Review: 2024 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650

Review: 2024 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650

In January 2023, I journeyed to rural India for the domestic launch of Royal Enfield’s new Super Meteor 650 cruiser. Riding in India for two days was a truly unique experience and the Super Meteor 650 proved to be capable, comfortable, and tough enough to take on the country’s many challenges.

The motorcycle was set to debut in North America the following summer. Yet, summer came and went. As fall arrived, we finally got word the Super Meteor would land into America in Dallas, TX.

Why the delay? Royal Enfield representatives said certification for the U.S.—and especially California—slowed things down a bit. That actually worked in the company’s favor, though, as the mid-October weather was about as perfect as it gets in Texas, with sunshine pushing the temperatures to the low 80s.

India Vs. America

On balance, the North American iteration of the Super Meteor 650 is the same machine that I rode in India. It has undergone small adjustments to the intake tract, exhaust, and fuel mapping, mostly to make it DOT-compliant.

The drivetrain remains Royal Enfield’s 47-horsepower air/oil-cooled 648cc parallel-twin connected to a six-speed gearbox and chain drive. It makes a tick less than 39 lb-ft of torque and compression is a mild 9.5:1, so it runs just fine on a 4.15-gallon tank full of regular. The bike weighs in at 530 pounds fueled.

While Royal Enfield has a reputation for making robust retro machines, its current models are technically sophisticated with features like dual-channel ABS, digital fuel injection, and more. Additionally, although all current Royal Enfield models are air-cooled (many with oil cooler assistance, like the Super Meteor 650), the recently announced Himalayan 450 dual sport will feature the company’s first liquid-cooled powerplant.

The Super Meteor 650 is available in two primary trims—the $6,999 base bike and a $7,499 Tourer trim with an upgraded seat, two-tone paint, a small windscreen, and a stubby backstop for a passenger. There are seven color schemes to choose from and a wide range of accessories, including hard side cases for touring.

Royal Enfield also showed off a stripped-down and more urban-focused single-seat brawler version of the Super Meteor 650. The smaller Super Meteor 350 single remains in the lineup.

The Super Meteor’s hybrid backbone frame, designed by Royal Enfield subsidiary Harris Performance, features a cast rear section joining with steel tubes that lends the bike a more cruiser-ish double-downtube look, but the engine is a stressed member. Twin preload-adjustable rear shocks are complemented by a non-adjustable 43mm Showa big piston upside-down fork—Royal Enfield’s first such offering.

The large analog speedometer includes a small inset LCD display that shows the fuel level, gear position, odometer, trip meter, the time, and “eco” status when the twin isn’t gulping fuel. A second smaller nacelle shows the time or turn-by-turn navigation prompts via Royal Enfield’s Google-based Tripper smartphone app.

The headlight is all LED as well, another first for Royal Enfield, but there is no tachometer. A USB port hides under a side panel.

Texan Challenges

I threaded through the morning traffic of Dallas' streets and hopped on interstate highways to attend a brief tour and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Royal Enfield’s new U.S. technical training center outside of Fort Worth. At this new facility, the company will train North American dealers and mechanics on the finer points of Royal Enfield motorbike maintenance.

From the spotlessly clean training center, I blasted down more interstate and eventually transitioned onto two-lane roads around Lewisville Lake, stopping in the small town of Denton for some delicious Texas barbecue at the famous Greenhouse Restaurant.

I expected riding the Super Meteor 650 on American roads to be less of a challenge than navigating the cows, goats, bicycles, tuk-tuks, bold pedestrians, and general urban milieu of India. However, Texas traffic has its own challenges.

Posted speed limits in Texas can be as high as 85 mph, which made for some throttle-pinning freeway entrances and rapid riding. Many rural roads are posted as 70 mph—far faster than the 50 mph top limit I saw in India.

I also had to contend with swaying, overloaded pickup trucks on the freeway, massive growling semis needing to change lanes, phone-distracted car drivers, under-geared sportbike riders weaving through traffic at high speed, occasional bits of debris on the road, and some rough stretches of pavement around the lake. The cows that we did see were safely separated from the roadways by sturdy fences and seemed content to either munch grass or run away as our cadre rumbled past.

From the Greenhouse, I navigated to a small roadside sign museum in Tioga for some photos and chit chat. Numerous Royal Enfield executives, including Mark Wells, Royal Enfield’s chief of design, and Adrian Sellers, who was the primary design lead on the Super Meteor 650, were along for the ride.

Brand historian Gordon May, who headed up Project Origin—Royal Enfield’s recreation of the company’s first motorcycle from 1901—was easy to spot in his orange open-face helmet and steampunk riding goggles.

