The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

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The Royal Enfield INT 650 isn’t just a motorcycle, it’s also a romantic vision of the past. This bike is an anachronism in 2020, but in perhaps the best way possible. All of my present-day worries melted away as soon as I sat astride this little black beauty. If you’re impressed by statistics, this bike won’t scratch that itch, but if you seek to connect with a feeling, a soul, a spirit, it’s right here. And damn is it cheap!

(Full Disclosure: Royal Enfield invited me to ride one of its motorcycles. I asked if I could borrow an INT 650 for about 1,000 miles on the Driving While Awesome! Coastal Range Rally. I arranged my own travel and paid for my own food. Royal Enfield arranged for me to pick up the bike from a dealer in Oakland, California. The bike was provided with a full tank of fuel, which I promptly emptied and refilled a few times over three days. I returned the bike in the same condition it was in when I took delivery.)

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Image: Matt Brown

The Coastal Range Rally is traditionally held twice per year with around 100 automotive enthusiasts hitting some of the greatest roads in California. I’ve participated in the rally a handful of times—always in a car. This time I decided to ask the folks in charge if I could bring a two-wheeled participant for the first time, and they agreed after calling me a damned fool. After being hit by the worst weather imaginable, perhaps they were right.

The rally, for me, began on Thursday. Hauling over the hill from Reno, Nevada to the bay to pick up the bike was unseasonably dry and clear. I had hoped this would be a good omen for how my weekend would go, but alas…

Getting from Oakland to the start point of the rally in Sausalito sent me up and over the bay and down a gorgeous stretch of the 101. To put this into perspective, this was March 12, the day we decided to postpone all Radwood events due to COVID-19. This gave the rally a new significance to me. I knew it would be the last event I would participate in for quite some time, so I had to make the most of it.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The thing that makes the Coastal Range Rally great is how it seamlessly links great roads together without so much as a short transit along straight and boring highways. Every minute of the route is packed with corners, gorgeous views, and off-the-beaten-trail solitude. Skirt the coast, jam up through a grove of redwoods, shoot across hilly farmland, and end up in some far-flung town at the end of the day. How can you beat it? While it’s great in a car, that’s the kind of thing motorcycles were built for!

Rally participants are sworn to secrecy as to the exact route, so I can’t show you a map of the roads used over the three day escapade. The DWA folks work hard to find the best roads possible, and they don’t want a rush of motortourists to clog the roads or turn them into speed traps. I can say that the route took us from Sausalito to Ukiah to Clearlake, so use your imagination a little bit.

I expected this rally for cars to shine a bright light on the flaws of the Royal Enfield more than a traditional back country riding day might. I knew going in that the air-cooled twin’s 47-horsepower would need to be spurred on with copious throttle if I intended to keep up with the BMW 2002s and Alfas that the rally traditionally attracts. And keeping up wasn’t optional, as without a way to read the rally route book, I’d be lost in a second without a four-wheeled navigator.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

What It Is

Royal Enfield is the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, continually making two-wheeled conveyances since 1901. While the company was originally founded in England, it began licensing its bikes for production in India in 1955. By 1978 an influx of Japanese motorcycles killed off the British arm of the company, but they continued selling in India unimpeded.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The inexpensive thumpers from Royal Enfield still have 1950s origins, which is fine for its home market, but Americans and Europeans expected more power and quality from their motorcycle purchases. For the 2019 model year, RE introduced the new INT 650—and its Continental cafe racer-style sibling—with a new parallel twin engine, and a new Harris Performance-designed steel tube chassis. The Indian bikemaker also invested heavily in a new quality control program to bring itself up to snuff.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The INT 650 is styled in the same vein as any number of other motorcycles that come to mind when you think “standard.” It’s an amalgam of every great vintage motorcycle design with two welcome modernisms in the form of electric start and ABS. Otherwise, this bike could be straight out of 1965. It’s simple, and that’s by design. If you don’t want a bunch of stuff on your motorcycle, and the idea of a heated seat makes you spit, maybe this is for you.

Royal Enfield says the INT 650 weighs about 450 pounds without fluids. In riding the thing, it feels much lighter on its feet than that. Even with a steel frame and a 650cc air-cooled twin, it’s nimble and jaunty. Ducati says the Multistrada 1260S I tested just before the Enfield weighs 467 pounds dry, and the difference between these two feels far more than 17 pounds.

