RE Continental GT 535cc – Road Test Review Report


It has been just a few weeks since the Royal Enfield Continental GT was launched in India. We were given the opportunity to take the bike on a road test to test out its performance and handling. Here’s our road test review of the latest bike to come out of the Royal Enfield stable. 

The first Royal Enfield motorcycle thumped into India in 1949. In 1955, the Indian government selected the Enfield as a suitable motorcycle for use by the police and army. In the same year, the Redditch based company partnered with Madras Motors in India to form ‘Enfield India,’ to assemble, under licence, the 350 cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in erstwhile Madras.

GT launch ride

Riding in a group is all part of the Enfield experience.

As the only genuine for-the- masses touring motorcycle manufactured in India, Royal Enfield is concentrating more on building the brand and its values than on large scale advertisement campaigns. It’s all about riding and getting mileage on your saddle. Enfield motorcycles are not for posers, they are a lifestyle choice of leisure motorcycling.

Royal Enfield all new GT

Round headlamps take its cue from the rest of the Enfield lineup.

An independent manufacturer since the demise of Royal Enfield in England, Enfield India under Eicher group (from 1994) still makes an essentially similar bike in 350 cc and 500 cc forms today, only for updates like much needed electric start, disc brakes, fuel injection and a new five speed transmission.

GT side view

The Continental GT never looked out of place wherever we took it and was at home even on cliffs.

With a waiting period of months for almost all models in the lineup, Royal Enfield India is having the time of its life. And to further its glorified image in the country, R.E. has now introduced the all new Continental GT Cafe Racer 535 and Indian Cars and Bikes took part in the launch at Goa.

GT launch preview

The rear mirrors are typically retro and are at the bar ends which enhance the Café racer theme.

The Continental GT Cafe Racer 535 is definitely one of the best looking bikes that has rolled out of the Royal Enfield’s South India stable. The Café racer had been a concept for a long time, and the final product does not look far away from the concept that was showcased.

With the Continental GT, Royal Enfield marries new technology with old school retro looks seamlessly, like the others in the R.E. lineup.

First things first, the Café racer is not your typical Bullet, though it shares the engine with the Thunderbird 500, Continental GT’s mill has been bored out to extract an additional 35 cc. The stroke has also been changed for a different response as well as for increased torque. And that is where all the sharing ends.

535cc GT heart

The 535cc beating heart of the Continental GT is a bored and stroked 500cc Classic mill.

The engine produces 29.1 bhp at 5100 rpm and 44 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. Its chassis is also completely different, made by Harris Racing which employs a twin down tube cradle frame. They have also made the frame more stiff to increase the road holding ability and handling but more importantly to lessen the vibrations to a certain extent. The bike gets larger 41 mm telescopic front forks with 110 mm travel and rear suspensions made of PAIOLI twin gas charged shock absorbers having 80 mm travel and adjustable preload.

yellow GT launch

The tweety yellow colour looks quite at home on the beach.

Front disc fork

The Continental GT gets single front disc with dual piston caliper.

The standard MRF rubbers have also been replaced with sticky Pirelli Sport Demon 100/90 x 18, 56H tyres at the front and 130/70 x 18, 63H Pirelli Sport Demons at the rear, providing phenomenal grip levels on Indian roads. The new brakes are from Brembo, sporting a 300 mm floating disc with a dual piston caliper at the front, while the rear brakes are a 250 mm disc with a single piston floating caliper. Needless to say the Continental GT has one of the most advanced braking systems from Royal Enfield, providing good stopping power.

GT engine bay

Sculpted fuel tank and a clean uncluttered engine bay adds to the looks further.

The bike is a head turner, with its sculpted fuel tank and curved racer seat all lending their cues to make the Continental GT a handsome, butch machine. The Café racer has a completely different design philosophy, harking back to the racers of the Sixties. But the core Royal Enfield values remain the same; the bike won’t be hurried and will not offer outright performance like the Japs and it doesn’t need to.

red yellow colour

Both the bikes sizing each other up.

