To see how comfortable the Meteor 350 really is on long rides, we ride it for 600 km, from Delhi to Amer (near Jaipur) and back.
On the Royal Enfield Meteor 350, the rider sits comfortably—feet forward, low upright seating, holding handlebars without much stress on shoulders, and forming perfect ergonomic angles. But on longer rides, engine vibrations or the static sitting position may tire you—the Meteor is unlike the Himalayan, which one can ride standing on foot pegs as well (though not advised). To see how comfortable it really is, we ride the Meteor for 600 km, from Delhi to Jaipur and back.
Its 349cc engine (20.2bhp; 27Nm) is refined; while idling, vibrations are controlled. Straddling it is easy, thanks to a low seating position. The gearshift pedal has both a heel-shifter and a toe-shifter—it’s a boon on longer rides. The maximum torque of 27Nm is achieved at an early 4000rpm, and so even at slower riding speeds in higher gears, you may not feel any lack of power.
The Delhi to Jaipur highway is fairly well-carpeted—as are most Indian highways nowadays—so the only vibrations a rider may feel come from the engine. Till about speeds of 80 km/h, you don’t feel any vibrations, but as you go above 100 km/h, the handlebars do vibrate. Also, while the riding seat is wide enough for good support, over time you may get tired—perhaps because the seat material is not very firm. Fortunately, all Indian highways are full of dhabas (eating joints), where one can relax if the going starts to get tough.
Also, while cornering on the Meteor is a breeze on well-paved roads—as I realised riding on the twisty path from Jaipur to Nahargarh Fort—the motorcycle doesn’t feel as rock-solid as the Himalayan on gravel. In old Jaipur’s traffic jam, the Meteor was easy to ride—at 191 kg (with tank full), it’s not too heavy, and so constantly putting your feet on the road to balance the motorcycle in stop-and-go traffic doesn’t tire the rider.
A value-add on the Meteor is the Tripper—the turn-by-turn navigation pod. It connects to the rider’s smartphone via Bluetooth, and real-time directions—using Google Maps—are displayed on a small screen next to the tripmeter. The only issue here is that the Tripper app appears to drain smartphone battery faster than regular apps. From Delhi to Fairmont Jaipur (where I stayed), the Tripper app consumed about 30% battery (in six hours)—but then this also depends on things such as the phone, other apps running, and so on.
The Meteor 350 is available in three variants—the Fireball for Rs 1.75 lakh, the Stellar for Rs 1.81 lakh, and the Supernova for Rs 1.90 lakh (ex-showroom, Chennai). Similar motorcycles at more or less similar prices available in India include Honda H’ness and CB350R.
(The motorcycle is new, but the name isn’t—the Meteor 350 inherits its name from another Royal Enfield motorcycle of the 1950s. Launched at the end of 1952, the Meteor was a touring motorcycle made by Royal Enfield in England for export to the American market.)
Postscript: While staying at Fairmont Jaipur, the management took great care of the motorcycle (not everyone turns up on a two-wheeler at a hotel like this), suggested nearby places to take photos, allowed a local employee to accompany me, and even let me take photos of the motorcycle inside the hotel compound. For a moment, I forgot Tajness!
Total distance covered: 600 km
Time taken: 10 hours
Average speed: 60 km/h
Overall fuel efficiency: 45 km/litre