Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 (2018-on) Review

Highlights

  • Amazingly good value for money
  • Classic styling, air-cooled engine
  • But modern in all the important ways
MCN AWARDS
Best Retro 2020
WINNER

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Annual servicing cost: £300
Power: 46 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.7 in / 806 mm)
Weight: Medium (445 lbs / 202 kg)

Prices

New £5,500
Used £3,600 - £5,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is a retro naked middleweight with a 649cc engine that makes 47bhp, meaning it's A2 compliant. It's one of the best-value bikes on sale in the UK, with a list price below £6000 including a full warranty and dealer support. It was launched alongside the Continental GT roadster, but the Interceptor is the most popular model by a significant margin. In fact, it's one of the best-selling bikes in the country at time of publication. 

The engine is lively without being intimidating, the handling is fun without being patronising, and the finish is good without breaking the bank.

When you take into account the price, it really is a suspension overhaul away from being a five-star bike. I’ve saved the best bit till last too: the average age of an Enfield owner in India is 27. If they can repeat that trick over here, we could be looking at the bike that saves the sport.

And thanks to its relatively low cost, the Interceptor makes a great base for a custom bike, with plenty of parts available. Jump to the Equipment section for more.

Owners in the UK are able to join the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 Owners Group on Facebook.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Royal Enfield test riders say their brief for this bike was to make it fun and they’ve succeeded. Because it doesn’t make huge amounts of power, you can rev the nuts off it and spend the whole day stretching your throttle cables without feeling like you’ve had the stuffing knocked out of you.

When a corner approaches, the Bybre brakes scrub off speed well with a decent bite and good modulation – hell even the budget Pirellis do a great job of sticking to the road, although they're not brilliant in the rain or slippery conditions. An aftermarket upgrade is a massive improvement. 

Riding along you start wondering where they’ve saved the money, then you come across some challenging corners and it all becomes painfully apparent.

The 2018 Interceptor 650 and its exhaust and back tyre.

When you really start to push on, the budget suspension starts to struggle. The Interceptor is very soft, at the request of the Indian market, and can wallow on fast, sweeping roads.

When you do hit a bump, it’s under damped so it blows straight through the first part of the suspension and pops back with a jolt.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 price: seriously good value

When you consider the price, you can forgive the bike a few faults – there are more expensive bikes with naff suspension too – but it’s still disappointing.

In truth, a suspension swap wouldn’t be the hardest job in the world nor the most expensive, and Royal Enfield did hint that posher suspension options might find their way into the catalogue in the near future, but for now it does mar the finish on an otherwise great bike.

Many owners report the standard seat is a little firm, which makes extended riding a bit of a chore. You can buy a Touring seat for the Interceptor from Royal Enfield dealers for around £150 and this is a far better option if you want to cover big miles. 

One thing you do have to go without is adjustable brake and clutch levers, but firms like Tec can supply aftermarket items at relatively low cost. 

Aftermarket upgrades for the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 twin

We had an Interceptor 650 in the 2020 MCN Fleet and have swapped the tyres to Continental Road Attack 3 (you have to get the rear in a 130/80 instead of the 130/70 that comes as standard) and upgraded the suspension with K-tech rear shocks and fork cartridges.

The new parts have transformed the bike’s handling from adequate to sharp without sacrificing comfort. 

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Interceptor is fitted with Enfield’s brand new, air-cooled 650 parallel twin, also used in the Royal Enfield Continental GT. It doesn’t make huge amounts of power or torque, but that’s not really the point and it has ‘enough’.

Down low there’s a reasonable amount of torque with most of it arriving before 2500rpm, so you can chug it out of corners but you can rev it too without it ever feeling like it’s going to bite. The throttle is lovely and smooth too, plus it’s A2 compliant.

The 2018 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 engine.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 will do 100mph

Holding on to gears brings you a bit more power while also rewarding you with a fantastic exhaust note. It sounds like it’s straight out of the ‘60s, which is a miracle in a Euro4 strangled world – there are even some S&S cans for noisy types.

The new six-speed gearbox (an Enfield first!) is slick and if you keep feeding it gears it will clamber all the way to the magic ton.