It’s a simple bike that I don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining. There isn’t any cool tech, there aren’t any innovative features. It’s a seat, wheels, an engine, and handle bars. Simple as that.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Setting The Scene

I have never been colder than I was riding this motorcycle in northern California. Following an overcast and chilly day of riding up the coast on Friday, which was quite a lot of fun and proved the bike’s mettle, Saturday started wet and frigid. I stopped by a Walmart to pick up a $4 crew neck sweatshirt and a scarf to help insulate me, and I’m so glad I did. Without any kind of windscreen or fairing, my upright chest was beat against a wall of icy wind for hours at a time, but I maintained composure and trudged onward. This is the bed I made, and I was determined to lay in it.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Leaving Ukiah on Saturday, we turned up into the hills, blasting through the fog layer. If you’ve ever ridden in fog, you know it’s a deep and penetrating wet. That got worse as the fog turned to rain, and the rain ultimately developed into snow. In short order my fingers grew numb before settling into a biting pain. Even with rain pants on, my legs were dry but extremely cold. Press on regardless—that’s what a rider from the 1960s would do.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The Royal Enfield was unfazed by any of it. Despite pulling over to warm my gloves on the bike’s exhaust and my finger tips by my breath, I passed a number of people with windshields treading carefully on summer-compound tires. The wet and cold pavement was no match for the narrow Pirellis, carving through the slush and keeping both of us upright. I found myself a good pace that was a mix of cautious for the weather and speedy for the need to get back to sea level as quickly as possible.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Once down the other side of the grade, the warmth of a 50 degree day enveloped me like the embrace of an old friend. By lunch time I was mostly dried out and having a great time. The pavement was damp or drying for the remainder of Saturday, but I was able to really lean into the corners and put the power down coming out of them. This motorcycle is confidence-inspiring in that you know it has relatively low thresholds of performance, but you are never encouraged to step beyond them. I had an unspoken agreement with the INT 650 that neither of us would do anything stupid—well, anything more stupid than riding in snow and ice.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The Ride

This is an endearing motorcycle. It want’s to be your friend, and you want to invite it to your birthday party. It looks and feels familiar to anyone with riding experience, and is as unintimidating as motorcycles can get these days. It’s not particularly great in any particular area, but it’s pretty good at all of them.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The air-cooled twin is old-school cool. It’s got a great, classic noise, which the dealer demonstrated sounds even better with a set of S&S slip-on mufflers. The power delivery is pretty smooth, but if you want to go fast, it’ll take a whole lot of grip twist to accomplish. Even with a long straight stretch, I found triple digits out of reach, maxing out around 87 miles per hour. It’s perfectly comfortable cruising at 75 on the freeway at around 5,000 RPMs in 6th gear. Acceleration is nice, even with a big boy like myself onboard. the six-speed gearbox with nicely spaced ratios helps, for certain.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Image: Matt Brown

This motorcycle excels at uphill grades, with plenty of low-end grunt and excellent gearing. While I normally prefer riding downhill, getting the most out of every sweeping curve, a combination of the not-quite-enough brakes of the INT 650 and the wet weather had me braking early and often with unpleasant results. Even with the bike’s Bosch ABS, I found myself occasionally locking the rear wheel into downhill corners in the wet. The brakes were competent enough in most situations, but sustained downhill braking had them heating up quite a bit, as evidenced by the noxious smell and increasing brake zones. If the bike were mine, I’d want a better pad compound.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Ergonomically, I quite liked the RE. The wide handlebars are in a ready position, and the foot pegs offered reasonable comfort. The large fuel tank required a cowboy stance, but it was easy to get used to. The Continental model’s fuel tank has knee cutouts, but its fuel capacity suffers as a result. As a personal preference, I’d rather have the extra fuel capacity than a marginally narrower seating position. The seat had enough cushion to keep me sitting pretty, and overall, the INT 650 felt sporty without being too stiff or poorly laid out. Royal Enfield describes the INT’s ergonomic setup as having a “gentle sports bias”.

While I did find my back and knees hurt a little after four hours or so in the saddle, I never reached a point where I couldn’t press on. I just slept all the more soundly in my hotel each night as a result.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The bike’s 3.61 gallon fuel tank was perfectly suited for this rally. I was able to go long stretches between far flung towns without needing to stop for fuel. I was able to log around 60 miles per gallon. With over 200 miles of fuel range, you can do a lot of ripping before you have to pull over. And I do mean ripping, as I scored that fuel economy while pushing the bike to its limits. For hours at a time I was running all the way out to redline with every shift. I’m truly impressed.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

What’s Great

The number one great thing about this bike is the price. With a starting price of just $5,799, it has all of the style of a Triumph Bonneville at half the price. And damn, what a style it has!

