Royal Enfield has released a dizzying amount of new models over the last 18 months but if there’s one model that is tailor-made and laser-focused for the US market, it’s the Super Meteor 650, which Enfield just released this week. Longer, lower, and more powerful than either the smaller Hunter 350 or Meteor 350 models we’ve seen here previously, the middleweight cruiser was released internationally earlier this year but only now has made it to our shores. Good things come to those who wait apparently, and we finally got the chance to sample the new parallel-twin middleweight at its launch in Texas.
Royal Enfield first showed the Super Meteor at EICMA 2022 as the first spin-off of its 650 twin range, which the brand had always said would expand to include more models. The new cruiser takes styling cues from vintage Meteor models and the discontinued Thunderbird cruiser but is named for Royal Enfield’s first 100 mph model, which debuted back in 1955. At its core the Super Meteor packs the brand’s 648cc twin-cylinder engine, which it shares with the INT650 and Continental GT.
Like those bikes, it also has a six-speed gearbox, but that’s where the similarities end; the Super Meteor gets a new frame, new suspension and fresh bodywork, sporting long and low dimensions that are straight-up classic cruiser, from the 16-inch rear wheel to the 19-inch front. A new, deliciously shaped 4.1-gallon fuel tank is hung on a steel tube frame, with a low seat perched at a rider-friendly 29.1-inch height, with the bike available in two variants: the standard Astral and Interstellar cruiser models (the only difference there is in paint options) and the more touring-oriented Celestial, which gets a bigger touring seat, backrest, and fly screen.
As on the INT650 and Continental GT, the Super Meteor’s mill is an air/oil-cooled SOHC 648cc parallel twin with four valves per cylinder and a counterbalanced crankshaft with a 270-degree firing interval, though on the Super Meteor that engine gets a strengthened cylinder head with new covers and darker finishes, along with slightly revised mapping to accommodate the Meteor’s new airbox and exhaust. The power and output figures are similar to the other 650s, with a claimed 46.4 hp at 7,500 rpm and 38.6 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,250 rpm.
A brief chat with Chief of Design Mark Wells confirms that, aside from the engine, the bike is mostly new, sharing almost no parts with its predecessors or smaller siblings and boasting an all-new chassis developed by British-based manufacturer Harris Performance (now a RE subsidiary) designed to provide a low center of gravity for easy maneuverability as well as stability.
Attached to that frame is another first for Royal Enfield: an upside-down fork, in this case provided by Showa. Although it’s nonadjustable, the Big Piston Front Fork is the first inverted fork ever offered on a Royal Enfield. Out back are style-appropriate exposed dual shocks, also from Showa, which are adjustable only for preload.
The brake system is provided by Brembo subsidiary ByBre, and consists of a 320mm disc up front with a single twin-piston caliper and a 300mm rear setup also with a twin-piston caliper; twin channel Bosch ABS is standard.
Even to vertically challenged riders like yours truly, throwing a leg over the Super Meteor is a stress-free affair, with the low but fairly wide seat giving easy access (the Touring seat is shaped differently and is narrower in front and longer out back).
Settling in you’ll find ergonomics that are fairly neutral with a relaxed yet somewhat upright riding position from the pulled-back handlebar and slightly forward controls. There’s lots of room for the arms and legs of riders of almost any size, and you sit lower on the Super Meteor than on the Meteor or Hunter.
Looking down at the bike, it becomes apparent that RE designers spent a good deal of time getting the styling, details, and build quality right; this is a cruiser after all. The tank’s brushed aluminum locking gas cap, elegant new Enfield badge, and lustrous paint are striking, and the Super Meteor sports model-specific, ergonomically shaped grips and even all-new aluminum switch cubes with metal dials rather than the usual plastic bits, a detail Wells points out proudly. It’s a level of detail heretofore unseen on Enfields, and especially for a cruiser built to a price point. The LED headlight is another first for the Indian manufacturer with an LED taillight incorporating modern elements into a round, retro-leaning shape so it looks and works well.
