Friday, November 13, 2020

All-new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 cruiser coming to U.S.

Royal Enfield Meteor 350 on the road.
The Royal Enfield Meteor 350 is coming to America.

The brand new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 motorcycle is coming to the United States in Spring, 2021.

Royal Enfield India has long built mild cruiser-style motorcycles for its home market, but few of these made it to the U.S., and they were not officially imported here.

The new Meteor is a single-cylinder, air-oil cooled motorcycle with a naked, retro look, and a bit of the low, stretched-out cruiser seating position that Americans seem to love in other brands. There is a heel-and-toe shift lever to cement the Meteor's place in the cruiser category.

Royal Enfield Meteor parked.
Top Meteor variant has back rest, diamond-cut cast wheels and mini windshield.

Despite its familiar appearance, it packs a bunch of new features (a navigation system!) that few motorcycles and no Royal Enfields offered in the past.

It's fuel injected, has a balancer shaft to tame vibration, a five-speed gearbox (fifth is an overdrive)  and alloy wheels with tubeless tires.

"Braking components are the strongest on a Royal Enfield single to date, with 300mm front and 270mm rear discs and dual-channel ABS," Royal Enfield brags.

The company also notes that it has "rotary power and lighting switches giving a gentle nod to the past." Royal Enfields built in Britain back in the day had these. But Royal Enfield, which began making motorcycles in 1901, went out of business in Britain in 1970 without making anything like a cruiser.

The new Meteor takes its name from a different sort of motorcycle, built in England from 1952 through 1962. That was a vertical twin, available in 500cc "Minor" and 700cc "Super" form. Needless to say, it had no navigation system.

Royal Enfield Meteor 350.
Meteor 350 comes in three variants but U.S. might not get them all.

But what is the new Meteor like to ride? The best fast summary I saw is at Express Drive, which entitled its article "Feet Forward". Get it?

Another Express Drive article details the equipment levels available in the three variants (the U.S. might not get all three). The base model Meteor "Fireball" strikes me as having the best cosmic name.

RideApart explains the new turn-by-turn Tripper navigation feature that works with your smartphone via Bluetooth. 

There is also a Tripper navigation description on YouTube.

The Daily Guardian lavishes praise on the instrument cluster but notes that the USB port is not in the ideal spot. The gear indicator, fuel gauge, clock, and tripmeter all squeeze in somewhere. Keep your eyes on the road, if you can.

Royal Enfield 350s have long ruled the road in India, their popularity assured by a characteristic "thump" owners claimed to hear in the exhaust note. Royal Enfield, and most reviews I've seen, confirm that the Meteor has the requisite sound.

As for the looks of the Meteor 350, Royal Enfield's Siddhartha Lal tells  this story:

"Even though I am obviously biased towards the Meteor, I know that I objectively love the way it looks. Back in November 2019, my dad and I went on a long overdue father-son riding trip... Jack, from our Royal Enfield testing team drove the van from our UK technology centre with our Interceptor 650s in it, and he was going to be testing a motorcycle for the week or so that my Dad and I were riding. On the first day, Jack had parked our motorcycles in the hotel lot... I was very intrigued by this stunning cruiser at the end of the parking lot.

"Always up for a bit of competitor research, I started walking towards it and was admiring its proportions and easy stance. As I got closer to it, I got goosebumps and my heart started racing - it couldn’t be! The engine looked familiar, but I was still very confused. I’m not the quickest to join the dots (as my wife will readily tell you), and I was thinking ‘What? How? Huh? Is it a custom build on our platform? Why can’t we do motorcycles like these custom chaps?’

"And then the penny dropped! Jack had brought an alpha build Meteor (without tank logo etc.) to Spain to test ride while Dad and I were out riding our Interceptors! I felt really good about my objective love for the Meteor’s looks, and a bit stupid about how long it took me to recognise a motorcycle that I had been deeply involved with for three years!"


3 comments:

  1. Looks like RE has entered the "grocery getter" market. That's great because the Meteor brings a fresh alternative to the designs out there now; and with easy on-easy off seating.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This motor may be going into the Himalayan as well, boosted to 500 or more CC's. Looks to be the "New Bullet" building block.

    ReplyDelete

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