Royal Enfield 650 Super Meteor - First date
By GARETH CHARLTON - 10 May 23
I subscribe to the notion of type. We all have our preferences as well as our long ingrained apathies. And whilst I would describe my two-wheeled tastes as broad, the genre of “cruisers” has always sat in the latter category for me. Perhaps it is that they just don’t seem to accommodate my overly-limbed frame, or their unshakable sense of Americana pretence, I typically overlook them. So, I assumed a two-week match made with Royal Enfield’s new 650 cruiser, the boldly named Super Meteor, would prove a challenge to my factory settings. Spoiler alert, to assume makes an ass out of
you and me.
As I took delivery of the bike on our Shoreditch drive a fellow Shedist (whose preferred motorcycle type most certainly is cruisers) bounded over eager to see it. His delight in the details and overall proportions made me park my preconceptions, stand back and look again. He was right, the Super Meteor is a handsome and satisfyingly robust machine.
As befits the class there are splashes of chrome here and there, which I admit ticked my colleagues boxes more than mine, but a quick flick through the available paint schemes revealed these more prevalent on the Interstellar design (as per my loaner) than the more subdued Astral options. My eyes were drawn instead to the front-end with its considerable, upside-down Showa forks and those splendid cast wheels. “Shame it doesn’t have spokies” chimed my viewing friend, confirming once and for all that winning is simply not an option. For my part, any minute of my future not spent cleaning a spoked wheel is a minute I welcome back.
Although the Super Meteor shares a power unit with RE’s Continental GT and Interceptor models, little else is carried over. The spine frame is a dedicated design for the SM which through a new cylinder head mount utilises said motor as a stressed member. As cruiser standards dictate the rider sits low with the soles of their feet thrust forward via a bolt-on tube and plate set-up. Despite being an alien position to me it proved comfortable enough on first acquaintance, time to put some miles beneath the wheels.
Familiarity and a firm fondness for Enfield’s universally admired 650 twin greased the wheels of my soon about-turn. It is just a joy to use. The modest digits belie an eagerness to work coupled with a near gymnastic flexibility that for anywhere shy of highway mile-munching, I would take over more boastful numbers every time. But don’t suppose for a moment it wont thrum along happily all day at (or a little above) the national speed limit, that is well within this motor's expansive locker. The exhaust note is engaging if a little polite, but having heard it through a variety of pipe options I can confirm there is definitely a burly bellow lying in wait for those who want it.
But stop, anyone who has previously swung a leg over alternative deployments of this power-unit are already well aware of the above. The question is how does it feel to ride the Super Meteor?
Absolutely bloody great.
I believed cruisers were required to sacrifice their handling ambition at the altar of their raked out steering angle? Apparently not. Far from feeling distant, the front-end and low-slung riding position provoke huge confidence and a broad grin as I chase that foot-peg grind bend after bend. I absolutely relished in throwing the Super Meteor around. Preconceptions corrected.
Sure, I craved a little more response from the front brake but the rear proved a far superior anchor anyway and since my protruding legs could offer little in the way of weight bearing or steering input, it was nice for my right foot to participate in the riding fun. The rear shocks could perhaps of benefitted from a little rider weight and style relevant tweakery (there is 5-step preload adjustment as standard) but I was having too much fun riding to bother messing about.
As my two weeks of cruiser life drew to a surprisingly unwanted close, the words so often bandied about at the Enfield press events began to echo in my head. Fun and accessible. If my words haven’t completely failed me, hopefully the 500 or so above have portrayed the fun I enjoyed on the Super Meteor, so now to the accessibility part. There is no doubt, motorcycling is an expensive pastime to fuel and an even more wallet-challenging endeavour to start out in, but Enfield have absolutely nailed value. Their range of 350 (see my HNTR review HERE) and 400cc (Scram HERE) models are deliberately priced to bring motorcycling within the grasp of more. Then, when hooked (as they no doubt will be) the now expanded 650 line-up is waiting to take those recruits deeper down our most joyous rabbit hole.
None of which is to say that the larger capacity machines of the Enfield line-up are solely the preserve of the recent or returning motorcyclist. I have spoken with many (with a more storied motorcycling back catalogue than my own) who find more enjoyment in the honest and perfectly judged 650 platform than in plenty of the more lauded machines they have had the privilege to sample.
So, did my two-week date with the Super Meteor convince me it was the Enfield 650 for me? Truthfully I’d probably stick with the Interceptor, but now I know I would be doing so purely due to my preference of type and not from a mis-informed idea that it would yield any greater riding pleasure, the Super Meteor is an absolute blast. About time I scrap that adherence to the notion of type...