The cockpit also reflects the Super Meteor’s low-stress, easy-riding mission. With only a cable throttle, there’s no need to worry about electronic doodads, so the spare instrument area sports only RE’s round retro-ish dial with analog speedo and a digital LCD readout in the center area, with the Tripper nav system set off to the right side; if you’re not familiar, the turn-by-turn Tripper is powered by Google Maps, pairing via Bluetooth with the Royal Enfield mobile app for turn-by-turn directions.
Thumb the starter, kick up the sidestand, and you’re met with an easy clutch pull and an incredibly easy-shifting gearbox. Those two elements come along with an incredibly smooth throttle with a precise response and excellent fueling. You won’t find gobs of horsepower here, but the parallel-twin engine is well suited to the task at hand, with most of its grunt available down low and a good amount of midrange to back it up.
That powerband is made even more accessible by the excellent throttle response and almost no snatchiness—an important feature for new or returning riders cruising in stop-and-go traffic. The slip/assist clutch has a light action which is a good thing as the engine will invite you to short-shift to keep it in its happy place. The engine is flexible and easy to ride and is happiest around 60–65 mph; above 70, vibrations will start making themselves felt. Although Enfield claims a top speed of 120 mph on the Super Meteor, we struggled to get much over 90. On a related note, good luck trying to read the gauges at speed; the numbers are small and once vibrations set in, things get blurry fast.
Our ride around central Texas revealed a host of road depressions and washouts, so the Super Meteor’s suspension was put through its paces. In general, damping on the nonadjustable 43mm fork proved compliant if not overly plush and we never reached the end of its stroke, though we wouldn’t say the same for the rear suspension, which suffered from both limited wheel travel and what felt like a lack of compression damping (and, yes, the five-step preload was at the lowest/least firm setting).
What few turns we found on our route proved to be a slam dunk for the bike, with the Super Meteor’s responsive chassis exhibiting rock-solid stability and neutral steering even at speed. On the street or in traffic, turns are a breeze, with no sluggishness.
But when it came time to slow down, we found the brakes to be just about adequate; modulation and feedback are good, but the Super Meteor is a good deal heavier than the other 650s or the smaller Meteor, and it takes a good pull on the lever to get results. Using the rear brake also will get you stopped faster.
As it stands, the Super Meteor represents the top of the Royal Enfield lineup in 2023, boasting a premium look and feel head and shoulders above its other models. Features like a three-year warranty, the Tripper navigation unit, a full toolkit, centerstand, and USB charging port underscores Enfield’s commitment to the market, even as it slots in as one of the lowest priced bikes in its class.
Not only that, but the bike works well, with an extremely flexible engine, a smooth gearbox, and a nimble feel that’s sure to be appealing to riders of all stripes. With its competitive pricing, it’s sure to be yet another sales hit for the brand.
Royal Enfield also announced a variety of accessories to support the new model, with some parts bundled as kits, but in dealerships, you’ll find the new cruiser in two trim levels. The base-model Super Meteor 650, featuring a low-profile two-piece seat design, is the solo variant and will be available in five colors: Astral Black, Astral Blue, Astral Green, Interstellar Grey, and Interstellar Green (with the latter two being more premium paint finishes). The Super Meteor 650 Celestial trim is essentially the tourer and adds a touring shield, larger touring seat, and a backrest, and will be available in two colors: Celestial Red and Celestial Blue.
2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 Technical Specifications and Price
|Engine:||648cc, SOHC, air/oil-cooled parallel twin|
|Bore x Stroke:||78.0 x 67.8mm|
|Clutch:||Wet, multiplate, slip/assist|
|Claimed Horsepower:||47 hp @ 7,250 rpm|
|Front Suspension:||43mm inverted fork; 4.7 in. travel|
|Rear Suspension:||Dual exposed shocks, spring preload adjustable; 4.0 in. travel|
|Front Brake:||2- piston floating caliper, 320mm disc (w/ ABS)|
|Rear Brake:||2-piston caliper, 300mm disc (w/ ABS)|
|Wheels, Front/Rear:||Cast aluminum; 19 in./16 in.|
|Tires, Front/Rear:||100/90-19 / 150/80-16 (Tubeless)|
|Ground clearance:||5.3 in.|
|Seat Height:||29.1 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.2 gal.|
|Claimed Curb Weight:||531 lb.|