Test Rode a GT - Here are My Thoughts


Finally made it
SF Bay Area
RE had their twins day (demo day) in San Jose last weekend so I went there with the intention of test riding the GT. The Interceptor was there but didn't have much interest in it as I was curious about the GT's cafe racer style seating position.

I have to say I really liked it. I'm not a brand fanboy and generally very picky about what I like, plus if you know my avatar/name you probably recognize it from me tearing my Himalayan apart an noting all the poor QC on it.

The seat sits low, slightly lower than the Himalayan, if you 5'6" or above you should have no issues sitting on it. Right off the bat though I noticed it was hard to un-lean off the side stand due to the lower handlebars and mid-weight level but isn't really a big deal just caught me off guard.

Ok time to ride!
Starting the bike the engine just purred, I could feel a slight vibration but overall was rather smooth even at higher RPM. Revving the engine responded quickly and the exhaust note is very quiet at the lower RPM. So low in fact the person who was supposed to watch me start it had to look at the rpm gauge to see if it was running and I gave it a quick blip to remind her. As the RPM rise so does the presence of the exhaust note, pleasant and deep but still not overly loud. Even on the ride it was quiet but almost understated through my helmet. The engine very much has that same tone that all the REs seem to have.

On the road the bike felt smooth, rolling onto the throttle gave you more of a touring style rise in power even in lower gears than you would expect from say a street bike. To me I enjoyed this because slightly changes in rpm do not result in the bike jerking around. The suspension felt great over rocks and bumps in the road, in low gear and full throttle the bike felt planted and ready to go. The seating position at my torso length gave me a lot of range to sit depending on how sporty or relaxed you want to ride. In 20 minutes I did not feel any sore spots or jarred at all. Braking is what you would expect out of an older design, not amazing but enough and initial grip on the handle responded in kind. I think one of the few things I would say needs adjustment is the bike felt out of balances in long radius turns like a freeway entrance or exit. Throttling through the turns felt a little unstable especially as you started to throttle out but I did not hear anything from the tires I didn't want.

As for the power, if you realize the type of bike you are buying; a heavy older, classic design 650cc then the power is great, and it's smooth. Power is higher in the RPM but not at the very top and you certainly have torque. 2nd 3rd and 4th gear are all very fun to roll on the throttle and go! Accelerating to highway speeds is no issues, the gauge cluster is a little tucked away under your view so it was difficult for me to bother looking at my speed but getting to freeway speed was no issue with plenty of power to spare. It's no slouch and has plenty of power to have fun with.

Fit and Finish
Overall the bike feels, rides and looks like a lot of heart and soul went into it. looking around a majority of the wires are tucked away. However there are a few "What the hell were they thinking" point of interests, mainly two: I wore regular tall boots you'd use in plain clothes and not my adventure boots mostly because I knew I wasn't riding far. Your feet basically sit against the exhaust if you keep yourself tucked. This seemed like an oversight when looking at riding position as if they are expecting you to keep you heal on the foot rest not the balls of your feet or the hook area. I'm short and have short feet so somebody larger might find their shoe on fire at some point. I only noticed because when I got off the bike and looked back thinking "I want to ride it again" there were brown marks on the exhaust from my shoe. The next oversight is really probably not something they could have done and a taller person likely wouldn't have this issue, but for the wrong reasons. My knees were hugging the engine not the tank. Now I know a lot of people don't hug but I've been beating this into my brain because a: it's good practice and b: I'm learning to ride off road. And again not something in cafe racer form they probably could do anything about except maybe adjust the foot peg locations.

I feel like this would be a great out of the box cafe racer if you don't want to modify your own. The price is decent and the bike overall seems to be well put together. When I test rode the Himalayan I walked away questioning a number of things on the bike, the GT did not leave me with that feeling other than the suspension which I chalked up to just needing some slight tuning or even my riding position. Ultimately though you are basically buying a 1970s or 1980s 650cc bike that has been converted to a cafe racer and restored and part of me feels like for 1/2 the price if you were willing to put the time in yourself you'd end up with a cafe racer that's your own. But that all depends on you are as rider and what you like to do.

As a side note, I learned there is an aftermarket seat for the GT that has the rear bubble. I was surprised because I didn't realize the difference until I was there and though maybe I was looking at the wrong bike. I didn't get a price on it, they weren't 100% sure. It's also worth noting that if you install the seat it doesn't go to the end of the rails that hold the tail up, it just stops and the subframe keeps going. Not the best look in my opinion but could be an option for modifying.
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Well travelled
Lille France
No probs, there has been a huge surge of RE sales especially the new models here in Northern Europe and with a recent change of importer things are on the up. The problem we have at the moment is supply and both bikes and accessories are hard to come by despite the efforts of my dealer to procure


Well travelled
OK, tomorrow I am going to check out the Continental GT "Ice Queen" at the local dealer. The "Ice Queen" is my favorite looking GT. The same dealer has a leftover Kawasaki W800 Cafe on sale which makes them competitively priced. The dealer agreed to roll both outside in the sun, and I am going to check them out side by side and decide if I want one or the other, or neither. Right now I am not sure if I will get to test ride either, and if not I will possibly just thank them and move on. Bikes that I have bought without test rides have not lasted long in my garage. I have found that the more I like the looks of a bike, the less I like the ride.

I've coveted the W800 since it was released in Europe and was pleased that it came to the States until I saw the price. Ouch!
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