Recent announcements from India-based motorcycle maker Royal Enfield show that it is continuing to develop its international marketplace presence, including introducing new machines that point towards a more varied – and more modern – product line from the legacy bike maker, which has been making motorcycles continuously since 1901. A new cruiser is en route to North America, and a new adventure bike is waiting in the wings.
Royal Enfield started as Enfield Cycle Company in Britain in the late 1800s and produced its first motorcycle in 1901. A running replica, above, was recently completed.
The company opened a factory in India and after Enfield went bankrupt in the U.K in 1971, operations and the brand re-centered in India. After winning a copyright lawsuit, the brand became Royal Enfield. In 1994, the company merged with Indian corporation Eicher Group, and a modernization program, including a new state-of-the-art factory and design facility in Chennai, led to both new models and a push into international markets. Royal Enfield is managed by Siddhartha Lal (below), son of Eicher Group founder Vikram Lal.
New models, and one line in particular, the 650 Twin series (review link below), have seen success worldwide, and Royal Enfield sold over 100,000 motorcycles in international markets in 2022, a new high for the company. In its home market of India, the second largest motorcycle market in the world behind China, Royal Enfield sold over 700,000 units in 2022. In India, Royal Enfield is a premium brand, much like Harley-Davidson is in the U.S. The company has also opened a new technical training facility in Texas.
Now, Royal Enfield has brought a ninth model to the North American market with the Super Meteor 650, a “cruiser” style machine featuring an all-new frame and the 650cc-class parallel twin motor similar in performance to the engine in the successful Interceptor/INT and GT models that have been available since 2019.
Prices start at $6,999 for the base model in the U.S. A second Super Meteor 650 trim, called Touring (top photo), includes a small windscreen, small backrest and an upgraded seat for both rider and passenger. It sells for $7,499 in the U.S. Buyers can also opt for two-color paint schemes for another $300. Royal Enfield offers a wide variety of OEM-fitment accessories and branded apparel as well.
The Super Meteor 650 features a combination cast and tubular steel frame designed by U.K. frame specialist Harris Performance, which Royal Enfield acquired in 2015. The updated 648cc air/oil-cooled motor produces 47 horsepower and 40 pound feet of torque. It features digital fuel injection, a six-speed gearbox, chain drive and twin chrome mufflers set low to make room for pannier or saddle bags. Brembo “ByBre” disc brakes front and rear include dual-channel ABS and the suspension includes an upside-down (USD) front fork from Showa and adjustable rear shock absorbers. A speedometer with LCD panel shows gear position, fuel level, trip meter, clock, odometer and an “eco” indicator. A second small “Tripper” pod designed in cooperation with Google displays the time or turn-by-turn GPS prompts when connected to Royal Enfield’s smartphone app.
The Super Meteor 650 is currently arriving at U.S. dealers that now number over 100 locations nationwide and in Canada. The motorcycle was initially introduced in India in January of this year and had to go through homologation processes before arriving in international markets. I was able to ride the Super Meteor 650 in India earlier this year for another publication.
Royal Enfield is set to introduce another new model, the Himalayan 450, in the next week or so. The company currently offers a 411cc Himalayan model, but the new 450-class machine will feature another first for the company in the form of a fully liquid-cooled engine and more modern construction. The 450 Himalayan is designed to be ridden both on and off road in what’s known as the “adventure” or ADV motorcycle segment, one of the most popular motorcycle categories currently. No details about North American availability for the new 450 Himalayan have been announced so far.
Look for a ride review of the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 soon.
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