Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 first ride report - The Highway Star
When you hear terms like 'Indian motorcycle manufacturer' and 'tourer/cruiser motorcycle' in the same sentence, the name Royal Enfield will always spring to mind. Because it's a brand name that's been synonymous with producing motorcycles that cater to the genre for decades. When Royal Enfield came out with the Meteor 350 back in 2020, the motorcycle really turned things around for the company besides proving to be a game-changer in the retro themed tourer/cruiser segment here in India. The motorcycle featured an all-new J-series engine and platform that added big dollops of refinement and agility, and the level of fit and finish on the motorcycle had improved a great deal too. All these features made the Meteor 350 a highly desirable machine. Now the company aims to take its tourer/cruiser game a notch higher with the introduction of the Super Meteor 650.
It's the same Motorcycle that previewed at EICMA 2022, and most recently at the RE Rider Mania Event last December. The Super Meteor 650 is the third motorcycle to be powered by the company's 648cc parallel-twin engine, after the Interceptor 650 and the GT 650, but the Super Meteor is the only thoroughbred cruiser style motorcycle of the lot, and promises to be the star in this celebrated stable. Here's what it's all about.
There are two variations of the Super Meteor 650 to choose from the Super Meteor 650 Standard and the Super Meteor 650 Tourer and the model you see here, which we're testing out this time around is the latter, which comes kitted with a touring windscreen, longer and broader touring seat with pillion backrest and a distinctive two-tone colourway.
The Super Meteor 650 is a mighty fine looking motorcycle to say the least. On the design front, the RE exudes all the typical traits of a thoroughbred, middle-weight cruiser. The low stance, raked out front with a big 19-inch alloy wheel dressed with 100/90 section rubber that's linked to chunky 43mm USD front fork, the wide handlebar with the familiar offset part-digital-part-analogue instrument console with the turn-by-turn tripper navigation pod (standard fit), the narrow mid-section with the 15.7 litre tank and blacked out engine casings and the tail section that comprises a chunky 150/80 section 16-inch rear tyre with neatly integrated LED lights on the fender which make this part of the bike look broad and compact.
The new cruiser shows off a lot of firsts for Royal Enfield too like the USD fork which I mentioned earlier, the LED Headlamp, the plated aluminium switch cubes that house RE's unique rotary switches and finally, the bike also gets these distinctive RE tank badges which undeniably add touches of old-school finesse to this mix and look brilliant. Electronic riding aids and features are at a bare minimum, which according to me is just fine, because it comprises just what you require when you're out on the road dual channel ABS, the tripper navigation, the analoague part of the display which gives you a reserve fuel trip reading, and the USB socket located beneath the left side panel.
This time around, I tested the bike out on the highways in and around the princely state of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, and if you've been to this part of the country you'll know that brilliantly paved flat straights and winding road sections with gradients all amongst the backdrops alternating between semi-rural, rustic-urban and downright barren landscapes are anything but hard to come by in these parts. The weather conditions on this ride were favourable for testing this machine hot at sun-up and very nippy before dawn and at dusk. All-in-all the perfect setting for testing the ambition of a cruiser motorcycle.
Getting straight to how the Super Meteor 650 is to ride. First up, if you're the sort who finds the bike to look a bit imposing, once you swing a leg over and seat yourself in the saddle, those thoughts will instantly fade away. Yes, swinging a leg over the bike that sits suspended 135mm over the ground with a 740mm seat height is a doosey. Even riders below 5'9 will find it easy. And as soon as you plonk down in the seat, you will have to reach out to meet the flat handlebar and lift your feet to meet the pegs that are forward set in true cruiser form. You feel like you're seated within the bike and very much part of things in comparison to the other RE 650cc twins where you feel seated atop.
The 648cc parallel twin motor that powers the Super Meteor 650 is the same unit that powers the RE's GT 650 and Interceptor 650 models, and on paper, even produces the same amount of max power (47PS) and torque (52Nm) which is mated to a six-speed gearbox, but the mill on the cruiser is tuned to produce a lot more torque lower down the powerband and its gearing has been altered to suit the cruiser way of being. And it's all there to be seen as soon as you get off the line. The Meteor 650 feels very torquey from the get go, and the engine feels a lot more tractable with this setup. With the older RE 650 twins RE, the refinement of the parallel twin motor was real highlight, and much to my delight, the Super Meteor 650 hasn't compromised this level of refinement and you can feel a pleasant rumble as soon as you fire her up. The stock exhaust note is a mild but sweet, thrummy one too! Set off and you do feel some vibrations in the pegs, and it feels lovely - just as a cruiser should. It doesn't isolate you from feeling a connection with the machine and it gives you the feeling that you're riding a bike of quality and substance. The best part about the Super Meteor 650's state of tune is that now, you can shortshift at lower speeds and cruise along perfectly fine without the engine knocking in protest like on the other older RE 650 twins. There's plenty of grunt all across the band and if you really want to get going at pace, the bike feels more than up for it. Although it may not be as quick as the GT and Interceptor 650 models, the Super Meteor 650 doesn't feel anywhere close to being sluggish and going hard through the gearbox feels rewarding, although it's not what you'd ideally be doing on a motorcycle of this sort on a daily basis.
