To mark 120 years since Royal Enfield began motorcycle manufacturing, the Indian-owned brand with an English heritage has produced a special run of ‘120th Year Anniversary Edition’ motorcycles.
Unveiled at EICMA last November, 120 years after the very first Royal Enfield motorcycle was introduced, the 120th Year Anniversary Edition is based on the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650.
Defined by special colours and finishes, the 120th Year Anniversary Edition is a strictly limited edition, too, with only 480 units offered globally, divided equally amongst the brand’s four main sales regions of India, Europe, Asia Pacific and the USA. Of the 120 allocated to the Asia Pacific region - that includes Australia and New Zealand, as well as Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines – only 30 units of the Interceptor 650 and 30 of the Continental GT 650 were made available for Australia and New Zealand.
Despite an AU$3,000 premium over the models they were based on (AU$13,990 for the Interceptor 650, AU$14,490 for the Continental GT 650), the entire Asia Pacific allocation of the 120th Year Anniversary Edition, including every unit for the Australia-New Zealand region, had been sold by 8 April – less than 24 hours after they were announced.
Despite the instant and unprecedented demand, Royal Enfield won’t release a second allocation, nor will they offer the 120th Year Anniversary Edition on other models, like the Meteor, Classic 350 or Himalayan. When announcing the special edition on 7 April, Royal Enfield stated that it would be strictly limited to the big twins as they are the only models that Royal Enfield currently offers in all four of their main global markets.
The ‘120th Year Anniversary Edition’ motorcycles were conceived and designed by Royal Enfield’s design teams in the UK and India, with production in India using local craftsmen and artisans.
Defined by a black and gold colour scheme, each bike features a “black chrome” finish on the fuel tank, applied using a chroming process that Royal Enfield says is industry-leading, as well as eco-friendly.
Complementing this is a full blackout engine treatment – a first for the Royal Enfield big twins – that includes the exhaust pipes and silencers.
Continuing the theme, the mirrors, handlebars, bar-ends, levers, flyscreen, fork yokes, shells for the headlight, tail light and indicators, the crash bars, rear shock absorbers, pedals, pegs, pillion pegs and heel guards are also all finished in black.
Some of these components, like the crash bars, bar brace pad, heel guards and flyscreen, are normally extra-cost accessories on the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650, but have been fitted as standard to the 120th Year Anniversary Edition.
Instead of the usual Royal Enfield tank badge or decal, these special motorcycles feature a die-cast brass badge that’s handcrafted and produced with the input of the ‘Sirpi Senthil’ family from Kumbakonam in south-eastern India’s Tamil Nadu region.
Specialists in making brass effigies for temples in India, and with a tradition in the field dating back centuries, this family of artisans has never collaborated with an automotive or motorcycle brand until now.
The distinctive brass badges developed by the Sirpi Senthil family feature the RE monogram, along with decorative floral-style accents, stars and subtle Royal Enfield script.
Hand-painted gold coachlines also feature on the fuel tank, while an elaborate gold decal on top of the tank identifies each bike’s individual number in the regional allocation (01 of 60, for example).
On the side panels, another gold decal highlights the ‘120’ element of the 120 Year anniversary and adds model identification, too.
The finishing touch consists of a brown saddle with a quilted finish on top, applied to both models and complemented with brown grips.
Big Twin spec
Special finishes and handcrafted details aside, both the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650 120th Year Anniversary Edition are unchanged from the models they’re based on, which were launched in Australia in 2018 and have become Royal Enfield's most popular models locally.
Power comes from a SOHC air-cooled twin of 648cc capacity, producing maximums of 35kW (47hp) and 52.3Nm, with EFi, digital electronic ignition and electric starting.
The four-stroke twin is matched to a six-speed transmission with a wet, multi-plate clutch and chain final drive.
The engine sits in a conventional steel cradle frame and suspension consists of 41mm telescopic forks up front and twin, remote reservoir coil-over rear shocks. There’s 110mm of front-end travel and 88mm at the rear.
Eighteen-inch spoked wheels front and rear are fitted with a 100/90-18 front and 130/70-18 rear tyre, with braking consisting of a single 320mm front disc with 2-piston caliper and 240m rear disc with single-piston caliper, backed by ABS as standard.
Weights and measures vary a little across the two models, with the sportier Continental GT 650 featuring an 820mm seat height and tipping the scales at 212kg wet, while the Interceptor has a lower 804mm seat height and weighs 202kg. Fuel capacity varies, too, with the Continental GT 650 having a 12.5-litre tank, while the Interceptor 650’s tank holds 13.7 litres.
In response to local allocation of the 120th Year Anniversary Edition selling out so quickly, Royal Enfield Australia & New Zealand CEO, Joseph Elasmar commented: "Since launching this exciting news yesterday evening (7th April 2022), there has been an overwhelming response and all units have now been sold out.
“We look forward to seeing these iconic pieces of Royal Enfield's illustrious history make their way onto our roads, and into our riding communities."
Those lucky few who managed to secure their Continental GT 650 or Interceptor 650 in 120th Year Anniversary Edition form started receiving their bikes in late April.