Back in 1964, Royal Enfield’s first Continental GT was a very good-looking motorcycle. Legend has it that Royal Enfield management was terrified by the success of the new wave of Japanese 250cc’s, but didn’t have the development budget to replace its very ordinary Crusader 250. It asked its young apprentices for ideas on making the Crusader more popular and the workshop boys turned it into a cafe racer.
Fifty-three years later, you can walk into a Royal Enfield showroom and spend not much on a motorcycle that captures the spirit of the early motorcycle without having to carry any of the Crusader baggage.
It uses a larger-displacement (535cc) EFI Bullet engine in a frame designed by England’s legendary Harris Performance.
The bodywork was the responsibility of another English studio, Xenophya Design, and it uses components from some of the best in the business: Brembo brakes, Excel alloy rims, Paioli suspension and Pirelli tires. All this comes together in a finely proportioned product that even makes the stolid Royal-Enfield Bullet engine look special.
The company claims it’s the ‘fastest, lightest, most powerful single Royal Enfield has ever built’ but, without doubt, it’s also the most beautiful. Drawing on the established conventions of cafe racer design, the motorcycle would have looked at home in 1964, looks very much at home now and will be just as pretty in 50 years’ time.
Royal Enfield was so pleased with the model it promptly bought Harris Engineering and then Xenophya Design to join the rapidly expanding staff at its UK technical center.
As a sign of thins to come which includes a 750cc twin in a modified version of the Continental GT’s Harris frame and the development of a new Vincent and more.
Royal Enfield is back with a vengeance and will explode in the next 10 years. In the meantime, the Royal Enfield Continental GT will remain forever beautiful whether it’s on the road or parked as a work of art in your lounge-room.