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Royal Enfields have always been known for their old school charm, the Meteor 350 takes this pedigree ahead along with implementing modern-day electronics

I have never been fond of slow bikes, and this is the primary reason I have been staying away from Royal Enfields. Slow, heavy and old school was my outlook towards Royal Enfield motorcycles. And, even though I loved to ride them occasionally, not one made up to my garage yet. But, I have always been excited about every new bike from the manufacturer. For some inane reason, the offbeat charm of Royal Enfield bikes has always made people in our country turn their heads, and when you come to realize that how madly people talk about this specific brand be it lovingly or otherwise, Royal Enfield has a special place in our heart.

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This time, the bike manufacturer has come up with a cruiser bike that derives its roots from the Thunderbird and takes the positioning a notch ahead. I have ridden the Thunderbird 350 extensively on our highways and, not to shower praises on the bike but there was no proper sofa on wheels bike at such an affordable price point. Fast forward to the current day, the Meteor 350 promises much more engagement with a lot of revamping.     

What’s new?

The entire bike! Yes! It is the most modern Royal Enfield motorcycle ever built. It gets the new generation 350cc engine along with the incorporation of Google Maps. Overall built quality seems to have gone up a few yards and the incorporation of new modern-day innovative switches for the headlamp and engine-kill and self-start operation are simply worth admiring.

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Design

Design is a very subjective term and to be honest, I don’t quite like the way the Meteor 350 looks, Thunderbird, in my opinion, was a better-looking motorcycle. But then again, the design is not just how it looks, it is more about the way it enhances the utilitarian approach. And this is the department where the Meteor 350 is years ahead of its sibling. It might not be a straight replacement but in my opinion, the Meteor does all the Thunderbird’s duties with much more grace.

Speaking of it, the low slung seat gives enough confidence for short riders, the seats are comfortable, for both the rider and the pillion. The almost straight handlebar with the upright cruising position gives the rider a lot of comfort along with confidence. Even though the ergonomics are comfortable and laidback, the seating position is erect and inspires confidence to keep you going hour after hour on the saddle without discomforting you. The bike surely takes the game ahead of where the Thunderbird left.

Performance

Do I really need to talk about how fast a pocket-friendly cruiser is supposed to go? It will be unjust for the purpose it is designed for. Nevertheless, the Meteor 350 gets a new-gen engine that is surprisingly a lot quieter and vibration-free than the model it replaces. The bike picks up speed with utmost ease and cruising at 80-90kmph all day is a cakewalk. The bike feels completely at home on highways and long highway cruising is something the Meteor 350 feels that it is built for.

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Braking is progressive and the availability of ABS ensures that you can make the most of it without worrying about the bike running out of control on braking late. Overall with the new setup, the bike is extremely accessible and rider-friendly.    

Ride and handling

Three words - plush, composed and flattening. The Royal Enfield Meteor 350 is extremely stable and offers tones of confidence to the rider to go mile-munching on the saddle for hours without straining himself at all. Coupled with the superb ergonomics that the bike offers, Meteor 350 is the perfect replacement for the Thunderbird 350 and it betters the predecessor by a big margin. Not only is the riding position spot on, but the big windshield above the headlamp helps the rider tackle wind while cruising on the highway.

Handling isn’t what Royal Enfields should be considered for obvious reasons being the character and nature of the motorcycles and the weight. But, surprisingly the Meteor has bettered itself and gone aloft in this department as well from the old school cruisers that it derives its roots from. The bike feels surefooted on the move and the weight disappears as soon as speed picks up. The bike felt quick on the twisties as well and slowing down just because of the weight and handling is not something it asked for. To sum it up, Royal Enfield did strike a good balance with the Meteor’s ride and handling.  

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Features

The Meteor 350 is the first motorcycle from Royal Enfield that comes with a Bluetooth connected Google Maps navigation system and the system is very well incorporated with the bike. The bike is equipped with ABS on both the wheels and get an LED ring around the headlamp with hazard lights system as standard. The self-start - engine kill switch and headlamp switch are a new addition and feel premium to use. Royal Enfield also provides a hoard of accessories with the motorcycle to make it a personal ownership experience.

All good?

Almost! Yes! Just to mention, the instrument cluster illumination is too bright during the night and riding the bike on highways with no lights is pissing.

Verdict

The Meteor 350 is an extremely capable motorcycle designed for highways. The way the bike makes your riding experience supple is all the reason anyone needs to buy this bike. Coupled with the superb build quality and fit and finish job, the Meteor 350 is a bike to look forward to in the budget cruising segment.