Friday, September 21, 2018

What clothes go with a Royal Enfield for the DGR?

In 1951 Royal Enfield pictured a gentleman in dress shoes, suit, tie and socks.
Dapper, I'm not, usually. But with the 2018 Distinguished Gentleman's Ride set for Sunday, Sept. 30 my normally careless appearance while riding my Royal Enfield comes to mind.

I'm already looking better in general this year, thanks to a Father's Day gift from my daughters: new boots.

For the DGR I have a tweed jacket (true, a bit too hot for Florida). Footwear was the problem.

Almost anything would be better than the athletic shoes I used to wear on the motorcycle. The bright colors and swoopy graphics on those things clashed with my tastefully classic Royal Enfield Bullet.

Most athletic shoes don't even offer the support I like. They're cut down on the sides to expose the ankles. Human ankles weren't designed to hold up a tilting 400-pound motorcycle very long at a stoplight.

Boots were the obvious answer, but dedicated motorcycle boots seemed a bit too much (see above reference to ambient temperature in Florida).

In the past I would don my hiking boots, when needed. These are intended for the trail, not the highway — more tread than a tank, and nearly as heavy.

Tough as they look, the hiking boots recently suffered a failure, with the soles delaminating from the leather uppers. Luckily we were hiking close enough to civilization to borrow some duct tape to hold them together temporarily.

The incident inspired the girls to give me a gift certificate to REI Co-Op, the outdoor gear supplier. Their thought was to replace the hiking boots, but there was no need for that: I had Gorilla Glued those back together when I got home.

Instead, with my wife's help, the REI on-line catalog revealed a handsome set of black boots said to be:

A. Light in weight, and...

B. Civilized looking in tread.

The boots soon arrived and I was delighted. Compared to my trail boots, these felt like ballet slippers. The ankle support was terrific. In fact, so great was the ankle support that it appeared clear I'd have to struggle to get my feet into the boots.

New boots don't feel clunky operating the controls.
Even the neutral finder doesn't complain of mistreatment..
But no! A small tab on the side of each boot proved on examination to be the tang of a zipper. I can get into and out of these boots without untying the laces.

They'll be my standard riding wear from now on. But I think I'll go with dress shoes for the DGR.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Imagine riding the new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

The new Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 twin is coming to the United States. Are you ready?
We often think of wars  — however awful — as drivers of technological progress. World War II, for instance, is credited with giving us advanced radar, vital improvements in trauma care and new airports in out-of-the-way locations all over the world. (Forget, for the moment, the atomic bomb.)

I've read, however, that World War I may actually have crippled advances in aviation. Yet thousands of airplanes were built, and they obviously got better as the war progressed.

Militaries always want more airplanes. Yes, they should fly faster, farther and higher than previous designs. But conservative ministries tend to believe the new planes ought to at least look reassuringly like the planes they replace.

And, more importantly, the thousands of pilots already trained at great risk and expense to fly the old planes must be able to fly the new ones.

I'm finding notions like this actually reassuring right now, as Royal Enfield has invited me to the launch of its new Interceptor 650 this month in California.

I am just an old iron-barrel Bullet pilot. Yet I hope to ride the bright, shiny and more powerful Royal Enfield Int 650, as it's called.

And I am reasonably sure I will do it comfortably, as the same thinking that supplied a stick-and-pedals in the Sopwith Camel supplied something similar in the Concorde.

This is the first time in my motorcycling life that I will experience a six-speed gearbox and anti-lock brakes.

Still, I expect the new Royal Enfield 650s twins to be torquey, forgiving and friendly. They'll say "You've been here before on a Royal Enfield; you just wanted a bit more power and style (and better brakes). Now you've got 'em. Enjoy."

After all, Royal Enfield has many thousands of customers in India already greatly satisfied with the Bullet and its classically styled off-shoots. This enormous audience naturally wants something better — yet familiar.

And it helps that the Royal Enfield 650 twins are themselves retro looking designs. I recognize them as looking much like the great motorcycles of my youth (not that I could afford them at the time). As such, they haven't lost any of their appeal.

I'm sure they will be just as wonderful now as I imagined then — but better.

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