Ever since Royal Enfield (through Philippine distributor Hardcore Brothers) launched the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 in 2018, these machines have gained a large following among retro-bike enthusiasts. Affordably priced and engineered for durability and low maintenance rather than bleeding-edge performance, the handsome styling and the interesting Indian-British heritage give the marque a lot of soul for not too much money.
There’s an abundance of inexpensive performance and cosmetic enhancements from around the world ranging from suspension and intake/exhaust upgrades to adjustable levers. It’s rare to see an Interceptor or a Continental stay in showroom-stock condition for very long.
Here, we have three examples of how to push the limits of customization and really show the bike’s potential.
‘Serum’ by MoTeycycle Garage. This first one started out as an Interceptor in the popular “Baker Express” colorway, but it wasn’t long before owner Tey Abaya started modifying it to suit his vision. As the head of the Royal Enfield North riding club, Tey wanted “Serum” to represent his passion for riding.
Off came the riser handlebar to be replaced by clip-ons from a GT 535. The bike’s stance was lowered by swapping out the rear shocks for the shorter springs from the Classic. The stock black rims were powder-coated to charcoal, while the crankcase cover, the cylinder head, and the side panels were custom-painted to gray/black. Dual sport tires replaced the stock touring rubber.
A custom seat cowl and a bikini fairing were fitted. Fork gaiters, a radiator guard, bar-end side mirrors, LED lights, and a crash guard were also equipped. Performance upgrades (for now) are limited to customized one-sided dual pipes, a DNA Performance air filter, Booster Plug fuel-injection kit, and a change to a 16-tooth front sprocket from the stock 15-tooth. All of the work was done at his own shop, MoTeycycle Garage. This place began as club headquarters and a backyard garage for friends, but is now growing in popularity within the community.
With all of these changes, Serum has transformed from an easygoing roadster into a mean-looking café racer that has the bite to back up its bark.
‘Exodus’ by Iron Macchina Customs. Next, we have “Exodus,” a scrambler conversion by Paul Symon Cantos of Iron Macchina Customs. We’ve featured Paul’s work before, and Exodus is one of his latest creations. The burly stance of the stock Interceptor gets beefed up with wider Metzeler Karoo 3 tires, and this entailed modifying the triple clamp and the T-post. The rear end of the frame has been altered with a shortened seat base to make it look more compact, while a custom seat, side panels, a handlebar, a headlamp, turn signals, and a brake light were fitted.
The excellent 649cc parallel-twin engine is stock, but has been equipped with a blacked-out crankcase cover to match the custom heat shield, radiator guard, and exhaust. The speedometer and the tachometer have been relocated to the left and below the tank—not a very practical location, but it cleans up the cockpit and looks badass.
‘Modern Messiah’ by FMG. And finally, we have this bad boy from Jonathan Van Haute of FMG (just send him a private message to know what the acronym means), which makes the standard Interceptor look rather ho-hum. His brand-new roadster didn’t even reach a year in stock form before it was chopped, nipped and tucked to create a truly unique garage-built cruiser that flips a birdie to convention. “I call it ‘Modern Messiah’ or ‘Em-Em’ for short,” says Jonathan.
And you know what? The longer I look at it, the more I like it. The rear subframe has been lopped off and rebuilt to turn it into a bobber, with a seat pan fabricated from 2mm steel sheet and a custom saddle. The twin megaphone pipes were replaced with a stubbier, louder pair. The stock rear shocks have been swapped for those from a TVS XL100. The standard Pirelli Phantom Sportscomp tires were ditched for Shinko whitewalls, while the rear fender is actually the front fender off a Classic 500. The taillight and the dash pod were bought via Lazada. A custom “ape hanger” handlebar was made by Jerry Formoso. The custom peanut tank is from Oldies Goodies and was painted along with the rear fender by Edwin Mistica. The “FMG” logo was designed by The Doodle Factory.
Still, the biggest customization has to be the bike’s conversion to a carbureted fuel system. Why, you ask? Jonathan is old-school, and for the kind of long road trips that he does, he prefers the simplicity of a carburetor that he can fix in the boondocks. And also, “It’s my bike and I can do what I want with it!”
The carburetor, the air filters, the ignition coils, and the CDI system were sourced from Sideway Motorcycle Shop, but the installation was handled by Jonathan himself. Switching to a carb entailed deleting the fuel-injection system and the ECU, but this also meant completely rewiring the bike’s myriad of interconnected sensors and disabling the antilock braking system. A new wiring loom was sourced from Bentalls Motorcycle Center.
In the end, Jonathan’s cruiser might not be as easy to ride as a stock bike, and it surely doesn’t have the range with that small tank. But it doesn’t really matter. With custom bikes, the basic principle is “my bike, my rules.” And these custom jobs definitely rule.