Custom Super Meteor 650 from Cherry’s Company…
Introduced in 2023, the Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 is the firm’s new flagship cruiser, sporting the 650 parallel-twin from the Interceptor 650 and Continental GT 650. It’s a retro-style bike built to compete against middleweight cruisers like the Kawasaki Vulcan and Honda Shadow, but it represents a significant step forward for the brand.
“Royal Enfield’s Super Meteor 650 may be the most significant motorcycle to ever come out of India. Its classic styling, impressive performance, and excellent build quality exhibit where Royal Enfield has been, where it is, and where it’s going. The Super Meteor’s classic styling pays homage to the brand’s original cruisers such as the 1952 Meteor and 1956 Super Meteor… And the impressive fit and finish of the Super Meteor 650 represents a new standard for Royal Enfield.” –Cycle World
As a brand, Royal Enfield has heartily embraced the customs world, enlisting some of the world’s best builders to transform Enfield machines according to their own unique visions. Recently, Royal Enfield commissioned Japanese master Kaichiroh Kurosu of Cherry’s Company to customize a new Super Meteor 650.
Kurosu-san is well known for his futuristic Highway Fighter series, but he decided to approach this build with more of a vintage style, harking back to the design of his “Lefty Bond” Shovelhead, which won Best of Show at the 2013 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom (Mooneyes) Show. The Super Meteor build would also give Kurosu the opportunity to follow a vision he’s had for years:
“I have always wanted to build a sidecar. But I never had a chance to do it until now, because people who ride custom motorcycles would not want to build a sidecar, and people who ride sidecars would not order a custom sidecar from a custom builder.”
Below, Kurosu-san gives us a highly detailed rundown of the build in his own words, which shows the great amount of thought, design, engineering, and labor that went into the build. He fabricated a bespoke leading-link Earles front fork — a design known to work especially well in sidecar applications — along with a custom front axle that’s adjustable for trail. This way, the bike can have reduced trail with the sidecar attached, which reduces steering effort, and longer trail when riding solo.
The lovely floating sidecar body is inspired by a Dutch wooden clog, and the sidecar suspension system is adjustable for both toe and camber, so the handling can be properly dialed. Other highlights include the bespoke aluminum tank and tail section, 60-spoke wire wheels, and a double-disc rear brake system that’s linked to the sidecar brake.
Given the depth of the design and the many trials and setbacks along the way, Kurosu-san aptly named this build the “Challenger.” All of the hard work was well worth it, however, as this is one of the most gorgeous, well-sorted sidecar rigs we’ve ever seen.
A big thanks goes out to Tadashi Kohno for bringing us this story, and the photos are the work of Hiromitsu Yasui (@hiromitsu.yasui_weekend). Below, Kaichiroh Kurosu gives us the full story of the build in his own words.
Custom Super Meteor 650: In the Builder’s Words…
I have always wanted to build a sidecar. But I never had a chance to do it until now, because people who ride custom motorcycles would not want to build a sidecar, and people who ride sidecars would not order a custom sidecar from a custom builder.
But this time, Royal Enfield asked me to build a custom motorcycle based on the “SUPER METEOR 650,” and I was free to do whatever I wanted, except for the rule of keeping the concept of a cruiser. So, I thought I could build a sidecar. A sidecar is also a great cruiser.
I had worked on sidecars when I worked in a Harley-Davidson dealer before I started my own company as Cherry’s Company, but this is the first time I have built a sidecar as a custom motorcycle. Many trials had to be made for its bike. That is why I named this model “CHALLENGER.”
The design concept is function. The Earles fork, for example, is special made for this project. Sidecars require a shorter trail than a regular two-wheeled motorcycle. Therefore, the front axle was made into an eccentric adjuster so that the amount of trail can be easily changed according to the presence or absence of the sidecar. The eccentric adjuster portion of the design is designed for functionality.
The body lines were partly inspired by the “Lefty Bond” which I built for the 2013 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show and won Best of Show. I had seen a photo of that motorcycle in the materials that led the Custom World team at Royal Enfield to select me. I thought they liked “Lefty Bond,” which I consider a masterpiece myself. I thought it would be very interesting to combine that design with a sidecar.
