The Meteor 350 is the latest in the line of cruiser motorcycles made by Royal Enfield in India since the early 1990s. These include the Lightning, then the 2002 Thunderbird, the 2008 UCE twin spark Thunderbird, and the 2018 Thunderbird X 350. But the Meteor has little in common with those machines. The engine Royal Enfield has developed a new 349cc engine (20.2bhp; 27Nm); that peculiar ‘thump’ sound is there.It has a five-speed manual gearbox. You will feel the refinement of the engine as soon as you start it—it doesn’t have a kick-start, but only electric; at idle, the vibrations are minimal. Straddling the Meteor is easy, because of low seating position. You may be five-feet tall or six-and-a-half— with feet forward, holding handlebars without any stress on the shoulders, your body will form perfect ergonomic angles. The seating position The gearshift has both a heel-shifter and a toe-shifter—it’s natural for cruiser motorcycles that have foot pegs set forward, so that the rider can use either foot or heel to shift gears with equal ease.
The maximum torque of 27Nm is achieved at an early 4000rpm, and this means that even in initial gears, at slow riding speeds, you won’t feel any lack of power.The fifth gear is an overdrive — i.e. engine speed can be reduced at high cruising speed to lessen fuel consumption or to allow further acceleration — and this means that you can shift in to the fifth gear at early as, say, 40 km/h and continue till about 120km/h. Also, acceleration through the gears is fairly good. Engine vibrations—via handlebars, foot pegs and the seat—are fairly controlled, and you can ride for a long distance, at a speed of about 80km/h, without getting tired. However, at constant speeds above 100 km/h, the handlebars do send some vibrations onto the arms, even though the foot pegs and the seat remain rock solid. Also, while cornering is a breeze on well-paved roads, we’re still not sure whether on one can take sharp turns on wet roads or gravel—it’s not the Himalayan, after all. Also, the suspension appears slightly stiff, which means that it’s a great bike for the highways, but may be not so great on bad roads.
The Meteor gets a turn-by-turn navigation pod, called the Tripper. It connects to the rider’s smartphone via Bluetooth, and real-time directions—using Google Maps’ two-wheeler navigation—are displayed on a small screen next to the tripmeter. Also, a USB port is mounted below the handlebars to enable charging on-the-go. There is no rpm meter.
Should you buy it?
It has three variants—the Fireball for Rs1,75,817, the Stellar for Rs 1,81,326, and the Supernova for Rs 1,90,536 (ex-showroom, Chennai). At the same time, while earlier the Thunderbird was the only cruiser in its price range in India, the Meteor 350 has a cruiser-like competitor in the form of Honda H’ness. You pay your money, and you take your choice.
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