The LAMS approved cruiser market has been lacking options for years. Has Royal Enfield filled that gap of LAMS approved big bike experience for cruiser riders? Photography: Jeff Crow, UMI
The third model of the RE 650 Twins range has arrived Down Under. After Simon headed to India for the Super Meteor World Launch in January, and came back smiling, we could not wait to get it out on some Aussie roads. Where better to cruise than the Great Ocean Road?
I was able to spend equal time on the Standard version and the unofficial Touring version of the Super Meteor 650 and both proved to be great bikes, just like the Continental GT 650 and Interceptor INT 650 are. The difference between the two is the Tourer had the comfort seat, backrest and screen fitted.
The Meteor 650 was designed and developed by the same team responsible for the other Twins, and it shows. It’s not the exciting, engaging ride of the other two 650s, but it gets the job done nicely… After a few days riding, in all conditions, I concluded that it is one of those bikes that just does it all fuss free, safely, with nothing too ‘stand out’ or thrilling, but on the other hand, it’s reliable and consistent.
The Aussie launch for the Super Meteor 650 was a big affair as far as local bike launches go. Three groups of riders over three days, and the top brass from Royal Enfield APAC were in attendance as well. As far as Australian motorcycle launches go, I can’t think of a bigger one in my 23-years at the coal face.
After a night staying in the Adina Pentridge (creepy, but worth doing once), we were bussed over to Lorne for two days of riding and tech presentations, plus given the opportunity to chat with Royal Enfield staff. The weather ranged from sunny to windy and wet, the roads from smooth tar to mud! We had it all and really put the Super Meteor 650 to the test. Footpegs were ground. Beer was drunk, etc.
Anyway, enough of that, we were there to ride bikes and we did plenty of that. I was really keen to ride the Super Meteor, as mentioned, particularly after my experiences testing the 650 Twins, which actually led me to purchasing my own INT 650, the BikeReview Interceptor. I fell for the 650 Twins in Santa Cruz, 2018, and with the Orange Crush Interceptor it was love at first sight.
It’s been clear from day one that the 650 would make a great cruiser engine, so it was only a matter of time before the Super Meteor was born, and it is a really refined machine. After a five hour ride on day one, which included stops to get our usual photo and video duties out of the way, followed by a morning of free riding for a few hours, I came away impressed with the bike, but not surprised it is so good.
The experience of the previous 650 Twins means Royal Enfield have been able to further refine this machine over the others…
The experience of the previous 650 Twins means Royal Enfield have been able to further refine this machine over the others. It’s smoother, it’s more comfortable and stable, but as mentioned, not as exciting. But everything feels refined, from the fuelling to the clutch action and gearbox. There are also no vibes at all to speak of, and the chassis is rock solid over a wide range of conditions and surfaces.
The first thing I notice on the Super Meteor is how roomy it is. I’m 187cm and I find most cruisers ergonomically weird, but I fit into the SM. The rubber mounted footpegs are well placed, the ‘bars have a relaxed yet commanding bend and the span adjustable levers and neat switches fall nicely to hand.
The dash and Tripper Nav are clearly in view and the tubbed grips are comfy. The seat, however, is quite small and short. My tailbone sits on the hump at the rear of the seat. This would prove painful. If the seat was just 20mm longer, I think a lot of us taller riders would be more comfy on it.
There is a comfort seat option, and it is a lot more comfortable, but I don’t think it looks as cool as the standard seat. Taller riders may want to try both seats before choosing which way to go… Still, we rode for about five hours, over quite bumpy terrain, so most feet forward cruisers give your backside a hard time, a lot of your weight is placed there.
“From walking speed to the top speed of over 150km/h, the Super Meteor is very stable, yet still manoeuvrable, while being consistent and entirely predictable.”
Seat height and a low centre of gravity makes the Super Meteor very accessible to riders of all shapes, sizes and experience level. It has big bike looks and feel, but small bike low speed handling and is extremely easy to ride from the moment the smooth, light clutch is released. From walking speed to the top speed over 150km/h, the Super Meteor is very stable, yet still manoeuvrable, while being consistent and entirely predictable. It’s the same magic recipe that the Interceptor and Conti GT are cooked from.
The SHOWA inverted forks, a first for RE, are well sprung on the firmer side, and well damped in both high and low speed compression, and rebound, over a wide variety of conditions. Not overly stiff over the bumps, yet giving plenty of support under braking. While at the back, dual shocks are featured and could be improved for the heavier riders among us. I found them bottoming on softer settings and too hard on firmer settings. Lighter riders will not have much of an issue.
I’m 100kg in riding gear, so no lightweight, but I would not be able to safely take a pillion on a SM really. It’s an affordable bike, so adding aftermarket shocks should not be too much of an issue in my opinion. The shocks are the only thing I would replace on the bike, aside from the muffler for a louder note. In saying that, it has a decent sound for a stock bike but would sound so cool with a loud pipe!
The combo of narrow 19in front tyre, wide 16in rear tyre, stable geometry yet wide handlebars give the Super Meteor a unique ability to be completely stable yet still very flickable and great fun in the turns. It holds a line very well, not influenced by bumps or undulations, on or off the brakes. It’s fun.
It’ll peel into a sweeper off the throttle, on the throttle, or go into a hairpin hard on the brakes, and always come out the other side exactly where it was pointed. It loves a bit of rear brake, too. The rear brake is the stronger of the two, while the front needs a really big squeeze. As a combo they are good.
The engine is a gem. It must be one of the most loved engines out there and will go down in history as a legendary powerplant. The Super Meteor motor is blacked out, and has a new brace on top of the rocker cover. Aside from that it’s the same engine as the others. Carting a bit more weight around, the engine doesn’t have the acceleration or punch that it offers in the other two 650 models, but it’s fine.
