Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 range deserves to be showered with praise
published : 3 Apr 2023 at 08:38
newspaper section: Life
writer: Jedd Sreshthaputra
When the invitation letter for the first-ever international media riding event for the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 arrived in early January, I couldn't be more excited.
The event was to be held in beautiful Rajasthan, which is famous for spectacular sand dunes and other attractions amid amazing landscapes.
Designs and finishes of the Super Meteor 650 have been improving over the years. According to Royal Enfield, the model was designed under the concept that people and journeys should not be limited by hours or kilometres.
The new model has been tested on proving grounds as well as the highways and local roads of India, the United Kingdom and Spain across routes covering over 1 million kilometres.
It was also tested in a semi-anechoic laboratory to assure NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) features including beat optimisation and other factors affecting engine sound.
The Super Meteor 650 range offers two variants -- Tourer and Solo -- comprising Celestial, Interstellar and Astral models.
Celestial: Features exceptionally comfortable travelling seats and windscreen. Colour choices are Celestial Red and Celestial Blue, with accessories such as panniers, crash bars and spotlights available to suit individual riding styles.
Interstellar: A lighter and quicker model. Available in Interstellar Green, Interstellar Grey and Interstellar Black.
Astral: The Super Meteor 650's entry-level model. Comes in Astral Black, Astral Blue and Astral Green.
The Super Meteor 650's design is fantastic, with a frame and chassis that retain trademark design elements from the past while employing cutting-edge technology.
It rides on an all-new frame built around its twin engine, delivering nimbleness and ease of handling while complementing its classic cruiser form. Its steel tubular spine frame was designed for a relaxed riding style with a low centre of gravity.
Keeping to the primary concept of Royal Enfield, the overall appearance remains classic. The cruiser stance is achieved with a rear-set, scooped-out rider's seat and forward-set footpegs as well as steeply raked, upside-down front forks.
The trademark circular headlamp is designed with a chrome surround and has LED light elements. The wide, teardrop-shaped fuel tank holds about 16 litres of petrol and features a premium winged version of the Royal Enfield logo.
An instrument pod resting off-centre on top of the headlight is a digi-analogue device with a floating LCD multi-info display in the centre. Royal Enfield's Tripper GPS pod was also installed on the bikes. The housings for the tail lights and turn indicators are typical designs with LED features.
The front suspension features a new 43mm upside-down fork while the rear suspension is still dual shocks with six steps of pre-load adjustment. Braking performance comes courtesy of dual-channel ABS brakes with a 320mm front disc and a 300mm rear disc. The new alloy rims and tubeless tyres come as standard equipment. The front wheel is 19in in diameter and is fitted with 100/90 profile tyres. The rear wheels are 16in with a bigger 150/80 tyre.
The iconic parallel twin engine with a displacement of 648cc pumps out 47hp and 52.3Nm. It offers seamless gear transitions, strong low-end acceleration and effortless throttle response. A new cylinder head mount gives high torsional stiffness, providing smooth, steady and responsive performance.
The February weather in Rajasthan was perfect, with a pleasant atmosphere and enough sunshine for our two days of riding. Royal Enfield has created an excellent test programme that's useful to all test riders. There was our contingent of five Thai journalists in addition to one photographer/videographer assigned to work solely with us.
The programme spanned two days of testing. The first day consisted of a 50km ride through the magnificent landscape of Jaisalmer. On this test session we took narrow lanes and uneven roads through old towns before trying gravelled surfaces to learn more about the bike.
The Super Meteor is fairly easy to control, thanks to the new chassis design's low centre of gravity. With a kerb weight of nearly 240kg, there are no problems riding at or stopping from moderate speeds. Torque is always accessible at low engine speeds whether riding through small streets or climbing steep hills. The engine runs really smoothly and the revving sound is fantastic. Suspension is effective. It appears that both the front and rear suspension are set to match the weight of the bike and that nothing has to be altered for one rider. I'm assuming with a passenger and panniers full of travel gear, the rear suspension should be adjusted to become stiffer.
On day two I had a chance to try the Celestial Tourer and Interstellar. I must say that I do like both quite a lot.
Celestial: The Tourer is quite stable, especially on motorways and in strong winds. It is heavier, but that helps make you feel more secure. Long-distance riding is definitely comfortable, and the LED screen is easy to see.
In hot weather, the windscreen has a small window cut-out to allow air to pass through. As for navigation, I still have doubts about the usefulness of Royal Enfield's Tripper system for long-distance journeys, and certainly for planning rides in cities like Bangkok.
Meanwhile, overtaking vehicles is no problem as the power required is more than adequate.
Road surfaces in India aren't particularly smooth, but that means they're good for testing suspension and other components. I found that both the front and rear systems performed well. Brake systems likewise work effectively and provide additional safety assurance.
Interstellar: Unsurprisingly, the lighter Interstellar responds more quickly to acceleration and turning. It's a pleasure to ride this sports bike with a classic look. At speeds over 140kph (with recorded top speed of 160kph) the Celestial is really stable, whereas I fought the wind on the Interstellar.
For potential buyers, I'd advise starting with some simple questions, such as which design you prefer and which colour. You'll also want to ask yourself how much you expect to ride the bike throughout a year, and how you'll be riding it. If it's intended for daily city use, Interstellar is the one, especially given it's less expensive when configured without travel equipment extras (although you can later add extras).
But if you're frequently heading out on the open road, get the Celestial which includes travel equipment.
Pros: Classic design, riding position, engine sound
Cons: Smooth ride could lack excitement
A low-set, wide seat and laid-back riding stance make cruising a comfortable experience.
Sculpted Fuel Tank
The spacious, teardrop tank on the Super Meteor 650 can hold up to 15.7 litres.
Upside-down forks on the front suspension gives confidence and control on open highways, crowded streets and everything in between.
An all-new headlamp combines old-school aesthetics with modern LED lights to reduce power usage while increasing visibility.
Digi-Analogue Instrument Cluster
A retro-inspired instrument panel with floating LCD screen and built-in Tripper navigation.
Alloy Wheels With Wider Rear Tyre
Alloy wheels with tubeless tyres, while a wider rear tyre provides improved traction and stability.