To start the vehicle fabrication process, I first determined the ride height, and then worked on the balance of each part. The exterior was removed from the Super Meteor 650, so that only the frame and engine were left, and the balance of these parts was considered while raising and lowering them with a jack. When the engine and frame were lowered to the point where the swingarm was horizontal, I noticed the beautiful lines of the standard frame. Then I decided to restructure the body lines using the lines of the standard frame. Until I realized this, I was thinking of building the frame from scratch.
The frame of the completed bike still has the standard steering neck tube. However, the standard frame had a strong gusset plate added where the neck tube connects to the main tube and down tube to increase strength around the steering head. So, I removed that plate and installed a new frame structure in the form of a truss.
In addition, the engine had to be offset 5 mm to the left side of the chassis to accommodate a wider wheel at the rear. Therefore, the main tube was newly fabricated. It is more correct to say not that the engine was moved to the left, but rather the reworked neck tube and main frame were offset to the right.
The swingarm pivot area and the under frame were diverted from the standard frame. However, with the new main tube fabrication, I have rebuilt part of the loop frame that supports the rear suspension. I think the loop frame, the new main frame, the steel fuel tank, the aluminum seat cowl, and the large forward headlight nacelle line are the highlights of the CHALLENGER’s bodywork.
Earles forks were designed by Mr. Ernest Earles in the U.K. for sidecars with strong side forces on the front forks when turning, and were also used in BMW sidecars, and some custom sidecars such as Harley-Davidson were also equipped with Earles forks. Harley-Davidson and other custom sidecars were also equipped with Earles forks.
However, when building sidecars for Harley-Davidsons with large engines and chassis, the outside diameter of the pipes that make up the forks became larger in order to increase strength, and the forks themselves also became larger.
If it were a sidecar custom based on a large chassis, that would be fine, but this SUPER METEOR 650 features a compact chassis. I wanted to take advantage of that chassis configuration, so I built the original Earles forks for this project. Compared to Earles forks for Harley-Davidson, this fork is much narrower.
In addition to making the Earles fork itself smaller, I also designed it to have minimal clearance to the main frame, tires, and other parts. As the work progressed, new discoveries were made, and each time I changed a detail or reworked a part.
For example, when the ride height was lowered and the swingarm angle became parallel to the ground, the Earles fork arm also became horizontal, and I used this as the basis for the body line to reconstruct the chassis design. In the process of making the Earles fork, I came up with the idea of synchronizing the angle of the down tube of the frame with the angle of the leg tube of the Earles Fork. And as a result, I had to remake the pipe of the Earles fork three times.
The suspension installed on the Earles fork was made from an old KONI. But the outside diameter of the spring was too large as it was, and it was unbalanced with other parts such as the headlight nacelle. So, I made a special spring for the KONI with a smaller diameter. This allowed me to increase the spring rate of the springs as well.
It was difficult to determine the balance between the sidecar frame and the motorcycle side when making the sidecar frame. Just a little wider would make it look awkward. It was also very important to balance the positioning of the three wheels on the motorcycle and sidecar. The first frame I built for the sidecar was too large, so I had to rework it by reducing the width by more than 10 cm. I wanted to make the sidecar as compact as possible.
The same is true for the sidecar body to be placed on it. Sidecar bodies for Harley-Davidson are usually over 1800 mm in length. If the sidecar body were to fit the Super Meteor 650, the sidecar body would be too large for the motorcycle. Therefore, I designed the sidecar body to be less than 1700 mm in length. Of course, there had to be enough space for an adult person to ride in the sidecar.
With the sidecar body, I was thinking of the Klomp, a Dutch wooden shoe, and vintage sidecars. I mixed them in my mind. First, I made a large block of styrofoam by pasting many sheets together, and then I designed the body by shaping it by hand. Then, I pasted fiberglass onto the finished prototype.
For the sidecar suspension, I combined a small truck (K-truck from Japan) leaf spring with a motorcycle dampened spring suspension. The sidecar is also accented by the arched frame that was built to set that suspension.
