Royal Enfield Meteor 350: First commute ride.

Featured: my brand new machine. Not featured: the building security team swooning over it.

As everyone is no doubt aware on the basis I literally won’t shut up about it, I picked up my new Meteor 350 on Friday and after what can be described as a child like couple of hours of the longest day ever….. I got to ride it home. As if to throw the last dice the weather went from mid teens and beautifully sunny to grey/raining/windy and the precarious traffic situation of Norwich’s internal bowel collapse of a road system went into partial shutdown. After 45 minutes of slow queuing a road appeared!

So how was it?

If you really can’t be arsed to read the whole article I’ll dump you a quick favour right now. Imagine a jazz musician in a tux holding a sax stuck his head through your window and just nods before saying, “Smoooth” in the kinda voice that suggests he can still play that sax despite smoking cigars since birth.


You kinda need to experience it to truly appreciate how smooth it is, even the occasional speed hump is pretty gentle and not as bouncy as the Japanese bikes I’ve ridden. Part of that is also down to the seat, but I really will speak more about that… right now!

The seat…..

I could genuinely go on all day about how comfy that seat is, having the supernova it comes with the ‘Touring seat’ which is an extra grade better than the standard seat which I’ll be honest was pretty comfy. Compared to the seat in the MT-07 I passed my test on, this is a luxury padded seat in some kind of upper class gentleman’s club Vs a cheap plastic school chair. It’s more comfortable than any of the seats I own, even my sofa pales in comparison and that’s brand new, I’ve not even worked a butt crease into it yet. The pillion seat does look a little restrictive but I’ve not tried it and to be fair it’s going to be a while until anyone does.

The other side of this is if you are like many folk I know who want to feel everything as they go along (even through their rear) then you will hate this. For me it didn’t make me feel disconnected but I can imagine for the aforementioned it would be like driving a (really comfortable) pc chair.

Need for speed.

Now when I got this it had 2 miles on the clock, it has brand new tyres on it, it was raining and windy, obviously it’s not ridden in either. Down the local dual carriageway we sat at 60 for quite a bit, part of this was my total reluctance to push it all the way heeding the warnings of the user manual in the riding in period and the weather conditions. With the wind full force in my face the screen did a great job of deflecting a vast amount of the buffeting I’d normally receive bar some which skimmed the top of my head. I found hunching down slightly removed that and without sounding like an apologist I can’t really imagine with my sasquatch like frame I was necessarily on the design specification at Chennai.

Once everything settles in and the tyres aren’t still shiny I should be able to floor it properly and give a proper account of it. A nice compare and contrast!

Due to some passing millionaire dropping fuel I had to take a back road home for one particular leg with speed limits ranging between 60 and 30 and frankly that thing is a god even without all the perfect conditions. It sped along very nicely, handles the corners well and seems pretty balanced. The road was pitted, uneven and badly maintained (standard for Norfolk) but there was a zero eff’s given from the Meteor. Ironically I’d like to try that route on a Classic as I am reliably informed it’s a tad better in those circumstances (despite it not being my choice of bike) and see how it feels.


Despite being brand new these were pretty damn good too, I can’t lie I was genuinely impressed a d realistically I’m not sure what people were moaning about. Maybe from 70 they will be less responsive and I’ll be nipping the sphincter up….. One thing you do need to be aware of though, the engine breaking is not anywhere near as good as some larger bikes. You need to physically use the rear brake,I know this sounds silly but just trust me it will slow you but if you jump from one to another be careful.


Even right from the shop they are smooth, quiet and seem very willing to slip straight in (fnaa fnaa). You won’t find that characteristic clunk when switching which by the way can be a little disconcerting the first few times when you have to look at the gear indicator because you aren’t actually 100% you did change correctly. I’ll be frank I pulled away in second at one point because I’d changed up before having to stop in traffic and plain forgot.

A lot of negatively is brought up in the heel/toe shifter mechanism, I’m well aware I could just take the heel off but I was up for giving it a go. I figured I’d really only been using the usual method for a few months so I figured that it wouldn’t be as ingrained yet. I have a physical advantage in that my large feet are able to physically span the gap between the down and up levers, for the UK folk I have a set of size 14’s. Personally I quite like it, this certainly helps with the smoothness of the ride while changing. Due to the specifics of running in you generally need a higher gear than you think, right now it seems to appreciate 4th while in the late 20’s but I have been told this will change once everything has settled in.

Got soul?

This bike just has so much soul, I’m well aware it was probably one of several hundred thousand that rolled out of the factory that quarter but honestly, it doesn’t feel like that. That’s a biggie for me, the iconic thump just adds to that and it really is just miles of smiles. While I am not looking forward to the cost of the first service I am looking forward to how everything settles in and how the journey continues.

Why instagrammers shouldn’t do reviews.

I have spotted a trend slowly arriving in the bike world at the moment that I massively dislike. I’ll explain because at best the title was ambiguous and doesn’t exactly explain the believed affront is

Let me explain, I look at A LOT bikes in my time surfing the internet. Most people have sports magazines and porn but no, it’s bikes in beautiful places or traveling to incredible places. This is when you start to see the way bikers feel and interact.

Biker: “Wow, this looks a great view, I’m going to take a pic of this with my bike in the foreground!”

Just add your bike.

Ok I see some variation on this but mostly the winning combination is 2/3 scenery to 1/3 bike, unless mountains are involved of course. Really the maths isn’t important, it’s about where you are on the bike, the bike itself and how you got there. We probably consume these without even thinking with the same sort of responses each time. I’m not saying this is wrong at all, it’s the same all across the world. Due to following a lot of Indian bike manufacturers Twitter seems to think I’m in India, which is great as some of the pics that float through my feed are truly staggering (just with a smaller capacity bike at the forefront!).

