When Dave decided to build a custom cafe racer from a brand new Continental GT 650, we knew it was going to be special. And after riding and shooting the bike, we just can't find a word to describe how perfect it is... Photos: Zane Dobie

The Enfield 650 Twins have become the top selling mid capacity nakedbikes globally, and for good reason. They are well priced, great quality, ride well, look stunning and as we are seeing all over the world, are highly customisable, just take a look at Dave Reid’s Conti GT…

 This stunning Continental GT 650 cafe racer is the work of Dave Reid, who has built some of the most immaculate yet functional motorcycles we have featured over the past few decades... And by the way, this one is for sale - email us for details.

This stunning Continental GT 650 cafe racer is the work of Dave Reid, who has built some of the most immaculate yet functional customs we’ve featured over the past few decades… And by the way, this one is for sale – email us for details.

Here at BikeReview, we first fell in love with the 650 Twins way back in September 2018, when I headed to Santa Cruz, California, to spend a few days riding the machines through the hills of Redwoods and along the coastal twisties. It was the biggest launch the bike industry had seen for decades, with the entire Royal Enfield team on hand and riding with the media. I immediately knew these guys meant business and that these were very special bikes – have a look at the 650 Twins development video here



Read our 650 Twins World Launch Report here and check out the Video here


In fact, I was so impressed with the bike that I ordered my own Interceptor 650 as soon as I got home from the USA. In my 21-years as a full time professional bike scribe, it’s the very first new bike I have bought for myself. The handling is on point (development rider is our own Aussie legend, Paul Young), great engine character, stunning looks and as you can see with Dave’s GT, unlimited potential. Over the past few years we have become experts here on the brand, having reviewed every model and spent many thousand of kilometres on our own versions.



Personally, I’ve now got some great friends at Royal Enfield, thanks to that first launch, including their enthusiastic and all round great bloke CEO, Sid Lal, who’s vision for his company is well and truly becoming a reality. I rode with Sid on that first launch, and I tell you, he is as fast on a bike as he is in a boardroom… Everyone at RE is passionate about two wheels and it shows. So as you now know, we appreciate the brand, but what we love more here are custom bikes, otherwise we wouldn’t have published Rapid Bikes magazine for 15-years. You can’t beat a custom machine…

Dave's 2022 Continental GT is a stunning 25.4kg less than when it was uncrated and the ride experience is simply brilliant.

Dave’s 2022 Continental GT is a stunning 25.4kg less than when it was uncrated and the ride experience is simply brilliant. Everything is better, from the steering to the acceleration and braking. It’s the best Enfield I’ve ever ridden.

It’s hard to know where to start with Dave Reid’s Conti GT. As soon as Zane and I arrived at the photoshoot location, our jaws dropped. Dave has always had the cleanest bikes in the motorcycle industry and I reckon that this 650 is his cleanest. How immaculate? Put it this way, each time we rolled the bike around to move position for the photos, Dave jacked the front wheel off the ground so he could clean both tyres before the next shot. His bikes always look like they have NEVER been used…



Let’s take a look at what Dave has done to improve this already great motorcycle. Not only is it more powerful and responsive than standard, it is also much lighter and therefore better handling and stopping out on the road… Dave bought the GT for a simple reason, “I like the looks and the price. I bought it a year ago from Western Motorcycles, it was brand new and just $9,990 on the road”.

The engine is stock but fuelling and breathing has been refined, and the result is 54hp at the wheel and a great exhaust note...

The engine is stock but fuelling and breathing has been refined, and the result is 54hp at the wheel and a great exhaust note… Response is instant, yet silky smooth throughout the rpm range.

“It’s a 2022 model and the engine is basically standard, I just wanted to focus on the response, smoothness and getting the most of what was there, but it is now making 54-horsepower at the back wheel and 56Nm of torque, with the stock 78mm x 67.8mm bore and stroke as well as the standard 9.5:1 compression ratio,” says Dave… Who in the past has built race winning top alcohol engines!

"I also fitted a Sprint airfilter, Stratos Performance billet CNC radius inlet and Verex big bore stainless-steel headers matched to custom built Moto Torpedo mufflers"...

“I also fitted a Sprint airfilter, Stratos Performance billet CNC radius inlet and Verex big bore stainless-steel headers matched to custom built Moto Torpedo mufflers”…

“The internals are all standard, but I’ve carefully done the valve clearances myself and fitted NGK Iridium spark plugs. I also fitted a Sprint airfilter, Stratos Performance billet CNC radius inlet and Verex big bore stainless-steel headers matched to custom built Moto Torpedo mufflers, as I liked the look of the Verex headers but not the mufflers, so I matched the two up together…”



Dave runs the 650 on 98 PULP and tuned it himself, as he is one of the best engine tuner’s out there, well known for everything from motorcycles to Funny Cars and Top Alcohol tuning, competing and owning. Dave has done it all, but has a soft spot for customising bikes. His other ride? A Thruxton TFC!

Dave also owns a Triumph Thruxton TFC, number 270 of 750 made, and we have a feature on that coming up...

