Royal Enfield dealers from Australia and New Zealand have just gone head to head for the latest iteration of the Busted Knuckles Build-Off series. All of this year’s builds were based on the brand’s 650 parallel twin engine platform commonly found in the Continental GT and Interceptor models which have become the poster child of the modern classic custom scene in recent years. For the 2022 edition of Busted Knuckles 5 Royal Enfield dealerships were invited to build their own interpretation of a custom 650 twin with some rather surprising results.
This year Return of the Cafe Racers was invited to take part in the judging process of the 5 entrants. Amongst the builds were cafe racers, scramblers, a wild salt flat racer and a very capable track bike. As always the competition was tough but after scrutinising each bike there was a clear winner.
The judge’s unanimous choice for the winner of the 2022 Busted Knuckles Buil-Off was the No. 55 GT 650 Production Racer. Inspired by legendary racers from their home country Royale Motorcycles in Hamilton, New Zealand transformed a Continental GT into a modern racebike complete with everything needed to be a capable track-day weapon. For the full story behind this impressive build, we’re handing the keyboard over to Royal Enfield who had this to say about the project…
“Saying that New Zealanders are good with motorcycles is like saying that the sun is hot or that fried chicken is delicious; unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 50 years, you’ll already know this. After all, how many other countries have produced the likes of Burt Munro and John Britten? Talk about punching above their weight. And in that vein, Hamilton’s Royale Motorcycles thought they’d shake things up a little with their new Royal Enfield Busted Knuckles 2022 entry.
Dylan, the shop’s talking head, took some time to walk us through just what they were thinking when they kicked off this rather unusual custom project. “It was all about doing something very different,” he says. “We kind of went a little crazy. Mainly because we didn’t want to build another cafe racer, bobber or tracker.” And let’s face it; after you’ve built an army of these bikes, can you blame them for wanting to try something different?
Taking inspiration from India’s domestic Royal Enfield ‘GT Cup’ Production Racing series, they decided they’d try something similar, if not a little more sportsbike-ish. And while you may think that a sportsbike is just about as far away from the GT Enfield’s as you can get, it’d pay to remember that the original cafe racers that inspired the GTs were themselves a homage to the Isle of Man TT racers of the ‘50s and ‘60s. These were the sportsbikes of their time, so making a modern racer out of the 650 twin makes more sense than you might think.
“It was still a big job to make it happen,” continues Dylan. “We sourced many parts from an army of other bikes and manufacturers to ensure that what we finished up with was a proper racer and not just a look-alike.” The aluminium swingarm was an old Honda item that was adapted to the new bike, with the Royale build team paying close attention to ensure that all the bike’s new geometry was bang on.
Similarly, the front end was replaced with a Triumph Daytona fork and wheel combo that originally came from the factory with some very capable Nissin stoppers.
The 17-inch wheels have been fitted with Pirelli Diablo racing rubber, including a beefy 120mm boot on the rear. Continuing with the racing theme, the team also constructed a bespoke exhaust system for the hot stuff to exit the engine through and they picked a super-slick, hydroformed HP Corse end can for some added racing vibes and no doubt a better engine note too.
“As with any proper race bike, it’s not only got rearsets but a full range of adjustability. This means that it can be tweaked for just about any track and any rider,” notes Dylan. And while most modern sportsbikes have enough MotoGP tech to scare all but the most capable of riders, the 650 Twin DNA that’s still present at this bike’s core means that most riders will be able to jump on and have a bunch of fun at their local track without risking life and limb.
This ease of use extends to the bike’s chassis as well; made from steel and not aluminium, it’s much easier for the average custom shop or home builder to modify the GT’s bones without them having to purchase speciality welding gear and spend six months at the local technical college. Or as Dylan puts it, “This means that as a Continental GT owner, whatever you can imagine, you can pretty much build.”
“It may sound a little sales-y,” Dylan says in closing, “But we even surprised ourselves with how easy this bike was to customise.” It’s really obvious that the Royal Enfield engineers and designers took customising to heart when they first dreamt up the Continental and Interceptor all those years ago. If you are considering getting one to modify and make your own in 2022, you’d be well advised to put one at the top of your shopping list.”
As for the other entrants in the 2022 Busted Knuckles build off, you can view them above and judge for yourself who the winner should be. Keep scrolling for a video interview with the Royale team and for more juicy photos of this impressive project.