It’s a big bike but at no time would you feel the it being overpowering or untameable. This aspect is the cafe racer’s USP. The tank is sculpted and the knee recess are placed ergonomically. The bike features clip-on handle bars which neither lean forward nor stand upright. The Royal Enfield team has struck the perfect balance in positioning each element. The gears are rear-set but perfectly placed too, all making the bike comfortable to spend long hours on.

retro GT dials

The chromed retro dials merge in well with the Cafe racer theme.

The build quality on this bike is better than the already good stuff from the regular lineup. In fact, the Continental GT takes it to the next level. The paint quality, fit, and finish are all top notch, from the headlights to the rear tail light. The mirrors are typically retro and are at the bar ends which enhance the Café racer theme.

GT badging fuel tank

The Continental Gt badging for all to see in near the chromed fuel filler cap.

The bike sports a single seat with no accommodation for the pillion which is good as it looks best when ridden solo. The switches on the bike are a bit plasticky to touch but still good quality. The fuel filler cap is chromed to further add to the retro look and also gives a break to the red colour of the bike.

The bike surprisingly handles well and can take a corner with a lot of grace which is not typical of R.E.

The gearbox is smooth with a light clutch according to Enfield standards. The bike absorbs the Indian road conditions well without losing any composure on rough bumpy surfaces. Through the entire duration of the ride we didn’t experience much vibrations from the it, which increased the riding pleasure, contrary to the image that cruiser’s from the RE stable have. The only niggle we faced was a weird noise every time we hit the front brakes which sounded scary but did not hamper the brake bite in anyway.

Enfield GT brakes rear Pirelli

Rear brake gets a disc for more confident stoppage, though a bit more pedal feel would have been welcome.

The bike is fast by Royal Enfield standards and handles cruising speeds of 130 km/hr easily without any pronounced stress on the engine. The brakes also feel good and confident but could be bettered with a bit more bite at the rear.

 The surprise, however, comes in the form of another colour option. The new Royal Enfield bike will be available in two colours- the already gorgeous deep red as well as a sunflower yellow one too.

The launch was compered by none other than Gordon May, the celebrated historian of Royal Enfield. His excitement for the product was shown in the exuberance and passion when speaking about the bike. He also showcased videos of the making of the Café racer too. There was a pleasant surprise in store for all the Auto journos assembled.

GT yellow colour

The yellow colour option, a surprise entry at the launch event.

We all wondered whether there would be an unbelievable sticker price or another bike launch with it, the possibilities were endless. But the surprise was in the form of another colour option, the bike will be available in two colours- the already gorgeous deep red as well as a sunflower yellow one too. There was also the new riding/protective gear range from the Royal Enfield known as ‘Burn Up’ wear, launched at the event.

Burn Up wear t-shirts and other apparel released at the launch event.

Burn Up wear t-shirts and other apparel released at the launch event.

The ‘Burn Up’ wear consists of, R.E branded leather jackets which portray the times when this bike originated and the cult of the leather jackets that followed during those times. There is a textile mesh jacket too, with sufficient armor just in case of any mishap occurring on the bike. There is a large Royal Enfield emblem at the top of the jacket.

helmet AGV

The Continental GT helmet range from AGV.

Full and half leather gloves with decent knuckle protection, a line of colorful t-shirts with heavy Royal Enfield branding, as well as Continental GT branding are all part of the range. Custom helmets are also provided from the industry front runners AGV, and they too have Royal Enfield and Continental GT decals.

Bom Jesus Enfield GT

Posing in front of the Bom Jesus Church in old Goa.

We could have chosen a predetermined route but there was also the option to wander free, and that was all we needed to hear. A group of us decided to ride from one spot to another without any stops in between, just what the Café racer was born to do- quick transportation from point A to B.  So we decided to explore old Goa and check out the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The bike fit well into the Old Goa neighborhood and we didn’t feel much out of place there.

GT on road ride

The Royal Enfield Continental GT has a sporty comfortable riding position.

Riding this bike is so much fun that as soon as we reached our first point, we had already decided our next journey and went deeper into Goa, reaching small beautiful villages. After that we hit some good winding roads and indulged in mindless corner carving. But our exploits came to a halt as we had to meet up with the Royal Enfield team and again it was a race against the clock to reach from old Goa to Morjim beach where Royal Enfield had planned the evening for us.