Dave also owns a Triumph Thruxton TFC, number 270 of 750 made, and we have a feature on that coming up…

Back to the RE, the ‘box is stock but the final gearing has changed. “I run the standard front sprocket but I dropped two teeth at the back to smoothen the ride out on the the highways. I fitted a 7075 billet alloy Talon 36-tooth rear with Titanium sprocket bolts. It just takes the edge of the rpm in top”… The clutch is totally as per factory and Dave prefers road shift pattern. Dave runs a Hitchcocks Air Injection Delete Kit as well, and an Aeroflow billet crankcase breather, plus an Anti Gravity 900g lithium battery.



Back to the chassis, and there are a lot of meaningful upgrades here all in the name of looks or weight savings. The frame is untouched, as is the main bodywork, aside from a deep mirror polish by Dave. Trust me, you won’t see chrome, alloy or paint shine like this very often… Both ends run stock suspension and the swingarm has neat Stratos Performance CNC chain adjusters fitted.



The standard 41mm Gabriel forks are retained, but feel firmer on the road due to the reduction of unsprung weight moment and sprung weight, so feel like a firmer upgrade, as do the shocks. The brakes are original ByBre (By Brembo) with Brembo sintered pads ex factory, a 320mm ByBre rotor at the front and aa 220mm at the rear….



A huge change to weight, dynamics and looks are the stunning Excel wheels. These aluminium anodised ultra strong, ultra lightweight rims are laced to standard hubs and feature a tubeless kit at both ends as well as top shelf Metzeler Racetec RR rubber… “The tyres and wheels make a huge difference to the handling of course,” says Dave, “Particularly the tyres. They just completely transform the bike and it was already pretty good”… All up, Dave has reduced the weight of the bike by a staggering 25.4kg through the exhaust, wheels and extensive use of Titanium fasteners and alloy.


All up, Dave has reduced the weight of the bike by a staggering 25.4kg through the exhaust, wheels and extensive use of Titanium fasteners and alloy…


Other neat touches on the bike, which seems to have more things added the more you look at it, include the super cool RE single seat cowling and perfectly matched leather cafe racer seat, which looks great with the rear mudguard removed as Dave has done. The genuine bikini fairing also looks cool and is functional as well, while the side panel leather bag is handy and looks the part. Overall, Dave’s Conti GT is just the perfect mix of subtly and show-off. To appreciate it, you need to look at it for a while and take it all in. There are more trick bits hiding in the dark colours than meets the eye…

I was super fortunate to have a quick spin on Dave's bike and it immediately made me think my own 650 is a cumbersome and slow thing that needs some work!

I was super fortunate to have a quick spin on Dave’s bike and it immediately made me think my own 650 is a cumbersome and slow thing that needs some work! Dave’s bike is a whopping 26kg lighter than standard!

It was great to have the opportunity to take the bike for a short ride. With my injured wrists at the time I was unable to truly push the bike so I cruised around the suburb for just 15-minutes to get a feel for it. With the thousands of kilometres of experience I have on the GT, plus even more on the Interceptor, it only took a few kilometres to realise just how good Dave’s machine is. The sound is just so intoxicating, that’s for sure, both intake and exhaust, but it was the smooth yet instant throttle response, even with taller gearing, that really surprised me…



And although I was not out in the twisties, I could feel the huge difference the wheels make and the Metzeler tyres. The steering is lighter, the ride firmer on the bumps due to less weight following through on the unsprung side, while firmer support is felt on the sprung side due to the massive weight reduction of the actual bike. The thing cracks, and the fuelling is silky smooth. It would be magic in the hills… Particularly with all that extra grip. But equally important is how good this thing looks… Wow…


Dave’s 2022 Continental GT 650 is currently for sale – you can find the ad for it right here



Custom Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 Specifications

Engine:  SOHC air-cooled 648cc parallel twin four-stroke, eight-valve, 78mm x 67.8mm bore x stroke, 9.5:1 compression, 270º firing order crankshaft, Bosch EMS/EFI, NGK Iridium plugs, Sprint airfilter, Stratos Performance Billet CNC radius inlet, Hitchcocks air injection delete kit, Verex big bore headers, Moto Torpedo mufflers, Anti Gravity lithium battery, Aeroflow billet crankcase breather, Outex tubeless tyre kit. Gearbox: Six-speed constant mesh Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch, cable actuation, Talon 36T rear sprocket.


Chassis: Double-cradle tuned tubular steel frame Rake: 24° Trail: 106mm (INT), 105mm (GT) Suspension: 41mm forks, 110mm travel, twin shock, 88mm travel, rear preload adjustment Brakes: 320mm stainless steel floating rotor (f), ABS, two-piston sliding ByBre caliper, Bosch ABS, conventional master-cylinder, 240mm rotor (r), ByBre caliper. Wheels & Tyres: 36 spoke Excel alloy rim 2.50 x 18in, 36 spoke alloy rim 3.50 x 18in, Metzeler Racetec RR K1 100/80-18, 130/80-18. Titanium fasteners throughout, Stratos Performance chain adjuster, Royal Enfield alloy accessories – various, single seat cowling, cafe racer leather seat, leather sidecover bag, cafe racer bar end mirrors, top cowling.


Performance: 172.6kg (wet), 54RWHP, 56RWNm.

UMI

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 Gallery


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