Friday, November 2, 2018

The Royal Enfield 650 twins made me want to ride better

Two motorcycle riders lean into a turn.
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 twins swing through a turn in California.
The first thing I did when I returned from the U.S. launch of the new Royal Enfield 650 twins last month was get on my own 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 and ride.

You won't be surprised to know that the difference was laughable.

My 500 single vibrates like a jack-hammer in comparison to the super smooth parallel twin motor of the new Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650. My bike is much, much slower; the old four-speed gearbox is balky; and the brakes are abysmal. I could go on.

But one thing was similar: my old Bullet handles pretty well on the city streets I ride. How it would behave with a 47-horsepower motor backed by a smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox and two disc brakes I will never know. But it steers well enough as is.

Clearly my limits are defined by my skill, not the motorcycle I ride, no matter whether it is fast and capable or slow and barely acceptable.

For instance, riding my Bullet when I got home to Florida I noticed that I experience the same momentary uncertainty on tight right turns here that I felt on curvy mountain roads in California. (Not that this is the only problem with my riding — far from.)

My problem is software, not hardware. Mine needs a reboot.

In his review of the new Royal Enfield 650 twins, motor journalist Eric Brandt wrote:

"These are motorcycles that make you want to be a better rider. They're always encouraging you to twist the throttle a little harder, lean into the corner a little deeper, and enjoy the visceral ride without ever being intimidating."

I think that's what happened to me on the new Royal Enfield twins. I'm going to start looking for training.

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