Extensively riding Royal Enfield’s new 650 parallel twin
Photography: Amal Ramdas
Royal Enfield Meteor 650 has a lot to get vocal about. This is RE’s newest big bike, and probably the first big capacity cruiser. It has the proportions and charm of a hefty full-blown cruiser- an image that you’d naturally associate with Harleys and Indians. But let’s not go there, this isn’t any of those. This Royal Enfield has a character, space and gene of its own. This would appeal to and thrill motorcyclists- both the RE and non-RE fan tribes. Read ahead to find out why and more…
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Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650: Design And Features
Super Meteor’s design core has all classic cruiser cues intact- a round headlight, swept-back handlebar, and a sharp, downward slope from the teardrop-shaped fuel tank to the scooped-out seat. However, Royal Enfield has added a touch of modernity and sophistication to the design, which looks brilliant. This is the first Royal Enfield motorcycle to come with an LED headlamp, recently followed by the new Interceptor and Continental GT 650.
The Tripper navigation pod, which is interestingly being pulled back from smaller REs (owing to supply crises I guess!) is offered as standard on the Meteor 650. Alloy wheels are used instead of wire-spokes, and the front gets USD forks – another first from Royal Enfield. The end result is a cruiser that offers a perfect blend of vintage and contemporary styling!
RE Super Meteor 650 is a looker! Every detail on this motorcycle exudes neatness and precision. From the perfectly straight exit of the exhaust pipes to the tight and seamless fit of all the body panels, everything looks meticulously designed. Even the paintwork has a sparkling finish that catches the eye. The aluminium switch cubes, which share a design with Royal Enfield’s smaller J-platform motorcycles, still look and feel special due to their exceptional materials and finishing. This attention to detail gives the motorcycle a sense of quality and refinement that is sure to impress any rider.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 Specifications And Performance
Once you start moving on the bike, there’s very little to complain about. It was easy to see that the 648cc parallel-twin engine was made for cruising, even when we had it on the Interceptor. It’s clear that the engine is perfectly suited for its new role. The low-end is impressive and perfect for a relaxed and effortless ride. Keep the throttle twisted and you’ll feel a nice surge in the mid-range, as the bike picks up speed. What’s great is that the engine doesn’t lose steam at the top end, and continues to provide plenty of power all the way to the limit. Overall, the engine is perfectly matched to the cruiser persona of the motorcycle
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The Super Meteor 650 is designed with the kind of refinement you’d expect from a cruiser. The fueling is smooth and precise, making the engine feel nice and silky for most of the riding you’re likely to do on this bike. The slight vibrations present only add to the character of the engine, and it’s only when you exceed 110kph in 6th gear that a slight buzz begins to creep into the handlebars. With the engine mounting methods changing on the Super Meteor, it’ll be interesting to see how the smoothness holds up in the long run.
The mid-range surge and top-end meatiness of the Super Meteor are not qualities that I recall from the existing RE 650s. However, to be absolutely certain, we’ll need to ride both bikes back to back. It’s worth noting that the powertrain of the Super Meteor has undergone some changes, with both the intake and exhaust being new. This has led to an engine remap being necessary. The overall gearing is slightly shorter, but the Super Meteor is significantly heavier than the existing 650s. Despite this, it still feels just as quick and responsive overall..
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650: Is It Too Heavy To Live With?
The increased weight of the Super Meteor has been a concern for many, and understandably so, as 241kg is a significant figure. However, the weight is only noticeable during low-speed manoeuvers, and even then, it’s not a major issue. The long, low motorcycle that it is, lets the Super Meteor contain the entirety of that mass within its wheelbase, and stay clear of feeling top-heavy like its siblings.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650: Ride Impressions
The cruiser form factor also brings advantages at high speeds. The long 1,500mm wheelbase and raked-out front end provide stability and keep the bike planted even at triple-digit speeds. The geometry and suspension setup does a great job of keeping things under control when encountering big bumps or dips at high speeds, with excellent body control.
Ride quality is decent as long as you remember that this is a cruiser with inherent limitations, such as limited suspension travel. The 120mm of travel at the front is okay, but the 101mm at the rear is on the lower side. The suspension is firm, but it still manages to deal with road imperfections well enough, with a reduction in impact and no harshness. However, it’s important to slow down for bumps and not ride this bike like an adventure bike.
