Café Racers. It was a term originally developed in Britain for the light weight, high powered, illegally modified bikes which were at the time used to race between cafe’s, this later developed into a whole new segment of bikes and over time, many legendary manufacturers like, BSA, Triumph and Norton made Café Racers for sale to the public. And it caught the fancy of many, mainly because of the looks and riding position and the performance on offer. The latest of the manufacturers to get bitten by the Café Racer craze is, our own Royal Enfield. Once a British brand, Royal Enfield had manufactured a Café Racer long back and now, after more than 6 decade, they are at it again.
Royal Enfield had displayed their Café Racer concept at the Indian Auto Expo in January-2012 and everyone was spellbound by this machine, gauging the positive response received from the public, Royal Enfield decided to put it into production. After nearly two years since then, Royal Enfield has finally launched that Café Racer last-month and has named it the continental GT535. It is the lightest, fastest and most powerful Royal Enfield in production right now.
The Continental GT 535 is an absolute delight to the eye of an automobile enthusiast. Neat, sleek lines flow all over the bike. From the front, the traditional circular Café Racer style headlamps along with the small turn indicators and the clip-on handlebars do a great job at providing the bike with a sleek, low slung, hunkered down look. From the rear, the design has been kept as simple as possible. The small tail-lamp and turn indicators and register number plate mount is fixed onto a clamp that extends from the chrome mudguard. The Paioli shock absorbers with the golden coloured coil springs and gas reserve look amazing as well.
The side profile looks even more mesmerising, with the sleek, long fuel tank with knee recesses and slim seat which curves upwards on a mound toward the rear. This, when combined with the low mounted clip-on handlebars provide a riding position which is very aerodynamic in nature and can easily accommodate the rider when in a crouched position for a longer period of time while doing high speeds. The main highlight of the bike when viewed from the side is, the 535cc single cylinder air-cooled engine, a majority of which is chromed.
Speaking about the engine, the Continental GT is powered by a single cylinder, fuel-injected 535cc engine, putting out 29PS at 5100rpm and 44NM of torque at 4000rpm. This engine is a bored out version of the 500cc engine used on the Classic 500, Thunderbird 500 and Bullet 500. The 35cc increase and tweaked mapping on the ECU has made it a different beast altogether. This engine produces 1.8PS and 3.7NM more than the engine used on the other Enfield’s, it may not sound like a lot, but the major difference is in the way that power is delivered. This engine produces the power and torque at a higher rpm than the engine used on the other bikes and unlike the other engine, this engine feels comfortable at higher rpm, but it tends to stall at excessively low rpm which was earlier unheard of on a Royal Enfield.
The biggest difference between the Continental GT and other Royal Enfield’s is in the way it rides. Royal Enfields are generally great highway cruisers and they feel right at home on the open road, city rides and traffic were doable, but they weren’t great and on the corners, they couldn’t be handled cause of the weight. This one though, feels completely the opposite. It cannot do excessively long highway cruises because of the seating position, the crouched seating position is more suited for High speed racing and just short rides out of town are possible.
It simply cannot feel better than other Enfield’s in traffic, as the power and torque is delivered at a higher rpm and hence a little clutch slipping might be required in traffic, where it does fare better than the other Enfield;s is, at cornering. The crouched position and hunkered down, low ride height means that the centre of gravity is lower and this in turn improves corner carving abilities. It noticeably feels more agile and flick-able in the corners when compared to the other Royal Enfield’s.
This motorcycle signals a change in the age old designs and engineering methods of Royal Enfield. The number of customers queuing up to purchase this bike proves that the public approves of this change in their methods. Royal Enfield have been successful in surviving all these years, it is now the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in existence and if they keep making products like the Continental GT, they are sure to go on for eternity.
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