Royal Enfield knows a thing or two about classically styled motorcycles. The British brand and now Indian-owned company first started making motorcycles in 1901, a full 120 years ago. From a company that started out building firearms, bicycles, and even lawnmowers, the brand name Royal Enfield has crossed continents and changed owners several times where, today, it has grown by leaps and bounds under the stewardship of Eicher Motors Limited (India) headed by its CEO Vinod K Dasari and Managing Director Sidhartha Lal.
In recent years, the company – through its distributor Hardcore Brothers — has been carving out a sizable niche in the affordable part of the Philippine “big bike” market with the adventure-focused Himalayan, the Interceptor/Continental GT 650 “twins,” and the old school Bullet/Classic. But for a handful of Thunderbird and Rumbler cruiser bikes that Hardcore sold here several years ago, Royal Enfield never had a serious contender for the Philippine cruiser market. Aside from this, the Meteor will gradually take over the Classic in the Philippines as the Indian manufacturer ceases production of the popular stalwart.
The Meteor is based on an all-new “J Platform” that was developed at Royal Enfield’s state-of-the-art technical centers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and Bruntingthorpe, UK, with manufacturing done in India. It’s a stylish and approachable cruiser that will bring new riders into the fold while also appealing to more experienced riders. As such, it uses an all-new 349cc, air- and oil-cooled, single-cylinder engine characterized by its long piston stroke for ample torque. Rated power is 20.2bhp and 27Nm of torque at 4,000rpm through a five-speed gearbox. The clutch is a seven-plate design for light effort, while the motor only needs a minimum 87 RON gasoline.
The all-new engine is fuel-injected and promises reliable starting and fuel flow every time; something old school Bullet and Classic owners will be envious of. The suspension is basic but robust, with the 41mm fork offering 130mm of travel and the rear shocks adjustable for preload. Curb weight is 181kg (wet). ABS and tubeless tires add a much-appreciated measure of safety and peace of mind.
The Meteor’s classic lines feature a 15-liter teardrop fuel tank, forward foot controls, and a sit-up-and-beg handlebar. Seat height is just 765mm, making the bike easy to handle for riders with a short inseam. Its cruiser styling, well-padded seat and pillion pad, a handsome analog/digital instrument pod and modern safety features all promise to deliver on the “purity” of motorcycling. The engine won’t pass the 400cc requirement for expressway-usage, but urban riders and those in the VisMin region probably won’t have an issue with that.
Three variants are available: Fireball, Stellar, and Supernova. The Fireball (P232,000) is available with either a red or yellow fuel tank color with matching wheel rim lining, while the rest of the bike gets blacked out treatment. The Stellar (P242,000) is available with red, blue, or matte black tanks and color matched body components, along with chrome handlebars and exhaust and a small backrest for the pillion. The top-of-the-line Supernova (P252,000) is available in dual-tone blue or brown with matching body parts, machined wheels, and a choice of premium seats and a windscreen.