• 2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650: First Ride Review

The third ‘twin’ from Royal Enfield looks set to usher in a new era for the manufacturer

Developing an all-new motorcycle is a herculean task. I’m sure Royal Enfield would’ve experienced that in a massive way when launching the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650. Working on the Super Meteor 650 would’ve been relatively easier, I’d like to believe. That’s far from the truth though, from an engineering perspective especially. You see, while the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT brought Royal Enfield into the spotlight globally, the Super Meteor 650 has a far bigger responsibility. That of establishing Royal Enfield in the cut-throat world of middleweight cruiser motorcycles globally, while also elevating the bike maker’s status as an international player.

 When it first broke cover late last year, the Super Meteor 650 was praised for its appealing design and premium fit-finish levels. But does it feel as impressive from the saddle? Royal Enfield had us kickstart 2023 astride the Super Meteor 650, inviting us to ride it in the very first week of January around the sand dunes of the Thar Desert in Jaisalmer. With its arrow straight, smooth roads Rajasthan is a great setting to ride motorcycles, more so for cruisers. As we set out early in the morning, with the air temperature below 10 degree Celsius, the fog and subdued sunlight made for a perfect ambience to take a close look at the bike. The previous evening had been spent listening to Royal Enfield’s top team dish out information about the new bike and also the legacy behind the ‘Super Meteor’ name. 

All of it seemed to gel with the Super Meteor 650 in front of my eyes rather well, the early morning sunlight glinting off its gloss finished fuel tank. The deep shade of green looked very appealing, while a golden pinstripe added character. The paint’s even sheen across the motorcycle added to its premium feel, as did the fit-finish on various anodised aluminium bits including the lower and upper yokes, headlamp holders, handlebar risers and clamps. The engine is the same as the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT but has new engine covers and finishes which add to the sense of novelty. The rear brake master cylinder assembly could have been positioned better though, as it covers the right side engine casing. 

I couldn’t help but admire the overall design too, which is typical of cruiser motorcycles. The low slung stance, 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheel, 1,500mm wheelbase, 27.6-degree rake angle and 118.5mm trail are all a nod to the cruiser genre. The Super Meteor 650 also sports an all-new frame and swingarm, both developed in conjunction with Harris Performance. The 43mm forks upfront are USDs, a first for a Royal Enfield and are Showa’s big piston forks, though non-adjustable. Royal Enfield has gone the full hog this time as the Super Meteor 650 ticks all the right boxes as a cruiser and as a premium, well-finished and well-engineered motorcycle. The rear end looks smashing as well – as much as I appreciate the practicality of a pillion backrest, not having one adds more visual appeal. 

The instrument cluster looks identical to the Meteor 350’s which is a bit of a letdown. Given the more premium positioning I’d have liked a different unit and a tachometer too. The tripper navigation pod continues to sit next to the main pod. Only the Celestial variant gets the windscreen along with the pillion backrest, but the Super Meteor looks as good even without the adornments. Adjustable levers add to convenience, besides adding to the premium feel. The low seat height of 740mm adds to accessibility and comfort and as I swung a leg over I also noticed that the ride triangle makes for a comfortable seating position. Handlebars offer good reach, as do the footpegs that need you to stretch your legs ahead just a bit. The twin exhausts are longer, low slung units as compared to Royal Enfield’s other two twins in keeping with the Super Meteor’s character, but the exhaust note is similar and rather pleasing as we’ve heard before. 

Expectedly, the engine also feels more refined than what I remember on the Interceptor 650. Fueling is crisp resulting in sharp but smooth throttle responses, which add to the bike’s likeable feel instantly, along with the light clutch. Acceleration is quick despite the bike’s heft as compared to its direct siblings, as the Super Meteor tips the scales at 241kg, all fluids in. The arrow-straight roads outside Jaisalmer were devoid of early morning traffic, giving me a chance to wring the throttle open. The Super Meteor 650 felt familiar as it built speeds and getting past 100kmph was a cinch. But more importantly, its stability well into triple digits affirms the bike’s confident feel as a highway tool. The segment the Super Meteor 650 sits in witnesses a lot of action internationally but is a rather nascent one in our country, giving it a head start and also allowing it to set benchmarks.

The newer crop of motorcycles from Royal Enfield have in fact impressed us with their dynamics in a big way and the Super Meteor 650 continues the trend with its handling. While we didn’t really get a chance to throw the bike around corners, initial impressions about the bike’s feel around bends are positive. The bike runs on Ceat tyres which offered adequate grip on Rajasthan’s rather impressive roads. Unfortunately, owing to my schedules I only managed to get a couple of hours of seat time on the bike but admittedly, the seat felt well-cushioned and supportive enough. Again, only a long ride will help me ascertain seat comfort from a touring perspective but initial impressions are certainly positive. The Super Meteor 650 thus has a very affable feel as a middleweight cruiser and of course, an all-new Royal Enfield. I’m also curious to see how the bike feels and fares in the city, since a lot of buyers will also use it for commuting besides touring on it. 

Prices for the Super Meteor 650 begin from Rs 3.49 lakh ex-showroom and go up to Rs 3.79 lakh. In my books these are excellent prices considering what the Super Meteor 650 brings to the table. It’s a bike that looks very appealing, feels very premium and is powered by a motor that has established itself in enthusiasts’ hearts already with its kind of refinement, performance and reliability as well. The latter has in fact been cemented by way of the Continental GT Cup, Royal Enfield’s own one-make racing series where Aspi Bhathena, someone we all know as a veteran racer and a role model, has tinkered with the 650cc twin remarkably and also turned the café racer into a proper race machine. The same motor on the Super Meteor 650 should help in establishing the bike’s credentials as a veritable cruiser on long rides, not to mention everyday rideability, though that’s something I’ll be able to tell only once I spend more time in its saddle!

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