The Meteor has landed
The warning had been out there for quite some time, but while everyone was looking towards the sky, a swarm of Meteors came to us from the East.
Without causing damage, they landed in the middle of cities, bearing colourful names such as ‘Fireball Yellow’, ‘Stellar Black’ or ‘Supernova Blue’. Interestingly enough it is the urban environment where the Meteors fit like a glove.
Based on a heritage from decades ago, the newly designed 350cc platform inherits the name from an iconic Royal Enfield motor in the early 1950’s. Launched at the end of 1952 the Royal Enfield Meteor was a magnificent touring motorcycle with a reputation that stood the test of time.
In those days the segment for touring bikes was not yet dominated by those bulky 1000CC+ engines like the ones we seem to need today. Let’s be honest, life was easier and quite a bit slower in those days.
The Indian manufacturer has a strong British heritage, and portrays the Meteor 350 as an “easy cruiser which carries Royal Enfield’s signature styling, but with many firsts and is set to be an equally outstanding machine for our times.”
We could not agree more. The BikeBrewers test team had the pleasure of riding this little thumpers for a full day in both urban circumstances and on lovely twisty country roads.
The weather was spectacular and the smiles on our faces could not be wiped away no matter how hard you would try to polish them off.
The Royal Enfield technicians have managed to produce a single 350cc engine which will run without hardly any vibrations whatsoever. They have done a truly remarkable job at balancing the crankshaft.
At the heart of the Meteor is a ‘J series’ air-cooled 349cc SOHC engine. It has a characteristic long stroke, producing smooth tractable power (20 BHP) and a bottom-end torque of 27Nm. Now this may not sound very impressive when we are surrounded by torque packed machines which launch you from one traffic light to another, but that’s not what this bike is about.
The Meteor is about finding yourself enjoying the ride and the world around you. No need for speed, no adrenaline rush, just pure riding fun like they used to have seventy years ago.
It’s the perfect bike for some laid back cruising. It hums like a sewing machine and handles smoothly. The fuel consumption is amazingly low at a whopping 100mpg or 40 km/l! The maximum speed of around 120 km/h is manageable.
With an enhanced chassis setup, sporting a new double-cradle frame, accessible riding position (this was much appreciated by our lady rider!), advanced braking ability, high specification suspension and responsive power delivery, the Meteor is potent enough to provide you with a smooth ride around town or on a winding country road. It is fast enough to feel secure on the highway too, but when you are on a bike like this you are likely to take the ‘long way home’ on any given day of the week.
It is a truly agile machine with very light handling and no compromises on rider comfort. Royal Enfield produced a machine that is expected to be massively popular in Asia, where small displacement motorcycles are far more popular than in Western countries. But also in new markets such as Argentina, Colombia and Brazil.
Still, we are convinced that this new 350cc platform will attract a whole new crowd of fans in European countries too. From young professionals who need to zoom around town from one meeting to another, to young riders who are looking for a carefree bike to take out on weekend trips, exactly as can be seen in the tasty sepia coloured video on the manufacturer’s YouTube channel.
To get you from A to B efficiently, Royal Enfield have added the new Tripper Navigation system to the Meteor also. Quite a treat to have a machine in a price range which is just below the € 5K mark which comes with this feature in its standard package!
It is a system powered by Google Maps and the Royal Enfield designed App. It faultlessly connects any smartphone with the motorcycle through Bluetooth. It then becomes a sophisticated navigation solution, rich in features and specially developed for motorcyclists that indicates directions through an intuitive display system.
Increasing the fun is a USB charging port to make sure your phone can continue to direct the Tripper system until you reach your destination. We had ample time to test this device and we love its simplicity. It does exactly what you want it to do, without unnecessary frills or other complicated stuff that are initially invented to make life easier, but in fact fail to do so in real-life.
Little discussion was required to reach consensus. This is a funky little bike that will definitely attract a whole new audience in Europe too.
Looking at the success Royal Enfield have had over the last couple of years with their new 650cc models, we are pretty sure that the Meteor will follow in those footsteps without missing a single (cylinder) beat.
Photography by @itsmenubbs and @pienmeppelink
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