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Royal Enfield launches Interceptor, Continental GT 650 in India

The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy's Milan.

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Royal Enfield's new trump cards
The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy's Milan on November 7, 2017. Wikimedia Commons
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The Royal Enfield on Sunday unveiled its much-awaited Interceptor GT 650 and Continental GT 650 in front of hundreds of bike enthusiasts at its annual rider mania here.
Both the motorcycles are powered by an all-new 650cc, air-cooled parallel twin engines with an oil cooler for enhanced performance. The fuel injected motor claims to deliver 47PS of power at 7,100rpm and a peak torque of 52Nm at 4,000rpm.
The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy’s Milan on November 7, 2017.
The engines have a strong low and mid-range performance, retaining the Royal Enfield character of accessible torque through the rev range.
Also new to the Interceptor is the six-speed gearbox, specially developed for this motorcycle.
The gearbox is augmented by its ‘slip/assist’ clutch that facilitates easy riding in traffic with a light feel and prevents wheel-hop when downshifting gears – also a first for Royal Enfield.
The chassis has been developed from the ground up by the team at Royal Enfield’s UK Technology Centre and Harris Performance.
It has been engineered and fine-tuned for enhanced agility that can handle different terrains and speeds with ease while retaining the period classic style.
The Interceptor INT 650 ushers in the idea of the 1960’s fun, relaxed motorcycles from the sun-drenched California beaches.
With its classic tear-drop shaped fuel-tank, quilted twin-seat and distinctive wide braced handlebars, the Interceptor INT 650 looks every bit the stunning Roadster that it is.
The motorcycle is equipped with classic 18″ front and rear Pirelli tyres and twin shock absorbers, along with front and rear disc brakes with ABS.
While, the Continental GT 650 is a cafe-racer and looks almost identical to the existing Continental GT 535 as it retains the same headlamp, fuel tank and many other elements from its sibling while the rear has gone through some changes along with the new dual side exhaust muffler.
Speaking after unveiling the new motorcycles, Royal Enfield CEO and MD Siddharth Lal said: “Both the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 will be very accessible motorcycles in India in terms of both pricing and maintenance.”
He said that with the two new motorcycles, the company wants to upgrade their 2.5 million customers in India who wants more from the Royal Enfield.
He also said that the new motorcycles will be available in the showrooms by March or April. Without announcing the prices of the new motorcycles, Lal hinted that it would be priced between Rs 3 lakh and 3.5 lakh. (IANS)
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Italy’s ‘White Gold’ In Danger No End To It’s Demand

The demand is also taking its toll on the land.

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The Cervaiole marble quarry is seen on Monte Altissimo in the Apuan Alps, Tuscany, Italy, July 15, 2017.
The Cervaiole marble quarry is seen on Monte Altissimo in the Apuan Alps, Tuscany, Italy, July 15, 2017. VOA

There is no end to demand for what many consider to be Italy’s white gold, the marble from the Tuscan town of Carrara, a name synonymous with the very best money can buy in the world today. It is no secret, and it is not new. The quarrying in these mountains has been going on for more than 2,000 years.

The Romans were the first to be lured by the stone’s beauty and millions of tourists to this day still flock to admire some of the most magnificent ancient monuments made with this special stone, the likes of the Pantheon and Trajan’s Column in the Eternal City. And then there are famous statues like the David and the Pietà by Renaissance master Michelangelo.

So what is happening in Carrara today?

Artists, sculptors and architects have never ceased making regular pilgrimages here. M.J. Anderson, an American, first came to Carrara as a fledgling sculptor 36 years ago, drawn by the beautiful marble. Considering herself somewhat of a deconstructionist, she likes to take things apart.

“The great thing about carving marble is that once that stone is gone, it’s gone. You can’t lament about it and this keeps you moving forward in the creative process,” she said.

Sculptors like Anderson realize they are dealing with something quite extraordinary here.

“Carrara marble is consistently good. It does not fracture. It’s mined in a very cohesive manner. There’s no surprises when you are carving it. The molecules are put together very well and there’s so many different kinds of marble here. That is what is so special: there is gray, white and cream, in different densities as well and so a sculptor can find anything they want here that will suit their needs,” Anderson said.

That is what is bringing orders – and big money – from all over the world, from Arab nations and emerging markets like China, India and Thailand. Clients want their kitchens, bathrooms and staircases in their homes made from this precious material. Others come with specific ideas for a marble statue, which they commission from the very best marble sculptors in existence. To name just one example: a request came, in recent years, for a huge block to build a massive statue of Buddha.

 A view of a marble quarry and the coast of Versilia from the Monte Altissimo in the Apuan Alps, Tuscany, Italy, July 18, 2017.
A view of a marble quarry and the coast of Versilia from the Monte Altissimo in the Apuan Alps, Tuscany, Italy, July 18, 2017. VOA

A boom in the construction of mosques, especially in the Arab world and north Africa, has meant even more demand and big business for the marble quarrying companies. The Saudi Binladin Group, one of the world’s largest construction companies, acquired 50 percent of Marmi Carrara in recent years. Marmi Carrara owns a third of the quarries that are operational in the area today.

“Just the name Carrara basically says it’s the world’s best marble. It is the most beautiful. It has a centuries’ long history of being the best marble in the world and people come here looking for and wanting the very best,” Anderson said.

What is new is that the demand is moving away from the traditional markets.

“America has been extracting resources for a long time. Now, the money has shifted to the Middle East and they are the ones extracting the resources. That has always been the case. The Romans started the big quarries here in Carrara when they were building cities all over the Mediterranean basin and they were shipping marble out of here. It indicates where the world is shifting, where the resources are going and where the building is taking place,” said Anderson.

The great sculptors have historically been Italian, but now they come from all over world, and some have settled here. Students like 19-year old Xintong Gao come here to learn and take their knowledge home. He said his love of art, painting, and sculpture brought him here from China and he set his sights on enrolling at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara.

Working the marble may be a labor of love, but Gao said it is no easy work.

Not only is learning to sculpt the marble difficult, but extracting it has been a challenge for hundreds of years. Modern technology has made it easier and today the use of large quantities of diamond-tipped wires, saws and heavy earth-moving equipment is essential. The marble industry employs thousands of people but for those quarrying inside the mountains it is sometimes also dangerous work.

White gold bracelet
White gold bracelet, Pixabay

The demand is also taking its toll on the land.

Environmentalists have been expressing huge concerns for years that quarrying is dangerously eroding the mountains and significantly affecting the magnificent landscape of the Apuan Alps here. From afar, it looks like snow but in reality it is the bright marble that makes these mountains white all year round.

“It’s beautiful to see the quarries. They’re dramatic. They’re fabulous, the way the light hits these walls of marble,” said Anderson.

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Admittedly, she notes, the environmentalists’ concerns are not without a basis. “Of course marble does not re-grow. It’s not sustainable. It was made billions of years ago. It is terrible that extraction is occurring at such a rapid pace because of the industrialization. Marble is being taken out of here so fast that entire mountain tops are disappearing. They are extracting marble from the center of these mountains as well and so it is a huge concern. Worldwide the extraction of resources is a concern and what we are looking at here is also a really terrible mining practice,” she said.(VOA)