How Does It Feel?

Although the Super Meteor 650 felt safe and stable at 80-plus speeds on the superslab while dicing with semis and lead-footed pickup drivers, it was on the smaller, slower, more technical roads that the bike really felt more at home. It won’t dust any 600cc Asian or European machines anytime soon, but the stout torque, smooth-shifting gearbox, and well-dialed suspension made for an easy and entertaining ride.

Royal Enfield touts the Super Meteor 650 as a cruiser, but in truth, it’s much closer to a standard compared to American-bred heavyweight cruisers. Steering is very neutral and the flawless EFI fueling stood out, possibly thanks to the carb-like cable-actuated throttle bodies the bikes uses instead of a ride-by-wire system.

However, that choice does rule out an electronic cruise control option for the time being. Fit and finish was excellent on my bike.

In the U.S. market, a sub-50 horsepower 650 twin may seem to be aiming low for a cruiser. However, Royal Enfield is intentionally not playing the horsepower game.

Instead, the company has focused on value, usability, and build quality—with a healthy dash of style. Personally, I don’t view this as a demerit.

Riders don’t have to worry about launching into triple digits when turning the throttle to the stop. Instead, steady but robust acceleration is accompanied by an unexpectedly throaty soundtrack from the low-slung twin exhausts.

Passing vehicles was never a problem, as it just required a quick kick to fifth or fourth gear. Running the speedo up above 90 mph in fifth gear, the Super Meteor never felt twitchy and still had a bit left to go.

The brake power is linear and plentiful but a little short of feel, and you’ll need to grab a handful of the adjustable levers to really drop the anchor. Brembo ByBre brake discs adorn each wheel, with a single 320mm rotor gripped by a two-piston floating caliper in front and a 300mm unit out back, also with a two-puck stopper.

The test ride route didn’t include any kind of braking that required ABS, but as a test, I did stomp on the rear brake and the ABS kicked in immediately.

Texas being Texas (at least around Dallas), there was a dearth of curves to explore the Super Meteor’s cornering prowess. The Super Meteor felt downright sporty compared to most cruisers, thanks to rear shocks that give four inches of squish and front forks that move through 4.7 inches of travel.

Those legs prop the Super Meteor 5.3 inches above the tarmac. Too tall? Several of the other test riders were of a shorter stature, but they had no problems getting their toes down, thanks to the lowish 29-inch seat height.

The Do-Anything Motorcycle

If anything, the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 is one of the most satisfying bikes I’ve ridden lately. I was comfortable and fit well on the Super Meteor, even with my 34-inch inseam.

Despite being positioned as a “cruiser” and having foot-forward pegs, it’s still very close to a standard riding posture. The grips have only a slight rise and fall to hand easily.

Although there’s no no windscreen, I never felt fatigued while highway riding, even after a full day in the well-shaped saddle.

Nits? I still miss having a tachometer, especially with this spinner of an engine. Another brake disc up front would be welcome, especially for when the bike is inevitably loaded up with full panniers and two people.

If I could have any wish, I’d like to see the Super Meteor 650 eventually become the Super Meteor 865, as Royal Enfield partner S&S makes just such a drop-in kit for the 650 motor. Maybe next year my wish of a production 865 will come true.

Overall, the Super Meteor 650 is another winner for the ascendent Royal Enfield, which officials said sold 100,000 bikes outside of India last year—and another 800,000 at home. The competition should take note that there is indeed a market for a mid-size cruiser that isn’t made to win races, but is rather an ideal choice for riders of any skill level wanting to travel on a stylish, sonorous, affordable, and approachable do-anything motorcycle.

Technical Specs

+comfortable seating position, affordable price, good daily rider, robust build quality with attention to detail, air-cooled vintage appeal with modern technology
-needs a bit more power for fully-loaded two-up touring, no tachometer or OEM cruise control option, second front brake disc would be nice, constantly having to tell onlookers about it

Distributor: Royal Enfield
MSRP: $6,999
Engine: parallel-twin, 4-stroke, SOHC, air/oil-cooled
Displacement: 648cc
Power: 47hp @7,250rpm; 39lb-ft @5,650rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, constant mesh, we multi-plate, chain final drive
Rake/Trail: N/A
Weight (Wet): 531.3lbs
Seat Height: 29.1in
Fuel Capacity: 4.15gal
Colors: Astral Black, Astral Blue, Astral Green, Interstellar Green, Interstellar Gray, Celestial Red, Celestial Blue