I checked out several motorcycles but shortlisted only two models – the Honda H’ness CB350 and Meteor 350.
BHPian yikes6633 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
Background on how the urge for owning a Motorbike restarted
After my last ride in 2002 on the first Pulsar 180 in Bangalore, I just stopped riding a motorbike and got myself a car.
I started focussing more on my career, job, money, travel and home.
18 years thereafter, joined a friend on his Interceptor 650 on a weekend ride and the memories of the various motorbikes I owned were rekindled.
From an Enfield Explorer, a GT 50, BSA Spitfire, Ind- Suzuki, Yamaha RX 100, Yezdi Roadking, Hero Honda CD 100 and many more to finally a Bajaj Pulsar 180 were all part of my biking years.
I was so smitten by the bikes, the bikers, the fancy biking gear, present-day touring stories that the idea of owning a motorbike hatched in my heart again. This was in May 2020.
I checked out the deep waters at home by voicing my wish of buying a motorbike. My wife thought it must be a symptom of a mid-life crisis that I may be experiencing and that it would fade away in a couple of weeks.
Nevertheless, the topic of owning a motorbike started cropping into our daily conversations and as the months passed the topic was more frequent and part of every conversation.
Zeroing in on the Motorbike
Though the market has a plentiful of offerings ranging from the Sports bikes to the Adventure bikes, from the Bobber style to retro classics, my mind was hooked on the retro touring bikes that are most suitable for long-distance commute with a comfortable seating position, capable of maintaining high speeds with relaxed sounding engines and the ability for munching miles.
My highest priority was that the motorbike must have a simple, well built, air-cooled engine, dual ABS, a pleasing exhaust note, must be smooth, easily serviceable, convenient to ride and handle in dense traffic.
My list, which started with over 10 bikes namely:
RE Bullet, RE Himalayan, RE Meteor, Bajaj Avenger, Bajaj Pulsar, Bajaj Dominar, Jawa 42, KTM 390, Honda Highness CB 350, Benelli etc. were all researched for, reviewed and test ridden.
By January 2021, there were only 2 bikes on my list, the RE Meteor 350 and the Honda Highness CB350 and I knew that one of these two would be part of my life. To check out my comfort levels with each of these 2 bikes further, I went ahead and rented these bikes a couple of times to test them over long rides and over a longer period and in various city and highway conditions to make sure that the more worthy one of the two make it to being part of my life.
I went on a couple of weekend rides with each of these bikes and loved both of them. I wouldn’t mind owning either of them as they were perfect in their own unique ways, however, with the given financial situation and my desire to fulfill my rekindled passion, I had room for only one of them, else I would have loved making room for both of them in my life.
To zero in on one of these 2 perfect motorbikes, I thought to myself that inputs from my wifey dear will help with the final decision, so I took my wifey dear on a weekend ride with me, once on the CB 350 and the second time on the Meteor 350. She liked them both and felt that the pillion comfort on the CB 350 is slightly better than the comfort on the Meteor 350, tilting the scale in favour of the CB 350.
To detail out my decision for choosing the perfect motorbike, I created a comparison chart of these 2 motorbikes that took me a couple of months to chalk out and complete. The parameters considered as part of the decision making are listed below:
- Build quality – Winner CB 350
- Ride quality – Winner Meteor 350
- Engine Noise – Winner CB 350
- Rider Comfort – Winner Meteor 350
- Vibration level – Winner CB 350
- Switchgear – Winner Meteor 350
- Pillion comfort – Winner CB 350
- Power availability – Winner Meteor 350
- Ride Handling – Winner CB 350
- Rideability – Winner Meteor 350
- Seating posture – Winner CB 350
- Meter Console – Winner Meteor 350
- Lights & Electricals – Winner CB 350
- Accessories – Winner Meteor 350
- Engine Harshness – Winner CB 350
- Mileage – Winner Meteor 350 (37kmpl)
- Top Speed – Winner CB 350
- After-sales service – Winner Meteor 350
- Weight Distribution – Winner CB 350
- Resaleability – Winner Meteor 350
- Exhaust note – Winner CB 350
- Gear Shifting frequency – Winner Meteor 350
- Highway Rides – Winner Meteor 350
- Smoothness – Winner CB 350
- Cost of maintenance – Winner Meteor 350
To sum it up, my heart shouted out the Highness CB 350 whilst my brain the Meteor 350. Both these bikes checked most of the boxes on my list and I also noted that the CB 350 was the perfect all-rounder that my money could buy.
