Royal Enfield Meteor 350: Road Test Review
Who doesn't like cruising? And in India, the term cruising has always been synonymous with Royal Enfield because the RE products are niche out, having a decent combination of performance, beauty, affordability, and thrilling exhaust note. The 350cc range cruiser & tourer bikes are the domain of Royal Enfield, and the brand is ruling this segment for the past several years with its top-selling products such as Classic 350, Bullet 350 & the Thunderbird 350X. The Thunderbird had started to feel a bit long in the tooth, so the Chennai-based manufacturer has discontinued it from the Indian market, and introduced a completely new product, Meteor 350, which has indirectly replaced the Thunderbird motorcycle in RE's product line-up. So, is the new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 good enough to get excited about? And does it have the ability to push RE into a new trend? Let's find the answers:
Royal Enfield Meteor 350: Design, Variants & Features
The Royal Enfield's shooting star aka Meteor is new to the eyes, and yet it isn't, this is because it looks quite familiar to the ThunderBird 350X, even though it's a completely new product. Meteor's tall front-facia with round halogen headlights, round indicators, high handlebars, teardrop tank, and low seat will remind you of the TBX. However, Meteor's fuel tank is less curved compared to the 350X, which is a nice thing. But its capacity is 5 liters less than the 20-liter unit of Thunderbird.
Upfront, the Meteor features a round-shaped headlight with a 60/55 halogen lamp along with a LED DRL ring around the headlamp unit. But it is quite dull to be seen in direct sunlight.
There is a nice touch of chrome around the headlamps, side indicators, and on side-mirrors, which are made of plastic, not metallic.
Apart from this, it also features new rotary pass switchgear and rounded master cylinder, which looks quite cool.
On the side, it looks quite clear with just one triangular unit, black-finished engine casing, and double saddle seat with a pillion backrest. The rear mudguard is comparatively bigger for apparent reasons, and it is shaped in such a manner that it beautifully hides the gap between it and the wheel, which magnify the side appearances at some extant.
At the rear, it gets a single round LED taillamp that finds its place on the rear fender. However, the side indicators are not LED units and are placed just above the number plate.
The main highlight of the Meteor 350 is its twin-pod semi-digital instrument cluster that comes with Bluetooth connectivity & navigation support. The bigger unit comprises an analog speedometer on the outer circumference and a small negative LCD at the center. The screen is bright enough to read even in day times and shows various information such as fuel level, time, gear-position, service indicator, and odometer reading. It also has two trip meters, however, it misses out mileage indicator.
The small dial on the right side is a color display, which will assist you to reach your set destination by showing you the turn-by-turn navigation feeds, using Google Maps data. And interestingly, the color of navigation feeds changes as you approach the destination. This navigation system requires your smartphone to get connected via the Royal Enfield app, which is quite spontaneous and helpful. But unlike its core rival- Honda H'ness CB350, it neither shows call/SMS notification nor you can answer the call on the go.
Besides this, the brand has also added some nice touch to give the bike a premium feel, this mainly includes a larger flyscreen, chrome-finished side indicators, exhaust pipe, & fuel injector cover, a 3D badging on the fuel tank & side panels of the bike. However, these elements are limited to the top-spec Supernova variant.
The entry-level Fireball trim, on the other hand, only gets a blacked-out theme with a color-coded fuel tank, and rim stickers. And instead of 3D logos, it features a sticker badging on the fuel tank and side panels. It does not get the windshield and backrest.
Compared to the base trim, the mid-spec Stealler variant gets slightly more premium appeal with a chrome-finished exhaust system & fuel injector cover, color-coded body panels, cushioned backrest, and 3D badging. The brand is also offering backrest and windscreen as an accessory with both these lower variants along with as many as 35 accessories & customization options so that you can personalize your bike as per your taste & preferences.
