The time has truly flown by, with the new Royal Enfield 650 Twin engine now six years old. As tens of thousands of riders have long passed with no problems, their 3-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, the reputation of the marvellous motor has only grown. This has given customisers around the world the confidence to go all-in on the twin, designing limited production models and catalogues of parts for these bikes. In Mumbai, industrial designer Aditya Deshmukh has always been a loyal Royal Enfield man, and in recent times, he’s shifted his business away from the traditional RE singles to the more modern motor. The latest creation to roll out of his Mean Green Customs workshop has been given a visual and mechanical makeover, resulting in a transformation that is a true homegrown Indian street racer.
When 26-year-old Siddhartha Lal took over Royal Enfield as the CEO in the early 2000s, he didn’t just want to revive the brand; he wanted to make it profitable and then have it produce true middleweight motorcycles for the Indian market. By 2013, he’d released the Continental GT 535, and to prove its chops, he rode the new bike down the west coast of India. In the same year and on the same coastline, Aditya was starting Mean Green Customs, and like Lal, he wanted to show the world that Indian design and engineering could be as good, if not better, than anything in the world. Both men have seen their star rise over the years, and Aditya maintains such a good relationship with RE that their Indian website lists him for those looking for a custom builder.
Having turned the company’s singles into everything from old-school bobbers to futuristic dual-sports for the end of days, in recent times, he’s been focusing on custom twins. The build was always going to be cafe racer-based, and picking the name ‘Hanzo’ from the beginning, the Overwatch assassin’s characteristic plays heavily into the bike’s visual and performance transformation. Not afraid to go all-in, the new bike was stripped all the way back to a bare frame, and the first change was to get the stance right. This meant ditching the tall and skinny 18-in rims for a set of gold units in 17-in that are laced up with new spokes.
The change in wheel design to the size used by all modern sportbikes means you have your pick of all of the best rubber, and some wide Pirelli tyres give the RE big grip and plenty of street cred. But to take that to the next level and to really get the bike handling, the stock front suspension would come in for a change, and Aditya has pushed all his chips to the centre of the table. It simply doesn’t get much better than a full front-end conversion, using the fully adjustable 43mm Showa forks from a Ducati V4, complete with the Italian alloy triple trees for maximum feedback to the rider. The rear shocks remain stock for now, but a change will truly take this bike to the next level.
Now working with a rolling chassis, Aditya put on his design hat and started to visualise the way he wanted the bike to look. “Low, minimal, and mean,” he smiles, which meant the frame would need some chopping. The subframe is cut back significantly, exposing plenty of the wide rear tyre, and a new rounded end has been welded into place. Over the top, a smaller seat pan was knocked up to host the single seat, but it’s the tail cowling that really steals the show. Not only are the lines sharp and sleek, but a single vertical LED taillight has been brilliantly integrated into the design. It’s as clean a look as you’re ever likely to get, and we’re sure to see many replicate it around the world.
“To make the bike more aggressive, we redesigned and fabricated the side panels in a sharper design with 3 vents.” These are a big improvement over the factory items, and the back-filled mesh vents are a look that is carried over to the stays for the custom front fender, which is now a slick sporty item. To continue the theme, the big factory headlight with its classic looks has been swapped out for a smaller LED unit that is mounted hard to the forks. Then it was time for paint; the gunmetal grey main colour adds to the sinister vibe and is beautifully detailed with black and gold graphics and logos.
Now Aditya could turn his attention to that glorious parallel-twin engine, and he knew based on its specs alone that more horsepower could be had. The cam bearing surface is huge, and the cases rock solid, so too is the SOHC 8-valve head, so to get more revs, the engine needs to breathe. To help with this, a quality BMC air filter goes into the airbox, and the exhaust is all about flow, two beautifully shaped headers, with built-in high-flow cats and aluminium tips. Both sprockets and the chain have been swapped to improve the gearing, and the bike even gets a Hymec-style conversion for the clutch, keeping the cable at the engine but adding a hydraulic radial master cylinder and slave.
This means on the bars, you have a pair of quality radial masters, with RCB levers and stainless lines, this means the feel is smooth, light, and consistent on every pull. The new clip-on bars also feature some tasty Rizoma grips, with the factory switch gear retained and the rider getting all their vital information from a stylish Motogadget dash. Not wanting to disturb the great lines of the bike, Motogadget’s tiny indicators get the call-up, and there is even a mini license plate.
To complete the build, the valve and side covers were blacked out, and the newly finished seat, of Alcantara, Napa leather, and custom embroidery, was bolted down. The bike sure does look the business, and with companies like Royal Enfield and Mean Green Customs, there is no doubt we’ll see many more Mumbai missiles very soon.