It’s so incredibly easy to use. If you’re looking for a starter bike, there are a lot worse places you could look. It’ll make an experienced rider smile, but it’s forgiving enough for a beginner.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Photo: Matt Brown

The chassis and suspension are punching above their weight class. This bike has enough grip and compliance to take on bigger brands. And the engine is competent enough to make it all work as a great package.

The Bosch-sourced fuel injection system gives this bike incredible throttle response.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The shifter is smooth, fluid, and oh so nice. And accurate, to boot. I didn’t find a single false neutral in three days of hard charging.

Fuel economy. Range. Comfort. This bike has it all in spades.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

What’s Weak

I found the brakes and the ABS system underwhelming. Getting tripped up by cold and wet roads is pretty much unacceptable in 2020, but this bike lives in the 60s, and it’s acceptable for that era.

It’s not exactly fast. 47 horsepower is fine, but it certainly won’t set the world on fire. Then again, not every bike needs to set the world on fire. The world is on fire enough as it is, thank you very kindly.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The gauge cluster has a speedo, tach, fuel gauge, and odometer, which is nice, but the screen in the cluster showing fuel and mileage looks like it was cribbed from Texas Instruments circa the TI-87.

I understand that corners have to be cut to save money, but I do wish they weren’t quite so visible. No LED lights, no digital gauges, no trick electronics. It’s true to its roots, but maybe a little too true.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

For the price, I think it’s well worth it. But I’d probably invest in a flyscreen, those S&S pipes, and a better set of brake pads.

And if you’ve made it this far into the review, you deserve to see a few photos of me making an absolute fool of myself. Our route took us down out of the hills out to the Pacific Ocean a few times, and at one of our stops, a few folks drove their cars out onto the beach for a photograph.

Peering out over the flat rocky beach, I said to myself, “Yeah, that backdrop will look great for my review.” So I punched the starter button and followed them out. What I had expected was a hard packed rocky dirt, but what I got was a very fine and thin silty sand sitting among the rocks and my rear tire immediately sunk four inches.

Thankfully I was able to keep the revs up and walk it out of the deep stuff, but unfortunately a friend with a camera was on hand to document my failure in judgement. No damage was done, except to my fragile ego.

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Photo: Matt Brown

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Photo: Matt Brown

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Photo: Matt Brown

Illustration for article titled The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Photo: Matt B

The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

Image: Matt Brown

The Royal Enfield INT 650 isn’t just a motorcycle, it’s also a romantic vision of the past. This bike is an anachronism in 2020, but in perhaps the best way possible. All of my present-day worries melted away as soon as I sat astride this little black beauty. If you’re impressed by statistics, this bike won’t scratch that itch, but if you seek to connect with a feeling, a soul, a spirit, it’s right here. And damn is it cheap!

(Full Disclosure: Royal Enfield invited me to ride one of its motorcycles. I asked if I could borrow an INT 650 for about 1,500 kilometres on the Driving While Awesome! Coastal Range Rally. I arranged my own travel and paid for my own food. Royal Enfield arranged for me to pick up the bike from a dealer in Oakland, California. The bike was provided with a full tank of fuel, which I promptly emptied and refilled a few times over three days. I returned the bike in the same condition it was in when I took delivery.)

The Coastal Range Rally is traditionally held twice per year with around 100 automotive enthusiasts hitting some of the greatest roads in California. I’ve participated in the rally a handful of times—always in a car. This time I decided to ask the folks in charge if I could bring a two-wheeled participant for the first time, and they agreed after calling me a damned fool. After being hit by the worst weather imaginable, perhaps they were right.

The rally, for me, began on Thursday. Hauling over the hill from Reno, Nevada to the bay to pick up the bike was unseasonably dry and clear. I had hoped this would be a good omen for how my weekend would go, but alas…

Getting from Oakland to the start point of the rally in Sausalito sent me up and over the bay and down a gorgeous stretch of the 101. To put this into perspective, this was March 12, the day we decided to postpone all Radwood events due to COVID-19. This gave the rally a new significance to me. I knew it would be the last event I would participate in for quite some time, so I had to make the most of it.

