Will this fit in? I took Royal Enfield’s retro INT650 to the Vashon Island Vintage Bike Rally

There are many more photos at the end of this story.

I’ve owned a lot of vintage motorcycles, and there seems to be a trend: many of them were parallel twins, or P-Twins, including a Norton Commando 750, BSA A50, Honda CB450SS, Yamaha XS650 and a Yamaha Seca 400. There’s just something about this engine that has both soul and sound, aesthetics and performance. In 2020, with no vintage machines in the garage, I acquired a new INT650, also known as the Interceptor 650 outside the US, a thoroughly modern yet very retro P-Twin of India’s revitalized Royal Enfield and modernized.

And after a Covid hiatus, the North West’s most entertaining vintage motorcycle rally, VME’s Isle of Vashon TT, was back for 2022. How would the retro-modern Royal Enfield INT650 P-Twin perform during such an event? Would I be kicked out of the sprawling island, located in Puget Sound outside of Tacoma, Washington, for trying to be a retro impostor? Or would the hundreds of vintage riding enthusiasts allow me to park and camp my fuel-injected, ABS-equipped (but still air-cooled) vintage-style slice of modernity in the D-grade range? exhaust from their beloved time machines? Only one way to find out.

I packed the INT650 with camping essentials since our group was going to be setting up pitches at AYH Ranch, a former American hostel that has since been converted into a vintage Western-style respite for travelers, offering rooms, cabins, teepees and acres of flat, manicured grassland for tent camping.

When camping on a motorcycle you need to pack light, especially on a small displacement machine like the INT650. Fortunately, I have the material for that. Now we just needed the weather to cooperate, and showers were forecast. Undeterred, our little squadron of runners left the Portland area and traversed winding back roads and high-speed interstate highways to Tacoma, where we hopped on a ferry for the short trip over the water to Vashon Island, where the pace of life is a bit slower than in neighboring Tacoma and Seattle. Bonus detail: Motorcycles are the first to get on and off the spacious Washington Ferries.

Once at AYH Ranch, we set up our campsites along the tree line and headed out to the small town of Vashon to Sporty’s Tavern for satisfying fried seafood, burgers and pucks. ‘onion. Then it was back to camp for foam and a chat. Unfortunately the dry summer and nearby forest fires meant no campfires were allowed. So we chatted under the outside lights in the evening about life, bikes and adventures while browsing through a selection of vintage motorcycle magazines from the 1970s.

My goodness, how times have changed, but it was fun to see ads for all those “new” P-Twins from five decades ago that now stood on Vashon Island as vintage icons .

Saturday is rally day, and stripped of panniers and camping gear, the INT650 looks light and lean. Twin vertically swept lightweight S&S brushed-aluminum exhaust pipes allow the engine to express itself fully under the throttle, while growling with grace and composure over the sometimes rough Vashon pavement. The first event of the day is a poker race, starting in the town of Vashon. The route goes around the island and at each stop, runners are given a “map”. At the end of the race, the best hands win prizes. Safe to say I shouldn’t start playing poker anytime soon.

Delicious burgers and fixins are also on the menu at the last stop, along with a show and shine competition and fun motorbike games including Push the Barrel and a circle race in which the circle continually becomes… smaller. Get passed and you’re out of the race! The games were held on dirt and grass, so while a few bikes fell sideways, most of the damage was done to the riders’ egos.

The rally bikes ran the gamut, from old, almost steampunk-worthy Britbikes to immaculately restored 1970s Japanese machines and sidecars with riders in period gear. Riders on modern machines are also welcome at the Vashon TT.

MORE FORBESRide review: Royal Enfield’s Mellow Meteor 350 brings zen back to motorbike riding

How did the INT650 measure up? Royal Enfield’s market share in the US has seen a surge of late as the company strives to expand dealerships and its US customer base with new offerings like the 350 Meteor (review above) and the Himalayan adventure bike, but it’s still a fairly new brand on the American motorcycle scene, and the INT650 still makes people stop, take a closer look, and ask questions about what it is, where it’s made and how it rides. And overall, even vintage riders gave it a pass, with some admitting they were considering one for themselves, thanks to the affordable $6,199 price tag and deft blend of vintage styling and tech. modern.

Safely back at camp, we passed around bottles and new stories as the air became heavy with humidity, and sure enough, drops started pattering on my tent flysheet as I dozed off for the night. In the morning, the sky was just cloudy as we packed up to go home. The return trip passed through tiny towns and farmlands, crossed high steel bridges and along mighty Northwest rivers until the Portland skyline appeared in the distance. All too soon, the INT650 was back in the garage with its wheeled siblings, waiting for another chance to once again prove that modern technology and vintage appeal can indeed co-exist in a motorcycle that gets both values. righteous.

See you next year, Vashon.

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