Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650: the joy of motorcycling

By | December 23, 2023

Photo: Royal Enfield

Despite all my time on two wheels, I’ve never really understood cruisers. The weight, the power, the handling, the riding position – none of it made sense to me alone, let alone together. But now I think I understand.

What changed my mind wasn’t a modern Indian or a heritage-laden Harley. It wasn’t some powerful Triumph or a carefully crafted Kawasaki. It wasn’t even the sheer beauty of the BMW R 18. Instead, it was something much more modest: the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650.

read more

The Super Meteor is, fittingly, the bigger brother of Enfield’s Meteor 350 – a traditionally styled cruiser, loaded with the 650cc parallel twin engine from the INT650 and Continental GT. The Super Meteor is the heaviest of the three, weighing just over 530 lbs when fully charged, but delivering the same 46 hp and 31 lb-ft of torque as its siblings.

However, besides the noticeable lack of a V-shape under the tank, the rest of the Super Meteor is very traditional cruiser fare. The bars slide comfortably back, the foot controls are almost right under the triple tree. From the perspective of its low-slung saddle, there isn’t much that differentiates the Indian bike from, well, an Indian bike.

Photo: Royal EnfieldPhoto: Royal Enfield

Photo: Royal Enfield

How does it drive?

The strange thing about this press trip was that I boarded my flight not really knowing what I was going to drive. All I knew was that it was new, that it was a Royal Enfield, and that it was in Texas. When I heard it was a big, shiny cruiser, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed; I thought the ride would just be highway cruising; a dull, windy affair. Luckily I was completely wrong. The Super Meteor is an absolute pleasure to drive.

Despite its size and weight, the Super Meteor feels eager and agile when moving. Its torquey engine, already a stunner in the INT650 and Continental GT, really shines here; all that low power complements the character of the Super Meteor. The Super Meteor may not have the most top end power, but its fuel delivery at idle puts Honda to shame with its smoothness. What’s more important in a cruiser?

Photo: Royal EnfieldPhoto: Royal Enfield

Photo: Royal Enfield

Once you get moving and move from city streets to winding back roads, the Super Meteor won’t waver again. It’s much more agile than you’d expect from all the chrome, and the suspension is perfectly composed until you start hitting the really big bumps. The Super Meteor’s transmission is also a highlight, with great feel and a nice, lightweight clutch – easy for city traffic, yet worth it when clicking through the gears on a winding road.

Ironically, it’s only when the actual highway cruising begins that the Super Meteor starts to feel out of place. The riding position, with those forward controls, places most of your weight directly on your tailbone. It’s fine at first, but it will cost you hours in the saddle. The wind also works without a windshield on the basic model, but that is a simpler solution. The seating position is a harder sell.

Photo: Royal EnfieldPhoto: Royal Enfield

Photo: Royal Enfield

For who is it?

Anyone and everyone. The Super Meteor is Royal Enfield’s flagship, so it’s not the highest priced bike in the range, but it is also Royal Enfield’s flagship – the company is upfront about its plans to own the lower-priced market as competitors continue to rise . Despite its top status, the Super Meteor costs just $7,000, just over half the price of the cheapest Harley-Davidson.

However, the Super Meteor is accessible for more than just the price. The low seat height is accessible to people of all heights, and the clean fuel maps ensure beginners don’t experience jerky throttle applications. But despite these beginner-friendly considerations, the bike never feels like the starter bikes that other companies carelessly outsource. The machining, construction and even switchgear punch way above its weight class. It is a premium bike in everything except price and engine capacity.

Photo: Royal EnfieldPhoto: Royal Enfield

Photo: Royal Enfield

Final thoughts

In the time since I rode the Super Meteor, the bike has never left my mind. It feels better put together than my own BMW, yet easier to swing a leg over and go for a ride. The low-end torque and agile handling make it a real pleasure to ride – at least for the first few hours, before the saddle starts digging into your tailbone.

But perhaps best of all is the fact that everyone can have the same fun on the Super Meteor. It’s a big enough bike to feel serious – like a step up from single-cylinder beginner fare – but it’s so easy to ride that I wouldn’t hesitate to sit on it as a beginner. It’s affordable yet premium, approachable yet exciting. It’s the kind of motorcycle that could just as easily serve as an introduction to motorcycling as it could a beloved workhorse that’s been owned for decades. The Super Meteor 650 democratizes the high-end cruiser, making it an option for people of all stripes to try out – and it’s almost, almost good enough to make this ADV rider switch.

More from Jalopnik

Sign up for the Jalopnik newsletter. For the latest news, Facebook, Tweet and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *