Categorical Cafe Racer: Royal Enfield Continental GT Historical past


Manufacturing unit-built cafe racers are considerably of a paradox. By definition, cafe racers are customised bikes constructed by fans or aftermarket workshops. No matter that reality, producers have insisted for many years that they can also construct a bike worthy of the cafe racer identify.

Royal Enfield is aware of a factor or two about factory-built cafe racers. Again in 1963, they launched the first-ever manufacturing cafe racer, the Continental GT 250. Since then the producer has launched a number of fashions that naked the Continental identify and accompanying cafe racer styling. Immediately we’re having a look on the historical past of the Royal Enfield Continental GT cafe racer to see the place it began and the way far it’s come.

Royal Enfield Continental GT 250
1963 Continental GT 25 initially offered for £258 / Picture by way of Mecum Auctions

1963 Royal Enfield Continental GT 250

Royal Enfield launched the Continental GT 250 on the peak of the unique cafe racer craze. They noticed a spot out there for a handsome, learner-legal bike that was an honest performer and had an reasonably priced price ticket. In the course of the improvement of the Continental GT 250, it was rumoured that Enfield invited younger apprentices to contribute their concepts throughout the design course of. They noticed this as a method of interesting to the untapped market of younger, fashion-conscious riders…and it labored.

The ensuing Continental GT 250 design ticked all of the cafe racer styling bins. The GT’s fibreglass gasoline tank was lengthy and low and was held in place by a rubber strap identical to racing bikes of the period. Twin Smith’s gauges sat in a specifically designed housing on the yoke displaying velocity and revs. The seat supplied sufficient house for two and had a traditional racer hump on the rear.  The seating place was race-inspired too because of clip-on handlebars and rear-set footpegs. A set of cooling discs on the entrance drum beefed up its look however no purposeful function apart from to look cool and the low-slung swept exhaust wore a big megaphone-style muffler.

As its identify prompt, the 1963 Continental GT 250 was powered by a 250cc single cylinder constructed utilizing an engine Enfield already had of their stock. Based mostly on the corporate’s profitable Crusader Sports activities platform the 250 engine had an elevated compression ratio of 9.5:1, a specifically designed crankcase breather and a 5-speed gearbox that had an additional cog in fifth gear. The modifications allowed the GT to trump the highest velocity of the Crusader by 5mph to document an official velocity of 85mph. That determine additionally earned the bike the title of ‘Britain’s quickest 250’.

Previous to the discharge of the brand new mannequin Royal Enfield bravely organized a long-distance run for a gaggle of street riders that began within the north of Scotland and ended on the southern coast of Britain. After greater than 22 hours of driving the bikes efficiently reached their vacation spot. Enfield additionally organized for a rider to do 8 high-speed laps at Silverstone raceway. Regardless of inclement climate, the GT accomplished its process, recording some spectacular common speeds with out difficulty. It was PR gold and people achievements together with a class-dominating high velocity made the Continental GT 250 an on the spot hit. It was, for a time, thought of the saviour of the struggling Royal Enfield model.

As with many of the British bikes constructed throughout the fifties and sixties, the Continental GT 250 wasn’t with out its idiosyncrasies. Nevertheless, it’s now thought of an icon of Sixties British bike historical past and is understood for being on the earliest factory-built cafe racers to ever be offered to the general public.

Royal Enfield continental gt

2013 Royal Enfield Continental GT 535

Fifty years after the discharge of the Continental GT 250 the cafe racer scene was experiencing a resurgence. Royal Enfield, now solely underneath Indian possession, as soon as once more noticed a possibility to faucet into the development and got down to do it with a bang. The outcome was the Continental GT 535.

The 2013 Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 was a completely new bike that was in contrast to every other within the firm’s lineup, however its bloodline was unmistakable. For the design of the GT 535, Enfield enlisted the assistance of British bike body consultants Harris Efficiency Merchandise and the UK design agency Xenophya Design. Not solely was this an hommage to a British icon, but it surely was additionally created with the assistance of British companies.

The GT 535 bore an uncanny resemblance to the 1963 GT 250 although extra refined and fashionable. The gasoline tank was now metal however was a useless ringer for the unique. The saddle ended with a racer-style hump though now produced from ABS plastic. The sprint consisted of two clocks for velocity and revs and the marginally extra relaxed driving place was a results of clip-on handlebars and rear set foot controls. The 535’s upswept exhaust adopted an nearly an identical line to the GT 250s and even the lighting was styled straight after the unique. Enfield additionally stepped issues up with the manufacturing of this thrilling new mannequin. They had been hell-bent on growing their worldwide gross sales so high quality management was a precedence. Essentially the most notable distinction although was the massive enhance in engine capability.


