Cafe racers have gained much popularity among bike aficionados in the last few years.
Some motorcycle manufacturers have seized this opportunity to produce these retro looking bikes with modern technology.
Triumph and Motto Guzzi have produced beautiful cafe racers in their line-ups that one cannot resist.
One iconic brand has decided to cash in on this mania ... it is none other than the British thoroughbred Royal Enfield with its Continental GT.
The Continental GT is a visual feast. It comes in two striking colours of red and yellow.
The one that I tested was red.
The retro design of this bike is very well highlighted by its elongated fuel tank with the side cut out, rounded tail, huge round headlight, side panels and naked chassis.
Meanwhile, spoked wheels and a touch of chrome further enhances the retro styling.
Besides good looks, the designers at Enfield also paid attention to seating comfort.
After going on a ride to Raub, Pahang from Kuala Lumpur, I must admit that the saddle was still comfortable enough.
As the seat area is firm and wide, I did not slide towards the petrol tank at all unlike with some other motorcycles.
The position of the foot pegs was right for my long legs and did not tire them during the long ride.
One thing I can assure you is that whenever you are out on the Royal Enfield Continental GT, you will receive many head nods and thumbs up signs, giving approval to the bike.
Many found it hard to believe that the test unit is a 2014 production bike.3
Few thought the standard Royal Enfield was customised to look like a café racer or a 1960’s GT.
The heart of this Continental GT is a 535cc, fuel-injected, air-cooled engine which outputs 29.1hp at 5,100rpm and 44Nm of torque at 4,000rpm.
Practically all bike testers and motorcycle reviews admit that the Continental engine is the best ever to come out from Royal Enfield factory to-date.
The striking red café racer cruises comfortably on the Karak Highway at 100kph with the engine revs hovering around 3,500rpm.
But the minute I twisted the throttle to touching just over 110kph, I started feeling some mild vibrations which was fine with me.
At higher speeds, the handle vibration became too much for my liking.
The cafe racer is definitely steadier below 100kph but you would not want to do long interstate journeys at this speed.
The five-speed gearbox is smooth and responsive plus the cable-operated clutch is easy to handle.
I just need to have a light pull on the clutch while engaging the gear.
The sitting position complemented by agile double cradle frame, well-designed clip- on bars and the cut out on the tank that allowed my knee to hug the tank, challenged every twisties and sweeping corners in Raub between 60–80kph with a smile.
I could flick the bike easily without any hesitation.
It felt like GP rider on the race track…fantabulous feeling.
While cruising on the Bukit Jalil highway at 70kph, I had to encounter many potholes and rough surfaces, resulting in a riding experience that was not too pleasant.
A lot of improvement is needed on the suspension and damping to cushion the shocks from uneven roads.
The front (Brembo 300mm floating disc, two-piston floating caliper) and rear (240mm disc, single piston floating caliper) brakes are decent enough considering the weight of the bike is only 184kg.
It will be great if anti-lock braking system is installed in this café racer.
Overall, the RM39,888 Continental GT is a simple bike which is fun and exciting to ride.
It is an easy bike that almost anybody can handle.
A novice can go for care-free rides, while the more experienced riders can push the bike harder and tame winding roads which the bike does rather well.
One must remember that this bike’s forte is not on its performance but rather on its historic feel and retro flavour.
And of course, there is the instant crowd appeal that comes with it.