Words by - Jatin Chibber
Royal Enfield Meteor 350- Introduction
The entry-level retro-modern motorcycle segment has always appealed to buyers in India. Earlier, this segment was dominated by the Royal Enfield Classic 350. Eventually, Jawa made a comeback in the market with the Jawa Classic and Jawa 42. Recently, even Honda introduced the H’ness CB350 to great response from potential buyers around the country. With an aim to regain dominance in the segment, Royal Enfield has introduced an all-new 350cc motorcycle in India - the Meteor 350. It is based on a new platform and is powered by a newly-developed 350cc thumper. After a significant amount of saddle time on the all-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350, we bring you a detailed ride review.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350- Styling & Features
Most of the 350cc motorcycles offered in our market have a modern-classic look; and the design language of the Meteor 350 is no different. At first glance, this motorcycle will definitely remind you of the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350X. Upfront, it gets conventional round halogen headlamps with a circular LED DRL strip running around it and halogen side blinkers. The intensity of the headlamp is not that good, and it can get a bit straining for the rider’s eyes while riding at night time.
The top-spec trim of the motorcycle comes with a standard windshield, which is big enough to counter heavy wind blasts.
The suspension system comprises telescopic forks upfront and dual-springs at the rear. While the overall build is classic RE, the bikemaker has employed some cost-cutting measures by employing a plastic mudguard at the front and plastic panels at the side. However, this has been in order to price the Meteor 350 aggressively. At the side, the motorcycle’s most defining feature is an elongated chrome exhaust, which enhances the premium quotient of the bike. The rear fascia of the motorcycle looks unique, comprising a round tail light along with halogen side indicators. The main reason for Royal Enfield customers to buy such bikes is to go on long trips. Keeping that in mind, RE offers the all-new Meteor 350 with a very soft and cushiony split seat, along with a backrest. The rider seat is wide enough to comfortably accommodate varying sizes of riders, while the pillion seat could have been a bit wider and longer. The fuel tank design of the Meteor 350 looks similar to that of the Thunderbird 350X, while fuel capacity stands at 15-litres.
Moving towards the instrument cluster, the all-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 gets a semi-digital unit. It features an analogue speedometer with a small digital display and gets a fuel gauge, service indicator, odometer, gear position indicator, and three trip meters. The instrument cluster also gets a turn-by-turn navigation system, which can be used via Royal Enfield’s smartphone application. The trip meters can be controlled through a dedicated button on the switchgear. Coming to the aforementioned switchgear, it comprises stylish-looking buttons for ignition and pass light/high beam. The new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 also gets a USB charging port as standard in order to allow a rider to charge his/her phone and tablets.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350- Engine & Performance
One of the biggest upgrades to the new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 is the addition of an all-new 349cc, single-cylinder engine. In terms of specification, it is capable of shredding out 20.2 Bhp of peak power and 27 Nm of twisting force. Transmission duties are done by a 5-speed gearbox. Compared to the Royal Enfield Classic 350, the new engine is a lot more refined. The bike manufacturer has tried its best to control the vibrations and their efforts have worked an absolute treat. The engine gets a new balancer shaft and vibrations are so well controlled that the rearview mirrors do not shake or change their direction at higher speeds, a persistent flaw of the older-generation RE’s.
Talking about its performance, the initial power of the motorcycle feels punchier than that of the Classic 350. It can touch a top speed of 120kmph, and can effortlessly cruise for long hours at a speed between 80 to 90 kmph. However, one can start feeling vibrations through the handlebar and footpegs post 70 kmph. The engine is now efficient enough to offer a mileage of 30-35 kmpl. Royal Enfield has also tuned the gearbox and it now feels smoother and is quicker to upshift/downshift. After the 650 twins, we feel that the bike maker has now achieved the same level of engine refinements in 350cc motorcycles. Overall, the all-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 feels smoother and is a good pick for those who like to ride for long distances and want an effortless motorcycle to do it with.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350- Ride & Handling
The riding dynamics of the all-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 are pretty sorted for a comfortable, muscle-bound cruiser. The motorcycle at home on the highway, thanks to an upright and wide handlebar, which will not stress out your arms while riding. Moreover, the comfortable riding posture won’t stress out your spine while riding the motorcycle for long hours either. However, because of its wide handlebar, it gets quite difficult to manoeuvre the Meteor 350 in city traffic. One of the best things about the all-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 is that the height of the bike is quite accessible. Even a rider standing 5.5-feet in height can easily ride this motorcycle. Braking duties are done by disc brakes at the front and rear, which come paired with a dual-channel ABS. The braking system is quite impressive as it offers amazing feedback under hard braking.
The motorcycle gets telescopic front forks and a spring setup at the rear. Royal Enfield has tuned the suspension to easily absorb bumps and deep potholes. However, the rear suspension could have been better as it feels a bit stiff. The Royal Enfield 350 rolls on 19-inch and 17-inch alloy wheels at the front and rear, respectively. These alloy wheels are shod with soft-compound tyres by CEAT, which offer a good amount of grip on the road.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350- Verdict
In the Indian market, the all-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 retails in three trims levels - Fireball, Stellar and Supernova. The entry-level Fireball trim is priced at INR 1.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and the mid-spec Stellar variant carries a price tag of INR 1.81 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The top-of-the-line, on the other hand, Supernova trim is priced at INR 1.90 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The all-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 is just slightly more expensive than the outgoing Classic 350. However, for that additional cost, one gets a more refined engine, better ergonomics and more features.