Friday, September 25, 2020

Royal Enfield INT650: A good bike for a new rider?

Motorcycle parked inside dealership.
It's a Royal Enfield INT650 and its name is "Edwin."
Dacia, of California, wrote asking my opinion of the 2020 Roytal Enfield INT650 twin.

She's a new rider, and just bought the motorcycle, which she named "Edwin."

"I wanted something that I knew was not going to immediately break down (so I could take my time learning how to work on it), was easy to use (bells and whistles are not for me right now), and that was unique and comfortable for me," Dacia wrote.

She was looking for reassurance that she had the right motorcycle. What would you tell her?

Here's the reply I sent:

What a lovely motorcycle, and I will not hide the fact that I am jealous.

On the other hand, I do not miss the months of learning when I was a new rider. I was scared sometimes, uncomfortable often and felt clumsy always.

Of course, I was riding on an old Royal Enfield Bullet. You have the brakes, smooth gearbox and power to be more confident on the road. As one rider in my beginner motorcycling class explained, adequate power is not a waste: you don't have to use it. It's there when you need it. It actually makes riding easier.

This sets you up well. Often other traffic will expect a motorcycle to accelerate to where it wants to be, and get out of the way. You can do that when you want. Take the initiative and clearly demonstrate your plans, so the cars know what to do. Don't leave them in doubt.

On the other hand I've only recently come to realize how making tight turns and U-turns means going slow. A saying: fast riders are not fast IN corners. They are only fast OUT of corners.

Don't feel you have to race through corners to keep up. If you add speed in a corner the motorcycle will think "oh, now I can sit up and go straight," which means you won't turn as tight as you need to.

One other little bit: when waiting at a stop sign to turn onto a big street, the guy behind you might honk. Drivers don't realize how loud and piercing their horns are to someone who is not also inside a car, so this will be unsettling.

Keep calm and don't be rushed into turning out into traffic until you are ready: you can not afford to get your timing wrong when merging with traffic, whereas Mr. Big Horn behind you can bull his way in if he likes.

As a woman, I think you may have an advantage. It's unusual enough to see a woman riding on the front seat of a motorcycle that drivers might (might) cut some slack in traffic. I hope so.

Basically, my advice is ride, ride, ride. I was a commuter, so I had to ride twice a day. I think that was good for me. One old-timer told me it took 4,000 miles of riding to get comfortable on a bike.

Here's my review of the Royal Enfield INT650.

I quoted from various other reviews I liked in this item.

I've written about women riders, but none yet (you will be the first) on 650s. Here's my story about one woman I thought had the right attitude.

All best,

David in Fort Lauderdale


  1. Well done David. My daughter in Australia has recently got a new Royal Enfield Bullet EFI and loves it. (She remembers my old Bullets when she was young). She has named hers "Enid" and I have referred her to your post as it will chime with her.

  2. I taught teen driving for a couple seasons with an organization. I found that the women were much better students than the males. If she has a genuine interest in getting better she will improve quickly.

  3. Good advice about getting as many miles in as you can. There is no substitute for experience. And as good as the Interceptor is for newbies, I tend to think it's better to get a used bike for your first one, as it's bound to have a rough life until you get that experience.

  4. Dacia, your bike is far better than the bikes most of us started with. Your bike is not the issue. Did you take an MSF Course? Are you naturally distrustful of others? Are you able to focus on your surroundings and never for a moment become distracted? Especially now, in this pandemic, the driving environment is hostile. People are emotionally unsettled. Their minds are elsewhere, even when they're driving. You need to be super aware, no matter what bike you're riding. Wear good riding gear, even if it's not stylish. You're green and everyone else is upset and late and couldn't care less. Be careful out there, please.

    1. Like Maynard said, plus keep your head on a swivel. Don't get boxed in, always have an escape route planned. Eye contact with a driver means nothing - make them wave back. Keep a buffer zone around you at all times. If someone crowds you, change the game & move on. You can't win in bumper-cars. On freeways, scan the road 200+ yards ahead for trash or debris. Watch the movement of cars to pick up extra info of debris location. Forgo the freeways at night unless very empty. Learn to use your very best friend - THE FRONT BRAKE. - CW -

  5. I'd tell Dacia that her new 650 Interceptor is a perfectly fine bike to learn to ride on, and that Silver Spectre color scheme would probably be my first choice too. Those 650s are not "crazy organ donor fast", but then again don't force as many concessions to modernity as my old Bullet plodding around like her Grandad's bike. I would strongly advise her to get some crash bars mounted ASAP, not so much for crashes as such, as for the inevitable droppings of the bike a newbie will be prone to when starting out. A good solid engine guard or crash bar will soon pay for itself in unbroken clutch levers and other pricey doodads prone to breakage during low speed or no speed drops.

    Be careful and take it easy out there, kid!


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