Ever since my interview last December with Rod Copes, President of Royal Enfield North America, I’ve been looking forward to experiencing the new 650 Twin the company developed for the Continental GT 650 and the Interceptor 650. The common engine and chassis underlying these two models represent just one of “several” platforms slated to be released by RE in the next 3-5 years, according to Copes. Additionally, Copes claims that these platforms will all be aimed at the 400-700cc category because Royal Enfield wants to be the global leader in the middle-weight segment, which he thinks is underutilized as most manufacturers have been exploiting the heavy-weight market with its wider profit margins. Since I am a fan of both middle-weights and parallel Twins, these were heady statements to receive.
With this month’s Buyer’s Guides focusing on Touring ( Touring America: Buyers Guide, And Advice, Motorcycle Touring: Do-It-Yourself Touring) concocting a touring-focused Top 10 seemed more than appropriate. Large-displacement tourers are abundant and receive lots of press, especially in our bigger-is-better country. Choosing 10 mid-displacement bikes to shoehorn into the category turns out to be more difficult than one might think. The 10 bikes here represent more of what’s available in the category rather than a rating countdown from 10 to one. So, in alphabetical order we give you 10 sub-1000cc bikes that span a wide range of sporting, as well as, touring capabilities.
That’s right, masters of the obvious, one of these things is not like the other ones. But what we found out as we rode around on these four is that each of them fills a distinct niche, rendering the Honda less outside the Adventure Bike box than we would’ve thought going into it. Besides, the Africa Twin’s not here yet. Tommy Roderick and I already decided the BMW R1200GS Adventure is the ultimate if your adventures will include unpaved surfaces, but these four adventure bikes are aimed more toward riding on pavement: We’ve all seen the stats about how few of these kinds of bikes and Range Rovers ever make it off road. Not many. And having said that, a couple of these might make reasonable dual-sports depending upon how reasonable you ride off piste.
When I realized that my days were numbered with my unofficial long-term Yamaha FJR1300ES, I began to wonder what I would do without it. Over a period of about nine months, I’d become quite accustomed to having hard bags and sporting performance at my disposal on a daily basis. As my thoughts turned to a worthy replacement, I began to consider the Honda Interceptor I’d ridden at its introduction back in June. The initial high demand for journalist bikes was over. So, perhaps, Honda was willing to keep a 2014 model on the books into 2015 to allow me to park it in my driveway and have some fun riding and modifying it – all for your edification, of course. Really, I was just thinking about you readers.
Some motorcycles arrive on the scene with shock and awe pyrotechnics, delivering white-hot performance that was previously thought to be impossible from a streetbike. When you step off one of those machines, you feel as if the gravitational constant has shifted, like you’ll never look at a motorcycle the same way again.