Saltire Motorcycles builds an INT 650 to honor the Royal Marine Commandos…
In 2018, Royal Enfield introduced the Interceptor 650 (INT650) with a new air-cooled 650cc parallel-twin engine. The retro roadster harked back to the British twins of the 1960s, and reviewers gave it high marks for its punchy character, value, and style:
“Design is very subjective, but based on numerous random interactions and our own eyes, the INT650 is a home-run interpretation of a classic design.” –Cycle World
Recently, we spoke to Calum Murray of Scotland’s Saltire Motorcycles, whose crew was behind the “Always Ready” Indian Scout we featured earlier this year. After raffling off the Scout to raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity, Calum and his business partner Dave set their focus on another charity build.
“We got to thinking about a building a bike that would honour all those who have served and continue to serve their country as Royal Marine Commandos.”
As it turned out, their timing couldn’t be more perfect. The Royal Marines Charity (RMA) was “Commando 80” — 80 years since the Royal Marines took on the Commandos role in 1942, and planning a gala dinner on November 30 in London.
The Saltire Motorcycles crew got to work transforming a 2022 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 into a custom machine worthy of the Royal Marines Commando legacy:
“Simply put, the design concept was one of delivering functional minimalism, whilst demonstrating precision and pride.”
The most striking element has to be the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife embedded and underlit inside the bespoke gas tank, complete with a handle hewn from Achnacarry Oak — the very location in the Scottish Highlands where WWII Commandos were sent to complete their training. This element proved more difficult to pull off than anyone anticipated, as Calum relates below.
Other highlights include the Royal Marines insignia on the tank, the hand-stitched leather saddle with nods to Commando 80 and Falklands 40, and the name “Bootneck” — the nickname given to Royal Marines after the practice of wearing leather collars (“stocks”) to protect their necks, similar to US Marine “Leathernecks.” Legend has it, British Marines would cut a strip of leather from the top of a boot to wear while guarding officers on British sailing ships.
To the pleasure of Calum and his crew, the “Bootneck” Interceptor was an absolute hit at the RMA gala, raising a head-spinning amount for the charity:
“This one-of-a-kind build was auctioned at the Royal Marines Charity Gala dinner on 30th November at London’s Guildhall, raising an astonishing £60,000 for the RMA cause.”
The Bootneck earned some incredibly high praise from the Royal Marine Charity CEO:
“I can’t begin to thank Saltire Motorcycles enough for all their time, trouble, and expense in designing, building, and donating the fantastic Bootneck bike. It’s just an awesome machine with beauty, style, class, and power which really fitted well the brand of the Corps in understated British excellence – Craftsmanship at its best. Thank you for providing quite the most unusual and jaw-dropping auction prize we have ever had, simply unforgettable.”
Below, we talk to Calum from Saltire Motorcycles to learn more of the story behind the build.
About the “Bootneck” Interceptor
A very special custom Interceptor 650 built by Saltire Motorcycles to support the amazing work done by the Royal Marines’ official charity — the The Royal Marines Charity.
This one-of-a-kind build was auctioned at the Royal Marines Charity Gala dinner on 30th November at London’s Guildhall, raising an astonishing £60,000 for the RMA cause.
The show piece of the build is a one-of-a-kind Commando “Fairbairn Sykes” fighting knife, embedded and underlit within the bespoke fuel tank — the handle of the knife is hewn from Achnacarry Oak, sourced from the very location in the Highlands where Commandos were sent to complete their basic training.
The hand stitched leather saddle, with subtly etched nods to Commando 80 and Falklands 40, is finished with stitching in Royal Marine colours, which is carried on through the custom paintwork with the Royal Marines’ insignia taking pride of place on the tank.
The given name of the build, “Bootneck,” is after the nickname given to the Marines, denoted in the late 18th Century when the British Marines used to wear leather stocks around their necks.
“Bootneck” Interceptor: Builder Interview
• How did the idea for the RMA “Bootneck” Interceptor come about?
Dave and I are always exploring exciting ways to collaborate with like-minded adventurous souls, especially those who understand what it is to explore the boundaries of human potential. Whether it be riding your own ride through hell to experience heaven, climbing mountains, serving community or country, we motorcyclists resonate with them all as they do with us. I refer to this common bond as an elemental bond and I love how it runs through the very heart of what we do. Whether we’re exploring a new route, a new country, the universe, or the depths of consciousness, we elementalists are aligned with all that is, was, or will be, and it is these very souls who truly inspire and act to create change for good in the world.
