NEW Royal Enfield Meteor 350
On November 6th 2020, Royal Enfield introduced the all new Meteor 350 in India. The 350 has been a highly anticipated model by friends and foes together. The Meteor 350 is going to be a very important model for Royal Enfield, especially in Indian domestic market, where the battle for market share in the small displacement motorcycle segment is killing. Royal Enfield has been losing terrain to the likes of Jawa with their gorgeous “42” and “Perak”, which aren’t even offered in Europe, and Benelli’s Imperiale 400, which is currently being sold in Europe. Both brands are offering better performance and more value for money.
All new engine
The Meteor 350 is not only meant to replace the outgoing Rumbler/Thunderbird as a cruiser, but is basically the foundation for a whole new line-up. The new engine carries the code name “J series” and is basically an all new design, albeit it is based on the famous Interceptor/Continental 650 engine architecture. How does this translate to the 350? Well, the engine is designed to meet strict environmental requirements. No longer will a Royal Enfield 350 breath and feed through a carb, it’s EFI from here on out. Dual-channel ABS is now standard. Gone are the old push-rods, now there is an industry standard cam chain. The single has received a balancer, smoothening out, allegedly, any annoying vibrations. We’re not going to talk about power and torque figures simply because they are not that relevant. What is relevant is the way the power is delivered, and, perhaps more importantly, the bikes fuel economy. The old 350 had notorious slow idle and a reputation of being extremely frugal with the dino-juice. Still, for the number geeks out there, the new 350 pushes out a whopping 20.2 (!)hp at 6100 rpm and a mellow 27 Nm at 4000 rpm.
Customisation from the Factory
The Meteor 350 features a new double cradle frame and a complete new suspension set-up, designed to offer superior handling. Tubeless alloy wheels and a new digital dashboard that contains all the important relevant information, make this a modern motorcycle compared to the ancient technology we have been use to. An interesting new feature is the “Make it yours” initiative, which allows customers to design and upgrade their new Meteor with all the bells and whistles, with the help of an app. Another neat feature is the so-called “Tripper” navigation system. It’s a Google Maps supported Bluetooth navigation solution, developed for motorcyclists, that indicates directions through an intuitive display.
The World is Yours
The Meteor 350 will be offered in three flavours: Fireball, Stellar, and Super Nova. These are some old Royal Enfield original model names, as a nod to the old days. They are technically the same motorcycle, with different levels of fit and finish. Offering the 350 this way is a smart move, since this has been a proven strategy, just look at Ducati’s Scrambler and Triumph’s Street Twin. Why is all this important? Well, the bike was introduced by Eicher Motors MD Siddhartha Lal, somewhere on a country road in Wales. Considering the R&D that has been put in design this all new motorcycle and the fact that Royal Enfield has invested massively in their state-of-the-art UK technical centre, it is very likely that the Meteor 350 or a derivative of it, will most likely also be offered in Europe and Latin America. The European market may not be that big for Royal Enfield, but in Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia, that is a different story. Rumours are suggesting that Royal Enfield has no plans for a new 500cc engine, which means that the new 350 carries a big burden for the company.
We are anxious to get our hands on the new Meteor 350 or any of its possible forms in Europe; we will write a full review once it makes its way to our shores. In the meantime, we will have to make do with the pictures. The pictured bikes are representing the models as they are available in non-European countries. In December the European versions will be revealed.
Photo credit: Royal Enfield