Back in 1965 Royal Enfield started producing the original Continental GT out of their Redditch factory in the UK. The entire concept behind the bike was to create a factory made Cafe Racer, like the bikes the Rockers were custom building, to offer customers an "off the shelf" race bike. Back then the GT was powered by a 250cc, 4 stroke motor with a 5 speed gearbox that produced a peak power figure of 21bhp. The original GT featured clip on bars, a red fibreglass tank, a humpback style seat and Enfield's signature single down tube frame. While 250cc may not seem like a lot the '65 GT held claim to being the fastest 250cc in Britain (top speed of around 74mph) and enjoyed much success despite the gradual decline of the motorcycle industry over the coming years.
Fast forward 48 years and the Continental GT is back! The Cafe Racer spirit of the original GT remains intact but the engineering behind the new bike has been dramatically upgraded. Design wise you'll find a similarly styled tank and seat combo finished in red with the exception of the fiberglass being replaced by steel. The clip on bars are also still there but are attached above the top yoke for a slightly less aggressive riding position and that's where the similarities end.
At the heart of the GT lies an engine that is now the biggest capacity of any motorcycle in the Enfield lineup. With their classic, unit construction, 500cc, 4 stroke single as the starting point, Enfield have increased capacity to 535cc. Combined with a Keihin EFI system, remapped ECU and a specially designed exhaust (with upswept megaphone style muffler) this revised design delivers a peak power figure of 29.1bhp. To get the most out of the horses the GT also happens to be the lightest bike in the Enfield range. At 184kg it's a whopping 15kg lighter than it closest predecessor the Thunderbird 500.
With prices for the US set at approximately $7500 the Royal Enfield Continental GT could be the perfect choice for anyone looking to own their own modern Cafe Racer. To date the GT is easily one of the best 'production' Cafe Racers we've seen and for the price it's certainly a bargain. As the bikes start to sell in the UK and India it's going to be very interesting how they perform under such different climate and road conditions. For more about the Enfield you can check out the Continental GT website where you will also find a range of GT jackets and gear for the devoted fans.
"A look into the lightest, fastest, most powerful Royal Enfield in production - the culture that inspired it, the collaborators who finessed it, its combination of retro styling and ahead-of-the-curve engineering and why it is lauded by those who know their café racers. Explore our finest expression yet of pure motorcycling."
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