The thing that makes the Coastal Range Rally great is how it seamlessly links great roads together without so much as a short transit along straight and boring highways. Every minute of the route is packed with corners, gorgeous views, and off-the-beaten-trail solitude. Skirt the coast, jam up through a grove of redwoods, shoot across hilly farmland, and end up in some far-flung town at the end of the day. How can you beat it? While it’s great in a car, that’s the kind of thing motorcycles were built for!

Rally participants are sworn to secrecy as to the exact route, so I can’t show you a map of the roads used over the three day escapade. The Driving While Awesome — the organisation behind it — folks work hard to find the best roads possible, and they don’t want a rush of motortourists to clog the roads or turn them into speed traps. I can say that the route took us from Sausalito to Ukiah to Clearlake, so use your imagination a little bit.

I expected this rally for cars to shine a bright light on the flaws of the Royal Enfield more than a traditional back country riding day might. I knew going in that the air-cooled twin’s 47-horsepower would need to be spurred on with copious throttle if I intended to keep up with the BMW 2002s and Alfas that the rally traditionally attracts. And keeping up wasn’t optional, as without a way to read the rally route book, I’d be lost in a second without a four-wheeled navigator.

What It Is

Royal Enfield is the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, continually making two-wheeled conveyances since 1901. While the company was originally founded in England, it began licensing its bikes for production in India in 1955. By 1978 an influx of Japanese motorcycles killed off the British arm of the company, but they continued selling in India unimpeded.

The inexpensive thumpers from Royal Enfield still have 1950s origins, which is fine for its home market, but Americans and Europeans expected more power and quality from their motorcycle purchases. For the 2019 model year, RE introduced the new INT 650—and its Continental cafe racer-style sibling—with a new parallel twin engine, and a new Harris Performance-designed steel tube chassis. The Indian bikemaker also invested heavily in a new quality control program to bring itself up to snuff.

The INT 650 is styled in the same vein as any number of other motorcycles that come to mind when you think “standard.” It’s an amalgam of every great vintage motorcycle design with two welcome modernisms in the form of electric start and ABS. Otherwise, this bike could be straight out of 1965. It’s simple, and that’s by design. If you don’t want a bunch of stuff on your motorcycle, and the idea of a heated seat makes you spit, maybe this is for you.

Royal Enfield says the INT 650 weighs about 180 kilograms without fluids. In riding the thing, it feels much lighter on its feet than that. Even with a steel frame and a 650cc air-cooled twin, it’s nimble and jaunty. Ducati says the Multistrada 1260S I tested just before the Enfield weighs 212 kilograms dry, and the difference between these two feels far more than eight kilograms.

It’s a simple bike that I don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining. There isn’t any cool tech, there aren’t any innovative features. It’s a seat, wheels, an engine, and handle bars. Simple as that.

Setting The Scene

I have never been colder than I was riding this motorcycle in northern California. Following an overcast and chilly day of riding up the coast on Friday, which was quite a lot of fun and proved the bike’s mettle, Saturday started wet and frigid. I stopped by a local store to pick up a $6 crew neck shirt and a scarf to help insulate me, and I’m so glad I did. Without any kind of windscreen or fairing, my upright chest was beat against a wall of icy wind for hours at a time, but I maintained composure and trudged onward. This is the bed I made, and I was determined to lay in it.

Leaving Ukiah on Saturday, we turned up into the hills, blasting through the fog layer. If you’ve ever ridden in fog, you know it’s a deep and penetrating wet. That got worse as the fog turned to rain, and the rain ultimately developed into snow. In short order my fingers grew numb before settling into a biting pain. Even with rain pants on, my legs were dry but extremely cold. Press on regardless—that’s what a rider from the 1960s would do.

The Royal Enfield was unfazed by any of it. Despite pulling over to warm my gloves on the bike’s exhaust and my finger tips by my breath, I passed a number of people with windshields treading carefully on summer-compound tires. The wet and cold pavement was no match for the narrow Pirellis, carving through the slush and keeping both of us upright. I found myself a good pace that was a mix of cautious for the weather and speedy for the need to get back to sea level as quickly as possible.

Once down the other side of the grade, the warmth of a 10 degree Celcius day enveloped me like the embrace of an old friend. By lunch time I was mostly dried out and having a great time. The pavement was damp or drying for the remainder of Saturday, but I was able to really lean into the corners and put the power down coming out of them. This motorcycle is confidence-inspiring in that you know it has relatively low thresholds of performance, but you are never encouraged to step beyond them. I had an unspoken agreement with the INT 650 that neither of us would do anything stupid—well, anything more stupid than riding in snow and ice.