Watch and listen: Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with S&S slip-on pipes and air filter kit

During our time with the Interceptor on the MCN Fleet in 2020, we installed some S&S slip-on end cans, a high-flow air filter and an air filter restrictor removal kit. These make the engine note considerably more interesting, 

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

For the brief 150 miles we rode the bike on the launch in September 2018, nothing broke. In all seriousness Royal Enfield doesn’t have the best rep for reliability but that’s something they want to change.

All the new bikes that come off the line will have gone through a 1007-point-check, which Enfield said took over six hours to complete. If that’s not enough, every new bike came with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, so there was peace of mind when purchasing an Interceptor, too.

Speaking personally – we wouldn’t have any concerns about buying one and it falling apart on the ride home.

To find out what the Interceptor's reliability is like over the course of a year, we're running one on the MCN long-term fleet during 2020.

In May 2020 a recall was issued for this bike due to corroding Bybre brake calipers. 

We've got nine Royal Enfield Interceptor owners' reviews on the site, with an overall score of 4.4 stars out of 5. Comments include the firm standard seat, relatively expensive servicing costs and a few electric issues. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Royal Enfield are known for the budget bikes and the Interceptor continues that crusade, starting at just £5500 for the standard 'Orange Crush' model, rising to £5990 for the 'Glitter Dust' option.

A brand new 650cc twin bike with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty for under £6000. Sounds like a bargain to us.

Rival bikes you may consider include the vastly more expensive Triumph Street Twin, the Fantic Caballero 500 and of course, sister bike, the Royal Enfield Continential GT.

We took the Interceptor around the MCN250 test route against two of its main rivals in the form of the Triumph Street Twin (£8100) and Kawasaki W800 (£8645).

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 vs Triumph Street Twin

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Triumph Street Twin

Forget everything you know about old Royal Enfields because the new Interceptor 650 is in a different league. It still oozes old-school Enfield simplicity, but it’s well-built, classily finished and packed with well thought-out detail touches. It’s light, easy to ride, fun and handles incredibly well. At normal MCN250 road speeds, it’s as capable as any retro roaster, but at a fraction of the price.

Slicker, with funkier styling, more equipment, presence and more of a big bike feel, the Triumph is a class act and, compared to the BMWs and Ducatis of the world, decent value. It’s packed with character, superb handling, grunt, speed with easy road manners. 

It’s worth some of the extra cash over the Interceptor 650 for all its niceties, but for the pure riding experience there’s little to separate the two, which just goes to show what an incredible job Royal Enfield have done and why the 650 is our winner.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 vs Kawasaki W800

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 and Kawasaki W800

Attracted to retros for a taste of classic motorcycling? Kawasaki’s W800 hits the spot. Actually, it does more than that. Yes, it has the sensations and charisma of a British classic, but build quality and finish are far superior to how bikes used to be. And though its focus is on leisurely outings, the engine and chassis are more than capable of dealing with the frantic modern world.

Royal Enfield’s Interceptor also has traditional appeal, but in a package capable of more all-round use. It’s got the famous old name, classic looks and ample authenticity, enhanced by its basic nature and the fact it’s built to a price. But the 650 has far more grab-it-and-go versatility than the 800 – and is the best value retro on the market, too.

For laid-back Sunday morning thrums, sun-drenched evening pootles to the local meet and touchy-feely garage encounters, buy the Kawasaki. If you want a practical, affordable, jump-on-and-ride bike with plenty of old-school appeal, go for the Enfield.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

Despite its budget price there’s some decent kit. Brakes are from Brembo subsidiary ByBre and they’re paired with Bosch’s two-channel ABS. Pirelli provide the tyres (although 18" sizes don’t leave many aftermarket options).

The Interceptor's 2018 clocks.

The retro clocks are nice too and they’ve even got a fuel gauge, although they’re not as feature rich as the ones on the Royal Enfield Himalayan, which is a bit of a shame. The fit and finish of the rest of the bike isn’t bad either – the only thing that really lets it down is the budget suspension.

Royal Enfield Interceptor collector and dealer, Jeremy Pendergast, has been riding Royal Enfields since the '90s. Watch the video above to hear Jeremy talk about the golden age of the Interceptor and how he celebrates the bike's greatest following on the American West Coast.

