Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

It’s the kind of exhaust the Interceptor 650 should have come with.

BHPian sandeepmohan recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I’ll be honest. I am reluctant to fiddle with things. Especially modifying a motorcycle or a car. It’s usually a hit or miss process. Unless you are technically savvy, don’t mind a trial and error process along the way.

I’ve had the Interceptor for 16 months now. I can’t stop praising how brilliant a job Royal Enfield has done with this motorcycle. I do not think there is any motorcycle out there that can beat it for what it is. I’ve had a lot of folks come up to me and say that this is a beautiful machine. Some are in shock that this is a Royal Enfield. All they know of a Royal Enfield is the Bullet.

Over time and with all the riding I’ve done, I was starting to feel that this motorcycle sounds like a Brother sewing machine. When you are out cruising or even when pottering around the city, there is no noise. At all. I wanted to try and replicate some of the characters, and noise is seen in their marketing videos (I’ve mentioned this before). That was not possible with the stock exhaust. It had to go. The question was which one and will it be a pain to source and fix it. We all know that the Interceptor has been received well globally. With that, the aftermarket parts you can get for this motorcycle are almost unlimited. From simple cosmetic upgrades to technical ones. Right from Hitchcock motorcycles to our very own Trip Machine, there is a lot you can do to spruce up an Interceptor and its cousin the Conti.

This has been on my mind for months. How do I get a little more character (or life) out of this motorcycle? I don’t need more power. With New Zealand’s conservative legal speed limits, the stock power output is heaps. I could only think of an exhaust upgrade. I wanted something that will be easy-going on my ears, won’t cost too much and was easy to fix. I heard a “two to one” single side pipe (or exhaust) arrangement on a Conti and it was loud. All I need is a little noise to be heard under the lid.

A few months after I picked up the Interceptor, I had seen another rider with the pea shooter style exhaust fitted on his bike. It looked nice. However; I wanted to retain the same upswept design.

I had popped into Motorrad who are the sole Authorized dealers for Royal Enfield and a few other makes. They had an S&S Cycle Stainless Steel muffler set for $1100! It sounds the part. No question about it. I did not want to spend that much though. Then I stumbled on a few folks here who fitted Aashu Engineering Works exhaust system. They looked good, well finished and videos on Tube suggest they sound good too. To be honest, none of those videos actually do justice to the way this exhaust sounds. They somehow fail to capture the note accurately. I tried and my Sony Action camera fails to capture audio such as an exhaust note. The microphone tends to mix up a lot of ambient noise, and wind and ends up drowning out the exhaust note.

I’ve had a TE102 fitted and have clocked close to 1000 km with it. All observations are with Baffles or DB killer installed. I’ll tell you one thing, close your eyes and buy one. It’s the kind of exhaust the Interceptor should have come with.

I’ll get a couple of things out of the way first.

  • Has the bike lost or gained any power or torque? I find a slight reduction in torque. This is noticeable at urban speeds. Not when you’re out cruising.
  • Does the bike sound like a Triumph? No. I don’t believe you can get an Interceptor to sound like a Triumph. It comes close under some scenarios. Not always.

The first thing you notice is an increase in a bass note from the exhaust. You hear/notice this from startup and at urban speeds. Less so when cruising. Wind noise tends to drown this bass when you’re on the highway. Over the stock exhaust, it adds a bit more weight to the exhaust note from each cylinder firing. You don’t need to do WOT stunts to hear it. It’s audible even otherwise. I suspect these pipes may sound annoyingly loud if you remove the baffles. This is a personal preference. For now, I like what I hear with the baffles.

Start moving slowly (<50 km/h) and as you cut throttle, you’ll hear a clear phat-phat sound from the exhaust. Come down the gears, blip the throttle to go from 4-3-2 and you hear an intake-exhaust noise that sounds similar to another parallel-twin British motorcycle. Though not exactly the same, there are similarities. Roll on in 5th from 60 – 110kmph and the aural pleasure trip continues. You hear the firing order of each cylinder, in Stereo. On a typical highway scenario, where you have a long gradual incline, leave it in 6th and let the engine work a little hard and you hear exhaust pops from each side. It is clear under your insulated lid. Keep the throttle open on a wide sweeping corner and you are rewarded with the exhaust note reflecting off the surface of the road. Words cannot describe this. It is amazing.

Throttle modulation has improved. Riding between 40 – 50 km/h in 4th is easy-as. It’s so much easier to ride in the City. You may ask, why bother with low speed? New Zealand Town and City limits have either 30kmph or 50kmph limits. Depends on how congested the zone is. When you’re touring, you pass through several towns on the way. Small towns do not have bypass roads. You need to reduce speed from cruising to 50 from time to time. I don’t believe this situation is too different when you travel on rural or urban roads in India. The Interceptor is a bit annoying at such low speeds. The throttle is quite snatchy and you need to keep disengaging or slip the clutch to control it.

In terms of design, the exhaust is free to flow. Noise levels are controlled by means of a DB killer and ceramic fibre exhaust or muffler packing. Got the latter info from FM tharian.