The Ride

This is an endearing motorcycle. It want’s to be your friend, and you want to invite it to your birthday party. It looks and feels familiar to anyone with riding experience, and is as unintimidating as motorcycles can get these days. It’s not particularly great in any particular area, but it’s pretty good at all of them.

The air-cooled twin is old-school cool. It’s got a great, classic noise, which the dealer demonstrated sounds even better with a set of S&S slip-on mufflers. The power delivery is pretty smooth, but if you want to go fast, it’ll take a whole lot of grip twist to accomplish. Even with a long straight stretch, I found triple digits out of reach, maxing out around 87 miles per hour. It’s perfectly comfortable cruising at 120 on the freeway at around 5,000 RPMs in 6th gear. Acceleration is nice, even with a big boy like myself onboard. the six-speed gearbox with nicely spaced ratios helps, for certain.

Image: Matt Brown

This motorcycle excels at uphill grades, with plenty of low-end grunt and excellent gearing. While I normally prefer riding downhill, getting the most out of every sweeping curve, a combination of the not-quite-enough brakes of the INT 650 and the wet weather had me braking early and often with unpleasant results. Even with the bike’s Bosch ABS, I found myself occasionally locking the rear wheel into downhill corners in the wet. The brakes were competent enough in most situations, but sustained downhill braking had them heating up quite a bit, as evidenced by the noxious smell and increasing brake zones. If the bike were mine, I’d want a better pad compound.

Ergonomically, I quite liked the RE. The wide handlebars are in a ready position, and the foot pegs offered reasonable comfort. The large fuel tank required a cowboy stance, but it was easy to get used to. The Continental model’s fuel tank has knee cutouts, but its fuel capacity suffers as a result. As a personal preference, I’d rather have the extra fuel capacity than a marginally narrower seating position. The seat had enough cushion to keep me sitting pretty, and overall, the INT 650 felt sporty without being too stiff or poorly laid out. Royal Enfield describes the INT’s ergonomic setup as having a “gentle sports bias”.

While I did find my back and knees hurt a little after four hours or so in the saddle, I never reached a point where I couldn’t press on. I just slept all the more soundly in my hotel each night as a result.

The bike’s 13.7 litre fuel tank was perfectly suited for this rally. I was able to go long stretches between far flung towns without needing to stop for fuel. I was able to log around 3.9 litres per 100 kilometres. With over 320 miles of fuel range, you can do a lot of ripping before you have to pull over. And I do mean ripping, as I scored that fuel economy while pushing the bike to its limits. For hours at a time I was running all the way out to redline with every shift. I’m truly impressed.

What’s Great

The number one great thing about this bike is the price. With a starting price of just $9,790, it has all of the style of a Triumph Bonneville at half the price. And damn, what a style it has!

It’s so incredibly easy to use. If you’re looking for a starter bike, there are a lot worse places you could look. It’ll make an experienced rider smile, but it’s forgiving enough for a beginner.

Photo: Matt Brown

The chassis and suspension are punching above their weight class. This bike has enough grip and compliance to take on bigger brands. And the engine is competent enough to make it all work as a great package.

The Bosch-sourced fuel injection system gives this bike incredible throttle response.

The shifter is smooth, fluid, and oh so nice. And accurate, to boot. I didn’t find a single false neutral in three days of hard charging.

Fuel economy. Range. Comfort. This bike has it all in spades.

What’s Weak

I found the brakes and the ABS system underwhelming. Getting tripped up by cold and wet roads is pretty much unacceptable in 2020, but this bike lives in the 60s, and it’s acceptable for that era.

It’s not exactly fast. 47 horsepower is fine, but it certainly won’t set the world on fire. Then again, not every bike needs to set the world on fire. The world is on fire enough as it is, thank you very kindly.

The gauge cluster has a speedo, tach, fuel gauge, and odometer, which is nice, but the screen in the cluster showing fuel and mileage looks like it was cribbed from Texas Instruments circa the TI-87.

I understand that corners have to be cut to save money, but I do wish they weren’t quite so visible. No LED lights, no digital gauges, no trick electronics. It’s true to its roots, but maybe a little too true.

For the price, I think it’s well worth it. But I’d probably invest in a flyscreen, those S&S pipes, and a better set of brake pads.

