Next month the Indian bikemaker Royal Enfield will drop a new model for the North American market, an inexpensive single-cylinder 349cc model called the Meteor. This little thumper will undercut the already bargain-priced INT 650 by fourteen hundred bucks, and offers a similar level of fun-to-dollar ratio and throwback looks that RE has become known for.
That little aircooled 350 produces an impressive 20.2 horsepower and 19 lb-ft of torque. Maybe not enough for me to be comfortable on the highway, but as an around town machine, or the twisty road carver, this would probably serve quite well. This is a beginner-friendly bike, weighing just 421 pounds ready to ride, and a relatively short 30.1-inch seat height.
“The Meteor 350 is a perfect balance of fun and style for any rider,” said Royal Enfield Americas Marketing and Communications Lead Breeann Poland. “Riders will have the opportunity to choose the Meteor 350 in three model trims: the Fireball, the Stellar, and the Supernova, each with its own unique personality and styling.”
The Meteor lineup is splashed in a wide variety of colorways, which is usually a no-go on a bike this inexpensive. Look at Honda’s cruiser-styled Rebel 300, which would probably be cross-shopped with something like this. It only offers two colors, while the Meteor blows that away with five colors and two additional two-tone designs.
The Meteor comes in three different varieties, the Fireball, Stellar, and Supernova. A Meteor Fireball is the entry-level model with yellow or red paint and blackout finishes everywhere else for the $4,399 pricepoint. A Meteor Stellar adds chrome pipes, a pillion backrest, and a choice of black, blue, or burgundy paint for $4,499. The Meteor Supernova is the top-of-the-line model with a touring-sized windscreen and two-tone blue/black or brown/black paint for $4,599.
Add in the fact that the Meteor is the first RE product to integrate its new “Tripper” navigation system, and this is a pretty interesting little machine. This nav system isn’t all that revolutionary, but it is pretty clever. This is a custom interface which pairs to your phone through a Royal Enfield app, and integrates with Google Maps. Rather than trying to program its own mapping system, it just re-skinned Google’s world-beating offering. Smart!
For the American market—and we need to face facts here—motorcycles are toys. Bikemakers spend a lot of time lamenting the fact that young riders aren’t buying their products. Well, if America’s youth is going to get onboard the motorcycle train, the market needs to offer more affordable models. This is an excellent step in the right direction, as far as I’m concerned. For about as much as you’d spend on a mostly terrible used car, you can get a brand new motorcycle with a likely really good warranty. I dig that.