Tuesday, May 21, 2019

New Royal Enfield 650 twins leave demo riders impressed

Motorcycles parked at track waiting for riders.
Great Royal Enfield motorcycles on a great West Virginia riding day.
Sunshine, a warm Spring day, the inviting roads of the West Virginia foothills and the chance to ride Royal Enfield's fast new 650 twins on a real race track with no speed limits.

These set the stage for Royal Enfield's launch event for the Continental GT 650 and INT650 motorcycles Saturday at Summit Point Motorsports Park.

To this Royal Enfield added a DJ, a food truck offering great pulled pork sandwiches, and plenty of waiting-around time to talk to fellow enthusiasts.

The only elements missing — beer and more women — were made up for by those intoxicating mistresses of the road: motorcycles.

Two motorcycles take a curve on race track.
From miles away we heard the Royal Enfields on the track.
The Royal Enfields twins on the track sounded great and certainly performed as promised. The Royal Enfields on static display looked terrific.

No surprise then that the comments on Facebook ran to the ecstatic.

"Thanks For the Wonderful Day! You're Fast! We enjoyed the GT650s, Handled Great," commented Steve Wieser.

But slow down a minute. The motorcyclists I saw were not, largely, very young, and didn't look very impressionable. Many arrived on serious motorcycles of their own. Not many needed to borrow a helmet to take the demo ride.

Man gets on a motorcycle on display.
Even static Royal Enfields got a try-out.
Ever the journalist, my wife Bonnie asked one man if he owned a Royal Enfield.

"I am here because I do NOT own a Royal Enfield," he replied, in a serious tone.

Perfectly logical.

Taking a demo ride on a new motorcycle involves an unstated commitment that you at least will consider purchasing such a motorcycle. These were men, not boys, in this crowd. They didn't come to nick someone out of a free frolic around a racetrack. Well, not just for that, anyway.

Parked motorcycles of various makes.
The competition was only as far away as the parking area.
They have responsibilities at home, other demanding motorcycles that require attention and only so much space in the garage for another vehicle they probably can't ride all year long.

In their pockets rides the single worst competition for time spent motorcycling ever invented: the iPhone.

Royal Enfield has other, much different venues on its eight-city launch tour for the 650 twins. Those settings are cities, not race tracks in the woods, and will likely draw a more impulsive, younger, more female and probably better lubricated crowd.

Summit Point drew the guys who will measure the new Royal Enfields against what they know about motorcycles, and they know a lot. These are the guys friends will ask "should I buy a Royal Enfield?"

What will they reply?

Rider leans motorcycle into a curve.
Royal Enfield INT650 stretches its legs at Summit Point.
I ate my pulled pork sandwich while Bonnie zeroed in on one rider, Dave Jones, of Sparrow Point, Md. Dave was there with his wife, to test the passenger capabilities of the Continental GT 650. He was looking for an around-town and short haul motorcycle, something that didn't weigh "800 pounds" (with rider, passenger and full touring bags).

He owns a Kawasaki ZRX1100-C, KTM 200, Honda CRF150F, Kawasaki KDX220, Husqvarna Terra 650 (dual sport), and BMW R1200R.

Dave agreed to email his reactions to the new Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 after their test ride.

"My wife and I very much enjoyed the bike," he wrote. "Easy to ride, smooth and comfortable. I am used to a 1200 so it felt a tad slow but very easy to flick around. I didn’t get a chance to ride it solo.

Motorcycle riders including one with a passenger.
Testing two-up on the Continental GT 650.
"I would very much like to put in my garage but I would need to sell something else first or I would be living in the shed with the other bikes. I am gonna wait until end of the summer to get some feedback from other owners too."

Perfectly sober and logical.

Next stop on the 650 launch tour is Milwaukee, Wis. Saturday, June 1. There Royal Enfield is presenting sponsor for the Brewtown Rumble, Wisconsin’s largest vintage motorcycle event, Sunday, June 2.

The Brewtown Rumble, featuring judging for motorcycles 35 years or older that ride in under their own power, sounds like a great event. So see the Royal Enfield launch event Saturday, come back for the vintage motorcycle show Sunday.

Royal Enfield will be in the hippest part of the old town, with vintage motorcycles and "local distilleries." That crowd will be enthusiastic.

Click here to RSVP for the Milwaukee launch and get email updates.

Pretty blue Royal Enfield Continental GT650.
Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 in blue.
Royal Enfield INT650 with chrome tank.
INT650, return of the Interceptor, with chrome tank.
Mural painters work on Royal Enfield motorcycle painting.
Royal Enfield would like you to paint yourself into this picture.
Royal Enfield theme "Restrooms" sign.
Royal Enfield thought of everything.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Royal Enfield 650 twins take the track at Summit Point

Line of motorcycle riders prepares to head out onto race track.
Royal Enfields take to the track at Summit Point Motorsports Park.
If things continued the way they were going when I left about 2:30, maybe 400 motorcycle riders got a taste of the new Royal Enfield 650 twins during the launch event Saturday, May 18 at Summit Point Motorsports Park, in West Virginia.

Turnout was strong and the line to sign up for demo rides was long. No one seemed unhappy about waiting their turn, as it allowed time for a pulled pork sandwich from the food truck.

Royal Enfield North America is showcasing its new Continental GT 650 and INT650 twin-cylinder motorcycles in a "launch tour" of eight cities.

"This is how a new bike roll-out should be done!" Erich Rainville commented on Facebook. "What a great event! Had a blast. Got to ride both bikes and and bonus round to try out the Himalayan. Thanks RE!"

Summit Point was the second of eight stops planned for roll-out events during May through June. Demo rides, food, drink, live music and local vendors are geared to make each venue unique.

What was especially unique at Summit Point, of course, was that it is a race track.

The series of introductions for the 650 twins began in Miami, Florida, Saturday, May 11. After Summit Point the tour goes on to:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Saturday, June 1.

Toronto, Ontario, Saturday, June 8.

Denver, Colorado, Saturday, June 15.

Monterey, California, Saturday, June 22.

Brea, California, Saturday, June 29.

San Diego, California, Sunday, June 30.

While Summit Point Motorsports Park promised a chance to ride on the track, "with no speed limits," the others emphasize enjoying the characteristics of the cities, or take advantage of a concurrent motorcycle show.

The events are free, but you must RSVP to attend. Click on the cities above and scroll down to sign up to be on the list and get event updates.

Meanwhile, local dealers across North America are starting to stock the Royal Enfield 650cc twins. for sale.

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