2024 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 Review – First Ride
An Indian take on a uniquely American form of motorcycling
One week ago I was racing motorcycles around Barber Motorsports Park, pushing my limits and going around in circles at triple digit speeds. After an adrenaline-filled week, I found myself in Dallas, Texas slowing down the pace and riding a cruiser. As the token sportbike guy, I actually appreciate a bit of balance in my life, which is exactly why I get the itch to ride cruisers every so often. It’s the perfect yin to my go-fast yang. Being in Dallas and riding a cruiser, you’d think I’d be piloting a piece of V-Twin muscle – but not quite. I’m not riding just any cruiser. I’m on an Indian cruiser. No, not that Indian cruiser. I’m talking about an Indian cruiser – the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650.
2024 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650
Royal Enfield's entry into the mid-displacement cruiser scene in America leans on its own long line of cruisers from its home market. It's polished, well put together, and affordable – but can it strike a chord on this side of the pond?
Editor's score: 80.5%
- Breaking stereotypes with how well it’s put together
- Charming engine
- Very affordable
- Engine strains and is buzzy above 70 mph
- Foot-forward position can get tiring if you have short legs
- A tachometer would be nice
Cue the laughs and the insults. No, it’s not American Iron. No, the engine isn’t huge. And no, it’s not even a V-Twin. But for an Indian company to introduce a cruiser to the American market here of all places is a big move. And a calculated one. Scoff if you want, but don’t sleep on Royal Enfield. The longest manufacturer in continual production (since 1901!), Enfield has been quietly chugging along, producing simple yet timeless motorcycles in its home country of India. Granted, these motorcycles have been practical, utilitarian pieces to serve the needs of the people rather than luxury machines for pleasure, but the tide is slowly turning. As evidenced by me humming along in the middle of Dallas, en route to the brand’s new 25,000 square-foot tech center and dealer training facility.
You might not know it, but Royal Enfield has been in the cruiser game for longer than you think, albeit mostly away from the American limelight. This didn’t just come out of nowhere. Enfield’s been building up to this.
Slow And Steady Leads To Record Growth
To get a better understanding of where we are now, let’s take a look at the past four years. Since 2019, RE retail sales in North America have grown 317% and the company has released 12 new models. For the 22-23 fiscal year, retail sales have surpassed 10,000 units. Expand these numbers globally and bear witness to how strong the business is. For the same fiscal year, Enfield has produced a record 835,000 units. Of those, 100,000 units were destined for locations other than its home country of India – another record. And of those 100,000 units destined for outside regions, half of them were slated for North America. Royal Enfield wants it to be perfectly clear: North America is the brand’s most important region outside of India.
Like any manufacturer with the luxury of history to fall back on, Royal Enfield is leveraging this past as it builds towards the future. Starting with the Lightning, the model that introduced India to the cruiser silhouette and lifestyle, its lasting power is evident in its home country as evidenced by all the copycat models from other manufacturers. The Thunderbird 500 came along after and continued Royal Enfield’s popularity in the cruiser market in both India and abroad, but both the Lightning and Thunderbird had a glaring issue if it wanted to have a chance at succeeding in North America – its 500cc air-cooled Single just wasn’t powerful enough for American roads.
Enter The Super Meteor 650
Naturally, the centerpiece for any cruiser is its engine. In this case, we’re talking about Royal Enfield’s 648cc air/oil-cooled parallel-Twin, its flagship engine introduced in 2018 and the same one shared between the Interceptor and Continental GT models. The internals are identical, but the intake and exhaust are new to the Super Meteor, and as such, the fuel mapping is also specific to this bike. As a flagship motorcycle, RE saw fit to adorn the engine with new case covers and cylinder head dressings to class it up a bit.
A clean-sheet design, this engine sits inside an all-new steel frame designed in the UK in conjunction with Harris Performance – one of the most well-known names in chassis design inside the grand prix paddock. The design brief was for a chassis with a low center of gravity, that’s easy to maneuver at low speeds and stable at high speeds. In addition to the frame, the swingarm is also a new design for the Super Meteor 650 not used on the other models.
As odd as it may seem, the week I’ve had puts me in the perfect position to approach the Super Meteor 650. After the high-speed thrills of racing, hopping on a cruiser is the ideal way to wind down and simply enjoy a slower, more mellow pace of life. Though I will say, it’s a bold move on Royal Enfield’s part to introduce a cruiser in Texas. Everything’s bigger out here, and even though the Meteor is now Super, I think it’s safe to say there isn’t a road in India with the expanse to simulate what it’s like to ride out here.
Yet the Super Meteor 650 still gives me familiar cruiser vibes, albeit in slightly miniature form. While big for a Royal Enfield, it’s still small compared to American iron and the metric cruisers parading the streets. Nonetheless, the classic cruiser stance and feelings are all there. Its lines flow downward from the tank, its shoulders relatively broad for the overall size of the bike. Those lines then flow to the two-step seat with the rider’s position slightly scalloped and the back a little wide before leading up to the passenger’s quarters and back down the rear fender. It all follows the playbook, even down to the preload-adjustable twin shocks hanging off the back, the 19/16-inch cast wheel combo for wide tire selection, and the round, LED headlight out front.
After that, there are some elements and little details that are nice touches. Things like metal switchgears (to go along with the rest of the metal panels throughout the bike) and adjustable levers on both sides give an heir of sophistication. Then there’s the analog/digital gauge cluster, with a classic needle telling you how fast you’re going and an LCD screen to tell you the rest, like fuel level, how far you’ve traveled, and what gear you’re in (but there’s no tachometer). A smaller, secondary LCD screen is dedicated to Royal Enfield’s app and its Tripper navigation function. When connected, the screen gives you turn-by-turn navigation. Finally, there’s the 43mm inverted Showa Big Piston Fork out front soaking up the bumps. It’s not adjustable, but what do you expect for a bike at this price?