It provides a good, broad, linear spread of very smooth torque, a slick gearbox and lovely fuelling. It is vibration free and sounds great. It will reach near the same top speed as the others, just needs time to get there. There is plenty on hand for overtaking and at 110km/h it is doing it easy. I’m unsure of final gearing, or the diameter of the 16in rear tyre compared to the INT and GT tyres, that may contribute.
The Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 is a motorcycle that will surprise many, and surprised me. For dedicated cruiser riders, it’ll create a new motorcycling experience for you in terms of handling. For traditional nakedbike, sports or adventure riders, it will give unknown comfort while still living up to your cornering expectations. For new riders, the Super Meteor will be confidence inspiring and easy to live with, and very importantly, teach you riding skills that lesser handling cruisers simply will not. You could really become a skilled rider starting out on one of these… Rather than learn bad habits…
Tech Talk, 2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650
The Super Meteor 650 is centred around the award-winning 648cc twin platform that’s been rigorously tested and, since 2018, enjoyed worldwide acclaim within the multi-award-winning Interceptor INT 650 and Continental GT 650.
The Super Meteor 650 is powered by the same first modern Royal Enfield 650 twin engine that is seen in the Continental/Interceptor 650. Created in the 2018, the platform is a single overhead cam, 8 valve, air/oil-cooled, 648cc parallel twin, producing 47bhp and 52Nm. The engine has a strong low and mid-range performance, retaining the Royal Enfield character of accessible torque through the rev range.
Also shared with the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, is the six speed gearbox, especially developed for Royal Enfield. The gearbox is augmented by it’s ‘slip/assist’ clutch, that facilitates easy riding in traffic with a light feel, and prevents wheel-hop when downshifting gears – this was actually a first for Royal Enfield back in 2018.
Created at the UK Technology Centre in conjunction with Harris Performance, the frame and swingarm are entirely new and meet the design brief of a motorcycle with a low centre of gravity for high-speed stability and easy manoeuvrability. Fabricated in steel with optimised forgings, investment castings, pressings and extrusions, the chassis incorporates a new cylinder-head mount for additional stiffness.
Royal Enfield’s first USD forks, with 120mm of travel, premium rear shocks with 5-step preload and 101mm travel, complement the new frame, ensuring the Super Meteor is both stable and rewarding to ride on the open road, yet does not suffer from heavy or wallowing steering through the curves.
The Super Meteor 650 has the dimensions of a cruiser, with a low stance and a narrow-waisted seat, which allows a comfortable stand over. The riding position is one of the key differentiators of any cruiser and the Super Meteor nails this with its feet-forward foot controls and raised wide handlebars. A large tank gives extended range and wide tubeless tyres on 16in rear and 19in front alloy rims are said to provide dependability and peace of mind at highway speeds.
The instrument cluster combines the classic feel of an analogue speedometer with the functionality of an LCD display for essentials such as revs, gear indicator, fuel gauge, clock and trip meter. Adjustable clutch and brake levers offer a smooth operation along, while ergonomically designed barrel profile grips integrate the Royal Enfield logo.
There is Royal Enfield’s celebrated TBT (Turn-By-Turn) navigation pod, known as the Royal Enfield Tripper. A first on any Indian-made motorcycle when introduced on the Meteor 350, this highly-focused tool, developed in collaboration with Google, links to the rider’s smartphone via Bluetooth.
A discreet USB socket is located beneath the left side panel. Further attention-grabbing features on include a LED headlamp, a first for Royal Enfield, which is carefully designed to deliver old-school charm but provide all the benefits of LED technology.
Finally, the Super Meteor’s paint finish is excellent while its distinctive tank badges, inspired by historic Royal Enfield designs, are faceted in chrome and accented with two colours of tinted infill that results in a gorgeous, jewel-like finish.
The Super Meteor 650 is available in Australia in five colours: Green, Celestial Red, Astral Black, Astral Blue, Celestial Blue. Order yours now – details here…
2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 Specifications
Price: Astral – $11,990 Ride Away Single-Tone Paint Scheme Interstellar – $12,190 Ride Away Dual-Tone Paint Scheme Celestial – $12,540 Ride Away Dual-Tone Paint Scheme + Touring Screen + Touring Seat & Backrest
Warranty: 3 year factory warranty & 3 year roadside assistance
Colours: Interstellar Green, Celestial Red, Astral Black, Astral Blue, Celestial Blue
Claimed power: 35kW [47hp]@7250rpm
Claimed torque: 52Nm [38ft-lbs]@5650rpm
Weight: 241kg wet
Fuel capacity: 15.7L
Fuel Consumption Claimed: N/A
Fuel Consumption (measured): N/A
Engine: SOHC air and oil-cooled 648cc parallel twin four-stroke, eight-valve, 78mm x 67.8mm bore x stroke, 9.5:1 compression, 270º firing order crankshaft, Bosch EMS/EFI
Gearbox: Six-speed constant mesh Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch, cable actuation
Frame: Steel tubular spine frame
Rake: N/A Trail: N/A
Suspension: 43mm Upside Down Telescopic Fork, Twin Shocks, 101mm travel, preload adjustable.
Brakes: 320mm disc, twin piston floating caliper (f), ABS, two-piston, 300mm rotor, twin piston floating caliper (r) Tyres: 100/90 – 19 M/C 57H (f) 150/80 B16 M/C 71H (r)
Seat height: 740mm
Ground clearance: 135mm
Overall width: 890mm
Overall Length: 2260mm
Overall height: 740mm
Instruments & electronics: Dual clocks, tacho, speedo, dual trip, warning lights/fuel.
Electronics: Bosch Two-Channel ABS, Bosch EMS.
The Verdict | Review: 2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650