However, the head interfered with my heart and highlighted 3 things that rang a loud buzzer in my head that shouted out – Resale value, After-sales service and Cost of maintenance as being much more important than a bike being butter like smooth, better finished and more comfortable for the pillion. Besides, I would like to do some touring on the bike and it’s important that a service center be accessible easily in case of a breakdown. So the scale, though tilted towards the CB 350 was forcibly tilted towards the Meteor 350.
Booking my Motorbike
Finally after a mind game of over a month or two and feeling so confused if it should be the CB 350 or the Meteor 350, it was the Meteor 350. It was interesting to note that the CB 350 has no waiting time and the dealership promises delivery within 5 days of making full payment and there’s a waiting period of 90 days to 150 days in the case of the Meteor 350.
Another point to note was that the Meteor 350 has higher sales volumes and longer waiting periods that clearly signified that the Meteor 350 is a more successful motorbike from a market standpoint. The Meteor 350 has also received the best motorcycle of the year 2021 award. I felt it’s wise to wait through the booking period and buy the bike with more marketability than giving in to the excitement of getting the motorbike in a span of 5 days.
After much push and pull between my head and heart I went ahead with the booking on 13th June 2021 for the Meteor 350. I chose the base variant called the fireball and chose the customised black color. The difference between each of the variants of the Meteor 350 is only cosmetic and in the colors that they are offered in. The base variant would help me fit it with the accessories that I tastefully choose rather than going ahead with the ones offered as standard on the top variant by RE. As my booking was for a customised color the booking amount was non-refundable.
The booking said, delivery in 90 days, however, the 90 days went by a long time ago. My wait was patient and not one of anxiety, until I started to lose my patience and called Royal Enfield Customer Care on 2nd Nov 2021 and asked about the status of my booking. I was requested to contact the dealership immediately as the status updated by them was ‘In transit’.
Delivery and Dealership Experience
After receiving the status update from RE Customer Care, I headed out to the Dealership immediately and checked the status with them. They confirmed that the procedure would take about a week or two from the ‘In Transit’ to ‘ Ready for Delivery’ status, so my wait had to continue.
To my surprise, the following morning I received an email from RE stating that my motorbike has arrived and is parked at the dealership for delivery. I again visited the dealership with the email and they acknowledged that the bike is at their stockyard. They requested that I complete formalities for documentation and finance to take it forward.
After completing all the formalities related to the finance and preliminary documentation, the dealership requested a 3-day window time frame for registration and delivery, however, as I was particular that I take the delivery on 10th November it was arranged for, by the dealership with a letter of consent confirming that I am taking the delivery without registration at my own risk.
On the 10th of November, I was excited and visited the dealership at 11am to take the delivery of my Meteor 350. Did a complete PDI as per the checklist and to my satisfaction. I highlighted a few issues during the PDI which were made note of and I was assured a resolution during the first service. The other formalities lasted about 25 minutes and I was assured registration within the next couple of days and handed over a RE helmet and the keys. I thanked the staff, started the motorbike and rode away.
First Ride Experience
After having ridden a few hundred meters away, I noticed something strange with the motorbike, the whole bike shook violently on pressing the front brake. I checked the odometer and it read 0.7 kms. I looked at the front disc and tried to inspect the brake pads. It all looked visually fine. I thought it may be nothing and continued the ride. It felt horrendous on pressing the front brakes. I decided to go back to the dealership and inform them about the issue and request them to fix it.
Issue Identification and Resolution
My excitement was short-lived and the dealership advised that I take the bike to the service center immediately to identify the cause of the issue and to have it fixed.
At the service center, I handed in the bike and hoped that it would be something minor and I would get going in 15 to 20 minutes.
I was sitting there clueless for more than an hour and I started getting very anxious. I reached out to the service advisor and the person in-charge. I was told that they are looking into it and will update me quickly. Another 20 minutes and I walked into the workshop and noticed that pictures were being taken of my bike and the workshop in-charge was having a serious discussion about the issue with the bike. My heart sank.
Seeing me in distress the workshop in-charge requested me to wait right there, with my bike, while they resolve the issue to my utmost satisfaction.
The issue was that the ABS sensor plate was damaged in transportation. The workshop in-charge arranged for the spare and had it replaced in the next one hour.
I was asked to test ride it and felt happy as the issue had been fixed. The workshop in-charge apologized for the delay and said it’s the first time they’ve seen a transport damage of this nature. I put this experience behind me as the issue was resolved and the excitement overruled the short-lived sadness.
Seeking Blessings of the Almighty and Thanksgiving
Once I reached home, my mom, my wifey dear and my daughter performed the pooja and prayed for the blessings of the Almighty.
