Test riding other bikes
I test rode some other motorcycles today so I could compare them with my 2018 Rebel 500. Here are some of my thoughts.
First up was the 2019 Triumph Street Twin. It's been revamped for this model year, with a bit more power and a couple of ride modes. I'm an older rider, about 5' 9", weigh about 135 and got back into motorcycles last year, after decades in the wilderness. So I wasn't looking for a large bike, nor am I thirsty for power. You turn on the Street Twin and the stock pipes just sound fantastic. The bike weighs in at about 435 pounds, making it about 20 more than our trusted beast. I didn't feel the difference. It puts out 65 horsies and about 60 lb-ft of torque, so the power difference was discernible. But I didn't find it over-whelming or hard to control. The throttle was smooth, just like the Rebel's. I should tell you that I was street riding with a top speed of less than 55 mph. On the Rebel we ride straight up with the pegs forcing an almost 90 degree angle at your knee. The Triumph was a bit more tucked in, making an angle of perhaps 75 degrees, not too far from the vertical. The seat's a bit higher than the Rebel, although I could plant down on both sides. It took a bit to get used to. I loved this bike — the ride, the terrific styling, and of course the sound. But it starts at $9,300.
Next up was Royal Enfield's brand new model, the Continental GT 650, the first twin from the company in many decades (as a teenager I rode the RE Bullet, a 350cc thumper that they still sell, pretty much unchanged along with a kick-starter!). The Continental GT was introduced alongside an almost identical 650 called the Interceptor. The first one is more of a cafe racer style, while the second is more street. Both bikes are manufactured in India (where RE is now based) and have been receiving excellent reviews across the board, when pitted against bikes that cost thousands more (including the above Triumph Street Twin). Both motorcycles were showcased in an episode of Jay Leno's Garage and both have strong British personalities. I rode the Continental. The stance here is much more tucked in and you have to lean forward a lot more when compared with the stance you take on the Rebel (legs make an even more acute angle since the pegs are pushed back and the bars are a bit low). I've never really ridden a sport bike, so this stance was new to me. I didn't like it at all. I could feel weight on my wrists throughout and I can't see being on the saddle for more than an hour. This bike is closer in power and torque to the Rebel (47hp and 38 ft-lb) and accelerated well. I didn't like the stock sound, the posture, or the general fit and feel of the bike. I'm sure I would have liked the Interceptor model better. RE is clearly doing something right with these twins; modern retro bikes that are good and highly affordable (~$5,800). They will steal share from many others and be responsible for getting many more of us on the road.
Finally, I took an Indian Scout on the road. I had wanted to ride the Scout Sixty a 900cc version, but they didn't have a model for me. So I tried out the Scout, somewhat tentatively. This bike is a lot heavier (550+ lbs) and 1200cc motor puts out 100hp and 72 of the twisties. The Scout is even lower slung than the Rebel, so the weight is very well balanced. I can't say I felt the greater weight, even when I took a wide U turn (that I did with all of them). The engine has gobs of power, but a nice and controlled throttle that didn't make the bike jerk out when you change gears. I hit 70 mph without even realizing it. The torque is just ridiculous. You can accelerate from almost any gear at any speed. At 20mph I could easily pull ahead in any gear. The pegs are far forward, relative to the Rebel, and I wasn't crazy about this either although I found this much easier than the sports posture. The seat was exceptional.
My choices are as follows: 1. Triumph Street Twin 2. Indian Scout 3. RE Continental GT
All this made me realize what an excellent bike the Rebel 500 is. At least a couple of guys at the dealer had nice things to say about the new Rebel 500. They made no bones about that. I find that the Rebel has the smoothest gears of them all. I like the riding position. It gives me better control and more confidence. It handles the best (the Triumph is close). I didn't really test brakes on any model. Somehow the Rebel feels louder at 40-50mph than the other bikes (I have a flyscreen that may actually be making things worse). I suspect two things here. First, the upright position may be creating more wind noise. Second, the quieter Rebel engine may be accentuating the wind noise, which actually bothers me more. I like the styling. The seat's the worst of all the bikes I tried. But overall, it's a nicely put together machine, with adequate power that gets the job done without a huff, and at a great price.
2018 Rebel 500ABS
Last edited by SeventhGear; 05-09-2019 at 01:38 AM.