The Royal Enfield Meteor has been my daily rider for almost six months now. I ride it to office. I ride it to the gym. And, I take it out on the weekends with my wife as she is a big fan of that pillion seat. So in short, the Meteor has been playing well in the city. But there was one thing I was itching to do for a long time and that was a lovely long distance ride. So I did it this monsoon.
The idea was to ride down to Mangalore, meet my parents, stuff myself with some Manglorean buns and head back home. But while I did that, I wanted to explore a new place –a place that could only be worthwhile in monsoon. More on that later.
Mangalore is roughly 1000km away from Mumbai. For a 20bhp bike, the distance would be a bit too much to cover in a day. So, I decided to do just that. This was to test the limits of the motorcycle and also to see whether the Meteor is comfortable on such long rides. Now, the Meteor can carry a lot of luggage quite easily. There were the fully-loaded Rynox saddle-bags placed on the pillion seat. There was also a tank bag which proved to be the most useful because I could use navigation on my phone all day, thanks to the USB charger that is placed on the left switchgear.
I’m going to say this outright. The Meteor 350 is one of the most comfortable bikes ever made. Now, I’m sure there will be some of you who wouldn’t believe this. But, I’d say, ride the bike, possibly for a longer distance and you will know what I’m talking about. The ride quality too is fantastic. The seat is large and has space to adjust. Then come the seating ergonomics. This bike is a cruiser, so you are in quite a laid back position but with a good focus on the road. Moreover, the decently light clutch ensured I didn’t work my fingers much. So the overall fatigue level was at a low. But during this ride, I did encounter patches of heavy rains and that’s when I noticed something weird with the seat. A few minutes after the seat got wet, my buttocks would pain and this happened every time it rained.
I have said this in the past that the Meteor is the most comfortable between 80kmph-90kmph. In fact, it feels at home at 80kmph. But push a little more and the Meteor will start feeling out of place. There’s a bit of harshness felt from the engine. A good amount of wind buffeting is present too. It just feels that the bike doesn’t want to be pushed a lot. So in terms of high performance, the Meteor is decent. I mean, I would have loved to see this bike cruise at 100kmph-110kmph comfortably. This is a new engine and we are in 2021, so a 350cc engine should at least be fun and comfortable at 100kmph. But the Meteor fails to do that. Having said that, this Royal Enfield with its strong mid-range, manages to get some quick overtakes. There’s no need to downshift. The torque is good enough to get ahead of some vehicles.
Like I mentioned in the introduction, I wanted to explore one place since a long time and that was the famous Jog Falls. The road to Jog falls is incredibly beautiful. To give you a fair idea, there were more than 100 corners in that 60km scenic route. Plus, the tarmac was excellent. I know the Meteor handles well, but on this route, it was just stunning. The bike just flows so well. It has enough cornering clearance. The tyres offer good trip. And that chassis is so well-balanced and tuned. I had a big grin every time I passed a corner. The Meteor felt at home!
The Meteor’s overall fuel efficiency didn’t vary much. There were times where I was doing 100kmph but most of the time, I was hovering between 90kmph and 100kmph. The bike gave me between 30kmpl and 32kmpl, which is quite decent, considering the fact that there was too much weight on the motorcycle. I had to stop at a pump every 300-320kms which is a very good touring range.
Total Distance Ridden: 2400kms
Current Odometer: 9209kms
Average fuel efficiency: 30kmpl
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi