Royal Enfield Meteor - The Instant Answer?

December 08, 2020 0 Comments

Royal Enfield Meteor - The Instant Answer?

R. Vijay Krishnan Nov 6, 2020
Honda CB350 was the snap of the gauntlet that threatened to turn RE’s market supremacy into dust. But RE was quick to take a swing of the hammer to thwart the Japanese threat and the growing presence of Jawa and Benelli. How big a dent does it leave on Honda’s dreams? Here’s our first impression on the all new Meteor 350.
    
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
  
This is it, the Thunderbird you say? I say you are not wrong because for all intents and purposes it is a direct replacement to the old cruiser. The Lightning 535, which was followed by the first gen Thunderbird brought Ladakh and Goa in the same picture and kick started a new generation of motorcycle travel in the country. Now that is quite the CV to live up to but RE are adamant that the bike lives up to the legacy of the name tag. And although the Thunderbird name has been dropped for better International appeal, it brings back another famous name from its illustrious legacy.
    
    
Straight out of the RE playbook one would say. The mantra of playing on the heartstrings of enthusiasts with a faithful modern reincarnation of an old hit. But then the writings on the wall were loud. RE had fallen behind the competition. Jawa was back and they were offered the best possible route back with no immediate threat in sight. They came with an all new set of retro reimaginations of the old Jawa 250’s and immediately gave the nostalgia centric world an all new shiny toy to play with.
     
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
And if it wasn’t for the comical delays in deliveries and a generally cumbersome pace of getting back to full power, Jawa would have knocked out the wobbling Enfield with their first swing. So by the time Japan came to knock their lights out, RE had enough time regroup and make some new weaponry for battle.
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
  
And that became to be what is now the Meteor 350. An all new, and yes I don’t use the word lightly here. It truly is an entirely new motorcycle, built from the ground up by RE’s vast R&D setup in India and England. And the European expertise has shone through on this motorcycle, with a built quality and refinement that is on par with the new Twins.
       
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
    
Gone is the old frame and in comes a double cradle frame to clamp on to the engine better. Also, the addition of a balancer shaft means that the engine is rid of the signature enfield vibrations. Although both the above mentioned features are sacrilege when it comes to the traditional bullet, it is the nature of time to move on. The brakes work, the wires are not a mangled mess like on old Thunderbirds which was hilarious, and the signature Kick Start lever has now went into the bygones basket. The Swing-arm, ergonomic setup, and tyre profiles are strictly modern picks. 
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
The pushrod valves have moved aside to make way for an overhead cam. That means no more fears of tappet noise ruining your quaint ride. The switches and gauges all bear an unfamiliar look never before seen on an Indian motorcycle. The motorcycle also comes with the ‘Make your own” program, whereby a suitor can spec out his bike in one of 50000 ways. 
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
And in place of the old reliable tachometer is a screen. Yes a screen that displays things other than those made by lines. The Tripper feature on the bike that connects to your phone offers navigation! Mind you, this is only compatible for maps from the Royal Enfield app. Still, it is one hell of a leap from a motorcycle where navigation was asking for directions and a fuel gauge was the rider's judgement.
    
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
Speaking of which, range gets a pass along with a fuel gauge. I guess RE wanted to keep some imperfections on the motorcycle to stick to some of the chaos that was once a constant with owning an Enfield motorcycle. Your phone however, gets a connector port to charge it on the go. RE does pander to its demographic well in that sense.
    
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
Tubeless tyres and alloy wheels mean flat tyres are now a thing of the past. That along with the well thought out seat and the new bars mean this baby is meant to munch miles. Now this is something that cannot be said about any of the CB 350, Imperialé or any of the Jawas. 
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield
   
At the end of the day, the bike leaves you feeling hopeful for the institution that is Royal Enfield motorcycles. But it leaves you with the sad reminder that the Royal Enfield we once loved for all the right reasons and some wrong ones as well, is gone. Although it might seem like a perfectly normal motorcycle, it ends up being an evolution. A rebadged Thunderbird rather than a revolution in the cruiser segment. We now have a Royal Enfield that looks like a Honda more than how much the CB 350 does. Where Enfield will live and die is on the Engine. The latest iteration of the legendary Enfield single. 
       
Photo Credits : Royal Enfield





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