That’s some serious goal to catch up with, however, what we have on our platter is the evolved and improved version of Thunderbird. Now, Royal Enfield obviously says the cruiser is built from the scratch. I don’t doubt the intent because one look at the Meteor and you would growing a liking towards it.
Codenamed J1D, Meteor has every element to take you on long road trips, which seek mediative riding. The motorcycle is longer and lighter than the replaced Thunderbird. The perch at 765 mm is well-contoured, both for the rider and the pillion. On the saddle, you enjoy an effortless cruising posture, thanks to the wide and raised handlebars, forward pressed footpegs and an extended windscreen. These are certain ingredients you expect from a cruiser, and Meteor doesn’t disappoint.
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The surprising bit, however, Royal Enfield’s profound expansion plans to speed past rivals. The auto major says the replacements to Classic and Bullet, based on J platform, are a year in-bound and there is development work going on new architectures of Q and K including R&D work on EVs. At a time, when brands like Honda, Classic Legends (Jawa) and Benelli are aiming for a pie, Royal Enfield seems to be in no mood to compete.
With the ageless and classic design of Meteor, you experience a couple of completely new things. The process of motorcycle customisation, under the company’s ‘Make It Yours’ (MIY), began with 650 Twins in October and now, Royal Enfield has opened its floodgates with Meteor. This cruiser, along with others in the portfolio, would be personalised to customer’s needs.
Available in three variants, Meteor is priced between Rs 1.75 lakh and Rs 1.91 lakhs (ex-showroom). The top-of-the-line SuperNova features premium seats, chrome embellishments and machine-cut alloys.
Historically, Royal Enfield has refrained from hardware exaggeration. Meteor is no different with dual-channel ABS (anti-locking braking), 5-speed transmission, 41-mm front forks and 6-step preload-adjustable rear shockers. The brand enthusiasts will, however, admire the inclusion of Google-powered turn-by-turn navigation systems which is integrated into the front dial.
Royal Enfield App, available on both iOS and Android, enables you to connect with your Meteor 350, and allows hands-free navigation on the move. The system can be properly seen in daylight. However, the App is a work in progress, and we expect greater functionalities to come as standard. Products to follow should also feature this.
Heads usually turn on-road thanks to the rugged metallic design and the deep bass sound that stems from the Royal Enfield. For Meteor 350, you would look at it for all the chrome it packs but not the sound. BS6 or not, an experience at the nearest dealership will make things clearer.
The 349-cc, air-oil cooled, single-cylinder engine retains the character of a Royal Enfield – strong slug of torque through the mid-range and tapers off near the red line. The ability to leisurely cruise at 90-110 kmph is retained, while a pleasing absence is the vibrations. Not on the footpads, handlebars or tank, the subdued vibrations in Meteor 350 over Thunderbird 350X is surely a huge improvement.
A longer wheelbase means there would be a little more judging before you dart into the corners. However, the increased ground clearance and 6 kilos shaved off the Thunderbird translate into easier handling.
Ride quality, like most cruisers, is moderately stiff. At crawling speeds, Meteor comfortably flattens potholes and undulations. Disc brakes equipped with dual-channel ABS are effective and assuring, however, the ABS kicks in slightly delayed. For mundane city runabouts, expect 28 kmpl out of the engine while motorway cruising should deliver around 32 kmpl.
Meteor 350, inarguably, is a matured cruiser, which knows its limitations and yet would subtly fill the boots of Thunderbird 350X.