From the looks of it, Royal Enfield had a little something to prove before the international launch of its 650 twins. It’s a known fact that Royal Enfields are never associated with speed, rather they’re popular for relaxed cruising and retro looks. But that's all likely to change with the launch of the 650 twins. And to make a statement, a stripped-down version of the Continental GT 650 was sent to the fabled salt flats of Bonneville in order to achieve a new speed record.
If you haven’t heard of Bonneville Speed Week, it’s essentially a week-long speed trial event that takes place every year on the dazzling white salt flats of northwestern Utah, in the USA. People from all over the world gather here with their tricked-out bikes and cars to do just one thing: hit lightning speeds in a straight line. And that's what Royal Enfield intended to do with its one-one-a-kind Continental GT 650 drag bike. Apparently, the bike’s based on the LockStock, RE’s custom high-performance drag bike which has been modified by Harris Performance, a subsidiary of Eicher-owned S&S Cycle Inc.
While not much has been revealed about the bike, we do know that it's using an Ohlins suspension setup, different chassis and swingarm, NOS (nitrous oxide) for the extra boost, and of course, some modifications to the engine. With this setup, the folks at Royal Enfield were able to chalk down a total of 20 runs and hit an average speed of 241kmph (150mph)!
Helping Royal Enfield achieve this task was 12-time world speed record holder Cayla Rivas, daughter of former National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) motorcycle racer Chris Rivas. Just 18 years old, it is evident that Rivas has truly imbibed her father’s taste for speed, and we can’t wait to see how many more records she shatters as her abilities develop.
Although the claimed speed of 241kmph isn’t official yet -- it still needs formal certification from FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) -- it's undoubtedly impressive to see a Royal Enfield go that fast. Once certified though, it’ll be quite an achievement for the Chennai-based manufacturer. While the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 are all set for their international launch this month, we’re still awaiting confirmation on the India launch, which is most likely to happen in the first quarter of next year.
Both bikes share the same 649cc, parallel-twin engine, which makes 47PS at 7100rpm and 52Nm at 5200rpm. While the standard variants, in their stock forms, are said to touch a top speed of over 140kmph, the drag version did almost twice that on the salt flats. We expect the Interceptor 650 to be priced around Rs 3 lakh and the Continental GT 650 to cost around Rs 3.5 lakh (ex-showroom) -- that is, if Royal Enfield wants to be competitive. Once launched, the twins will go up against the Harley-Davidson Street 750, Harley-Davidson Street Rod and the Kawasaki Z650.