The bike's available in six tank colours: Orange Crush, Mark Three or Silver Spectre (all £5699), Baker Express - below - or Ravishing Red (both £5899), and Glitter and Dust, which costs £6199. See the full range of colours here.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 in Baker Express

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 custom mods

This roadster is a great base for a custom build. There are myriad options out there to make the Interceptor your own.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 with S&S modifications

You can choose exhaust options from the likes of Zard, Tec and S&S, and the latter company can also supply various motor mods to increase performance, including an 850cc big-bore kit and wilder cams.

In fact, even Royal Enfield themselves offer a range of mods for the Interceptor. You can pick from parts like bar end kits, Scorpion exhausts, engine guards, taller windscreens and bike covers at their website.

Tec clutch lever for Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

Specs

Engine size 648cc
Engine type Air-cooled 4v parallel twin
Frame type Steel twin spar
Fuel capacity 13.7 litres
Seat height 806mm
Bike weight 202kg
Front suspension Non-adjustable 41mm RWU forks, 110mm travel
Rear suspension Preload adjustable twin shocks, 88mm travel
Front brake Single 320mm disc, dual piston caliper
Rear brake 240mm disc, dual piston caliper
Front tyre size 100/90 – 18
Rear tyre size 130/70 – 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £300
New price £5,500
Used price £3,600 - £5,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 46 bhp
Max torque 38 ft-lb
Top speed 105 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

The Interceptor 650 was launched in 2017, which was debuted at EICMA, Milan by Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal and President, Rudratej Singh. Powered by an air-oil cooled parallel 650 twin, the 2017 Interceptor came with 7" headlight, twin clock front and quilted twin seat. The narrow tank is stamped with a classic badge and topped with a Monza-style fuel cap. A dual cradle frame with a rear loop makes up the core, by way of a nod to the original Interceptor.

Other versions

There is also a Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 new for 2018, which is very similar to the Interceptor 650.

MCN Long term test reports

MCN Fleet: Intercepting bad luck

MCN Fleet: Intercepting bad luck

It’s been a frustrating few weeks with the Interceptor, but I’ve learnt some useful lessons. In my previous update I was almost evangelical about my new Continental rubber, and irony came home to roost just days later when an unexpected rear-end wiggle on a local B-road told me most of the air had e

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the ENFIELD INTERCEPTOR 650 (2018 - on)

9 owners have reviewed their ENFIELD INTERCEPTOR 650 (2018 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your ENFIELD INTERCEPTOR 650 (2018 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Engine: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Equipment: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Annual servicing cost: £300
4 out of 5 All round bike
05 October 2020 by Rippers

Version: Intercep;tor 650

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £500

Brilliant bike and evertything and more I expected. Great engine and handling. Would have had 5 stars but for the seat. Two things 1. It is uncomfortable after about 40 mins- needs a softer or gel insert. 2. It is not a pillion bike. Unless both of you are Twiggy forget taking a pillion.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Cant fault the bike. I have ridden for 50 years had Fjr 1300 and GTR 1400 as last bikes, but back and knees no need a rest. I have ridden all over Europe and done long journeys. OK the 650 is not a tourer but it is a good bike which rides well. I would (With new seat) be happy to put some clothing in a top box (Givi Fitted) and do a long weekend, and would not be concerned doing at 300 mile trip each way. Brakes are good. Nothing exceptional but nothing bad eaither. Functional.

Engine 5 out of 5

What a great power house. Deceptive. Great torque and no problems doing good motorwary speeds. It is a naked bike (Although I have the bigger R.E. Bikini screen fitted) so you get buffeted. But it will go all day comfortably at motorway speeds and above. But when you get higher speeds on you get buffeted. But it is the person not the engine which pulls back. The engine is as good as any bike I have ridden including some with twice the CCs. It aint a sports bike but it is a proficient engine capable of good sensible speeds and overtakes.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

So far 1000 miles if has not missed a beat. Lovely bike. And I have had it up to motorway+ speeds and on Motorways, A and B roads. Finish seems good, but I suspect you need to keep on top of chrome and alloys. Which is no different to if you had a Bonneville or Harley (Different league but same problems re cleaning)