Enfield GT sporty

The Continental GT is a mix of a classic cruiser bike with a modern sportsbike’s road manners.

Eventually we realized we weren’t following the map given to us by Royal Enfield and were a bit worried if we would not reach the destination, but to our good luck the locals were very helpful and guided is with a smile all along. All in all we reached our destination with couple of minutes to spare before sunset, so we decided to hit a bar for a quick drink.

Royal Enfield has also been very competitive with the pricing of the Continental GT and at Rs 2.15 lakh on road price in Mumbai is the final cherry on the top, a steal at that price.

People might be a little confused about this all-new offering. Is it a sportsbike or a regular old cruiser? Well to be honest it’s a cruiser with better road manners than its siblings in the Enfield lineup. The Continental GT is reliable and has good built quality, on par with the Japs. There may have been issues with previous models, but when putting the bike through its paces, it did not grumble or break down.

Overall, the bike is a perfect package with many options for customizations. There will be very few stock bikes on the road, but that is the true spirit of the Royal Enfield and Café racer community, to look better than the other while still being able to go fast. The bike comes as a single seater with options for a pillion seat, but we don’t think many will go down that way, unless you are a family man. We’d  still urge you to go for the single seater and ask your better half to take the bus.

cockpit GT saddle

The clip on ‘at the band’ handlebars offer a nice comfortable position for long journeys.

With waiting lists that span months for all bikes from the Enfield fleet, the main question now is if the company will be able to deliver the bike within a reasonable time period or lose potential customers though few would change their minds after having set their sights on this machine. They have a good product in their hands, now all that matters is how well they can deliver the new flagship bike to the hands of the waiting customers.


Enfield beach party GT

Frolicking on the beach.


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  1. Abhishek

    December 19, 2013 at 8:31 am

    There isn’t more ill-informed post I have read in a long time. The lest you guys can do prior to publishing this is to get the facts straight.

    Enfield was never made as a touring motorcycle; it was, and is, a general purpose motorcycle.

    Their motorcycles today have a completely new unit-construction-engine. Except for the spelling of the last word, it has no other similarity to the older engines.

    The bike maxes at a little over 130 kmph, and that is definitely not cruising easily.

  2. Ramesh Magalanadu

    December 19, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I saw in bangalore branded stores. It was looking very sporty and rugged. Each and every part was well looked. I am using the new thunderbird 500 for long distances After seeing the bike GT 535 i was very eager to go for test drive. The sales manager said it is only for display and we will let you know when we get the permission. Great bike.God bless.

  3. Prateek Jose

    December 19, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Abhishek,

    Thanks for your comment. We appreciate that you have taken the time to tell us the specific parts of the article you have taken issue with. Since you have mentioned three points in particular, we would like to clarify the reason behind them finding mention in the piece.

    1. Enfield was never made as a touring motorcycle; it was, and is, a general purpose motorcycle.
    It is true that Enfield motorcycles were never actually made to be tourers. However, over time, as riders began to use them widely for the purpose of touring, Royal Enfield bikes were almost involuntarily given the mantle of being tourers. If there is any doubt regarding this, take a look at the page on the Thunderbird 500 on Royal Enfield’s website. The overview of the bike says the “Thunderbird 500 is poised to enhance the pleasure of leisure motorcycling amongst the touring enthusiasts.” It is clear from this that the company is now making the effort to position their bikes as also finding use as tourers. Saying that RE is the only genuine for-the- masses touring motorcycles manufacturer in India is more a reflection of their ability to build motorcycles that are economical and versatile at the same time, not an assertion of the fact the RE bikes are thoroughbred touring motorcycles.

    2. Their motorcycles today have a completely new unit-construction-engine. Except for the spelling of the last word, it has no other similarity to the older engines.
    Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that the Continental GT uses an old engine. It does say that Enfield India under Eicher group makes a similar kind of bike in the 350, 500 cc displacement range as the original English brand. We have stated at a later stage in the article that the Continental GT uses the same engine as the Thunderbird 500. So that should clear any doubts regarding the kind of engine the bike sports.

