The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 did manage to convincingly win the hearts of a lot of people and journalists have sung nothing but paeans about this bike. But is it really as great a motorcycle as everyone has made it out to be? I have had the Interceptor 650 for over two months now, and have covered about 2,500 km on it, riding it every single day, without fail. From commuting in the city (crawling bumper-to-bumper traffic in the first gear, half clutch at times), to spirited Sunday morning corners with my superbike-riding buddies, to lazy highway cruising, inter-state touring, to even a dirt track jump session (Yes, that really happened) - it would be fair to say I have spent a considerable amount of time with this motorcycle to notice a few flaws - some really bothersome, some not so much. I would like to share some 13 of them with you.
1) Footpegs - The positioning of the pegs on this bike baffles me. They are placed right underneath the rider, effectively putting them in the way when someone puts their feet down. Due to the crankcase being wide, the pegs sit further apart than a conventional single cylinder bike. That wouldn't have been a problem had the pegs been forward set or slightly rear set, but here, they are positioned in such a manner that you will have to space your feet wide apart to avoid hitting them.
Scraped shins is not the only issue here (Who all drew blood the first time they tried getting this bike off the side stand?). When crawling in traffic, you will not have your feet on the pegs at all times, especially while stopping or just starting. You will have to place them extremely wide apart and there is always a danger of an autorickshaw or an adventurous car running over your toes, jostling for space. Believe me, it is a disaster waiting to happen. What is the fix? Well, I plan to install the entire assembly of the Continetal GT 650's rearsets. That should move the pegs back and let me stand in traffic, in peace. The assembly costs Rs 6,000 (I'll post a video once I carry out the modification).
2) Seat - The stock seat on the Interceptor looks quite nice but is heavily flawed and in my opinion the second weakest part of the bike after the footpeg issue. The stock seat is too soft and sags after about half an hour of riding, making it uncomfortable. So, I got the Touring Seat option - same design, firmer foam. Did it solve my problem? Not quite.
The stock seat is too soft and sags after about half an hour of riding, making it uncomfortable
The touring seat starts to sag after about 200 km of riding as well and is strangely narrow from the front (applies to the stock seat too), making it uncomfortable on the inner thighs. On a trip from Delhi to Jaipur (250-odd km), I started to experience fatigue at the 200 km mark. A fair bit of headwind and the seat were adding to it. The seat primarily.
And the seat is too short for two-up riding. It tapers towards the end, leaving little room for a full-sized adult pillion to comfortably sit on. I had a short ride sitting pillion behind my six-foot tall, 95 kg colleague. I stand 5'10.5, weigh 82 kg and I did not have enough room to plant myself down.
What is the fix? I am thinking of going a custom seat route. Need to explore this and I will get back with a video when I find a solution.
3) Headlight - The headlight is just about adequate for night riding in the city when the roads are lit but leave me wanting when the street lights are off. The headlight is also strictly a no-no when it comes to touring. Not that I advocate touring at night. You need a set of dedicated auxiliary lights for touring.
The visibility and the throw of the light isn't good enough when it comes to touring
My fix for the headlights (Night city riding and light touring): A 3,800 Lumens Cyclops LED bulb. Works like a charm and does not cause problems for oncoming traffic.Another small headlight related issue: I wish Royal Enfield gave a clear lens for the headlight cover.
4) No Gearshift Indicator - This is not a big omission. It's a luxury, really. But something I wouldn't mind having. Sometimes, when in sixth, I am still trying to upshift, thinking there is another gear to go.
5) No Inbuilt Clock - Time is money. And I really need to be able to tell the time when I am riding. I wear a riding jacket and full gauntlet gloves at all times when I ride which means I can't sport a wrist watch. So, how am I supposed to tell the time? Dear Royal Enfield, please include a clock in the instrument cluster in the next iteration of this bike and let it be an independent, separate one that we don't have to toggle different parameters to get to.
The Interceptor 650 does not come with a gear shift indicator
6) Fuel Gauge - If you go by the fuel gauge on this motorcycle, for the first 100 kilometres you will think this motorcycle has a minimum 500 kilometre tank range (It does not). The bars indicating fuel level just refuse to drop. And when it does, before you know it, it would be down to half. When it finally reaches the last two bars, it will refuse to drop again for the longest possible time. As soon as you take a break or turn your motorcycle off and then on again, the two bars would be down to a single blinking bar, leaving you looking for a fuel station.