Royal Enfield Super Meteor Brakes And Handling
Despite its long and heavy form, RE Meteor 650 handles surprisingly well. You won’t need to put in too much effort to lean into corners, and as long as you’re not riding recklessly, you’ll have enough clearance to have some fun on winding roads. It’s not a nimble sports bike, but is still quite predictable and stable through turns. The brakes are also well-set- not overly sharp, and deliver just the right amount of bite and stopping power for a cruiser. The rear brake plays a significant role in stopping, as is typical for cruisers, but the 300mm disc at the back does a good job.
The advantages of the cruiser format are apparent in the relaxed and comfortable seating position. Riders are seated upright with their feet stretched out in front of them, and there is only a slight reach to the handlebars. Despite the arms and feet being positioned forwards, there isn’t excessive pressure on the tailbone, and the body feels unstrained overall. However, the overall long-distance pleasantness will depend heavily on how the motorcycle is purchased.
RE Super Meteor Ride Quality And Handling
The touring seat feels very comfortable, and one could easily spend a day on the saddle. The stock seat (on the lower variants) looks cooler with its split design and scooped-out look, but it becomes painful after a couple of hours riding. The windscreen, though large, is not really the best in practice. For most riders, the wind protection zone ends about halfway up the helmet. This could give them high turbulence at highway speeds. You’d struggle to keep your head straight and safe from wind blast, while doing 100 kph.
The Super Meteor offers both comfortable pillion seating and adequate luggage space, but it requires some effort on the part of the rider to make it so. The touring seat not only provides comfort for the rider but also for the pillion with a larger seat base and more padding, allowing the passenger to sit higher and in a more relaxed position. Additionally, the pillion backrest ensures the passenger’s comfort, even on long rides. However, the stock pillion seat is not as comfortable and is best suited for occasional short rides within the city.
For luggage, Royal Enfield offers hard panniers as accessories, which can be mounted on any variant and provide a total volume of 35 litres. They are sleek in design and look neat. Additionally, a top box is under development, with a capacity of 28 litres, designed to accommodate a single full-face helmet.
Super Meteor 650 Pros: What We Love About It?
- The Super Meteor 650 has a proper big-bike feel and a rather imposing stance.
- It is packed with a decent set of features- from LED headlamps to Tripper navigation.
- Offers a relaxed, comfortable riding posture, that feels so like a proper cruiser.
- The 650cc parallel-twin engine, though unchanged in output from the rest of 650s, has a delivery that suits one of a proper cruiser.
- Material and build qualities are top-notch.
Super Meteor 650 Cons: What We Did Not Like About It?
- The suspension is very stiff and can fairly unsettle the ride on bad patches. Thus, long commutes through uneven/broken roads could be cumbersome.
- At 241 kilos, this motorcycle is definitely on the heavier side. While this would not be too big an issue while on the roll, reversing, crawling and parking are not the easiest!
- The large engine and hefty kerb weight take a toll on real-world fuel efficiency as well. Expect 20-23 kpl on most runs.
A Very Personal Comment On The Super Meteor!
You’ve read so much about the Super Meteor- both good and bad. Now this is a very personal comment on the motorcycle. I feel the Super Meteor to be ‘the BEST’ 650 RE has built to date! On grounds of refinement and character, the Super Meteor has the 650 parallel twin in its best form. Considering the overall livability and ergonomics, this motorcycle would be the best of the three. Both the Continental GT 650 and Interceptor are infamous for the livability/practicality limitations they offer. Long rides/ touring with either of those is fairly cumbersome. This, in a way, holds you back from milking out the most from this magnificent engine. The Super Meteor, however, stays clear of all these!
Check out more Super Meteor images
RE Super Meteor Price And Rivals
The Super Meteor’s starting price in India is Rs 3.49 lakh (ex-showroom). Despite being over Rs 60,000 more expensive than the Interceptor, it feels like a more premium machine with additional hardware such as a Showa upside-down fork, Tripper pod, LED headlight, alloy wheels, and adjustable levers. The materials used, solid build quality, and excellent finishing also contribute to its appeal.