Sitting inside the Continental GT 535 twin-loop tubular metal body was the biggest capability and strongest engine within the producer’s vary. The 535cc single put out 30hp and 44Nm of torque. It’s not rather a lot in comparison with the likes of Triumph’s 900cc 68hp Thruxton, but it surely was an enormous milestone for the Indian producer.

Together with the specifically designed engine and high quality end, the Continental GT 353 had a beautiful spec listing. Though the usual entrance forks weren’t adjustable the rear shocks by Paoli had been. The dual disc brakes had been geared up with Brembo elements and hubs had been laced to high quality Excel rims.

As a hat tip to the origin of the cafe racer scene and the unique Continental GT 250, Royal Enfield launched the GT 535 within the UK. Additionally they examined the 535’s reliability utilizing an analogous cross-continent street take a look at from John o’Groats within the north to Land’s Finish within the south. Similar to the 250 it accomplished its process with no hitch.

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650

2017 Royal Enfield Continental GT 650

On the 2017 EICMA bike expo in Milan, Royal Enfield unveiled an all-new 648cc parallel twin engine. With a daring plan of dominating the world’s middle-weight bike market, they revealed 2 fashions that might be the primary to characteristic the brand new powerplant, the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650. Shortly after the occasion, this information was joined by the announcement that the Continental GT 535 would stop manufacturing. As unhappy as that information was it paled compared to the thrill surrounding the brand new engine that was to be Enfield’s first fashionable twin-cylinder engine ever.

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 engine

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As with the earlier variations, Royal Enfield caught to their tried and examined Continental GT ethos. Enviable type and steadfast efficiency at an reasonably priced value. At underneath $6000 USD the brand new GT 650 was definitely a beautiful providing. The brand new engine had been created by ex-Triumph employees at a brand new improvement facility within the UK. The body and suspension had been the work of Harris Efficiency which was now a subsidiary of Royal Enfield. And it had a really well-balanced combine of recent gear and traditional type.

The 648cc engine powering the most recent Continental GT is an 8-valve, 270-degree crank, single overhead cam, parallel twin that produces 47hp and 52Nm. Together with being the primary Royal Enfield fashionable twin, it turned their strongest engine of all time too. On high of its efficiency, Royal Enfield paid particular consideration to the looks of its new motor. Somewhat than taking the identical method as Triumph who met stricter emissions legal guidelines by water cooling, Enfield opted for an air/oil cooling system. In contrast to different fashionable classics at present on provide, the fins of the Enfield parallel twin usually are not only for seems. One other good thing about air/oil cooling is that the oil cooler on the entrance of the GT 650 is round half the dimensions of that on the most recent run of Triumph Bonnevilles leaving extra of their mechanical masterpiece on show.

Aesthetically the most recent Continental GT 650 as soon as once more bares an in depth resemblance to its forefathers. It options all of the stereotypical cafe racer styling cues with clip-on handlebars bars, an extended gasoline tank with deep knee indents, a seat hump and upswept megaphone-capped exhausts. As with the earlier fashions, the Continental GT 650 is available in a daring purple paint scheme, however Enfield has additionally launched a number of retro-inspired colourways together with a really interesting chrome tanked model. The spoked rims, twin gauges, seat and lighting are all trademark Continental elements too they usually all mix to make the Continental GT 650 one of the crucial classic-looking fashionable retro bikes available on the market.

Topping off this very engaging off-the-shelf cafe racer providing are just a few mod cons. These embrace security options like ABS, disk brakes entrance and rear, a 6-speed gearbox and digital gasoline injection. So though the Continental GT 650 is probably not the quickest cafe racer cash should buy, it’s the finest bang for buck fashionable traditional available on the market. Oh, and did I point out the 3-year limitless kilometre guarantee it comes with? (sure, you learn that proper)

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650

With a historical past that goes again effectively over half a century, I think about the Royal Enfield Continental GT to be the closest factor to a restaurant racer that any producer has ever produced. The GT 250 was ridden by younger Rockers within the fifties and immediately’s albeit vastly superior model of that very same bike stays true to its roots. Royal Enfield will get high marks for consistency and authenticity from 1963 proper via to the current day. Whether or not you’re a brand new rider wanting a dependable, reasonably priced and easy-to-ride commuter or a seasoned rider seeking to downscale to one thing with a very traditional really feel the Continental GT is difficult to beat.

View extra Royal Enfield cafe racer tales right here

Royal Enfield Continental GT history



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