However, the format for influencers is totally alien to this and frankly I believe it’s to the detriment of the entire industry.

Influencer: “Check me out, it’s me!! Ohh and I’m on a bike and because I got a free lunch I won’t say anything bad about it.”

The format there changes from being about the bike and achievement of being able to take the picture that you did, to a selfy on a motorcycle.

Screwing yourself over.

Arguably a worse thing for this when manufacturers play ball and actually enable this narcissism, maybe they do it for the perceived good exposure or being lazy they know that after a slap up meal and a night in a cheap motel the night before these people are statistically far more unlikely to say anything negative about the product. Plus as they are on to a winner for their own personal brand they aren’t exactly going to rock the boat on their first review are they?

So after a Premier Inn and a fried breakfast your free reviews left and got some free monetised content for their YouTube channels and you got what you think is great advertising. Until of course you release said bike and the first real bikers rip it to pieces and you are left scratching your head wondering what went wrong.

Big hairy Dave: “The rear break is terrible, the seat is uncomfortable and I hate the handle bars.”

Crazy TT Jane: “The stock tyres are totally rubbish, the breaks are awful and it corners like a cow”.

Now if you had just got some real bikers involved from day one this could of been avoided, it’s not like they will care about your demise as they are now off promoting shaving kits or skinny jeans etc.

Now some folk are probably thinking, “Just jealous eh Val? Just because your an ugly biscuit munching old bugger and won’t get invited!” Well the first part is definitely true, on the second I’m not sure I care. Let’s be honest we all love a quirky freebie now and again, the difference between us and them is the free meal won’t get them an easy time….. Also we’d probably moan about the meal too!

Val, out!

December update – it’s 100% less shit than November.

Trying not to massively ‘sex up’ this post with the promise of amazing revelations, scandalous occurrences and gratuitous Beaver shots…. Mainly because I cannot promise any of those except the last one.


Yup, I got a chance to do my MOD 1 at last now I have a decent instructor. I had a few extra lessons as it’s realistically been since June/July that I was last on a bike. I quite enjoyed the use of the MT-07 even though it’s not exactly what I would choose to ride. All things considered I passed Monday morning with just one (Cornetto) minor fault. It was a silly one too, literally right at the end after my avoidance I tried to pull away forgetting I had left it in second…..and promptly stalled. Not the best end but as my only detracting point and the test now being behind me I’m fairly pleased with the result. Hopefully I can resume the quest for MOD 2 from January!

Gratuitous Beaver pic.

What else? Well I managed to win a can of BulldogBDX on a twitter competition which was pretty cool.

New gear needed.

Now I previously moaned that I definitely needed a new riding jacket for summer due to a previous ride where I sweat like an Orangutan in a shipping container. The problem seems to be more widespread than previously thought as it must be noted I did not feel one but if a chill the whole time I was training for the MOD 1, except for my hands….

So yes clearly I need new gloves, the bigger problem sits squarely in the fact that my weatherproof/waterproof gear is clearly too heavy duty for use in the climatically mild Norfolk. Yup I was absolutely boiling, while this would normally be considered great it should be noted for commuting I need to arrive not looking like I had a Kung Fu fight in a sauna. Instead I need to emerge from my protective gear like the world’s ugliest butterfly and still produce a days “work”.

As a closing note, everyone constantly mentions the mental health benefits to riding a motorcycle but they definitely short sell the physical benefits. Due to a selection of rubbish office chairs in previous employment, the rubbish bus seats in my commute my back is normally a tad on the “ugh” side. Honestly though, after 4 days it feels bloody great. I literally feel like a sober version of my twenty year old self (only in the back department sadly).

Untill next time folks, ride safely!

Should we travel ethically?

A bit of an awkward one for me here so really bare with me as I attempt to skirt around the area of politics while directly referencing it but yet, somehow not causing some form of diplomatic incident with Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan you say? Ahh well, allow me to explain. Without giving a full history of central Asia it’s generally considered to be a worse place for human rights and press freedom than North Korea. So while I let that sink in and we imagine some form of ‘Totalitarian Premier League’ for reference could I possibly draw your attention to the burning fiery abyss below? Nope, that’s not a religious recruitment drive…….

It is also home to the Dervaza gas crater which has now been on fire since 1971 and is roughly translated as ‘The gates of Hell’. I think you’ll agree it looks pretty bloody awesome and the big kid in me is already wondering how quickly I could cook a bunch of shashlik if I had a suitably long stick.

Now I would personally love to visit, but the question is should we? Thinking aloud where is the line or where is and where isn’t ok to visit and should that influence our desire to travel and experience new places?

Featured:Turkmenistan’s ‘Gates of hell’. Not featured: me attempting to lower a large amount of skewers over the side.

On the flip side of all this is always the argument that you are supporting the local population, after all there are a lot of fairly questionable regime’s out there and millions of people travel to them every year. It’s not like you tapped the Generalissimo on the shoulder, tipped him a few notes and said “Buy a few tanks for me”.

Ok so maybe we avoid the really bad ones, what about the slightly iffy situations that result from annexation and territorial disputes. Kosovo and the Crimea jumping to the front of my head right now but there are a lot more.

Stop, who goes there?

Some are naturally easier than others, the current disputed territory between Armenia & Azerbaijan is clearly a great way to get yourself classed as “Persona non Grata” in the other. But what about places like Kashmir or the Donbass? Who will be more annoyed and do we end up balancing up the pros & cons of countries against each other to decide which.

“Sorry pal, there’s more to see here so I will be less upset if you PNG me”.

Bloody politics.

While sometimes we have no choice but to engage, while traveling I think I probably represent a good chunk of people who just want to jump on their choice of transport and explore. This country has interesting things I want to see, why should that be such a difficult thing to do?