Overall, the Meteor 350 feel simple, yet premium, and it will surely appeal to a wider section of the audience. Now, have a look at its variant-wise pricing: –
Royal Enfield Meteor 350 Variants
Price (Ex-showroom, Chennai)
Royal Enfield Meteor 350: Customisation options
With this motorcycle, the brand not only tried to changes its old school image by introducing a host of new features but going one-step further the brand also offered factory-fitted personalization options with the Meteor 350 and that is the most exciting factor about this new RE motorcycle. Here’s a list of all the accessories available on each variant along with their prices: –
Royal Enfield even offers a personalized badge with your name on it.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350: Underpinnings
|Royal Enfield Meteor 350|
|Frame/Chassis||Double cradle frame|
|Front Suspensions||41mm Telescopic forks, 130mm travel|
|Rear Suspensions||Twin shock (6-step adjustable)|
|Front Brakes||300mm disc, two-piston caliper|
|Rear Brakes||270mm disc, single-piston caliper|
|Front Tyre Size & Type||100/90-19 57P (Alloy Rim with Tubeless tires)|
|Rear Tyre Size & Type||140/70-17 66P (Alloy Rim with Tubeless tires)|
|Ground clearance||170mm (35mm more than Thunderbird 350X)|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||15L (5-liter less than the Thunderbird 350X)|
|Kerb Weight||191kg (6kg less than Thunderbird 350X)|
|Wheelbase||1400mm (50mm more than Thunderbird 350X)|
|Seat Height||765mm (10mm less than Thunderbird 350X)|
The Meteor 350 is based on an all-new 'J' platform. It uses a double-downtube frame instead of the aged single-cradle unit. It is 2,140mm long and 845mm wide (w/o mirrors). Its height is 1140mm and has a wheelbase of 1,400mm. Meteor is 6kg lighter than the Thunderbird. Its ground clearance has been increased by 35mm, while the saddle height has been decreased by 10mm. It also gets an accessory seat that further drops the saddle height by 20mm.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350: Engine & Performance
The Royal Enfield Meteor is powered by a new BS6-compliant 349cc single-cylinder fuel-injected long-stroke air-cooled engine, mated to a 5-speed transmission. It comes with two valves & a single overhead camshaft, which replaces the older pushrod-valve system. The brand has also featured a new counterbalance, and an additional internal oil circuit within the cylinder head to assist engine cooling. All these changes have made this engine more responsive, revv friendly, efficient, and refined than any other 350cc Royal Enfield bike. And importantly, the iconic exhaust thump, which was softened by the BS6 norms, is back with the new Meteor 350.
In the city, the bike feels quick, and the initial pickup will impress you. Yes, very light vibrations feel at starting, but as soon as the speed increases, the vibes vanish away from the handlebar & footpegs, and interestingly, at no point, the vibrations feel harsh, even at the triple-digit speed.
The new 5-speed gearbox feels smooth and has smaller throws, which really helps in the city traffic. It can pull the engine easily in 4th gear from as low as 30kmph speed, but for faster acceleration or overtaking, a downshift will be required. The clutch, on the other hand, gives good feedback but feels a little heavy especially in city traffic. It would be better if the brand had given a slip-and-assist system like its competitors.
Now, comes to the main thing, how does it feel on highways? Well, all other 350cc RE bikes produce annoying vibrations past 70-80 kmph speed, and cruising at speeds of 100 kmph or above is a bear thing. But you won't feel this problem with Meteor 350. The power delivery in Meteor is quite smooth & progressive. It has a strong mid-range, and it feels calm & planted around 90kmph. Slight engine sensations increase around 100kmph speed on footpeg, but you can cruise at or post this figure without any problem. However, it will surely affect fuel efficiency. In the city, you can expect mileage around 29-30 kmpl, whereas on the highway, cruising around 90kmph will deliver you approximately 35-38 km of range in a liter. However, its fuel tank capacity is just 15 liters, which will considerably result in a lesser tank range than the Thunderbird.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350: Ride Quality & Dynamics
The Meteor features forward-set foot controls, and a high handlebar that offers excellent comfort & great riding posture. Further, its broad seat is well-padded, which will keep your ''tashreef'' discomfort-free, allowing you to hang on the seats without taking a pause during riding. Meteor's pillion seat also offers adequate space & cushioning for shorter rides. But you won't like to be there on longer journies. For short height riders, the windscreen of the Meteor does its job quite well, keeping the wind off your upper torso, and it doesn't interrupt your view. The flyscreen also comes with a height-adjustable function, but for that, you will need Allen keys, which is a downside.
The Meteor ride on 100/90 19" front and 140/70 – 17"rear tires, which provides good surface gripping. As far as the suspensions are concerned, they do their duties quite well and run over potholes & speed breakers with confidence. But the sharp bumps feel due to the short travel of the suspension.
The handling of the bike feels light, accurate, and predictable, giving you the confidence to push it harder even at high speeds. However, during cornering, it feels a little heavy. The dual-channel ABS also works well, but the front brake feels dull, so you have to squeeze the lever hard if you are in a rush to stop the bike.
Royal Enfield Meteor 350: Pros & Cons
Things we like about Royal Enfield Meteor 350:
- Refined engine.
- Good torque output.
- Decent ride quality.
- RE's iconic thump is retained to an extent.
- Wide range of accessories.
Things that could have been better: –
- Thunderbird like design.
- Engine power output could have better.
- Despite navigation assist, the instrument still lacks many features compared to its rivals.
- Misses out an all-LED lighting system.
- DRL feels dull in daylight.
- Braking performance has a scope of improvement.
There is no doubt that Meteor's new features, improved underpinnings, and engine refinements make it a better product than the Thunderbird 350X in every respect. But even though it is a new product, it does not seem to be out from the typical Royal Enfield character. But considering its price, it's a well-balanced package with some room for improvement.