Honda H’ness CB 350 vs Royal Enfield Meteor 350 – Shootout
Detailed comparison and shootout of the Honda H'ness CB 350 and Royal Enfield Meteor 350
Shootout No. 249
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,28,500/- (Honda H’ness CB 350 – DLX Pro); Rs. 2,26,049/- (Royal Enfield Meteor – Supernova)
The fight for the best neo-retro 350cc motorcycle is going crazy as the segment is seeing so many new and worthy entrants
For decades, Royal Enfield’s Classic 350 had been ruling the neo-retro cruiser bike segment. Many competitors came and went, but the Classic 350 continued to rule people’s hearts. With a lot of planning, Honda launched the H’ness CB 350 to take on the Classic 350. The Classic didn’t stand anywhere close to the H’ness, it was clearly outshone by the H’ness. This pushed Royal Enfield to build a worthy competitor and soon after, they launched the Meteor. But how do these motorcycles fare against each other? Which one should you buy? Well, worry not because we have got your back!
Motor Quest: The Honda H’ness CB 350 was launched in October 2020. And this was the first time we were seeing a CB bike on Indian shores. Similarly, the Meteor is a new product too. Although it is from the canvas of the Royal Enfield Thunderbird.
Styling: In a nutshell, both the bikes look quite similar as they follow the same design principle. A quick glimpse at both bikes, and one might say they look similar. Yes, they do but the design language is what sets them apart. The H’ness is loaded with chrome and looks compact whereas the Meteor bids goodbye to the traditional chrome and sets a bold impression with its all-black swag. However, to add some chrome to the comparison, the Meteor does have the Supernova variant. Although from the front, they look very similar, they execute things differently. The H’ness has all-around LED lights, chrome levers and to top it off, it also gets chrome mirrors. While the Meteor gets old-school halogen indicators and the halogen headlamp is surrounded by a daytime running LED.
While both have multiple variants, the Meteor comes with an array of accessories and one can get it completely customised online
The H’ness looks a lot compact and fresh whereas the Meteor looks bulkier but has a shorter wheelbase. In terms of colours and customisation, the Meteor has an edge over the H’ness as it offers 7 paint options and the top models are offered in dual-tone treatment. And if that doesn’t sound enough, you can customise your ride with Royal Enfield’s “make it yours” option. Coming to the H’ness, you have 3 colour options for each variant and a dual-tone paint job is offered in the DLX Pro variant. Overall styling, the H’ness looks a bit towards a streetfighter while the Meteor is a proper cruiser.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear: The instrumentation on both bikes is equally functional. They both sport an analogue-digital cluster that features twin trip meters, fuel gauge, gear position indicator, and navigation, etc. But the implementation of the is different on both bikes. The H’ness gets a tiny rectangular LCD placed at the corner which is quite hard to read and the navigation system works via a Bluetooth earpiece.
On the other side, the Meteor has a better, more readable instrument cluster. It gets a circular LCD display that houses all the ride telemetry data and just beside it, there is a small yet functional “Tripper” navigation system which is co-developed with Google Maps which makes it very user friendly. In conclusion, the Meteor clearly outshines the H’ness when it comes to ease of use and user-friendliness.
Both bikes have good instrument clusters, but the Meteor steals the show with a proper navigation unit to offer
Now that we have covered the instrument cluster, let’s discuss the switchgear. The switchgear quality on both bikes is up to the mark. The H’ness gets a joystick setup on the left switchgear which makes life a whole lot easier, but ironically, the horn and indicator switches have swapped their places which doesn’t make life easier. Moving on, the right switchgear is a lot more minimalist, it houses a 3-step engine starter switch and below that is a hazard light button which is a nice touch.
Coming to the Meteor, it lacks the joystick setup which it definitely needs. The left unit is fairly basic but the light controls are quite unique. It also gets an “i” switch to browse through the instrument cluster. Meanwhile, the right switchgear also gets a 3-step engine switch along with a hazard light. All in all, the switchgear on the H’ness has a slight advantage but, the Meteor has a better instrument cluster.
Ergonomics: The ergonomics are different on both bikes. Let’s start with the H’ness first. The seat height is 800 mm which is accessible for the average Indian however, taller riders might end up brushing their knees against the tank bulge. This, paired with centre set footpegs and a tall handlebar translates to an upright riding posture. However, the seat isn’t accommodating for two healthy adults. The handlebar isn’t wide enough and the same is the case for the mirrors. The H’ness feel a lot more towards streetfighter ergonomics comparatively.