    3. The bike maxes at a little over 130 kmph, and that is definitely not cruising easily.
    Our correspondent took the bike for a spin and felt that it handled well at 130 kmph, close to the bike’s top speed though it may be. I think one can concede that “cruising easily” is an objective parameter and there is no way to zone in on the exact speed at which a bike isn’t cruising easily any more. If you have, in fact, ridden the bike,and felt that it doesn’t cruise easily at speeds approaching 130 kmph, we are happy to yield that you are entitled to your own opinion.

    Hope we have been lucid in addressing any grouse that you may have had with this piece. We’d like to be able to ensure that our clarifications reach you through the most direct channel possible, so do feel free to leave your best email next time.

    Looking forward to your reply,
    Team ICB.

  4. Gaurav

    December 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Its clear that this is a very important bike fro RE and clearly a lot of thought has gone into it. What remains to be seen though is whether the Indian consumer is mature enough to understand the “Cafe Racer” concept. The biggest USP of the erstwhile REs has been their universal appeal. Whether it was the urban pub-hopping youth… or the rugged terrain of rural india, the “Bullet” never felt out of place. The GT though has probably taken its niche appeal a bit too far. That said, kudos for going where no Indian bike has gone before. Only grouse: probably an optional, clip-on pillion seat would had been nice.

  5. Prateek Pandya

    December 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Can yo please confirm the tyres and rims are those of tubeless variety? Was wondering if you could have noticed whether those rims and its mounts are similar to c5?

    Thanks in advance

  6. Reeto

    January 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Hi. The review only stresses on the positive aspects of the bike, conveniently ignoring the negatives. However, I shall enlighten the readers of the missed-out aspects.
    – The 535 GT has its fair share of vibrations at speeds above 110 kmph. Its not possible to maintain cruising speeds of 120 kmph all day due to the same, leave alone 130 kmph
    – Seating posture is forward biased, though not as much as the Yamaha R15. This seating posture isn’t meant for serious touring over distances above 200 kms.
    – The Rear Disk Brake is not as effective as claimed in this article
    – The GT’s built quality is not at par with its Japanese counterparts
    – Do not harbor unrealistic expectations of keeping up with a Duke 200/390 or a CBR250R on the GT

  7. Nakul Dive

    January 8, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Very lame bike…….
    Destroyed the virtues of original royal enfield……
    Looking like china toys…..
    Back looking like ass….. real bullshit

    • Frank

      October 12, 2014 at 12:25 am

      You can file your complain to Consumer Fotum (Google it) and provide them with all the details and whatever proof and receipts you have. They take up the case seriously if the consumer is pissed. You will get your compensation. Tell them about the bad treatment and false commitments made by the employees of royal enfield. They will take care of it/
      Thank you

    • Frank

      October 12, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Google- Consumer Forum or consumer court

  8. Satya Adriansyah

    January 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I like this bike, but when arrive in Indonesia..

  9. Fahim Anwar

    February 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    I am a great fan of Cafe Racer. I just saw this bike through RE website. I booked one.

  10. Bullet

    February 6, 2014 at 11:46 am

    HORRIBLE looking petrol tank!!! Are we going back to the stone age?

  11. Rajesh

    April 22, 2014 at 12:45 am

    I had a test ride for couple of KM… i got severe pain in my palm…becoz of its heavy vibration…it really matters for long ride….except this all good.

  12. shahid

    July 16, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Today i went to Royal Enfield showroom in srinagar kashmir to book bullet classic 500 desert storm. They tell me you have to wait for this bike about 2 months to get it. My question is why it takes to mush time get.

    • tkamath

      July 16, 2014 at 2:02 am

      Hi Shahid

      They take a long time because Royal Enfield doesn’t produce their bikes at the same rate as other manufacturers. Their production has been largely automated, but a lot of work is still done by hand so it takes longer. Royal Enfield recently opened a second factory in Oragadam, Tamil Nadu, but the demand is very high which is why the waiting period is still 2 months or a lot more. Domestic demand + international demand has gone up which is why RE has been in a state of backlog for over 5 years now.

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