Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 first ride review: Make cruising great again
It’s a biting cold morning in Jaisalmer. The sun is just about peeking over the horizon when the silence is broken by 40 parallel twins firing to life. Royal Enfield doesn’t do things half-heartedly, as we have seen with their last few products, and this event that they have put together for the rides of the new Super Meteor 650 is no different. Journalists from all over the world flew down to Rajasthan to experience some of the best roads India has to offer, on RE’s latest. The formula here is simple — take the 650 engine and put it into a more laid back cruiser. However, the changes are substantial. An all-new frame underpins this new motorcycle, there are new suspension components, the engine has been remapped and there are obvious styling changes. And the styling is where I shall begin this review because that is definitely going to be a draw for anyone who is looking to buy this bike.
2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 styling
The Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 is a handsome looking motorcycle. It is a spiritual successor to the Thunderbird in some sense — the motorcycle that filled up the cruiser space in RE’s lineup before this — and it is a far more proportional looking motorcycle than that one. The way the lines flow from front to rear make it look properly homogenous. Firstly, the wheelbase is longer by a whole 100mm compared to the interceptor 650, with a lazier rake angle for the front USDs and a longer trail as well. Then, there’s a meatiness to the styling — partly from the wide tank (that holds 15.7 litres of fuel), partly from the redesigned engine casing and partly from the wide, chunky seat.
A keen eye will notice the redesigned exhaust pipes that now flow from under the motorcycle. The wheels are 19-inches up front and 16s at the rear (with a 150 section at the rear), again contributing to the great stance that the Super Meteor has. Quality and finish levels have also taken a step up with LED lights front and rear, aluminium switch cubes, gloss black housing for the dials, adjustable levers — all stuff that makes it feel very premium. The logo on the tank has been redesigned specifically for this motorcycle too. Overall, the Super Meteor is a handsome looking motorcycle. Touches like the bend in the frame under the seat make it distinctly a Royal Enfield, and yet it encapsulates the styling of some of the most iconic cruisers around.
2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 ergonomics
Swinging a leg over the Super Meteor 650 is easy. The seat is a comfortable 740mm and even shorter riders shouldn’t have trouble getting astride it. My 5-foot 10-inch frame could comfortably stand upright with both my feet resting flat on the floor. The designers have tapered the tank and the seat to ensure that you don’t have to spread your legs wide to stand over the bike. Additionally, the forward set pegs and the exhaust pipes tucked under the bike means you can keep your feet fairly close to the motorcycle itself, unlike on the Interceptor 650.
The foot-forward position is typical cruiser and it is nicely done here. The ’bars aren’t a stretch and I can sit upright, in a very comfortable riding position. If you want an even more relaxed riding position, Royal Enfield will sell you a touring handlebar as an aftermarket accessory as well. I didn’t feel like I needed it though — the riding position is comfortable and it felt like I could spend long hours in the saddle without trouble.
One thing you need to be weary of is the 241kg weight. This is the heaviest Royal Enfield yet, and that is weight that you can feel. While taking it off the stand, putting it on the centre stand, pushing or pulling it out of a parking spot or while taking a u-turn, the weight makes itself felt. You need to muscle it around a little bit and ensure that the weight doesn’t catch you out.
2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 engine
The engine is a familiar one — its the same 648cc unit from the Interceptor and Continental GT 650. Peak outputs remains the same as well, at 46.3bhp and 52.3Nm, though it is worth noting that it has a new air intake and exhaust pipes, and that has allowed RE to map it differently as well. The big change when it comes to the mapping is how it delivers its torque, the focus has been to deliver torque low down in the rev range and 80 per cent of peak torque is now available right from 2500rpm.
