Pros and Cons versus my Triumph Bonneville 865 and my Moto Guzzi V7.
Welcome to the fifth post in my series comparing my Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, my Triumph Bonneville 865, and my Moto Guzzi V7 750. In this post I’ll share the five ways my Interceptor is better than those motorcycles, and, unfortunately, the five or six reasons why I’m selling my Interceptor anyway.
If you’re thinking about buying an Interceptor 650, you should watch this video first, because a lot of people have talked about the upsides to this motorcycle, but I want to point out a few down sides to it.
I’m Adrian from YouMotorcycle. I make videos that help motorcyclists, and we need to have an honest conversation about the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
Why the Interceptor 650 is better than the V7 750 and the Bonneville 865
Yes, I’m selling the Royal Enfield Interceptor and continuing the series without it, BUT, that doesn’t mean I don’t like my motorcycle. Here are six ways the Interceptor actually beats the competition.
- The Interceptor is like a mojito: it’s smooth, calm, predictable, and refreshing. The V7 is like drinking a beer. It’s bubbly, it’s frothy, and it’s an acquired taste. There’s no right or wrong here, and I’m happy riding either one, but if I ever got caught in really bad weather, I’d rather be on the real smooth Interceptor.
- The Interceptor is the only motorcycle in this competition with a sixth gear. Honestly speaking, none of these bikes are great at long highway rides, but at least the Interceptor gives you that 6th gear for overdrive.
- The Interceptor’s OEM and aftermarket parts tend to be cheaper than Triumph and Moto Guzzi parts. Do a quick search for aftermarket exhaust options for all three motorcycles and you’ll see what I mean.
- This motorcycle has an endearing quality to it. I’ve said it before but it’s like a girlfriend who’s not the prettiest, not the smartest, not the best at anything, but she’s just so calm, friendly, and agreeable that you find yourself falling for your Interceptor anyway. That’s how they get ya.
- Compared to the Bonneville and the V7, the Interceptor is cheaper to buy brand new. In some countries this price difference is a lot, in other countries, like where I live, the difference is a lot less than most people realize. Either way, we’re only worried about used motorcycles in this series so let’s move on to the bonus thing.
The bonus advantage for YouTubers
The bonus advantage for YouTubers is that the Interceptor is wildly popular on the platform. It’s basically a greasy youtuber’s wet dream.
Long story short: Since last year creators can now see not only our own video analytics but search data, trends, and video performance data from across all of YouTube. We already knew that wildly positive reviews on any motorcycle outperform fair reviews. That’s why you see some YouTubers act like every single motorcycle they get on is the best motorcycle ever. What we’ve learned is that positive reviews on the Interceptor do ridiculously well. That’s why you’ll see some YouTubers make not one, not two, but three or more reviews of their Interceptor.
If you were a greasy YouTuber wanting to make a “Best Mid-Size Retro Motorcycle Series” to get the most views possible, you’d eliminate the Moto Guzzi first, it’s not popular enough. You’d keep the Bonneville and the Interceptor in the series to create a David and Goliath battle, because it’s human nature to get invested and cheer for the underdog. Then you make the little guy win to really get people talking.
Why I’m selling my Interceptor anyway
Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to see some wild channel growth, I’d rather keep my integrity so, let me explain why, despite all the good things about this motorcycle, I’m selling my Interceptor first anyway.
1) It’s not aging well
If you’ve been a subscriber to my channel for a long time you’ve probably heard me say a few times:
A great motorcycle isn’t a motorcycle that’s great when it’s brand new, any manufacturer can do that. A great motorcycle is a motorcycle that five or ten years later, is still just as great as it was when it was brand new.
My 12 year old BMW, 13 year old Triumph, even my 17 year old Vespa, their paint, their chrome, their seals, everything is still flawless. Besides the odd stone chips, they haven’t really aged. They aren’t “good as new”, with the improvements to motorcycle tires, brakes, and other upgrades I’ve made over the years, my motorcycles are better than new. That’s the power of a great motorcycle.
But Interceptor 650, I’ll be honest with you, is not aging as well as I hoped.
I bought my Interceptor for $3,650 US, it’s a 2018 with only 218 miles on it, and it already has damage to the paint on the top of the tank.
Is it possible one of the six times the original owner took the bike out a bird pooped on the tank and he never wiped it off until it damaged the paint? Maybe. Maybe not.
But check out the video and have a look at the chrome on the headlight. There’s no way bird poop could have landed there. It’s covered by the speedometer and tachometer, but the finish has failed and it’s rusty here too.
So can we really blame a bad bird or a bad owner, or is more likely that the finish quality on this garage-queen Interceptor is just not as good as my other motorcycles?
Before you answer that, let me show you something else.
2) The engine casings
The engine covers on the side and on top on this Interceptor 650 are all pitted despite the bike always being garage kept, only having 300 miles, and the motorcycle only being a few years old. It’s a known issue, and it’s because Royal Enfield didn’t want to spend the extra money to seal these parts.
Basically, aluminum doesn’t rust, but when oxygen in the air touches untreated aluminum, whether that’s outdoors or indoors, the aluminum starts to oxidize. That’s the pitting you see. It’s oxidization
It’s basic science and motorcycle manufacturers understand this, especially ones like Triumph based in damper climates, so they spend the extra time and money to seal their aluminum side covers with clear coating to protect them from oxygen.
That’s why a few years ago on my channel you saw my 13 year old Bonneville with aluminum engine cases that were still perfect and never needed polishing. The problem is that Royal Enfield doesn’t do this.
