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Royal Enfield Meteor 350 (2021) road test review | easy going cruiser!

Royal Enfield Meteor 350 2021 review uk

Is this the easiest road-going cruiser on the market? Visordown test out the brand new Royal Enfield Meteor 350 at the UK press launch.

RICH in history and doused in heritage, the new 2021 Royal Enfield Meteor 350 has been built as an accessible and affordable step into the cruiser market, perfect for novices and ideal for those searching for an easy-going ride. This latest machine from India certainly doesn’t lack the quality of similarly priced machines on the market (if there are any!). 

Old-school charm and modern tech combine here, with the 1952 Meteor name resurrected for this 2021 rendition, providing an easy-going ride it’s fitted with a new J-series 349cc single-cylinder motor. Plenty of fun to ride, and matched by an exceptionally agile on the road character.

Looking through the spec sheet may not necessarily evoke much in the way of ‘oohs’, but delving deeper with the finer details, including the new Tripper navigation unit, there is plenty of fun to be had with this cruiser. Even more so for one that retailing at under £4,000.

Royal Enfield Meteor 350 Review 2021 | Visordown.com

Royal Enfield Meteor 350 Power

Making itself known is the vocal J-series 349cc single-cylinder air-oil cooled motor. It’s a characteristically easy Royal Enfield motor to get on with, with the long-stroke unit delivering a peak of 20.2 bhp @ 6100 rpm, and 27 NM of torque (19.91 ft-lbs) at 4000 rpm, with a limit on the top speed of around 71 mph. 

For that reason, dual-carriageway jaunts and motorway miles will be just about bearable, you’ll be able to keep up with traffic but not exceed any 70 mph speed limits - could be handy for a new rider. Perhaps conveniently, our press launch route didn’t include dual-carriageways, instead opting for sleepy rural towns and postcard villages, with country roads around Caffeine & Machine perfectly suited to the nature of the motor. 

Air-oil cooled with calm power delivery, surprisingly I was never thirsty for more speed or power, the exquisite engine has a nice ‘thump’ to it, supplying enough energy to satisfy on the back roads. For ‘upgraders’ used to smaller capacity motorcycles, this motor is a nice step-up with good torque delivery throughout the rev-range and it doesn’t take much to keep a smile on your face.

meteor 350 ride review

Adding to the character is a useful heel-kicker gear lever, allowing you to stomp down and progress up the 5-speed gearbox smoothly. It seemed a tad gimmicky at first glance, but in use came in superbly handy with the flat footrests.

Suspension & brakes

Telescopic 41mm forks up front with 130mm travel were capable, and twin rear shocks with 6-step pre-load adjust softened most blows well, although I’d still describe the ride feel as solid.

Not quite a negative but giving you enough feedback for the roads we were riding on and therefore providing a responsive feel when weaving through twisties. 

Meteor 350cc engine

On the 19” front wheel is a 300mm disc with twin pistons, and on the 17” rear is a 270mm disc with single-piston. They performed well with a soft bite, but a decent progressive feel if coming to a quick stop.

The ByBre brakes were soft and forgiving with dual-channel ABS, and the whole package will appease newer riders (rather than punish) in any moments of ham-fistedness if you misjudge a bend.

Meteor 350 wheels brakes

Ride feel & handling

Pairing the easy-going ride with outstretched legs and upright riding position, the all-new twin downtube spine frame provides a great foundation for an agile bike weighing in at a modest 191kg. It’s something that the ex-Triumph staff members at Royal Enfield will no doubt have had a big part in fine-tuning, and the build quality looks to be just as stellar. 

The new chassis and suspension translates the road surface well, and riding in town and cities is a treat, all in all leaving the Meteor feeling nimble and lively with an accessible 765mm seat and low 15-litre tank.

Marketing lingo places this as the perfect bike for smaller riders, female riders, novice riders - but it’s approachable and accessible for all (I’m 6 foot 3 and felt nice and comfy in the saddle). 

Meteor 350 town riding review

Gadgets and tech - Tripper navigation

Despite being a ‘retro’ machine, the Meteor 350 is fitted with a nifty modern gadget - the Tripper navigation system. A first for Royal Enfield, this little navigation unit pairs to a smartphone app and utilises Google Maps for turn-by-turn directions and unintrusive route guidance. 