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

I have said £400 as I expect to do 6000 miles in 12 months. I have had first service which was £170 @ dealer. @ 400 miles. The next one is likely to be around the same if not slightly more @ 3000 miles and then again at £600 miles.- so cost is based on first year, then should be about £320p.a. If you do small mileage then it is considerably less about £170 per year Price of bike is first class cant believe the value with 3 yr warranty and road assistance. Brilliant. It is only service cost which makes me wince.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The clocks the speedo and rev counter. So retro and look great. The exhausts are fantastic and look so good on the bike. Accessories? I have fitted a Halfords clock on the handlebars- I do like to know what the time is if I am out. Also R.E. Bikini screen (More cosmetic than practical) also crash bars. (Practical and look great) I have added Ultra Seal to the tyres, to help if I get a small puncture. Being tubed you cannot easily do a roadside repair and I have inserted a Broquet system into the tank- I know some of you will say 'Snake Oil' but i can get 170 miles out of the tank without any trouble now. Also even better MPG (Which is already good) Fitted Givi Top Box- which only will go on if I go away for a weekend etc

Buying experience: Very good and paid £5700 OTR Great deal and salesman was very easy going and good/

4 out of 5 great weekend bike
26 September 2020 by chris dravnieks

Version: orange crush /tango coloured

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £300

great value for money . good fun to own. lots of add on,s out there to make it your own . finish ok . seems to be selling well. mid range bikes often do .

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

depends if you change the stock seat . great weekend bike

Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5
Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

first service requires tappets checked

Equipment 4 out of 5

just a good all round bike for the money

Buying experience: purchased from a dealer

4 out of 5 Learning experience
19 September 2020 by Jaswinder Singh

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £250

I find the standard seat uncomfortable for me than 50 miles

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Built to a price and it shows. You get what you pay for. But good for how much you pay.

Engine 4 out of 5

Good little power house. But not a sports bike remember that.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Not all dealers have the same standard of servicing the bike.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Would be nice to include a clock to tell the time...

Buying experience: Varies from dealer to dealer. Need to spend sometime to research the dealers as well not just the bike you're buying.

5 out of 5 If a retro bike is on your list you just have to give it a go.
30 June 2020 by Tony Duran

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £250

Great looking bike that does what it sets out to do at a budget price.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

It’s not built for touring but great for 100 miles or so. Much longer and it gets a bit tiring. Breaks are as good as I’ve had over the years. Seat a little hard for long rides out but fine for an hour or two at a push.

Engine 5 out of 5

Probably the best bit of this bike. Surprising torque for a relatively low powered bike. No problems pulling away and overtaking.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Nearly a year in and no faults to report.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

A bit pricey to service at my local dealer.

Equipment 3 out of 5

It’s got the basics.

Buying experience: Bought from a local dealer at full retail price. Their knowledge of the bike however was woeful and after sales non existent.

5 out of 5 good bike
30 June 2020 by andy

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £160

45 years on motorcycles, had every R1,last two bikes , new zx10r and carbon H2. Don't be put off by this little 650. it does everything it is supposed to do. twin throttle bodies give it plenty of grunt even two up. Its a whole different type of biking, jeans ,jacket, country roads at traffic speeds and above. A three year warranty on a 6 grand bike!. It takes me back to my days of the RD400,s and a more simple biking experience, no full leathers,, feeling you need to race everyone on the road. take it easy on the interceptor, enjoy the countryside and the noise of the bike. I've had no problems at all over 2000 miles on it. Ride it all day and struggle to get 10 quids worth of fuel in the tank..really sips fuels after nailing super bikes

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Great ride , smiles all the way, my 23 year old police woman daughter loves coming out on it, we go all over the place. Bum ache starts at about 200 miles . stop and have a breakfast and your good to go.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine pulls perfectly fine and runs with no hassle. sounds great too. I've ridden mine really hard because I thought if its gonna blow up then best to do it now but it is spot on. Pull up somewhere on a new H2 and nobody even cares, pull up anywhere on the interceptor and people want to talk about it. typical!! I have put a 16 tooth final drive sprocket on it which made it a bit more long legged but still pulls fine, I mean, be reasonable, it not a zx10r but it is a lovely little engine that is bigger than the sum of its parts

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Out of all the bikes enfield churn out it stands to reason someone somewhere is gonna get a fault. Mine has been fine. I changed the plugs and serviced it. took the top off and did the valve clearances. no problems. Its a pretty basic bike. 3 year warranty will take care of anyhting I would hope. Accessories and parts are dirt cheap

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

6000 mile service interval which is only oil,filter, easy valve clearances and plugs, hardly gonna break the bank. even though I had already serviced it the dealer had to do it again for the warranty, paid £160

Equipment 5 out of 5

well what do you need?. fuel gauge works, lights work, if you want silly gadgets and rider aids buy a GS and go to the other end of the spectrum where you're completley lost by all the modes and switches.