Soon after the pooja, my mother started the bike and everyone had a wide grin on their faces.
I took each one of them for a ride and everyone was happy.
Follow up with the Dealership for completion of the Vehicle Registration
After 3 days, I visited the dealership to check on the status of the completion of the Registration, as I am unable to take the bike anywhere without the registration number. Also, I am aware of the fact that the motor vehicles act prohibits the use of any vehicle on the roads with a temporary registration number written on a piece of paper and stuck on a vehicle.
The dealership informed me that the Registration cannot be completed for at least another month as the RTO’s in Bangalore are going through digitization. I was shocked and requested that they help me with any alternative to which they offered me 2 options. One option is to get temporary registration for a month and the second option is to get the registration formalities completed at a different RTO.
After a quick thought, I requested the dealership to go ahead and register the bike at a different RTO. They again made me complete some documentation and said that it will be done within the next 3 days.
After the completion of 3 more days, I again visited the dealership and they had more excuses to share for the Registration being held up. They had misplaced my self attested documents and requested me to resubmit them. Feeling helpless, controlling all my anger and frustration on the attitude of the staff/dealership, I patiently fulfilled their request of resubmitting the documents again.
They assured me that they will complete the registration formalities the following day. The next day, I visited the dealership again and I was told that they were facing some payment issues at the RTO and will update me once it’s done. As I hadn’t received any update the next day too, I again visited the dealership and they said that the registration is further delayed due to some server issues at the RTO. They also said as it’s 9 days since the invoice had been raised for my bike, I will need to take the bike to the RTO for physical inspection, as per the registration procedure.
On 20th November 2021, I took the bike to the RTO for physical inspection for the completion of the registration formalities. I was advised that after 3 working days I will receive the road tax payment receipt and the registration number. Awaiting for the same, for now.
The Meteor 350 comes with a semi analogue meter console consisting of 2 parts.
The first part is the meter console that displays the speed, odometer, fuel gauge, time, gear position, fuel indicator, battery indicator, high beam indicator, turn signal indicator, engine malfunction indicator and Neutral indicator. The meter console can be controlled by an ‘i’ switch provided on the left-hand side of the handlebar to switch the trip meter and set the time.
The second part is the tripper navigation console which facilitates the connection of your smartphone for navigation purposes. It’s the first in this segment and comes with the amazing feature of providing directions as well as distance, speed and time analytics of your trip. The navigation meter lights up in daylight mode and night mode depending on the time of the day. The time on the navigation meter synchs with that of the connected smartphone automatically. The RE app is essential for setting up the connectivity between the phone and the navigation meter and may be downloaded from the PlayStore.
User Interface and Control Switches
The Meteor 350 has rotor switches that enhance the functionality and ease of usability of the switches and controls.
The left-hand controls include the headlight dim/dip and pass switches with the indicator switches just below that and then the horn switch under it.
There is a USB charging port right under the clutch lever and the Left-Hand control has an ‘I’ button to control the trip meter and for setting the time on the meter console.
The Right-hand controls include an engine cutoff switch, On switch and the electric start. It has the hazard switch right below this.
Having ridden my Meteor 350 for over 10 days now, it brightens me and brings a smile to my face each time I ride it. The placement of the feet is forward pegged which may require a few weeks to get used to. The low seat with forward pegged seating makes it difficult for the rider to stand over rough roads making it most suitable for highway cruising over long distances.
Between 50 – 80kms/hr is its sweetest spot and this bike feels best in this speed range. The availability of power at lower gears is excellent and you can cruise from 20kms/hr to 80 kms/hr in 3rd gear, thereby making it a much more relaxed bike to ride on without the need of having to frequently change the gears making it a comfortable bike to ride in dense traffic too.
The bike feels comfortable and relaxed. It is not vibration-free, you can feel the vibrations from idling to its top speed with the vibrations being minimal between 40-90kms/hr. The only drawback is that this bike feels heavy in dense traffic.
Given the continuous rains over the past 3 weeks in Bangalore, I decided to ride the motorbike in the rain. During the heavy downpours, the bike felt confident to ride on the wet roads. It did very well in terms of handling, however, I noticed that due to the forward pegged seating position, the rainwater from the roads is exactly directed to the feet (shoes) from the front wheel, thereby the shoes get absolutely soaked. Need to look at changing the design of the front mud flap to avoid this discomfort.
The rear wheel fender and the low slung design of the number plate ensures minimum water spray at the rear of the vehicle.