Oh, and what is the price, you ask? The Super Meteor 650 starts at $6,999. That’s a lot of cruiser for not a lot of money, and if you’re the type who’d prefer a Triumph but doesn’t have the wallet for one, suddenly the Royal Enfield becomes a viable alternative.
No, the Super Meteor 650 isn’t groundbreaking, but that’s not the point. Royal Enfield’s going for simplicity and approachability here, with a pleasant riding experience that it’s hoping will help Americans understand why the brand has over 1200 ride groups globally – all of which, Enfield insists, were started organically.
As I’m sitting on the bike, my feet are forward and my hands are high, but not too high. It’s the classic cruiser stance. Fit and finish is impressive and far exceeds whatever stereotype you might have about motorcycles built on the Asian continent. Panel gaps are tight, switches move and retract smoothly, and the exclusive use of metal throughout highlights that Royal Enfield, unlike some of its Japanese competitors, actually understands that plastic has no place on a cruiser.
Released earlier in other markets, we’re finally getting the Super Meteor 650 now in North America, and as I flick the starter dial, the 650 Twin purrs to life easily. Clutch pull is fairly light, first gear is clicked easily, and the bike is up and away smoothly. As promised, the bike cruises through town with a lightness you don’t find on big, heavy V-Twins. Navigating through city traffic, the SM doesn’t feel unwieldy, and U-turns aren’t a problem especially with some rear brake drag. Occasionally, however, I did notice a small tendency to want to stand up through turns. Though it’s hard to place the blame on the bike or the choppy, crowned pavement in town.
Where the Super Meteor shines is when you twist the throttle, but not in the way you might think. Nothing comes at you quickly when you have less than 50 horsepower and 38.5 lb-ft of torque on tap, but the SM has no problem getting out of its own way. Instead, I’m impressed by how the power comes on smoothly, and the heavy flywheel effect means the revs climb at a mellow pace – perfect for just enjoying the view. Vibrations are there, but they’re the right ones – the ones that add charm to the ride. Some of us call that character. Fueling is very well calibrated, with no jerky on/off throttle movements whether at low speed or high. This is another area where the heavy flywheel helps, but is also a product of well-tuned fuel mapping.
Clicking through the gears revealed a level of smoothness I wasn’t prepared for. Clicking up from one gear to the next with, but especially without, the transmission is really slick and positive, and not at all the clunk fest that some of us relate to from classic American cruisers. The six gears are nicely spaced to keep the engine humming along, even on the highway.
Being Texas, however, there are times when “humming along the highway” puts you in excess of 80 mph – which reveals a small chink in the Super Meteor’s armor. The 650 Twin has no problem going faster, but after about 70 mph, those vibrations through the bars that were charming before now turn into annoyances that can buzz the hands right to sleep. The lack of cruise control is unfortunate, but I guess you can’t have everything at this price.
As we got off the highway and veered towards some backroads, the Big Piston Fork and twin shocks got more of a workout. For my 160-lb frame, the damping felt compliant yet firm, with only the biggest bumps or potholes proving to be really jarring. Braking is the job of a single 320mm rotor in front and a 300mm disc out back, both paired with twin-piston calipers. You can’t really call the braking power amazing, but when using both brakes together, you’ll slow down confidently. Steel-braided brake lines are a nice touch for a bike at this price and as you’d expect, there’s no sponginess at the levers as a result. ABS is standard, and though you likely won’t need it when conditions are good, it definitely comes in handy when braking in poor settings.
Not What You Expect. And That’s A Good Thing
If your perception and expectations for a cruiser are rooted in big V-Twins, then no, this bike is not for you. However, if cruising has a more flexible definition in your mind and you’re open to something smaller, lighter, slightly slower, but with the right vibes and an Indian birth certificate, the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 is a worthy entrant to the mid-displacement cruiser ranks. Styling is obviously a subjective matter, and while I don’t think it’s particularly inspiring, the metal panels open up a world of customization, as does the expansive Royal Enfield accessories catalog. All these accessories, mind you, were concurrently designed with the Super Meteor itself, so you know the parts will fit.
What makes it even more attractive is its price. Starting at $6,999 for the Astral colorway, which features solid colors (blue, lack, green), pricing then moves up to $7,299 for the Interstellar, which features two-tone colors (green, grey). Finally, at $7,499 there’s the top-trim Celestial Red and Celestial Blue that adds touring accommodations like a touring windscreen, touring seat, and passenger backrest. Bikes are expected to hit dealerships by the time you read these words.
2024 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 Specifications
Parallel twin, 4 stroke, SOHC, Air-Oil Cooled
Bore x Stroke
78 mm x 67.8 mm
Electronic Fuel Injection
47 @7,250 rpm
38.6 lb-ft @ 5,650 rpm
Steel Tubular Spine Frame
43mm Upside Down Showa Big Piston Fork, 120mm travel, non-adjustable
Twin Shocks, 101mm travel, preload adjustable
320mm disc, ByBre twin-piston floating caliper, ABS
300mm disc, twin-piston floating caliper, ABS
100/90 - 19 M/C 57H (Tubeless Type)
150/80 B16 M/C 71H (Tubeless Type)
Rake (Caster Angle)
89.0 in. (2260 mm)
35.0 in. (890 mm (without mirrors))
45.5 in. (1155 mm)
29.1 in. (740 mm)
5.3 in. (135 mm)
59.1 in. (1500 mm)
531.3 lbs. (claimed, with 90% fuel and oil)
Astral Green, Astral Black, Astral Blue, Interstellar Grey, Interstellar Green, Celestial Red, Celestial Blue
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More by Troy Siahaan