Ever since the first images of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 leaked, I have been daydreaming about custom builds based on it. However, it was not until I saw this build that I fell for the bike! Royal Enfield has collaborated with British Customs to create two custom-built rally-spec motorcycles. These bikes are serving as support bikes of the 2019 Great Malle Rally which is taking place from 24-30 June 2019.
Background – Step 1 of the build
The Great Malle Rally has nearly 100 custom bikes riding across 1,250 miles over 5 days across the wild landscape over Britain. To reach these beautiful and rugged looking customs, the guys at British Customs rode the stock Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 over testing terrains. They covered over 1,000 miles over the course of three days. This also included 200 miles of off-road riding, that too on stock tyres!
This extensive testing gave the engineers at British Customs a very good idea as to how capable the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is. They understood that the bike can take a beating and a few modifications can help it become even more solid. Thus, began the task to make them rally-ready.
Powerplant – the heart of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
Let’s first look at the specs of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. The retro-styled bike is powered by a 648 cc parallel twin, air-cooled mill which is assisted by an oil cooler. This engine develops 47 horsepower at 7,250 rpm and 52 Nm of torque at 5,250 rpm. Yes, that does not seem much from a middle-weight twin-cylinder motorcycle. But the story is entirely different.
Siddharth Lal, the then CEO of Royal Enfield, was very clear to his engineers during his brief. He wanted a motorcycle which did not just belch out outright numbers. Rather, he envisioned the 650 twin motor to focus on usable power. In there lies the charm of the Interceptor 650. As per communication by the company, 80% of the engine’s torque output is available for play at as low as 2,500 rpm. This makes the bike an ideal platform to start a build on for a rally spec vehicle.
Cycle Parts and other upgrades
Folks at British Customs designed a custom slip-on Predator Pro exhaust kit of the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. Off went the stock foot pegs for heavy duty Grabber foot pegs. To tackle the tough terrains the bike will face during the rally, the stock handlebar had to make way for a stronger and sturdier Mule Tracker handlebars. The standard right side down telescopic fork have been removed for the upside down units sourced from WP, the same KTM-owned brand which is seen on the Dukes and RCs around you. The bike has also been lifted up a few inches, thanks to the WP fork.
British Customs has also worked with Harris Performance for the yokes. Regular readers will remember that Harris Performance is the same brand which worked on the frame of the Continental 535. Later they also worked on the Himalayan. Royal Enfield’s patronage on this UK based tuners increased even further, and they designed the chassis of the Twins. The rear shocks, too, have been extended for increased travel. Harris Performance has also added a heavy-duty aluminium bash guard. Additional engine guards also house 3.5-inch PIAA LED foglamps (LP 530s).
The stock halogen headlamp has been replaced with 6-inch PIAA 520 SMR Driving XTreme White Driving Halogen Lamp Kit. These go a long way to increase visibility no matter what.
Tyres – where the magic takes place
In stock form, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is shod with 18-inch with Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp tyres (in 100/90 specification in the front and 130/70 unit in the rear). The rally-spec custom build Interceptor though needs a different set of rubber to take on the tough terrains. The custom build gains Heidenau K60 Enduro Tyres in the size ratings of 90/90 in the front and 120/80 in the rear.
For the uninitiated, Heidenau is a well-known German tyre maker which has been in the rubber business since the 1940s. It specialises in off-road and on-off-road tyres. The Heidnau K60 Enduro tyres get big, chunky treads with deep grooves which allow the loose gravel and soil to move. They also help in getting more contact area on the shoulder of the tyre for better wet and road handling. The rubber compound too is on the softer side but is also very resilient. This makes them a great choice for a rally which includes large sections of tarmac as well as gravel.
Luggage – a rally support bike’s main objective
Being a motorcycle rally support bike is never easy. Not only does it have to take on the tough terrains which the competitors are riding on, but also must carry heavy parts and other machinery for backup. To make this possible, Mille, a well-known British motorcycle luggage brand came to the rescue. The custom-built Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 is fitted with two panniers. A duffle bag has also been included which holds spare fuel, cables, a checkpoint kit and other consumables like duct tape and zip ties.
Both the panniers and duffel bags have been waxed with wax sourced from the oldest wax mill of Britain. Now this mill has been in operation since 1776! To give you an idea, that is somewhere around the time when Warren Hastings became the 1st Governor General of India under the East India Company’s rule! A tank bag has also been included for additional storage space. Needless to say, all the bags are waterproof to keep the internals safe.
One of the bikes carries a black coloured luggage kit. The other, being the ride of the lead engineer, gets red paint scheme so that it is easily visible. The seats too have been custom built and with extra padding for comfort.
The tanks and oil boxes of the custom Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 have been hand painted with the contoured relief maps of two roads/passes in the Rally. On the Red ‘Malle Rally Royale’ #02 has a hand painted the relief map of the Applecross Pass in Scotland. The Black #01 bike features a relief map of the Hard-Knot Pass from The Lake District in England. This was done by the Royal Enfield chaps in Leicestershire over several late-night sessions.