And if you’ve made it this far into the review, you deserve to see a few photos of me making an absolute fool of myself. Our route took us down out of the hills out to the Pacific Ocean a few times, and at one of our stops, a few folks drove their cars out onto the beach for a photograph.

Peering out over the flat rocky beach, I said to myself, “Yeah, that backdrop will look great for my review.” So I punched the starter button and followed them out. What I had expected was a hard packed rocky dirt, but what I got was a very fine and thin silty sand sitting among the rocks and my rear tire immediately sunk four inches.

Thankfully I was able to keep the revs up and walk it out of the deep stuff, but unfortunately a friend with a camera was on hand to document my failure in judgement. No damage was done, except to my fragile ego.

Photo: Matt Brown

Photo: Matt Brown

Photo: Matt Brown

Photo: Matt Brown


Lead

The 2020 Royal Enfield INT 650 Is A Dirt-Cheap Modern Classic

+

Fun ride. Old-school charm by the bucketload. Great mechanicals. CHEAP.

Underwhelming brakes. A little slow. Some pieces feel cheap.

TL;DR

Royal Enfield proves it can punch well above its weight with the INT 650. It’s nimble and fun to ride in a way that conjures images of 1960s standards.

POWER

47 HP • 38 LB-FT

WEIGHT

202 kilograms

PRICE

From $9,790

Trump’s ‘opening the country’ council features several political donors, supporters

Trump’s ‘opening the country’ council features several political donors, supporters

The White House announced the appointment of 220 individuals this week assembled by President Donald Trump to serve on an advisory council to assist the White House coronavirus task force in developing a plan to restart the U.S. economy.

The list features prominent leaders from a range of major industries, from real estate to finance to sports. But scattered among them are several of Trump’s friends, supporters, and political donors.

People like Geoffrey Palmer, a colorful California real estate developer who plays professional polo and owns multimillion-dollar mansions in Beverly Hills, Malibu and Aspen, will join the council’s “Construction/Labor/Workforce” group, alongside leaders from major unions, including AFL-CIO, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Laborers’ International Union of North America.

Palmer has also been one of Trump’s most generous political donors, hosting multiple Trump fundraisers at his luxurious Los Angeles home and giving more than $10 million to the president’s various fundraising vehicles, including Trump’s presidential campaign, multiple Trump-aligned super PACs, and a legal defense fund set up to help pay legal bills for Trump allies caught up in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In total, ABC News identified at least 25 individuals appointed to the advisory council who have made substantial donations to his political campaigns or to outside groups supporting his presidency, raising concerns among prominent ethics watchdogs.

“It’s not entirely clear what the parameters were for deciding who is included or not included, but there do seem to be a significant number of Trump donors on this list,” Brendan Fischer, a federal reforms director at watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, told ABC News. “And you do have to question whether some of these people would have been included if they weren’t major financial supporters of the president and his party.”

Ethics experts say it is certainly not the first time political donors have netted advisory posts. And some council members – such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – have at times been vocal in their opposition to the president and his agenda.

The question, ethics experts said, is whose interests are best represented and how they earned a proverbial seat at the table.

“It’s an example of how writing big checks to the president and a super PAC means that your voice is heard louder than many others,” Fischer said.

The question is not merely academic, as decisions made about the economic future of the country could reflect the interests of those appointed to the council. The council’s seemingly crucial healthcare group, for example, is represented mainly by pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson and insurance companies such as Aetna and Cigna rather than public health professionals.

“It’s bizarre to me that there’s nobody representing public health,” Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel at Washington-based advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told ABC News. “You need to have public health professionals, you need somebody who represents the grocery workers, somebody who represents hospitality workers, and so on.”

Following publication of this report, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere issued a brief statement to ABC News.

“President Trump, who has already brought together the private sector and federal government for unprecedented collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic, is beginning a dialogue with prominent and successful individuals across multiple industries with different backgrounds and skillsets for the monumental task of re-opening the American economy,” Deere wrote. “President Trump’s policies built a booming economy and they will do so again.”

Trump also appointed Treasure Island Hotels owner Phil Ruffin and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson to the council and assigned to its “hospitality” group. Ruffin has given nearly $1 million to Trump Victory, the president’s joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee, and another $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. Adelson dropped a $5 million check to the president’s inaugural committee in 2017 and has given $15 million to Trump-aligned super PACs.

Palmer’s real estate firm G.H. Palmer Associates and Ruffin’s spokesperson declined to comment when reached by ABC News. Adelson did not respond to a request for comment.