Buying experience: Dealer was ok. I think the oil filter is over priced . You have to give credit where credit is due. The indians have knocked out a good bike, the sales prove that. idiots moaning about silly little niggles should'nt deter you from buying one. I like to do all my own servicing but if you want to keep the warranty then you have no choice but to let someone else touch it, but you can check the bike over again in your own workshop after..no big deal

5 out of 5 Interceptor not as good as you think
13 April 2020 by John Albrighton

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £350

Only good thing is the price poor build quality, terrible dealers network with a few exceptions Unhelpful importer that gives no regard to its dealers performance

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Good

Engine 5 out of 5

Pulls well bit underpowered

Reliability & build quality 2 out of 5

ongoing electrical problems, faulty batteries and ignition switch these are common problems RE are aware of the problems but seam reluctant to resolve the problems

Value vs rivals 2 out of 5

Expensive to service, no standard service cost It's a dealer free for all

Equipment 3 out of 5

Basic but acceptable, cheap switchgear clock misting which Moto GB won't accept as a warranty issue

Buying experience: Original purchase was good, after sales service is non existant

4 out of 5 Low cost fun
16 March 2020 by Pete the dogman

Version: Interceptor

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £400

Loses 1 point due to mis-placed clutch entry into right side of engine cases which sticks into your knee if you are 5ft 7ins otherwise a damned good bike with no faults in almost a year of riding, a simple uncluttered handlebar area, some bikes have got more buttons on handlebars than home pc!.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

Does what it says on tin!

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Had it serviced regular, no problems

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Price of service depends on mileage

Equipment 4 out of 5

USB socket which I had fitted(poor quality bracket sadly) would be good option for mobile or sat Nav, don't waste your money on m/c sat nav a standard £200 Garmin does the job with bracket from ebay & cut-off rubber glove finger to stop balljoint slipping, lights could be better

Buying experience: Dealer

4 out of 5 Not to be underestimated.
10 June 2019 by Mick Goodyer

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £200

I have fitted bar risers, a screen and a seat from a GT to make the bike right for me, otherwise everything is good. I have started using the Interceptor more than the BM 12 GS.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Handling is fine especially two up. We can easily cover 150 miles without a break. Brakes are good with plenty of feel.

Engine 5 out of 5

Smoooooooth for a twin and enough power to keep in front of traffic.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Only covered 1400 miles but in all weathers and so far the finish is really good.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Although the book says service and oil/filter change every 3000, I have been told that the oil/filter change can be at 6000. A service only takes a couple of hours at the main dealers at a cost of £120 to £180

Equipment 4 out of 5

Good tyres which grip well both wet and dry. Basic equipment but non the worse for it.

Buying experience: Bought from Eddys Moto of Shipley. Brilliant. Very friendly and helpful with good after sales. At £5500 on the road whats not to like??

5 out of 5 Found your happy place
04 May 2019 by Stephen

Version: Orange Crush

Year: 2019

This bike is very friendly, relaxed and cheerful: it just makes you smile. I use it for commuting a mix of rural and urban roads and it is comfortable and smooth, but, if you do need to overtake, a quick twist and it’s whooshing and purring past whatever that was. At weekends it asks to be taken out for a swoosh around a few bends but it is not a bike that makes you ride fast, so your wife probably doesn’t mind that.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

I am 6ft3 and find the riding position very comfortable. Cruising at 60mph is very relaxed, I have not been on motorways much to comment on 70mph but did not feel any vibrations on the brief bits of motorway I have done so far.

Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth as anything with lovely, fairly linear torque delivery so you can be lazy on gear selection at anything over 30mph and it’ll just work. If you really twist on you’ll find some vibration but that’ll just mean you’re in a silly gear or far beyond the speed limit and it really isn’t that kind of bike; you’ll just be grinning long before you get near the speed limit.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

This is a review after only two weeks and 500 miles so nothing whatsoever to report. Purrs into life as expected every morning and gets me to work!

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Clean and simple so you can enjoy some pure riding zen. My favourite feature of the bike is that smile it puts on your face when you ride it, which came as standard.

Buying experience: £5500 OTR new from dealer.

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