What I like about the Meteor 350
- Riding posture
- Broad wide rear tyres
- Ability to cruise at high speeds (90-100 kms/hr) for longer durations
- Navigation trip meter
- Console lighting
- Riders seat
- Availability of vast accessories
- Vast Service network
- Rear tail light set up
- Low seating
- User interface switches
- Relaxed highway cruiser
- Does not require frequent gear changes
- Simplistic air-cooled engine
- Easily customisable
- Global product
- Solid feel of the side stand
- Smooth gear Shifting
- Exhaust sound
What I dislike about the Meteor 350
- Shaky mirrors
- Halogen headlight
- Electrical wiring and loose wire conduits
- Exposed master cylinder
- Plastic built petrol cap key-lid
- The need to dismantle the seats and petrol tank to access the engine for general servicing
- Engine/Exhaust heat
- Dealership experience
- Feels heavy
- No presence of exhaust pipe guard near the foot
- Fiber front mudguard & side panels
- Small-sized pillion seat
- Overall fit and finish
- Restricted ability to off-road
- Inability to move in the seat during long rides due to the cruiser styled forward foot pegged seating
Customisation and Accessories
Having overcome the not so pleasant experience at the dealership I decided to proceed with customising and fitting accessories on my motorbike that would make it unique in a way that best suits my taste and my liking. So the first thing I did is remove the saree guard.
The next thing on my list was to fit a seat cover. I looked up many options and felt that the seat cover offered by RE was far better than the ones available in the market. So, got the seat cover fitted.
Thereafter I visited a local accessories outlet and purchased a seat backrest with a carrier. The seat backrest offered by RE restricts the space availability of the pillion seat and doesn’t come with a carrier.
Over the coming weeks, I shall add a few more essential accessories that will include the sump guard, leg guard, windscreen etc. and share the details of the ownership with the associated costs of maintenance.
I shall also share many more details about the bike as I discover it over the coming few weeks and its riding characteristics in detail.
Here’s what BHPian Bigzero had to say about the matter:
Lovely write-up! Happy owner of a Silver Supernova that is just touching around 2000km. My son already had a longish Pune-Nashik-Pune on this, which helped get it settled down very nicely as far as the engine is concerned.
Excellent bike if one is looking for a relaxed cruiser. You will miss a bit of extra zip on open highways at 90+ kph, but I think it’s ok since the bike is not about that.
Lovely smooth ride at around 90-100 kph, and you are right, you can cruise for long distances on this bike.
We bought the bike with touring seats, which I guess was a bit of a mistake. I have a feeling that the regular seats are a bit better for longer rides. We have now fixed an air seat, but haven’t taken it out for long rides after that.
One issue that we face is some low-frequency groans from the rear discs. This happens usually only during the first 15 min of the run, after which it goes away ( I guess after the brake pad warms up? ). We checked it with the service centre a couple of times, but it hasn’t gone away fully.
We had taken delivery of the bike without the front glass (they gave it to us separately as it was standard for the model), but we now plan to fix it before our next long drive just to understand what difference it makes.
Overall this is one for keeps. Easy bike for youngsters to pick up their riding skills (I have this firm belief that RE bikes, because of their weight and relaxed nature, gently pushes the rider to stick to safer riding habits, especially when it comes to unnecessary lane cuts, swerving through traffic etc.).
I have used the earlier gen REs a lot when I was in my twenties (that is a while back), and am amazed by how far RE has evolved with their bikes. Much better put together with fewer vibrations (though some may miss the older engine which I guess is still available in the Bullet), and a lovely variety of models available to appeal to all types of customers.
My son and I had debated quite a bit between the new Classic and Meteor, and we settled for the Meteor after many test rides. It is hard to explain why, but we connected a bit better with the Meteor. On second thought, the relaxed riding position definitely had its bit of influence!
Some additional notes (no specific pluses or minuses, but just some pointers that’s all).
- The novelty factor of the tripper wears away quite soon. It is still quite useful, but we find ourselves using the mobile mounted on the handlebar more. One challenge with the tripper (that we found) was that the RE app was a drain on the mobile battery.
- The Fuel gauge is quite unpredictable. It gives a pessimistic outlook, so I would say one would still get around 100km or so once it touches the last bar.
- I miss the kicker!
- My wife and I take it for a spin on most days, for some stupid reason or the other, much to my son’s amusement.
- I had not used a two-wheeler regularly after 2008 or so – This is a new lease of life for me as a rider, and I am enjoying it! With my not so great back, I won’t venture out into long rides, but I guess this is a nice toy to have!
- We also had Honda 350 lined up, but Meteor somehow connected with us better. Bike purchases are mostly done with the heart I guess!
I will add more later, just thought I will ramble in with some thoughts.
Great buy, and have a great time with her!
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.
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