that it sounds brilliant is a happy by-product and I havent even tried it without the baffles. Though on the downside, it takes a super human effort to keep the revs below 3000 and not rev match within city limits!

The only other exhaust mod I would ever consider would be free flow headers but not anytime soon.

The other must have item on a motorcycle with sporty intentions are tank pads. Its a must have for both leaning over when cornering and hard braking. I had a set of tech spec pads but during the lockdown boredom, got the better of my common sense and fully knowing I cant cut a straight line with a pair of scissors I proceed to make a hash of the job. So while I am ashamed of the results, functionally they are simply superb. These pads are not cheap (at least for me) so I dont have the heart to take them off. I have some more remaining so will take it to a proper sticker shop and ask if they can make it look presentable.

I know a lot of people have been saying the suspension desperately needs an upgrade but honestly I have not yet felt the need, maybe on the track it would reveal its shortcomings so one of the these days will find out. Though there are a couple of things I ABSOLUTELY MUST correct.

These are useless with zero lateral grip and extremely slippery when wet. I asked a couple of RE service centers if the GT535 pegs are compatible and they said no. I'll still search. The other option is a set of expensive rear sets from Thailand but I honestly dont have the money for that yet.

My biggest gripe with the bike right now is that front wheel tram-lining or headshake or call it whatever you want. It could either be the suspension or the steering geometry but its very scary. I tried asking a couple of establishments if they made steering dampers for the REs but they replied in the negative.

You do NOT buy a cafe racer and talk of luggage but I do use the bike for intercity runs and hate carrying things on my person (wallets, phone and water bag included) so got a couple of smashing retro looking leather bags from Tripmachine. They look the part and are functional as well.

This is the mini pannier and just fits a water bag and sunglasses.

This is the messenger bag and has a bit more carrying capacity water bag, sunglasses, wallet, phone and room for a bit more:

They do not claim to be water proof but weather resistant. I had the misfortune of getting caught out in some rain during my last highway run and water managed to seep in. Not from the rain but from the constant spray from the rear shock and tyre. They do have an option of longer straps shipped with the product and I have a feeling had I carried those. I could have placed it on the rear seat. But again, I normally dont ride in the rain so this could be the last time it ever gets exposed to it. But I am not overtly thrilled about both bags sitting against the rear shock.

In keeping with the retro theme I picked these up from RE and I really love the fit and finish, will use these for city rides.

But really disappointed with RE for not selling helmets in my head size "S" because I really dig this helmet.

These are just early days of ownership with the second lockdown having put a stop to most of the riding season.

And now that monsoons have kicked in, I will take a break from riding. But I do intend to update this thread with as much detail as I can.

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