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who retired more than 20 years ago but has given $7 million to super PACs supporting Trump, is listed in the council’s “retail” group alongside Home Depot Chief Executive Officer Craig Menear and another co-founder Ken Langone, who has given $2,700 to the Trump campaign, the maximum an individual can give to a campaign per election.

Home Depot’s vice president of corporate communications and external affairs issued a brief statement in response to questions from ABC News.

“We’re happy to give input and ideas on the roadmap for reopening the economy,” the statement reads, “and we’re also doing this through Craig’s participation with other organizations such as the Business Roundtable.”

Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of the asset management group Blackstone, will join the council’s “financial services” and “real estate” groups. Schwarzman gave nearly $1 million to Trump Victory and the Trump inaugural committee and gave another $3 million to America First Action.

World Wrestling Entertainment Vince McMahon, the husband of major Trump donor and fundraiser Linda McMahon, is also listed as a member under the “sports” group. Linda McMahon, who was previously the Trump administration’s small business administrator, is now leading pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.

Earlier this month, a memo from the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close ally of the president, declared “employees at a professional sports (league) and media production with a national audience” part of “essential workers” in Florida, allowing McMahon’s pro-wrestling company to continue live television broadcasts from its Orlando training facility, while most businesses in Florida had been ordered to shut to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

That same day, America First Action announced a $26.6 million investment in broadcast television ad buys set to run in the fall in the battleground states, including $18 million in Florida.

Other prominent Trump donors on the council include Harold Hamm of Continental Resources, Paul Singer of Elliot Management, New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, and M Crowd Restaurant owner Ray Washburne.

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    Trump’s Mar-a-Lago furloughs all 153 ‘non-essential’ employees during coronavirus pandemic – USA TODAY

    Trump’s Mar-a-Lago furloughs all 153 ‘non-essential’ employees during coronavirus pandemic – USA TODAY

    Shannon Donnelly, Palm Beach Daily News
    Published 8:48 a.m. ET April 18, 2020 | Updated 5:37 p.m. ET April 19, 2020

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    The 10th Amendment protects state powers and puts a hamper on presidential powers. Here’s how the fight for control is playing out today.

    USA TODAY

    PALM BEACH, Fla. – As the coronavirus pandemic strangles the state’s hospitality industry, even the guy in charge is feeling the squeeze.

    Two of the Trump Organization’s properties in South Florida – the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and Trump Doral in Miami – furloughed all “nonessential” staff, a total of 713 people.

    At President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, 153 people will be furloughed, according to a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) letter sent to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity by Janine Gill, director of human resources at the Mar-a-Lago Club, and copied to Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio.

    In the letter, dated March 27, Gill wrote the club began halting its operations “due to the unforeseen business circumstances caused by the natural disaster and spread of the novel coronavirus, the mandated closures under Palm Beach County’s Declaration of Emergency, as well as recommendations regarding public gatherings … the club has been forced to place its non-essential personnel on temporary furlough status.”

    The furloughed workers include both indoor and outdoor staff and range from dishwashers to tennis pros to executive assistants.

    At Trump National Doral in Miami-Dade, 560 workers were furloughed.

    Both furloughs are temporary, although when workers will be called back remains unknown.

    The coronavirus pandemic crippled the tourist-oriented Florida economy, forcing the closure of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and recreational facilities before the lucrative spring vacation season.

    Mar-a-Lago notified members of a partial closure March 19 that would affect its restaurant, spa and aerobics classes.

    A notice sent to members and obtained by the Palm Beach Daily News said the club would cease offering a la carte dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the main “house.”

    The letter said guest rooms would no longer be available for reservations and the gym would close, along with spa services and aerobics classes.

    March 20, the club sent a communique to members: “We are writing to inform you that due to Governor DeSantis’ recent executive orders, we unfortunately must suspend all Beach Club and tennis operations.”

    The Mar-a-Lago Club customarily closes its doors on Easter Monday, although it has opened for Mother’s Day brunch in past years.

    Its Beach Club has remained open through the summer, offering its members and guests casual food, beverages and ocean and pool swimming.

    Follow Shannon Donnelly on Twitter: @pbdnsociety

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    Restarting the economy is nothing new for hurricane-ravaged Panama City, Florida

    Restarting the economy is nothing new for hurricane-ravaged Panama City, Florida

    by | Apr 30, 2020 | Worldwide Beach News & Updates

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    When will it hit and what will it look like? Those are just a few unanswered questions about a possible second wave of COVID-19.