So, upon completion of our previous charity build “Always Ready,” we considered shifting our fire fighter focus onto the Tunnel for Towers charity, but we put that on the back burner for now (pun intended) and decided to bring our focus closer to home. Given our love for the outdoors, and specifically for me mountaineering, Dave and I were chatting about one of my favourite areas of Scotland, and the fact that the Commandos used to do their basic training in the Highlands (specifically Shiel Bridge and the Great Glen). Then we got to thinking about a building a bike that would honour all those who have served and continue to serve their country as Royal Marine Commandos.
Then, and as is often the case when a pure and wholesome idea is born, we were met with one stroke of blessed synchronicity after another. Dave spoke with one of his Royal Marine buddies “Phil” who put us in touch with the Royal Marines Charity, the charity then had their local representative “Nick” contact us for more info and as it turns out, Nick is a relatively local biker who was very aware of Saltire Motorcycles and what we’re all about. Nick loved the idea, so he came to the store for a coffee, a natter, and to explain to us how extraordinary our timing was with regards to our suggestion. Unbeknown to us, 2022 was a very special date in the realms of the British Armed Forces and an extra special date for the Royal Marines.
The RM charity were setting out a campaign to commemorate 40 years since the Falklands War in conjunction with celebrating 80 years since the Royal Marines took on the mantle of Royal Marine Commandos.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, 2022.
• How’d you decide on an Interceptor 650?
Whilst we did consider other British Marques, it initially made sense to use the Royal Enfield primarily because we’re one of their franchised dealers, however there’s also the use of the word “Royal.”
This was all underpinned when we realised that currently Royal Enfield are celebrating 120 years of pure motorcycling, which of course nicely rounds up the 40 years and 80 years previously mentioned.
• One of the highlights is the embedded Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife — can you tell us how you carried out that bit?
When Dave and I first began bouncing ideas off one another for the build, the first thing I saw in my imagination was a fuel tank with the FS Dagger inset into it, and if you can imagine it, it simply must be possible. It was a tougher job than I’d thought it would be I can tell you — these modern day motorcycles with all their gizmos, pumps, and regulators inside the tank weren’t present at the point of my initial imaginings. (The fact that my mind goes straight to the thought that a fuel tank that would have nothing in it other than fuel, offers a solid indication of the era from which I served my time as an apprentice.)
Ultimately we didn’t fit the dagger into the tank, we actually made a tank to go around the dagger. It was our initial intention to set the dagger in a resin mold and inset this on top of an illuminated bed within a case that would be formed and set into the tank, but we kept on stumbling, as our attempts to work with resin just wouldn’t work out.
After many sleepless nights, not to mention sacrificing most of my wife’s kitchen knives and utensils in failed resin molds, I listened to my intuition, and it struck me. The dagger is a thing of beauty, and it shouldn’t be encased, it’s a tactile tool and it NEEDS to be on hand (metaphorically speaking). So the next challenge was: how do we rest the dagger in an underlit bed of satin yet keep it secure?
The answer required a few steps back, and after a little lateral thinking, we designed a cradle that, when welded into the base of the dagger box would firmly clutch the dagger at the balance point of the steel shank. The clutching point was also doubly secured by a metal bonding agent to ensure the security of the dagger, whilst allowing the owner to feel its quality and functionality.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Simply put, the design concept was one of delivering functional minimalism, whilst demonstrating precision and pride. The lion’s share of the influence came from incorporating and redesigning aspects of military equipment and weaponry.
• Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
As ever with these things, I have countless people to thank, not only for their skills and abilities, but largely for their tolerance of me. As much as there are too many to mention, I do feel a special note of gratitude is due to the following crew.
Big thanks to my wife for her endless love and patience, Levi Tusoon for his mellow persistence and tenacity, Ian Metalwork McCreadie for his inimitable style, Richie Rich for pulling it out of the hat, Fi Torrance for keeping the machine running whilst I’m goofing off in the workshops, John Banks for his inspired photography and eye for detail, Dave Routledge for being the most inspirational sounding board a man could ever ask for, Robin at Peak Scientific for his love of the Bootneck bike and his support of the charity, and finally to everyone who’s enabled us to make our dreams come true whilst serving a great cause.