When we spent a few days with the Royal Enfield Classic 500, we couldn’t help but be charmed by its quirky old-world charm. Talk to Classic owners and they will proclaim just how much fun they had riding RE’s vintage bike all over the country, never minding the occasional mechanical misadventure or two. It’s all about the pleasure of riding with just the bare essentials, no pretense of high-performance elitism, and a simple, honest machine underneath you.
Riders who’ve always wanted the vintage appeal of the Classic or its Thunderbird or Rumbler cruiser siblings—but perhaps liked something a little more modern—can look forward to Royal Enfield’s newest, the Meteor 350. An all-new bike from the ground up, the Meteor 350 promises hours of pleasurable back-road cruising with its handsome, cruiser-style design and simple yet fundamentally sound components.
The Meteor uses an all-new, twin-downtube spine frame chassis for a solid, flex-free ride, and its beating little heart is a single-cylinder, air- and oil-cooled 349cc SOHC engine. Peak power is a modest 20.2hp at 6,100rpm, but the long-stroke design carries on the Classic’s reputation for tractor-like grunt with 27Nm of torque at 4,000rpm through a five-speed constant-mesh transmission.
Royal Enfield hasn’t given out fuel efficiency numbers yet, but if the new motor is anything like the old pushrod unit with its 35-40km/L thriftiness, you’re looking at a lot of distance especially with the new bike’s 15L fuel tank.
Forward foot controls, slightly pulled-back handlebar, and a bobber-style saddle but still with a separate pillion pad give the Meteor an irresistible flair. Seat height is an accessible 765mm. Meanwhile, the blacked-out treatment of the clutter-free engine reflects the current trend in the custom look for retro bikes, and the 19-inch front and 17-inch rear tires on tubeless alloy wheels serve to anchor the proportionally correct profile. The suspension uses a 41mm fork with 130mm of travel up front, and twin emulsion shocks at the back with six-step adjustable preload. Antilock braking system is standard for the 320mm/270mm ByBre brake setup.
In another first for Royal Enfield, the Meteor sports a Tripper navigation pod. Working in conjunction with Google Maps and the Royal Enfield app, the Tripper pod displays turn-by-turn navigation cues. When not in use, the pod displays a clock. The main instrument pod is an elegant analog speedometer with an inset LCD display for trip distance, odometer and warning lights.
The Meteor comes in three trim levels, each with specific colors. The basic Fireball gets the blackout treatment and comes in red or yellow, while the Stellar adds chrome pipes and headers, chrome tank badges, and a pillion backrest. Colors are black, red and blue. The Supernova adds a windscreen and is only available in two-tone metallic brown or blue.
According to Onie Pagkalinawan, operations manager for Hardcore Brothers Custom (Royal Enfield’s official Philippine distributor), the Meteor 350 will hit our shores sometime in February next year. Ballpark pricing estimates the Meteor to come in at the following figures: P232,000 for the Fireball, P242,000 for the Stellar, and P252,000 for the Supernova.