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Royal Enfield Continental GT : First Ride
It couldn’t have happened any other way I thought for here I was hustling the biggest bore single ever made by Royal Enfield on the cobbly B-roads from London on to the hallowed banked circuit at Brooklands for a press conference to herald the first genuinely all-new motorcycle to sport the Royal Enfield badge. It was different to begin with but just so very apt for a new machine that combines character traits from over half a century ago with handling and performance for the present in a contemporary form that is delightful, very useable and highly enjoyable. If I have given the game and the objective away right at the very start it was unintentional because this is what the new Continental GT will do for not just an Indian but a global audience which for the most part will be all new as well as spanning the genre from classic oldies to BABs (born again bikers), from the young hot shots to the commuter-inclined, from those who love motorcycling for the joy of being one with the machine and delight in soaking up the power pulses from a large single-cylinder thumper with probably the best handling characteristics ever for a bike which made its name with the simple statement of intent: “Built like a Gun.”
The sort of launch that Royal Enfield did was right in character for a bike that was in the making for over a decade but no one quite knew that! Let me explain. Ever since Siddhartha Lal was pitched in at the deep end to head Royal Enfield after Eicher bought it over, the biggest objective was not just ensuring the marque’s survival but the way to do it. So while we have seen the quintessential Bullet get better metallurgy, more efficient manufacturing processes, improved build quality, and a subtle shift away from the dudhwala mentality, we could read that with every passing phase (both successful as well as awful as Sid and his team are the first to admit) the company was learning. From an old management to a completely new younger lot the transformation as underway, led from the front by Sid who had no hesitation in pulling in the right brains to help him on his quest to turn the firm around.