I had reached out to Aashu Engineering Works late last year for a quote. They got back and said they would prepare a payment invoice after which I never heard back. I revived the conversation a month ago and got a prompt response and follow up to the quote. The TE102s were shipped at $555. Yes; it’s still a lot for an exhaust*. However; after I received and installed the exhaust, I realized that the money was well spent. The finish of the TE102’s is first class. I opted for matt stainless steel finish. The welds are clean, the exhaust joint shield has an almost consistent 0.5mm gap running around the partial diameter of the exhaust. It feels solid and does not ring when you tap it. Looking at the design, it looks like a straight copy of the exhaust from a Triumph Street Twin. Should be an easy guess where the “TE’ part of the model name comes from 🙂

Post-order, the exhaust arrived in 12 days. Double boxed, wrapped in cling film and a little Styrofoam. A specification sheet and an Allen key (also in styrofoam) to take off the baffles. Installation could not be easier. They’ve positioned the inner flange (or galvanized packing in Aashu terms) at the correct position. This is thin metal inner sleeve(Think of it as a coke can tin your mechanic used to cut and place for your old Enfield exhaust at the joint below the front footrest). In fact, it takes longer to remove the stock exhaust.

Aashu Engineering Works provide the following measurement specification for their TE102.

  • 510mm – End to end length
  • 75mm – length for only the tapered section of the exhaust end bit(or can)
  • 63mm – Outer diameter at the exhaust end
  • 80mm – Outer diameter for the bend pipe end

You’ll need a couple of 12mm spanners as the size is the same for the nut and hex bolt at the rear footrest mount point. You’ll also need a 10mm spanner to loosen/tighten the exhaust at the bend pipe joint. Easier if you have a socket set. You need to remove the joint shield before you can remove the stock exhaust. The joint shield has its own bolt and is further secured by two notches that slip on the bend pipe and exhaust side. It can cause some resistance when you try to remove it. After you remove t
he joint shield, you can access the bolt securing the exhaust to the bend pipe. Once you pull out the stock exhaust, the first thing you notice is the weight. I weighed them and they measure almost 10kilos on the scale! In comparison, the TE102’s are 5.2kilos.

The TE102’s should slip in with ease. I put a few drops of 3 in 1 oil to make it easier. The only struggle I had was for the right exhaust. The slot for the joint shield for the stock exhaust was protruding a bit much. The non-removable joint shield on the AEW’s was hitting against this when I tried to slip them on. This was a non-issue for the left exhaust. I had to hammer the slot a bit so it goes a bit flat and the AEW joint shield does not rub against it. Other than this, it’s a job that can be done in <1 hour.

There are some small design improvements over the previous TE101. The baffle screws are threaded on the baffle itself. Not on the exhaust unit. When you need to remove them (with the supplied hex key), you unscrew them just enough to release them from the exhaust and pull them out. The screw isn’t going to come off and fall into the exhaust, nor will the baffle unit slip into the exhaust. The screw that holds the baffle in place does not thread into the exhaust unit. There is an indentation formed (on the inner part of the exhaust tip) when they first screwed or tightened it in. Aligning it back to this same indentation will require a few attempts when you want to put back the baffle. It’s not difficult. Just needs some care and patience. In one of the close-up pictures below of the exhaust tip, you’ll notice what looks like a large screw which is what you remove for pulling the baffle out. The screw to remove the baffle is inset on that part.

1 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

The TE102 before installation. The finish of these pipes is outstanding.

2 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

3 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

4 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

5 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

6 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

Bend pipe end. The little metal loop you see is to secure the joint shield. This is what needed to be hammered down a bit to accommodate the joint shield of the AEW. It is possible this is a non-issue for you and this particular batch of bend pipe had the height of the metal loop higher than it should be.

7 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

The underside of the stock exhaust and joint shield. You need to remove all those bolts.

8 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

The joint shield from the stock exhaust. Note the two notches that slip onto the bend pipe and exhaust unit. Those tiny rubber bits are what cause a little resistance when you try to take the joint shield off as they rub against the metal loop on the bend pipe.

9 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

These pipes look and sound good. Royal Enfield should partner with AEW and list these pipes as an option. For a brand known for their iconic “thump” and the innumerable exhaust options that were available (Official, custom made, etc) for the Bullet, their flagship motorcycle deserves a follow up of some kind.

10 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

Test run on New Zealand’s Desert Road. An almost arrow-straight road ~50km in length. It looks like a desert now. In a couple of months, the area will be covered in frost and maybe some snow. With the darn virus hammering the country, the place was empty. It’s usually a busy road and has a few hiking start points. This was also the last ride with a heavily worn out rear Pirelli (I carried a foot pump, a spare tube and a tube repair kit for this journey). That’s been replaced with a Bridgestone Battlax BT46.

11 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with aftermarket exhaust: 1000 km review

*The Interceptor’s oil filter is the most expensive of any motorcycle in my part of the world. $58 NZD! That’s about Rs. 3100. In India, you pay big money to maintain something like a Triumph. The same holds true to maintain a Royal Enfield abroad as parts are imported from India. The only difference is that there is a lot less that can go wrong with an Enfield than most other imported motorcycles.

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