Royal Enfield 650 twins vs rivals: Specifications comparison

Royal Enfield 650 twins vs rivals: Specifications comparison
17th Nov 2017 3:53 pm

We pit the upcoming Royal Enfield Interceptor 650/Continental GT 650 against their rivals, the Kawasaki Z650 and the Harley-Davidson Street 750.

The mid-capacity premium motorcycle segment is, undoubtedly, an exciting space to be in, courtesy Kawasaki and Harley-Davidson. Kawasaki’s 650 range includes the Z650, Ninja 650 and the Versys 650, all very successful models. Harley-Davidson, meanwhile, has two motorcycles in this space – the Street 750 and its more fun (but also more expensive) derivative, the Street Rod. With the global unveil of the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 at EICMA 2017, Royal Enfield has joined the fray as well and here’s how its two all-new motorcycles fare against the Z650 and Street 750.

WHERE DO THEY BELONG?
Given how value-conscious buyers in this segment are, these motorcycles should belong to as many avenues as possible. Be it in city traffic, out on the open highway or in the twisties, these machines are duty-bound to be as accommodating and enjoyable as possible.

Keeping that in mind, the Royal Enfield twins seem decently configured for a good overall balance. The fuel-injected parallel-twin engine should be capable of a reasonable highway cruising ability, though it won’t produce dramatic acceleration figures given its moderate power-to-weight ratio. Its torque output is the lowest of the quartet, but it should be enough for an effortless, fairly involving urban and highway riding experience.

The Z650 is the quickest, fastest and most exciting of the lot. Its effortlessly quick parallel-twin is fun in the twisties, and the Z’s compact dimensions make it the least intimidating in the city as well. It’s as happy being ridden to work and back as it is, pulling wheelies or doing 600km riding days. This is the only motorcycle in this group you can also take to the racetrack for a really worthwhile experience.

The Street 750 is a delightfully quick motor, especially so for a Harley-Davidson. With its braking issues now a thing of the past, the Street 750 is now a great option for those seeking a Harley image in a small, manageable package. It’s best suited to highway rides owing to the engine that heats up a fair bit, making it bothersome in city traffic.  

Powertrain
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 Kawasaki Z650 Harley-Davidson Street 750
Type Air/oil-cooled, parallel-twin, SOHC, four-valve/cylinder Air/oil-cooled, parallel-twin, SOHC, four-valve/cylinder Liquid-cooled, parallel-twin, DOHC, four-valve/cylinder Liquid-cooled, V-Twin, SOHC, four-valve/cylinder
Fuelling Fuel injection Fuel injection Fuel injection Fuel injection
Capacity 648cc 648cc 649cc 749cc
Max power 47hp at 7,100rpm 47hp at 7,100rpm 67.3hp at 8,000rpm NA
Max torque 52Nm at 4,000rpm 52Nm at 4,000rpm 65.7Nm at 6,500rpm 59Nm at 3,750 rpm
Gearbox Six-speed Six-speed Six-speed Six-speed
Power-to-weight ratio 232.6hp/tonne 237.3hp/tonne 323.5hp/tonne NA

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
They need to be, because these are indulgences, but on a budget. It’s, therefore, likely that these motorcycles will be the only ones in their garages and that makes it fundamental to them to be accessible and as diversely usable as possible.

The RE Interceptor 650 is a retro-styled street motorcycle and is straightforward in its layout. It features a one-piece quilted seat that’s pretty much horizontal and should be comfortable for, both, rider and pillion. A conventional handlebar and mildly rear-set foot pegs make for an upright riding stance. This changes on the Continental GT 650, which features clip-on handlebars and foot pegs that are set further to the rear, and also a solo seat with a dual-seat option. Both motorcycles feature conventional suspension components and decent wheel travel, and the 18-inch wheel combination should lend it a good amount of stability. Both REs also have decently sized fuel tanks which should give them a sub-300km range in real-world riding conditions. Overall, the Interceptor will be the more practical of the two REs, owing to its relaxed riding stance.

The Z650 may look aggressive but is remarkably easy to ride. The riding geometry is commanding but not stressful in any way and there’s a decent amount of room for most sizes of riders. The pillion perch isn’t so roomy, although relatively short weekend getaways shouldn’t be too difficult. The Z650’s suspension offers excellent travel and it is quite suitable for a good mix of road surfaces. It’s also got the best braking equipment of the four, with the twin-disc setup, ABS and an adjustable brake lever, offering great poise even under hard braking. The Z650 has the biggest fuel tank of the quartet, although its compact packaging doesn’t give it away in an instant. This one’s for those who want practicality but can’t do without speed!