A nifty little gadget - when not paired it’ll simply display the time - the Tripper is a great feature for those who may want a bit of extra information on a ride. The Meteor 350 also has a little USB charger point on the handlebars, so mounting a phone to charge-n-ride is all good. 

Looking at the dash, an analogue and LCD screen provides all the essential information that you’d need, speed around the outside and usual trip details on the inside. It works nicely, and the switchgear offers a unique approach with ‘advance & retard’ twisting design. 

Royal Enfield Tripper dash display

Royal Enfield Meteor 350 Style & trim levels

With the standard Royal Enfield eclectic colour options available in three trim levels, the Meteor 350 is no different in having an accessories catalogue bustling with personalisation options. As standard, you have 3 meteorite-themed trims at 3 £80 incremental price points: 

  • Fireball (Yellow, Red) £3,749
  • Stellar (Blue, Black, Burgundy) £3,829
  • Supernova (metallic two-tone Brown & Ice Blue) £3,909

royal enfield meteor 350 price

The standard Fireball model is the ‘bare’ approach, whilst the Stellar receives a backrest, and Supernova receiving a metallic two-tone colourway, backrest and screen. 

If you’re after more personalization, you can pick from a selection of engine & sump guards, panniers, bar-end mirrors, different seats (plus loads of other bits) to fully customise the bike to your liking. 

When it comes to cruiser style, this package seems exceptionally versatile - perfect for the targeted client base - and will no doubt encourage plenty of at-home-garage mechanics to make use of the capable foundation to take things a step further if you prefer drop bars over comfort.

meteor 350 dash

Royal Enfield Meteor 350 price

For a lower-middleweight category cruiser, the price point of the Meteor 350 is vital to its success - at a touch under £4,000 you can get an exceptionally well built and styled motorcycle.

Coming with a 3-year warranty out-of-the-box, this is the kind of economy of scale that only Royal Enfield can make happen. They’ll be hoping this latest model continues the upwards trend set by the Interceptor and Continental GT 650cc twins, and the Himalayan, aiming at the often unserved lower end of the market. 

Royal Enfield Meteor 350 A2 motorcycle

We like & we don’t like

It’s difficult to come off the Meteor 350 with anything but a smile on your face due to the brilliantly friendly riding character. Power delivery is fine for A-road rides; new riders, commuters and those coming back to motorcycling will be wooed by an easy-going cruiser with both style and price at equal levels of attractiveness - especially one with a Tripper unit as standard.

Perhaps you could argue that by seeking to appeal to certain corners of the market they have painted themselves into a corner, that a touring motorcycle should be able to comfortably power past 80mph and that the Meteor could be seeking ‘fun’ over function, but I’m not sure you’d be looking at this particular machine in the right light. Increasing power would only meddle with the specific categories of rider that Royal Enfield is aiming at here.

Yes, I would love a touch more power, but if you look at it as the 350cc easy rider, you’ll be satisfied with the output. You could always look at the Moto Guzzi V7 range for power, the Kawasaki Vulcan for a modern take - but these machines certainly won’t touch the price tag, nor get the quoted 100mpg figure the Meteor 350 reports. 

Royal Enfield Meteor 350

Verdict

Royal Enfield’s Meteor 350 is a genuine consideration for someone seeking a stylish ride with comfortable dynamics, perhaps not bothered about outright speed, but seeking a retro-come-modern take with charm and value rolled into one. 

Take it to work, take it to the Tuesday bike meet, head out on a b-road ride to the beach - this machine will likely become a staple for those who seek to take advantage of the charming package on offer. 

Royal Enfield will hope this latest model continues the trend of affordable models with style, tapping into a market of buyers with a glint of heritage in their eye. Billed as a signature heritage machine with plenty of modern touches, you’ll find yourself coaxed into a relaxed way of life – and it certainly delivers just that.

meteor 350 riding

It's not always about getting to the destination as quick as possible, sometimes it's the journey that's there to be enjoyed. This certainly feels like a machine to echo that mantra. 

Even the grizzled veteran journos were coming back to Caffeine & Machine with smiles on faces, praise indeed.

Find out more on the Royal Enfield website.

royal enfield meteor review