Kit Palmer | March 31, 2022
Time well spent on Royal Enfield’s INT 650 modern classic
Photography by Jean Turner and Palmer
I signed off last year saying I wanted more riding time on Royal Enfield’s INT 650 (known around the world as Interceptor, but another well-known motorcycle manufacturer has already laid claim to that name here in the U.S.). In our year-end issue, you might recall that I chose the INT 650 as one of my favorite motorcycles I rode in 2021. (read more in the 2021 Cycle News Bikes of The Year article) That was late 2021, and, unfortunately, my time spent on the bike was limited, literally a quick spin down the road and back. Other journalists and I had just spent the afternoon aboard the company’s Himalayan model, the real reason why we had hooked up with the folks at Royal Enfield that day, but they brought a few other models, including the INT 650, for some quick demo rides. Riding the INT 650 for the first time had me wishing for more—as in more seat time—and I recently got my wish.
2022 Royal Enfield INT 650 Review | Hangin’ With The INT
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Well, the INT 650 made the best of that chance with me. I was indeed impressed. And I’m still impressed having recently logged more than 100 miles on one, the pretty Sunset Strip one. When it comes to color options, you have plenty with the INT, five in all with varying prices attached, the most expensive (the chrome INT) coming in at $6699. Pricing starts at $5999 and my Sunset Strip comes in at $6199.
But it wasn’t the color that hooked me. It was how the INT 650 rode (I must admit, however, its classic styling hooked me, too).
On paper, there is nothing spicy about the INT 650’s air-cooled, parallel-twin, SOHC four-valve engine. And its published 47 horsepower doesn’t send shivers up your spine in anticipation, but the INT 650 is way spunkier than its specs suggest. It’ll put a smile on your face the first time you open ’er up; at least it did mine. Perhaps I wasn’t giving the INT 650 enough credit before I rode it for the first time, but it indeed moves right along when you ask it to.
The motor is super-smooth, as well. From bottom to top, the INT pulls smoothly and evenly with a steady rush of power, making you grip the bars just a little tighter as you twist the throttle. It’s plenty fast for a 650cc twin and has no problems keeping up with traffic flow on hyper California freeways. It’s very comfortable at 70 mph.
Fueling is very clean. Chop the throttle, then quickly open it up again, the INT’s EFI system responds well, revealing zero glitches or hesitation. The same holds true at any RPM. Nice.
And surprise number two—it also shifts smoothly, not clunky like an authentic classic bike. The six-speed gearbox changes gears seamlessly and with precision, and the clutch pull is light enough, which is excellent because you shift this bike a lot, though that’s not a bad thing at all. It launches smoothly, too. No problem there.
You won’t feel any excessive vibration in the chassis from first gear through sixth at any engine speeds. Royal Enfield did a great job at the factory to squelch any possible annoying buzzing. Instead, its “odd” 270° crankshaft layout helps gives it a pleasant vibe, not to mention a distinctive sound.
At a claimed 466 curb pounds, the INT 650 is not a light motorcycle, but you won’t care. It carries the crux of that weight—the large-looking engine—low in the steel double-cradle frame, so it handles its weight well. The INT feels light and agile; it’s also well-balanced and stable at high and low speeds. It all adds up to one excellent handling motorcycle.
It has an aggressive 24° rake, yet the INT 650 falls into the corners smoothly and comfortably; the front end never feels like it’s about to tuck in on you.
Suspension is excellent, too. It has less than five inches of wheel travel (4.5 inches in the front and 3.5 inches in the back) to work with but makes the most out of those inches. The ride is firm yet smooth and does a good job soaking up square-edge potholes without sending violent shockwaves through your arms and back. The RE’s suspension department should be praised for arriving at a good setting for the non-adjustable fork and dual shocks. You can, however, adjust the shock’s spring preload.
The ByBre-fitted disc brakes do an adequate job of slowing the INT down, but a little more initial bite up front would be nice. The front-brake lever requires a good squeeze. And speaking of levers, neither of them—the brake or the clutch—is adjustable.
The ABS system does its job well without being intrusive.
The INT 650 is not physically a large motorcycle. Seat height is only 31.6 inches, and with just 55 inches of wheelbase, it feels small between your legs, yet at 6’1,” I didn’t feel cramped on it at all. I liked how I could easily plant both feet firmly on the ground. You don’t see much of the motorcycle from the seat, just two round instruments just below and slightly in front of you. Those two round cylinders house the old-school-looking analog tachometer and speedometer and not much else, which is just how you want it on a motorcycle like this. There is a small digital readout on the left speedo.
There is no windscreen on the INT. In my opinion, that would be sacrilegious anyway. The INT is all about windblast and bug guts.
The motorcycle is very comfortable, including its flat seat with its diamond-quilted cover. However, the cushion does have its limits per stint. For me, it was about an hour.
Its upright seating position gives you excellent visibility, which is a bonus in traffic.
Overall, I didn’t have anything really to complain about. Okay, the mirrors look cheap and wiggled around some, and I noticed some heat on my knee from the right cylinder head (for some reason, I didn’t have that issue on the left side). But that was about it.
In America, we’re still getting used to the idea of motorcycles produced in India, but the Royal Enfield INT 650 seems to be well built. Sure, you can tell where some corners were cut, but overall, the INT should be reliable. At least I saw no reason to think otherwise, even though the bike I rode only had a few hundred miles on the odo.
I would not be lying at all saying I would love to own this motorcycle. It’s the ultimate affordable around-town bike that is also perfect for those sunny days when you just want to throw on a light jacket and open-face helmet and go for a quick and laid-back midday or late-afternoon backroad cruise—maybe to your favorite mountain or downtown café. It’s also very affordable and, you know, there is something extra special about those two classic words on the sides of the gas tank.
Could the INT 650 be one of my favorites of 2022? You know, I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was. CN
2022 Royal Enfield INT 650 Specifications
|Engine:||Parallel twin 4-stroke|
|Valvetrain:||SOHC, 4-valves per cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke:||78 x 67.8mm|
|Max Horsepower (claimed):||47 at 7250 rpm|
|Max Torque (claimed):||38 lb-ft at 5250 rpm|
|Front Suspension:||41mm conventional fork, non-adjustable|
|Rear Suspension:||Dual shock w/ piggyback reservoirs, swingarm, spring-preload adjustable|
|Front-Wheel Travel:||4.5 in.|
|Rear-Wheel Travel:||3.5 in.|
|Front Wheel / Tire:||2.50 x 18 in. 36-spoke w/ alloy rim / 100-90 x 18 in., Ceat Zoom Cruz|
|Rear Wheel / Tire:||3.50 x 18 in. 36-spoke w/ alloy rim / 130-70 x 18 in., Ceat Zoom Cruz|
|Front Brake:||Single 320mm disc w/ByBre 2-piston caliper, ABS Bosch|
|Rear Brake:||Single 240mm disc w/ByBre 2-piston caliper, ABS Bosch|
|Seat Height:||31.6 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||3.6 gal.|
|Weight (curb, claimed):||466 lbs.|
|Colors:||Orange Crush ($5999); Canyon Red ($5999); Ventura Blue ($5999); Baker Express ($6199); Downtown Drag ($6199); Sunset Strip ($6199); Mark 2 Chrome ($6699)|
Click here to read the 2022 Royal Enfield INT 650 Review in the Cycle News Digital Edition Magazine.
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