The Street 750’s feet-forward riding stance is a bit cramped for tall riders, especially if long hours in the saddle are to be considered. This slow-slung bike with a 720mm seat height is, however, a fun format to ride fast and is immensely enjoyable in the corners, too. The two-step seat has decently comfortable padding but isn’t quite spacious enough for two fully grown adults. The suspension is pliant, though it’s the low ground clearance (140mm), along with the steep steering head angle and long wheelbase, that makes it a bother over speed breakers, especially on full payload. Thanks to ABS, the Street 750 has its braking act in order, but it could do with better feel and bite at the front-end. The 13.1-litre fuel tank doesn’t demand frequent refuelling but the ergonomics of the bike will see the taller riders amongst you taking more breaks than usual anyway. A nice motorcycle to ride down the highway on, but not the best of the four, in the city or up the twisties.

Chassis and dimensions
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 Kawasaki Z650 Harley-Davidson Street 750
Chassis Tubular steel, dual-cradle Tubular steel, dual-cradle Steel trellis Tubular steel, dual-cradle
Suspension (f/r) 41mm telescopic fork, 110mm travel/twin-shock, 88mm travel 41mm telescopic fork, 110mm travel/twin-shock, 88mm travel 41mm telescopic fork, 125mm travel/monoshock, 130mm travel Telescopic fork/twin-shock
Brakes (f/r) 320mm disc /240mm disc, ABS 320mm disc /240mm disc, ABS 300mm twin-disc/220mm disc, ABS 292mm disc/260mm disc, ABS
Tyres (f/r) 100/90 R18 / 130/70 R18 100/90 R18 / 130/70 R18 120/70 R17 / 160/60 R17 100/80 R17 / 150/70 R15
Ground clearance 174mm 174mm 130mm 145mm
Seat height 804mm 790mm (single seat)/793mm (dual seat) 790mm 720mm
Wheelbase 1,400mm 1,400mm 1,410mm 1,520mm
Kerb weight 202kg (without fuel) 198 kg (without fuel) 208kg 233kg
Fuel tank 13.7 litres 12.5 litres 15 litres 13.1 litres

THE BEST OR NOTHING
Motorcycles in this segment are bought to be ridden but also need to tick other boxes – presence, image, resale value and a stress-free ownership experience. Of the four motorcycles, the Harley-Street 750 definitely looks like it belongs to the big-bike segment the most. The Z650 is close on its heels but lacks the visual presence of the Ninja 650. A naked motorcycle is usually better when it comes to dispersing engine heat but the average buyer does seek an ‘expensive’ looking motorcycle for his/her hard-earned money. The Royal Enfields will blend in easily, once their novelty wears off. The Interceptor 650’s Bonneville-inspired lines make it beautiful but not distinctive in any way, and the gorgeous Continental GT 650 will mostly get mistaken for the regular Continental GT. This is good if you like to be discreet, and isn’t if you like making a statement.

Most Street 750 buyers use it as a stepping stone into the world of big bikes and this means they change hands quickly. The Street 750 is also not a characteristically timeless Harley as we know it and, with a general negative perception it built up in its initial years, it doesn’t command a premium in the used market. The Z650 is too new to appear in the classifieds, though the Kawasaki, going by the early Ninja 650s that feature regularly on used-bike listings, seem to hold value decently. It is, understandably, too early to say anything about the Royal Enfields. Going by their generally exorbitant used-bike prices (for the existing, single-cylinder range), the twins also look set to command a healthy premium.

The Royal Enfields, when launched in 2018, will definitely be the most affordable in the segment and promise to provide a pleasant, engaging riding experience. The Z650 is the most involving of the lot but, in the real world, there’s not much it can do that the KTM 390 Duke can’t. The Street 750 isn’t the best Harley-Davidson money can buy but it does buy you the image and, of course, the badge.

Price (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, Continental GT 650 Kawasaki Z650 Harley-Davidson Street 750
Rs 3 to 3.5 lakh (estimated) Rs 5.26 lakh Rs 5.14 lakh

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About Craig Ballantyne 9108 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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