Oxidization is slower in dryer climates, so if you live somewhere warm and dry you’re probably okay, but if you’re in climates that are often wetter, you’ll have to spend hours of elbow grease every year or two polishing your motor to avoid this from happening.
Honestly, I wish Royal Enfield charged $500 more for this motorcycle and put every extra dollar towards giving the Interceptor a better quality finish. Controveirsial opinion, I know, but if more people equated this motorcycle with better quality, you’d get it back on resale when the motorcycle is over a decade old and still looks perfect, instead of looking like the finish is failing.
Speaking of things failing…
3) A gasket is already weeping
That’s not the only thing wrong with the motor either, check out the video at the top of the article. There seems to be some weeping from a gasket.
Gaskets and seals play an important role in your motorcycle engine. They’re designed to create airtight and watertight seals to prevent fluid leaks, to help maintain proper levels of lubrication, to prevent contamination into the motor, to maintain compression, to help your motorcycle make the most power it can, and to avoid it wearing out prematurely.
This motorcycle has less than 300 miles on it. If the original owner was paying attention this would have been a warranty issue and that’s fine. But I used to work at a dealership and I’ve never seen a motorcycle come back with so few miles and already have a gasket weeping. Yes, it could have been fixed under warranty, but it never should have come up at all.
The other motorcycles in my Best Mid Size Retro Motorcycle (for me) Series, my Triumph Bonneville 865 and my Moto Guzzi V7 are both much older, have about 8000 miles each, and their motors are perfect, so this is really disappointing.
4) Comparison with the others (pros and cons)
We already touched on the Interceptor’s pros vs the V7 and the Bonneville: smoother, six gears, cheaper parts, cheaper cost, popularity. Now let’s talk about the cons compared to those motorcycles.
A different feeling and less speed
With the Interceptor, you don’t get the sense of being on something alive like you do with the V7. The Moto Guzzi has the most character.
You also don’t get the sense of being on something capable of going fast like you do with the Bonneville. The Triumph has the most speed.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor makes 50% less horsepower than a Triumph Bonneville, only 2/3rds the torque of a Bonneville, and it’s only about 2/3rds the engine size of the Bonneville, and the value is pretty much equal.
Again this is one of those things that is totally subjective, and I don’t need or care to go fast, but I like always having the option of going fast. I don’t get that with the Interceptor.
Less pride in ownership
Second, I think you won’t get the same pride in ownership from the Interceptor as you would from the Bonneville and the V7 if you’ve owned all three of them. If you buy one, and it covers your needs, and it makes you happy, you should absolutely feel proud and enjoy it.
BUT, what I’m trying to say is, after washing, I mean detailing all three of these motorcycles, being up close with each component of each bike one after another, you start to notice that the Interceptor is a motorcycle that’s built to the price point. Again, I wish they made it just $500 more expensive and $500 better.
Budget and local dealer issues
These next two comparisons might not apply to you, but they’re part of my reasoning so I’ll try to share them quickly to paint you the most complete picture I can.
One of the recurring themes in my Best Mid Size Retro Motorcycle (for me) series is the financial side of it. I have a maximum limit of how much I can spend buying and upgrading each motorcycle in this series.
Unfortunately, paying for the Interceptor ate up all of my budget for that motorcycle, so I can’t modify it to my taste the way I can upgrade the Bonneville and the V7.
Finally, in Toronto, for the past couple decades, no Royal Enfield dealer has stayed on for more than three years. There seems to always be some breakup, some lawsuit, an owner leaving the country and never returning, a dealer outsourcing maintenance to a third party company and then suing them because the work was garbage.
If you’re in the Toronto area and you’re interested in buying a Royal Enfield, I’d recommend making the drive to Classy Chassis in Lakefield, Ontario. I’ve been there a few times. The team there is fantastic. They’re a passionate bunch. They know their stuff. They’re not only a great Royal Enfield dealership, they’re a great example of how a dealership for any brand should be.
However, my local Triumph dealer is 5-10 minutes away, my local Moto Guzzi dealer is 10-15 minutes away, and I’ve known the owners of both dealerships for over a decade. Whether the Triumph or the Moto Guzzi wins the series in the end, I’ll have good dealership support close to home for whichever motorcycle I keep.
None of these issues individually make the Interceptor 650 a bad motorcycle. I’d actually say the Interceptor 650 is still a pretty good motorcycle. It’s fun, it’s very endearing, it’s very smooth, and it may not be the best at anything, but it’s very good at many things.
If I didn’t have my Bonneville and my V7, I would probably keep my Interceptor and just accept it for what it is. If I were a newer, less experienced rider, I might forgive it, or might not even notice all these little issues. The Interceptor’s weakness in my Best Mid-Size Retro Motorcycle (for me) Series isn’t that it’s a bad motorcycle, it’s just that it’s in a competition with two better ones. The Interceptor is trying to punch above it’s weight class.
At the end of the day, this series isn’t about good or bad, it’s about taking all three motorcycles, putting them under the microscope over an extended period and exploring the strengths and weaknesses of each one.
The Interceptor is a sweetheart to ride, but I really wish it was actually a little more expensive, and Royal Enfield put a little more care into the quality of the finish.
Am I making the right choice? If you had to sell one of the Interceptor 650, the Bonneville 865, or the V7 750, which one would you sell? I’d love to hear what you have to say!
I’m Adrian from YouMotorcycle. Thanks for checking out my content. Ride safe, but have fun! Peace!