If your only impression of motorcycling in India is from various videos you’ve seen around the Internet, you might be led to believe that the bikes there are all tiny, traffic is monstrous at all times, and motorcycles are a form of cheap transport and nothing else. The truth is, traffic can be monstrous in the cities just like anywhere, and loads of people use tiny motorcycles as cheap transport.
Wherever there are motorcycles though, there are enthusiasts, and those enthusiasts will find open roads.
This particular enthusiast is Abhinav Bhatt, and he, like many of us, was not satisfied with the performance of his motorcycle. Did he sell it and buy something different? Heck no! Like any inspired craftsman, he focused on the areas the bike needed improvement and set about upgrading it.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 in question is available in the United States, but it is called an “INT650” here, since Honda copyrighted the “Interceptor” name for its VFR in this country, years ago. Abhinav worked on his bike for a year. He swapped out the stock damper-rod forks for upside-down cartridge forks off a Bajaj Dominar 400 (an Indian-market motorcycle). He wasn’t happy with the tire choices available for the stock rim sizes, so he had new rims made, and fitted them with the correct spokes to roll with the stock hubs.
He fitted a new ECU to the bike with a custom fuel map, and a stainless steel 2-into-1 exhaust to go with it. He increased the size of the countershaft sprocket by one tooth and upgraded the air filter so the bike can breathe more freely. That bike sounds fantastic. All told, these mods along with some bobbing and cosmetic work, shaved a claimed 20kg (that’s 44lbs) off the bike. If you can compare to the stock bike that is shipped to the US, Abhinav’s mods likely brought the bike’s curb weight below 400lbs. The exhaust and ECU remap together added 6.7hp (from 36 to 42.7), and combined, increased the power-to-weight ratio of the bike quite a lot.
In addition to describing the bike itself, the video takes us on a beautiful ride along an empty, foggy highway somewhere in India. I only wish he had mentioned where this was, and what kind of bike his friends were riding. We only see glimpses, but the sportbike in front sure looks like a Honda to me.
All of these mods bring the bike to 100kph (62mph) in 5 seconds, which is not shabby. His gleeful ride at the end of the video is all of us, finally happy with the performance of the motorcycle and proud to have upgraded it himself. Built not bought, and you can tell he’s thrilled about that.