Those mapping changes are apparent as soon as you get on the motorcycle. You can feel the grunt as soon as you let out the clutch and get moving. The meat of the power is concentrated in the low to mid-range and that’s where the Super Meteor feels most comfortable. Even if you do shift and make your way up the gears quickly, you won’t find it lacking. This tractability of the engine means you can bring the bike down from cruising speeds in sixth gear to a mere 50kmph, and then roll back on the throttle and gather all that speed again without a grumble.
This characteristic makes long-distance cruising far less stressful, as you don’t need to shift too much on the highway. It also happens to feel effortless. Getting it up to 120kmph is a breeze, there’s plenty of performance on tap. The engine feels completely unstressed at 120-130kmph, like it can sit there all day. It’ll comfortably accelerate past 120kmph as well for those fast overtakes on the highway, too. The performance combined with the tractability make this the best cruiser that Royal Enfield has ever made. Never before could you sit at high speeds as comfortably as you can with this motorcycle.
Refinement is another highlight on the Super Meteor 650. Vibrations at the seat and the pegs are negligible, while you do get small vibes at the handlebars, but nothing that is uncomfortable and intrusive. The refinement is another key characteristic that allows you to do long days without tiring. Fatigue sets in later and you can go further.
2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 chassis
There are big updates on this front — a whole new frame with a new suspension set up. There are new USD forks, the first on a Royal Enfield from the factory, and at the rear you have the typical twin-shock set up. As a cruiser, the geometry changes to the frame and the fact that it is a low motorcycle means you get 135mm of ground clearance. Also worth noting is the fact that up front you get 120mm of travel and at the rear you get a mere 101mm.
How does all this affect the way the Super Meteor 650 rides? Well, let's say that ride quality over an average Indian highway is acceptable. It leans towards the stiffer side but by no means did I find it uncomfortable. The stiff suspension is necessary on a motorcycle with such little travel that weighs so much (and is expected to be loaded further with luggage) but like I said, it deals with small undulations in the road comfortably. The front end soaks up bumps with good composure though I did find the rear give me a slight kick over really sharp bumps or dips. However, any softer and it wouldn’t give you the sort of rock solid composure and confidence it has on good, highway roads. There’s an inherent stability in the chassis, and the suspension does well to keep the weight in check on highway jaunts. It doesn’t feel floaty or overly springy over long wavelength bumps, and feels well suited to covering ground.
The handling, by virtue of the longer wheelbase and rake angle, is lazy. It needs a bit of a push to get tipped over in to a corner, but once there, it stays stable and true to its line. That said, there is polish to the way it deals with bends and is more than willing to indulge the rider over long, sweeping corners. The brakes are another highlight. With a 320mm rotor up front and a 300mm one at the rear, it has plenty of stopping power. The big rotor at the rear is a necessity on cruisers what with so much weight being over the rear wheel, but engage both together and you have solid stopping power along with great brake feel.
2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 price and verdict
The Super Meteor 650 is a sorted motorcycle. The fundamentals are sound — a strong engine with good performance, comfortable ergonomics and a chassis that lends itself to comfortable cruising. Quality and materials feel a step up on the Interceptor. If I had to criticise something about it, I’d say that the windscreen on this Touring variant is at a height where the deflected wind blast hits the top of my helmet, making it quite uncomfortable. Also the heel-toe gear shifter was a tad bit too big for my size 43 boot and I had to keep moving my foot on the pegs to get in a shift. The weight is another thing and may make it a handful for the uninitiated. Minor things, and those aside, everything from the way it rides to the way it looks, is brilliant.
Pricing for the Super Meteor 650 starts at Rs 3.48 lakh (ex-showroom) for the base variant, while this Touring variant (which gets the windscreen, touring seat and backrest) comes in at Rs 3.78 lakh. This slots the Super Meteor into a space with no real direct rivals. My biggest takeaway from the ride is that the Super Meteor delivers the big-bike cruising experience that the Harleys, Indians and even some Triumphs do so well, in a much more affordable, accessible package. It looks the part, it sounds the part, and it goes the part. Another winner from Royal Enfield, without a doubt!