India’s Royal Enfield went back to the brand’s roots in England to unveil its lightest and most powerful model, the Continental GT. The location of the launch was important for a couple of reasons. For one, Royal Enfield drew inspiration from the British Rocker subculture of the ’50s and ’60s which spawn the café racer. The other reason is Royal Enfield’s plans to export the Continental GT to international markets including the U.S.
The Continental GT is powered by Royal Enfield’s new 535cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine. The powerplant is based on the Unit Construction Engine currently powering Royal Enfield’s 500 models, but with the bore increased to 87mm from 84mm and an all-new ECU fuel mapping. Royal Enfield claims an output of 28.7 hp at 5100 rpm, an improvement from the 499cc engine’s claimed 26.8 hp at 5250 rpm. Royal Enfield also claims an increase in torque to 32.5 ft-lb. at 4000 rpm from the smaller engine’s 30.5 ft-lb. at 4000 rpm.
The engine is mounted in a twin downtube cradle frame designed with the help of Britain’s Harris Performance. Up front, the Continental GT is equipped with a 41mm telescopic fork with 110mm of travel while the rear uses twin gas-charged shock absorbers from Paioli, offering adjustable preload and 80mm of travel. Brembo supplies the two-piston floating caliper front brake and single-piston rear brake caliper.
In café racer style, the Continental GT is equipped with low-mounted clip-ons, rearset pegs and a long, low-profile fuel tank with knee recesses to create a compact, tucked-in riding position.
Other features include a five-speed transmission, 3.6-gallon fuel tank, electric and kick start, Pirelli Sport Demon tires and a claimed kerb weight of 405.6 pounds, making it at least 6.6 pounds lighter than any other current Royal Enfield model.
“The Continental GT is inspired by the café racers of the 1960s in its form and in its simplicity; and it captures the feeling of freedom, fun and responsiveness that riders were trying to achieve then and brings it into the modern context,” says Siddhartha Lal, managing director and chief executive order of Royal Enfield’s parent company, Eicher Motors. “We use traditional craftsmanship and modern technology as a means to achieving the perfect balance between the rider, machine and terrain. It is the lightest, fastest, most powerful Royal Enfield in production, and it is possibly the most engaging mid-size motorcycle out there.”
Royal Enfield had previously announced plans to bring the Continental GT to the U.S. this summer, so the company’s plans have obviously been delayed. The company has announced plans to increase production at its Chennai factory which will produce the Continental GT. The plant will produce about 175,000 motorcycles this year with production capacity increasing to 250,000 in 2014. Royal Enfield says it hopes to eventually increase capacity to 500,000 motorcycles per year.
[Source: Royal Enfield]