Why I think the Honda H’ness 350 is better than the RE Meteor 350

Understood “Honda refinement” when a 15k km test bike felt incredibly smooth to ride.

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I finally got to ride both the Meteor and the H’ness today! My wife was not able to join me but I decided not to delay the rides any further. I can always go back and do one more TD if needed.

First stop – Royal Enfield Meteor 350.

Talked to the SA there, who gave me the license and phone number (no paperwork?), got the keys and headed out with the Supernova variant that was parked outside.

The first impression: The weight shows! Moving it when standing on the ground was a pain. I am not attuned to it, since I have been driving an Activa for most of my adult life. It was like I needed to put in the effort and there was a lag before the vehicle actually moved. But once I got into the saddle, it was pretty fine.

I was very apprehensive about driving a geared motorcycle after decades. I fired up the engine, slotted into 1st gear and mildly let the clutch go without turning the accelerator. The bike moved pretty nicely. Switched to 2nd gear, throttle a bit and still, it was smooth enough. Every time I closed the throttle, while changing gears or before braking though, the front of the vehicle dipped down. Weird.

At an open stretch, I decided to see how fast this machine can accelerate. It was going fine until 4th or 5th gear. When accelerating beyond 60, there was a horrible noise coming from either the engine or transmission or the wheel chains. It stops when the throttle was closed and then comes back when it is opened beyond a point. That and the vibrations. Yes, this was a test vehicle with 9K on the odometer. I felt that sound and vibrations were unacceptable. I am not sure why but I found myself adjusting my seating position twice or thrice since I felt like it was sliding to the front somewhat.

The gear lever on the Meteor was nice since I didn’t have to move my heel back to be able to push the lever to 2, 3, 4 or 5th gear. Anyway, a 2.5 to 3km ride later, I got the vehicle back to the store. They wanted to discuss the quotation and I said I pretty much have it configured on my RE portal and it shows Rs.2.6L on the road, including all the accessories. I informed the SA that I will get back with a decision in 2 weeks’ time, thanked them and left for the next TD.

Second and last stop – Honda H’ness 350

(just a few buildings down from the RE showroom)

The place is just dusty but this time I was met by a smiling SA, who waived off the paperwork for the TD. Gave my license, took the keys and was shown to a Matte Grey DLXPro in the parking lot.

Took the vehicle out of parking, keyed in and started the engine which roared to life with the unique H’ness sound. So far so good.

Slotted the gear to 1st (I was surprised at how little effort it needed, compared to the Meteor. It is easy on both but easier on the H’ness), let the clutch go and the machine started rolling. Handled the bad pavement very well when getting out to the main road. The gear lever seems too long even for my foot (and I do not get footwear that easily except with Crocs or Hush Puppies), with me having to move my foot back to be able to push the thing to 2nd gear. I noticed that a car that wanted to overtake me on the right decision not to for whatever reason.

Went up to 3rd gear before a left turn and opened up to 4th and 5th which came in quick succession. Here is where the “refinement” that everyone talked about hit me. This was a test vehicle with 15K km on the odometer I think and it was incredibly smooth. The horns on the H’ness were phenomenal, compared to the Meteor. The braking was very good and the machine did not do any head dip when the throttle was closed. It just rolled along nicely. After a couple more stretches, a mix of broken roads, speed breakers and open stretches, a few more honks, a nice-sounding ride and I was back at the parking lot of the showroom. The SA was waiting there. He saw me with my grin and said “Sir, this looks perfect for your height and build”. I was like “Not booking today, my friend” but I had to agree, this bike and its ride felt really nice.

I met the manager of the facility, was given a quick tour of the service centre on the top floor (it was neat!), discussed quotes, and informed the SA that I am interested in getting the new BS6 Phase 2 bikes and the new kits. He didn’t have any information on either but wanted me to make a booking right then and there. I asked him to be patient and that he will hear back from me in 2 weeks but also that he keeps me informed on the 2 requirements I had. Then I headed out to get back home.

The verdict

Honda H’ness wins, hands down. There are a few panchayats to be had in the family before this vehicle comes home. So, I will keep this thread updated if there are any developments.

Thanks for all your help thus far!

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