I don't rely on the fuel gauge of this bike anymore. I go strictly tankful-to-tankful now. The least the Interceptor 650 does is 220 kilometres on a tankful and the best it does is about 270 kilometres (this is in about 10.6 litres of fuel). I have fuelled up some eight to 10 times by now and I get a fuel economy in the range of 21.5 to 26. For those who don't get a tankful, predicting range can prove challenging. I intimated Royal Enfield about this issue, they could not find a fix.
7) Weak Electricals - Whenever this motorcycle is washed, for the next day or two, the instrument turns into Christmas lights. Sometimes the Neutral light will stay half lit, other times the Low Engine Oil light or the Battery light will come on. Now, even though these parameters would be perfectly fine, the lights will make you believe there is an error. Why does it happen? I suspect water seeps in somehow while washing. Something Royal Enfield needs to look into.
8) Handlebars - The stock handlebars are positioned too far away from the rider and the position you get is such that your arms are completely stretched out, without any bend in the elbow. That is not a comfortable stance, at least for me. So, I pulled the handlebars back by about two inches and it feels more natural and relaxed. My elbows are slightly bent with this handlebar position and I believe that is the correct way to ride.
The stock handlebars are positioned too far away from the rider
9) Horn Button - May be this should have been clubbed with the electricals issue. Water plays the devil here too. Ever since the first service, when this bike was washed, the horn button does not operate on a light press most times. You have to dig in for it to work. The issue wasn't there when I first got the bike.
10) Ergonomics (Wide pegs, Narrow Fuel Tank) - Call me crazy but I think the ergonomics of the Interceptor 650 are really messed up. The pegs are wide, and the tank slightly narrow, so when I have to hug the tank with my inner thighs, my knees are angled in, instead of being angled out. The way the hip bone pivots, the natural movement is the knees always go out while sitting. Here, on this bike, my knees are not only angled in, they are also sitting closer than my toes. I don't know if I have been able to convey it properly here, but this illustration should help a bit.
How my legs should be when I sit - \_/ (Thighs moving outwards from the hips)
How my legs are when I ride the Interceptor 650 - /__\ (Thighs forced to be hinged inwards)
11) Rear View Mirrors - The left side mirror on this bike gives good visibility but the right side mirror, due to the front brake fluid reservoir, sits about an inch closer to the rider. That ensures that finding a decent angle on the right side mirror is difficult and requires a lot of adjusting. I am still not very happy with the view I get from the right side mirror.
Besides that, the pasting on the glass that converts it into a mirror keeps coming off. It has happened on both the left and the right side mirrors at different times and Royal Enfield has been kind enough to replace them. However, the problem has cropped up again, a week after the last mirror was changed. This is again something that Royal Enfield needs looking into. My fix is to go for the Touring Mirrors that Royal Enfield sells as accessory.
12) Snatchy Below 2,000 RPM - Now this is a problem that I believe is specific to my bike. Between 1,600 and 1,900 RPM, my bike stutters a lot. As soon as I shift into the second gear in traffic, it jerks and feels it will shut down immediately (since I am in the above mentioned rev range at this point of time), and I have to downshift to first again. The service engineers at Royal Enfield say it could be a Tappets clearance issue and I am waiting for their head service technician to take a look at my bike. I will post a video update once I get to know what exactly happened here.
13) Rusting Issue - Within 24 hours of taking delivery, I noticed rust on the ends of the exhaust. The chrome finish was uneven and rust extremely visible. A phone call to Royal Enfield later, they came to my place, picked the motorcycle up, fixed it, and brought it back.
But that is not all. The front brake rotor on this bike is made by Brembo, and it is notorious for catching rust. Parked in rain for a day or two, this bike's rotor turned golden. Royal Enfield was prompt enough to replace the front rotor, but a week later, even the new one has started to catch rust.
Was a disc swap necessary? I don't think so. Rust is common on the disc rotors of all vehicles and it being surface area rust is also superficial. But who wants to see rust on their two month old bike? Certainly, not me. Let's see what solution Royal Enfield provides for this. There's another small part that has started to rust now - the screw on top of the headlight. It has started turning golden and I will ask Royal Enfield to replace it.
While these are the issues I have with this bike, they are still not a deal breaker for me. Remember, at the end of the day, for less than Rs 3 lakh, you are getting a 650 cc, parallel twin, smashing looking retro motorcycle that will put a smile on your face every time you go out and ride. If I were to do it all over again knowing all these problems, I would still only buy this bike at this price range. And that, is my final verdict.