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The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Triumph Street Twin seem to be quite similar when it comes to the overall package of a comfy, twin-cylinder street bike. So how similar (or different) are they?
Recently, a good friend of mine cancelled the booking of his Street Scrambler and decided to get an Interceptor 650 to turn into his own version of a scrambler. Of course, that specific project would require a lot of mods, but you’ve already saved almost Rs 6 lakh, making it seem like the bargain of the decade. On paper, the Royal Interceptor seems to be living in the shadows of the Triumph Street Twin. Both get neo-retro styling, both come with a 270-degree cranked parallel-twin British motors, both cater to a mature audience and they even sound almost the same! But you cannot ignore the fact that while the Street Twin is an entry-level Triumph, the Interceptor is Royal Enfield’s flagship model. The Street Twin is a ticket for the masses to enter the Triumph family while the 650 Twins are RE’s ticket to international markets. And for the same reason, both these retro motorcycles are bound to be different, even though from a buyer’s perspective they both seem to be quite similar. But how similar or different are these Brit steeds?
Launched in 2016, the Street Twin is based on the Bonneville but with a more playful bias. Today, the Street Twin is Triumph’s bestselling neo-retro motorcycle. And now we have the recently tweaked version in the country which makes an additional 10 horses over the predecessor from the same 900cc twin that now redlines at 7500 (increase of 500rpm), new four-pot Bremobs and KYB cartridge forks at the front, and an additional 10mm of seat padding, which makes for a sportier rider’s triangle. Ride-by-wire makes its debut on the Street Twin which now allows you to choose from Rain and Road modes. The 2018 Street Twin may not be all-new but these updates have really made a lot of difference, especially to the power delivery and the ride and handling setup. Let’s dwell on the ride later and see how the additional 10 horses come into play.
The Bonnie range has always been about torque. In this High Torque avatar, the ’Twin does what it says on the box. You only get five cogs but the torque is so widespread that you’ll barely miss the sixth. It all starts at about 2500rpm and as long as you’re in the range, you’ll never need to downshift. Thankfully, traction control is switchable and if you turn it off, the Street Twin can be a hoot. The front-end is not really light but pop the clutch and she’s willing to take off. The Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp’s take a lot of time to heat up and thus spinning the rear is quite easy, making for a delightful machine for hoonery. And the cartridge forks really add to the playfulness. The front-end is surefooted at all times and offers a lot more feedback than earlier. The Street Twin was always stable in corners but the new KYBs bring in a lot more brownie points when it comes to handling. Ride quality is plush, substantiating the premium motorcycle feel that the previous-gen Street Twin lacked. Even the braking has improved thanks to the new setup.
All of this makes the Street Twin a great package. It really is worth the extra money being spent and you won’t complain. But should you be spending the extra money at all?
Rs 2.5 lakh. I’m sure that the figure must’ve not only brought the likes of TVS and Bajaj but even KTM back to the drawing boards , for the Interceptor is deceptively close to not only the RR 310’s pricing, but even the 390 Duke’s. Don’t forget, Bajaj and Triumph are already working together on low-capacity motorcycles. A lot has been said about the 650 Twins already so let’s not dwell on how good or bad these path-breaking machines are, but keep the Street Twin in our crosshair and delve deeper into the comparison.
The Interceptor feels extremely well built especially when it comes to RE’s standards, and despite having clocked over 5500km on the odo, our long term Interceptor barely makes any noise, forget about rattles. While the Street Twin with its black alloys and blackened panels feels solid, the Interceptor with its spoke wheels and oodles of chrome feels properly retro. And the moment you sit on the narrow but well-padded seat, it feels even sportier. The pegs are slightly more rear set and the bar is wider too. The cluster too seems to have been teleported from the same era but it lacks basic information and makes do without even a clock!
The 648cc parallel twin is down on power and torque by 17bhp and 28Nm. But in the real world, you’ll be struggling to find a substantial difference. The delivery is quite similar too, but the Interceptor feels livelier in the lower revs and also has the advantage of a sixth cog. Of course, it gets comparatively more vibey than the Street Twin but nothing that you won’t be able to live with. It may seem to be sportier when seated on the saddle, but thanks to the top drawer components on the Street Twin, the Interceptor cannot really match up when it comes to the dynamics. It’ll be unfair to say that the Enfield handles badly but the Street Twin has a certain posh quality to it, which the RE really has no answer to. Although both weigh almost the same, the RE feels a lot heavier and requires more effort to tip into corners. Mid-corner stability too takes a backseat and the RE feels wobbly when you begin pushing it to the limits. But when you consider the price you’ve paid for it, you’ll definitely end up with more smiles.
To sum it up, I’d say that my dear friend hasn’t been wrong in choosing the Interceptor over a Triumph., despite the Triumph being superior and worth the premium price. Both these motorcycles provide a completely different experience and should be celebrated for what they are. They bring out the joys of motorcycling in the purest form possible. So let the manufacturers fight amongst themselves. The buyers are in for a treat anyway.