    USA TODAY

    Mark McQueen knows something about reopening an economy.

    McQueen had barely assumed the role of city manager for Panama City when the Florida Panhandle town of 40,000 was hit by Hurricane Michael 18 months ago. The Category 5 storm destroyed thousands of homes, smashing commercial buildings to splinters, ripping off roofs and blowing over trees and telephone poles.

    McQueen has led the effort to rebuild the city and its economy. The nation is poised to join him as it tries to transition out of a coronavirus shutdown in the coming weeks and months. In some ways, the city will start its reopening from behind the rest of the USA since it hasn’t fully recovered from Michael.

    In other ways, the city has a head start. People are familiar with what an economic reboot entails.

    “Actually, it was less than a month,” McQueen, a retired two-star general, recalls of his “experience” on the job when the storm hit. “I was winding up my 36-year military career while still commanding more than 8,000 soldiers.”

    During the transition, he took some time off – to donate a kidney to a church member he barely knew whose health was failing.

    “My first day on the job was Sept. 24,” he says. “Hurricane Michael hit two weeks later.”

    U.S. reopening: Which states have relaxed restrictions? Find out what your state is doing

    The damage was historic. More than 14,000 displaced residents and more than 5,000 instantly homeless children. One of McQueen’s major tasks was overseeing removal of 3.8 million cubic yards of debris. That’s the equivalent of 38 years’ worth of normal collections.

    The federal government was little help, he says.

    “Panama City has received fewer state and federal disaster relief dollars than any other city hit by a storm of this magnitude,” he says.

    The city was still recovering when the pandemic materialized. Not all businesses had reopened. The City Commission voted to extend the state of emergency order for Hurricane Michael on April 14 – the same day it extended the state of emergency for COVID-19.

    Disparities in Florida testing: Coronavirus testing varies widely, often by income

    The city has accomplished a great deal, McQueen says.

    “The lessons learned from Michael are immediately applicable to the work that must be done in Panama City and across the country to weather the damage from this pandemic,” he says.

    More than 1,000 Floridians have died from the coronavirus since the nation’s first recorded death in February. The state has logged more than 30,000 confirmed cases. Panama City is the county seat for Bay County, which has reported 63 cases and two deaths.

    Several states, including neighboring Georgia, have begun controversial efforts to reopen. Florida remains under a stay-at-home order through the end of April, but Gov. Ron DeSantis gave some municipalities the green light to reopen beaches. DeSantis asked his state coronavirus task force for a phase-in plan to reopen the state.

    ‘I don’t need this right now’:States may have coronavirus reopening plans, but Americans are still wary

    McQueen says the economic impact of the pandemic will mirror that of the hurricane in some ways. McQueen talks of a “V-shaped recovery curve” in which a number of businesses reopen quickly.

    “Some are even talking about there being a ‘W’-shaped curve with a possible second wave of the virus or a spike in bankruptcies bringing another dip,” he says. “I, however, believe the curve will look like a ‘U,’ ” much like the curve after Michael. Businesses will slowly reopen as conditions are appropriate.

    Communication is key, McQueen says. Leaders should communicate early and often, which will foster trust and help reduce anxiety born of uncertainty and displace rumor and speculation. McQueen refers to the “emotional curve” developed by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    California beaches protest: Police arrest 3 people protesting closed beaches at SoCal beach set to reopen Monday

    “Equally important to successfully navigating  a crisis is the twin need to recognize the six distinct phases of emotional reaction,” he says. “From fear and uncertainty through disillusionment and finally to reconstruction.” 

    The emergence of anti-quarantine protests in the USA is understandable as optimism morphs into disillusionment, he says.

    Every community across the nation is at a different point in this curve, given their pre-COVID-19 underlying economic conditions, population density and the arrival time of the virus, he says.

    Latest coronavirus news:: Georgia church services under scrutiny; last patient leaves hospital in Wuhan; US cases near 1M

    “One piece of advice: Document everything,” he says. “Elements of federal assistance are often contingent on showing the money was properly used.

    “Pre-disaster planning is critical,” McQueen says. The warning lead-time for a storm is a few days. COVID-19 lurked for months. He notes that federal health officials have warned a second wave could come in the fall or winter.

    “The best time to prepare for an event is before it happens. With the pandemic in full swing, communities should look ahead,” he says. “The time to plan for that crisis is now.”

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