2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 first ride review: Another winner for RE!
Royal Enfield’s unprecedented success in recent years has been a by-product of its fantastic new motorcycles. Notably, the 650 twins that catapulted its global growth with the brand now present in 60 countries and counting. Both the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 are well-engineered motorcycles and it now gets a third sibling in the form of the Super Meteor 650.
For a brand that’s really built itself based on experiences and long tours and rides, it really missed out on a dedicated cruiser in its stable. That’s exactly where the new Super Meteor 650 fits in. It uses the same 648 cc engine but gets a new frame, different ergonomics and more premium components. So is this the kind of a motorcycle you would like to spend an entire day riding? That's exactly the question we set out to answer.
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Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 Design - Quintessential cruiser
Royal Enfield says it's been making long distance tourers for decades now but never really called them cruisers. In fact, the Super Meteor derives its name from the original Super Meteor 700 sold in the 1950s. But this is the manufacturer's first attempt at building a dedicated cruiser.
Which is why despite sharing underpinnings with the 650 Twins, Royal Enfield has approached the Super Meteor 650 as a completely new motorcycle. Changes are aplenty with the new tubular steel spine frame, which has been optimised for cruising ability. It sits on a 1,500 mm long wheelbase, 100 mm longer than the Interceptor and the new design commands a bolder road presence.
The larger body shell is complemented by a flowing design language. The cruiser styling is unmistakable and well integrated with Royal Enfield’s traditional lines. It’s distinctly different from the Meteor 350 and holds its own identity on the road.
The tear-drop-shaped fuel tank, long fenders, round headlamp and touring seat, all scream retro. But there’s also the LED headlamp, sophisticated Showa USD front forks, and alloy wheels with tubeless tyres that lend a modern feel. The instrument cluster incorporates a digital display with all the essential information, while the Tripper navigation pod is a standard fitment. RE has also tucked in a USB charging point, while the 15.7-litre fuel tank is bigger than the INT's.
There are two variants on offer - Solo Tourer and Grand Tourer - and we are riding the former with the split seats. The Grand Tourer adds a windshield, a longer and more comfortable single seat and a back-rest for the pillion.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 - Relaxed ergonomics
The ergonomics of the Super Meteor 650 are dedicated for cruising and the first thing you will notice are the foot pegs, they are forward set. At 740 mm, the saddle height is lower than what you see on other RE motorcycles and is easily accessible for all riders. The saddle itself is wider for added comfort and the handlebar is set higher for a relaxed riding posture. You also get adjustable clutch and brake levers, which is always a welcome addition on the motorcycle.
So you essentially sit feet forward, arms forward on the SM650 and it is a comfortable riding posture. The foot pegs are easy to reach even as the heal and toe shifter takes some getting used to.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 - Build quality
The build quality is equally impressive and Royal Enfield seems to have spared no expense with the Super Meteor 650. The cruiser feels substantially better than the 650 Twins. The welds are well-finished and show an emphasis on getting the finished product right down to the last spec. I do think this is the best that has come from Royal Enfield so far.
The paint quality, brushed aluminium finished on the switchgear, fuel tank lid, the clutch and brake levers, are all premium grade. The chrome finish on the badging, rear-view mirrors and the exhaust, all of it feels top notch. And for the brand’s flagship offering, there’s a lot of attention to detail that’s gone in and it just feels great to see that on a global product.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 - Engine and performance
The 648 cc parallel-twin engine is a direct lift from the Interceptor 650 with a new engine case. But the ECU has been remapped and so has the gearing. The engine was always fantastic in the way it performed and on the Super Meteor, it feels right at home.
|RE Super Meteor 650 Engine
|648 cc Parallel-Twin
|46.3 bhp @ 7,250 rpm
|52.3 Nm @ 5,650 rpm
Power figures remain the same at 46.7 bhp at 7,250 rpm and 52.3 Nm of peak torque at 5,650 rpm. However, the engine feels a lot more refined and better suited for cruising. Power delivery is seamless, linear and quick and the throttle calibration is perfectly done. The long ratio 6-speed gearbox offers seamless shifts and the wide torque spread ensures ample power irrespective of the gear you are in.
The engine feels sublime between 80 to 100 kmph at just 5,000 rpm and will easily stay between 100-120 kmph all day long. The motor is super tractable and will do triple digit speeds with ease. The strong mid-range translate to ample power whenever you twist the throttle. But push it beyond that 120 kmph mark and the vibrations kick in on the foot pegs and handlebar. We managed a top speed of 150 kmph but the strong vibrations and wind resistance are hard to keep up with.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 - Handling
Now cruisers aren’t known to be handling-friendly motorcycles and the Super Meteor 650 isn't a corner carver either. But this is surprisingly a very confident motorcycle around a bend. The cruiser gets a new tubular steel frame and swingarm that brings a lower centre of gravity, and in turn, better handling. You can swoosh in, swoosh out of long, flowing corners. It feels very comfortable and holds its lines really well.
It's impressively done considering you are lugging a motorcycle that weighs 241 kg (kerb). You don’t feel the weight of the motorcycle, especially on the move. Yes, at standstill you feel the weight quite a bit, but even at speeds of 5-10 kmph, that weight distribution helps keep this a more flick-able motorcycle. For somebody moving from a smaller bike to a bigger cruiser like this one, it makes the whole experience of riding very easy.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 - Ride quality
As impressive as the Super Meteor is in other parameters, it leaves the ride quality a little to be desired. The new USD front forks feel great with 120 mm of travel and are a big step-up for RE at large. They gobble up undulations well and offer a stable ride. However, the rear suspension feels stiff with just 101 mm of travel and most bumps and thuds are felt on the rider’s back. But give the Super Meteor smooth roads and the suspension set-up behaves really well. It's also the reason why the handling works so well on the SM650.
Add to that the increased trail with the 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheel set-up and the cruiser offers excellent high-speed stability. You could sit all day doing 120 kmph and it wouldn't even flinch. That's how confident you feel on the motorcycle.
The cruiser format does mean that dealing with a low ground clearance of 135 mm. But the limited suspension travel also means that you have fewer chances of scraping the foot pegs or exhaust despite the low ground clearance. Throughout our ride, we managed to show the SM650 a few corners and not once did it scrape. You will have to put in some effort to do the same.
With respect to braking, it feels progressive on the Super Meteor. It's certainly better than older Royal Enfield motorcycles and there's another leap that the brand has taken. The 320 mm single disc at the front and a 300 mm disc at the rear with dual-channel ABS. What we would’ve liked is more bite at the lever.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 - Prices
|Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 Prices (Ex-Showroom, India)
With prices starting at ₹3.49 lakh, going up to ₹3.79 lakh (ex-showroom, India), the Super Meteor 650 is not only a capable cruiser but a value proposition as well. It’s about ₹60,000 more expensive than the Interceptor 650, depending on the variant but offers a lot more premium components for the price. The build quality is substantially better than the 650 Twins and marks a giant leap for the brand. Fundamentally too, the Interceptor and Super Meteor 650 are dramatically different motorcycles and will appeal to a varied customer base.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 - Verdict
Having spent an entire day riding the Super Meteor 650 and we have to say that this is a fun motorcycle. The engine and power delivery and feels purpose-built as a cruiser too. Having done close to 200 km and about 10 hours on the saddle, we came back happy. And the roads in and around of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan were only calling us to ride more. So yes, this is another winner for Royal Enfield.