At the inauguration of Royal Enfield's new plant at Oragadam a few months ago, the company officials first hinted at a late 2013 launch for the new Continental GT cafe racer.
The Cafe Racer was shown as a concept vehicle at the 2012 Auto Expo. Expect the production version to look similar
The GT will be first launched in the UK in September, followed by a launch in India about a month later.
The bike will feature the characteristic low-set clip-on handlebars, a long fuel tank and a narrow seat which can hold just the rider. However,a two-up seat may be made available as an optional accessory.
This design ethos is strikingly similar to the 1965 GT250, but its 535cc engine is completely new. While the displacement is same as the now-discontinued Lightning, the similarities between the engines end there.
The new chassis of the Continental GT535 has been developed by none other than the UK's Harris Engineering. The new, lightweight, double cradle frame is said to deliver better handling and stability as compared to the single downtube frame found on other Royal Enfield bikes. Additionally, a lighter flywheel and a remapped ECU will add sting to the 535cc motor. Paioli shocks and Pirelli tyres complete the running gear.
The end result: Royal Enfield claims that this motorcycle is 15kg lighter than the current flagship, the Thunderbird 500, making it its lightest production bike yet. This also makes it the fastest RE bike on the road. We estimate the power figures of the Continental GT to be around the 33-35PS mark.
Cafe racers are popular in European countries, but are rarely seen in Indian environs, except as custom vehicles. A cafe racer typically features an elongated fuel tank, and low slung racing handlebars that allow the rider to tuck in to reduce wind resistance and for better control of the bike. These bikes generally have engines tuned for maximum speed, rather than comfort.
They were named so in Britain as an intended pejorative for high-speed bikes built for the sole purpose of racing between one cafe to another. But they grew in popularity across the continent.
The Continental GT was first introduced as the Cafe Racer concept at the 2012 Auto Expo held in New Delhi. Ever since, we have been seeing the motorcycle being tested all over the country and even RE CEO Siddharth Lal took it out for a spin.
On the pricing front, the Thunderbird 500, the last time we checked, retails at Rs 1.82 lakh on-road, Mumbai. The Cafe Racer aka Continental GT, being the new flagship, will be priced significantly higher. With the Paioli shockers, Pirelli tyres, discs at both the ends and clip-on handle bars, expect prices to be around the Rs 2.50 lakh mark.