The Super Meteor 650 employs a new tubular spine frame and swingarm as opposed to the older steel frame chassis and swingarm of the older 650cc models, and this architecture uses the motor as a stressed member in the process. The chassis has been developed by Harris performance (a unit of Eicher Motors) and the company's expertise in craftsmanship and component manufacturing in the word of competitive racing is on full show here. Besides being a lot heavier than the Interceptor 650, the Super Meteor's wheelbase is 100mm longer and it sits 39mm lower to the ground (135mm ground clearance) so it isn't as eager to change direction. But that doesn't mean that you'll find it difficult to alter course when you're astride this bike. It is a cruiser motorcycle after all and it all falls in sync well, feeling every bit the part. The front end provides a good amount of feedback with the chunky fork and its 120mm of travel absorbing bumps very nicely, while the twin shocks at the rear are setup stiff, just like you'd expect on a thoroughbred cruiser bike. The rear suspension has five levels of adjustability, but with just 101mm of travel on offer at the rear, the level of softness that you can dial in is limited. The bike takes on long sweeping corners happily, like a fat kid to cake. Tipping the Super Meteor 650 into the long winding roads towards the dunes of Sam was an absolute delight and the bike holds its line very nicely provided the road is smooth. Small mid-corner bumps do feel a bit unsettling on account of the 1500mm long wheelbase and stiff suspension setup. A good thing here is that you'll be aware of the bike's strengths and weaknesses not long after you first setting off, because its behaviour is consistent. Yes, and you'll want to slow down almost to a halt for speed breakers with a pillion aboard, because the bikes belly will scrape if you're not careful.
Barrelling down the open stretches of highway at triple digit speeds are definitely this bike's forte. Cruising at 100-120kmph appears to come quite naturally on this bike and it feels like a casual walk in the park, and what's more is that you'll have more than enough go to easily get past traffic moving at that speed. It's mannerisms in a straight line are highly commendable. It just feels so planted at all speeds, and the rear end doesn't squirm out of sorts when you jam the brakes. All in all the Super Meteor comes across a machine that does exactly what it's supposed to on the highway, with great composure. It does exactly what you'd expect from a tourer/cruiser of this sort. Now, although the 241kg kerb weight might seem like a lot to deal with you really only feel the weight at slow speeds and when you have to tip toe in reverse or perch the bike on its centre stand. Otherwise it's very manageable. The good thing about this bike's heft is when you're hit with cross winds while moving at full chat or leaned into a corner at a good pace, the weight of the bike allows you to maintain your line and stability.
As far as shortcomings go, the only off bit I found a bit off with this bike has to be with the standard Super Meteor 650 model. You see, which this variant, you have a narrower seat and the pillion seating area is quite tiny with no back support. This could prove quite uncomfortable for two astride (slippery for the pillion) especially over a long distance rides. No such problem with the touring variant though, although at speeds in excess of 140kmph, wind will get past the visor and impact your helmet a fair bit. If I were to buy a Super Meteor 650, I think I'd go in for the Standard model with the bigger add-on seat plus the backrest, minus the windscreen features that come standard fit on the Touring model. Personally, I'm not totally convinced about the two-tone paint options, although the level of fit and finish is really up there with the best in the business.
The Super Meteor 650 is a motorcycle that stays true to the traditions of a simple cruiser motorcycle. It will allow you to enjoy and experience the pure thrill of riding a high quality cruiser motorcycle without the adulteration of modern gimmicky features. No ride modes, no traction control or ABS settings. But who needs 'em, right? It's a motorcycle that allows you to feel a connection with and get used to at the drop of a hat. The Super Meteor 650 is a bike that picks up where the Meteor 350 left off very nicely. With the Meteor 350, out on the highway, you could cruise at around 80-90kmph fuss-free, whereas on the SuperMeteor 650, you can effortlessly cruise at speeds in excess of 100kmph. It looks good, feels functional, refined and is of solid build - overall a top quality product. You could spend hours on this motorcycle, touring or wandering about aimlessly, and it wouldn't feel like you've wasted a minute of your time. RE definitely has a winner on its hands. And the icing on this Royal Enfield space cake has to be its pricing, which pretty much blows any competition it will come up against into the weeds. The Standard Super Meteor 650 model can be had for Rs 3.49 - 3.64 lakh (ex-showroom, India) depending on what colourway you choose, while the Touring model can be yours for Rs 3.79 lakh.
Starts Rs 2,65,000
Starts Rs 2,56,372
- Toyota showcased modern and sustainable technology range at Auto Expo 2023
- 2023 Hyundai Aura launched, prices start from Rs 6.29 lakh
- Car sales January 2023: Maruti Suzuki, Kia, Tata Motors, and more
- Yamaha MT 15 V2.0 updated with BS6 2 norms details leaked
- Hero Xoom launched in India, prices start from Rs 68,599