In an industry that’s increasingly resorting to electronic wizardry to raise both performance and cachet in product lines, Royal Enfield has steadfastly remained analog. Its beginner cruiser, the Meteor 350, is all about commuting in style and not much else. The Interceptor and Continental GT 650 are all about an authentic `60s feel, but with the modern (if basic) convenience of EFI and ABS. The Himalayan, on the other hand, is a mountain goat with an engine that riders aren’t afraid to scuff and drop on a trail.
Unveiled at EICMA this year is the SG650 Concept, a “what if” project that seemingly portends the shape and style of things to come from Royal Enfield. According to chief of design Mark Wells:
“We are a company in transition, so long a representation of the analog age and now developing new products that keep that same pure soul yet are fully integrated into the digital present. To celebrate this, we wanted to develop a project that really gave our design team an opportunity to stretch themselves creatively. The goal is to build a unique concept motorcycle that pays homage to Royal Enfield’s rich history of custom motorcycles, but one that wasn’t encumbered by the past. A neo-retro interpretation that pushes the boundaries of what a Royal Enfield motorcycle could look like, but at its core is still celebrating that iconic Royal Enfield DNA.”
Translation: It still looks like a classic motorcycle, but with some modern, expensive bits.
So, it has the familiar teardrop-shaped tank, the same engine with the prominent, old-school air-cooled cylinder head, but it has a bobber seat and some nice suspension. The tank is CNC-machined from a solid block of aluminum, along with the solid wheels with integrated ABS. The brake calipers and dual front brake discs (a first from Royal Enfield) are similarly bespoke.
The fork is a USD unit, with integrated aluminum top yoke and low-rise, extra-wide bars. Even the switch cubes on the handlebar are made of aluminum. The digital instrument pod is paired with Royal Enfield’s Tripper navigation system. The engine and peashooter exhausts have been blacked out, while there’s some “digital transformation” graphics on the crankcase cover and tank.
It’s hard to tell how many of these expensive details will eventually make it into production, but the basic shape does give a clue about the 650cc cruiser that Royal Enfield has been teasing for the past couple of years now.