In addition, the system is equipped with various other adjustment mechanisms, such as TOE ANGLE and CAMBER ANGLE, which adjust the angle between the sidecar and the motorcycle as well.
There are various types of sidecars. Sidecars can be rigid, with a floating sidecar body, or with suspension on the frame, as in “CHALLENGER”. In this case, I wanted to keep it simple and fit the sidecar body to the lower for the motorcycle. So, I adopted a body with suspension, but examined the height and front/rear position of the sidecar body in relation to the body of the motorcycle.
When the sidecar is removed from motorcycle and the motorcycle is ridden alone by motorcycle, all stays for attaching the sidecar can also be removed from the motorcycle.
I also wanted to create a vintage car feel throughout the entire body, so I opted for large-diameter, 60-spoke wheels on all three wheels. To create a classical atmosphere, all spring suspensions with dampers were of the covered type, and I also fabricated the suspension covers. To enhance the presence of the front 21-inch 60-spoke wheels, there is no front brake.
However, sidecars require strong braking power. So, I converted the rear to double discs.
The lever of right side controls the rear brake disc on the right side of the motorcycle. The foot brake controls the rear brake disc on the left side of the motorcycle, overlapping the sprocket. It is also linked to the brake on the sidecar side. The lever of the left side is a mechanical parking brake taken from a scooter. A brake caliper specially designed for the parking brake is set on the brake disc on the right side of the motorcycle.
The Royal Enfield was easy to customize. The engine itself was well formed and the wiring was simple. The design of the handlebar switches and other small parts was also very good. So, for the CHALLENGER, some of the handlebars, switches, gauges, taillights, exhaust headers, and silencers were taken from the standard.
■ Model Name：CHALLENGER
■ Donor Motorcycle：Royal Enfield SUPER METEOR 650／2023
■ Builder Name:：Kaichiroh Kurosu / Cherry’s Company, Inc.
■ Engine：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
■ Exhaust Headers：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
■ Exhaust Silencer：One-off
■ Air Cleaner Box：One-off／Aluminum
■ Air Filter：Mooneyes（HI FLOW AIR CLEANER）
■ Frame：Standard (Modified)
■ Rear Frame：One-off
■ Front Fork：Earles Fork／One-off
■ Triple Clamp：One-off (Top and Under)
■ Rear Suspension：for Harley-Davidson Sportster(Non-Brand／putted on One-off cover)
■ Rear Brake (Right Side)：
・Master cylinder (Right hand lever)：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
・Brake Disk：10 inch／Non-brand
■ Rear Brake (Left Side)：
・Master cylinder(Right foot pedal)：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
・Brake Caliper：Performance Machine
・Front：21 inch 60 stainless spoke
・Rear：18 inch 60 stainless spoke
■ Tires：AVON Cobra
・Fuel Tank：One-off／Steel (handmade)
・Seat Cowl：One-off／Aluminum (handmade)
・Headlight Nacelle：One-off／Aluminum (handmade)
・Headlight Lens：One-off／Resin Casting
・Handles：One-off (Modified standard handles)
・Pegs and Pedals：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
・Tail lamp：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
・Switches：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
・Instrument：Standard／SUPER METEOR 650
・Seat：One-off (Leather) by Skunk
・Fender：Guts Chrome (Rib Fender)
・Wheel：19 inch 60 stainless spoke
・Tire：AVON Cobra 110/90-19
・Brake Caliper：Performance Machine
・Brake Disk：W&W 8 3/4 Mini Disk Rotor
・Suspension：Leaf Spring and Spring Suspension with damper (putted on One-off cover)
・Seat：One-off (Leather) by Skunk
・Seat Base：One-off／Aluminum (handmade)
・Interior：One-off (Leather) by Skunk
・Wind Shield and Shield Folder：One-off
・Light Lens：One-off／Resin Casting
■ Paint：Tetsu (Hopping Shower) & Heiji (Redneck Kustoms) & Nigou (Cherry’s Company, Inc.)