Royal Enfield’s custom bike program commissioned the Revival X Desert Racer 650 more than a year ago
When Royal Enfield introduced the new 650 Twins in late 2018, with two flavours, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, and the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650, it sort of broke new ground for the motorcycle brand. The 650 cc parallel-twin engine has already established a new benchmark in quality and performance for Royal Enfield. With accessible performance, and a price tag which is affordable, even in Western markets, the 650 Twins have actually established Royal Enfield as a global brand. And going by the way response to the 650 Twins in several markets around the world, it’s not difficult to see that Royal Enfield is truly on its way to establish itself as a global leader in the mid-size motorcycle segment.
With the 650 cc platform already underway with two successful models, will Royal Enfield consider a third model on the same engine platform? And what will this third model be, a bigger, more performance-oriented Himalayan or a Scrambler-styled model with the parallel-twin engine? The answer to that question will depend on several factors, ranging from product development strategy, practicality, simplicity, as well as customer demand. In the adventure segment, Royal Enfield already has the Himalayan, a model which has seen reasonable success, both in the domestic market, as well as in other global markets.
While experienced riders, or riders with advanced skills may find the Himalayan lacking performance, more so, for global markets, it still continues to do reasonably well as a do-it-all touring motorcycle in India. A new, modern iteration of the Himalayan will be welcome, and will probably make it to production sometime in the future, but for now, Royal Enfield’s strategy may be slightly different, rather than just listening to enthusiasts and hard-core adventure purists.
A smaller, lighter, and more accessible Himalayan may offer the perfect recipe to bring in newer and younger riders, as well as more female riders into the Royal Enfield family. And that could well be Royal Enfield’s immediate future plans for the adventure segment – a lighter, more agile, easier to handle, and more fun iteration of the Himalayan. Think of it as a far more capable and lightweight, dual-sport motorcycle than the Himalayan, and with possibly a name, which may have already been trademarked – “Sherpa”. But then again, the Sherpa name could also be used for a third model in the 650 platform, a Scrambler 650!
That brings us back to Royal Enfield’s plans for the 650 cc parallel-twin. Surely, a brand which is known to have so many models all under two engine platforms – the 350 cc and 500 cc singles for the longest time – will think about expanding the 650 Twin platform? Now, a Himalayan 650 may seem logical, but may not be the practical approach. Designing an adventure bike with what is purely a classic parallel-twin with a 270-degree firing order may have its own challenges – weight, architecture, structure and components. The same double cradle frame of the 650 Twins may not be easy, or practical for an adventure model, and it may not be just a simple plug and play case of plonking the 650 parallel-twin onto a Himalayan to make it more performance-oriented. The answer then, lies in what other brands have been doing for years with similar challenges, as well as take a close look at Royal Enfield’s own custom bike program may be an indication.
In 2018, during the press ride of the 650 Twins in California, US, Royal Enfield showcased several custom-built bikes, including a one-off build commissioned to Revival Cycles, who built the “Revival X Desert Runner 650” based on the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. The lines of the custom bike are inspired by the desert sled and Scrambler-styled custom bikes of the ’60s, and if explored further, could well become a very good base for a factory Royal Enfield Scrambler 650. Just like Triumph Bonneville models make way for two different Scramblers with 900 cc and 1200 cc parallel-twin engines, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 could very well pave the way for a Royal Enfield Scrambler 650, and at a much more affordable sticker price than any other factory Scrambler on sale right now.
We’ve said it before, when we saw the Revival Cycles build for the first time, and we’ll say it again; if a third model is to be explored on the 650 cc platform, it’s more likely to be a Scrambler 650 than a full-blown adventure model like the Himalayan with a 650 cc heart. So, yes, the Scrambler 650 seems to be the right fit in Royal Enfield’s immediate scheme of things as far as product strategy is concerned. It will not only help Royal Enfield extend the 650 product family, but also offer a very capable and aspirational Scrambler, and at a price point that many will find difficult to resist!