On the other hand, the Royal Enfield Meteor has more cruiser like ergonomics. The rider sits at 795 mm which favours short riders. This is coupled to forward set footpegs and a wider handlebar than the H’ness make the Meteor more comfortable for longer journeys, also the pillion comfort is better on the Meteor as it gets a long and wide seat and also a backrest in some variants. To sum it up, the Meteor is a better choice if you want to go on long rides with a pillion but, if you want a bit more engaging ergonomics you should get the H’ness.
Performance: Commonly, both bikes have 350cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engines. The power figures on both bikes are somewhat similar, the H’ness produces 0.8 PS more than the Meteor, while the torque is also higher on the H’ness by 3 Nm at 30 Nm. This makes the H’ness the most torquey bike in its segment. The H’ness also gets a traction control system that is a segment-first. In terms of engine refinement and NVH levels, the Honda is a clear winner but, the Meteor is no less! Meteor’s engine is arguably the most refined single-cylinder motor from RE. Speaking about shifting gears, both get a 5-speed transmission that works just as well. But, the H’ness gets a slipper clutch while the RE misses out on one. Nevertheless, gear shifts are crisp on both motorcycles.
The exhaust note of the H’ness is loud while the Meteor retains the traditional RE thump
The H’ness excels in midrange acceleration and feels livelier than the Meteor. However, the latter has a better low end. But, the top end feels flat on both the motorcycles. While the 0-100 km/hr brews up in under 14 seconds on the H’ness, the Meteor takes it 18.11 seconds. Clearly, the H’ness rises on top in terms of acceleration. But, when it comes to drinking less fuel, the Meteor wins as it returns an average fuel economy of 35 km/l whereas the H’ness returns 32 km/l. Overall, the H’ness feels more fun to ride and engaging, while the Meteor offers a more relaxed cruising and mature experience.
Riding Dynamics: Riding dynamics are a big differentiating factor here. The H’ness feels more like a street-naked in the way it handles and tips into corners which is very likeable. The Meteor feels a bit heavy to move around in traffic due to its heavy handlebar and doesn’t enjoy being tipped into corners simply because it’s strictly built for cruising and does so without breaking a sweat. The suspension setup on both bikes is similar, both get non-adjustable telescopic forks up-front and pre-load adjustable hydraulic shocks at the rear.
However, the Meteor offers a more plush ride as it’s better tuned for bad roads. On the other hand, the H’ness feels stiff which is good at maintaining high-speed stability but this trades away comfort. Although the H’ness has a longer wheelbase, it feels relatively easy to filter through traffic and make a sharp u-turn. In the same scenario, the Meteor feels bulky and demands quite a bit of effort to make quick manoeuvres because of the wider handlebar. But, the Meteor offers better handlebar feedback throughout. If you want to go the distance and cruise effortlessly, then the Meteor is a better option. But, if you want to have a more fun-filled and engaging ride, the H’ness is the one for you.
The H’ness rides like a street-naked while the Meteor offers a mature and more comfortable ride
Both bikes are based on different platforms, the H’ness sports a split-duplex frame that doesn’t flex much and offers ample feedback. Whereas the Meteor gets a twin downtube spine chassis that offers decent flex and good feedback. Tyres at the front are similar on both the motorcycles but for the rear, the Meteor gets thicker 140-section rubber mounted on a 17-inch wheel whereas the H’nees gets an 18-inch alloy with 130-section rubber. Both the tyres offer a similar level of grip however the ones on the H’ness are from MRF while the Meteor gets Ceat rubber.
Coming to brakes, the H’ness gets a 310 mm disc at the front and a 240 mm disc at the rear backed by Nissin callipers. The braking performance is satisfactory however, a bit more feedback would have been appreciated. However, the Meteor gets a 310 mm disc at the up-front and a bigger 270 mm disc at the rear backed by Brembo callipers. But, the H’ness has better braking feedback and performance too and actually manages to stop earlier than the Meteor.
Verdict: The Honda H’ness CB 350 costs Rs. 2,28,500/- (DLX Pro variant) while the Royal Enfield Meteor costs Rs. 2,26,049/- (Supernova variant); (both prices, on-road Mumbai). The price difference is insignificant and both bikes offer good value for your money. Royal Enfield has stepped up their game with the Meteor and so has Honda. If you are looking forward to take your bike on longer journeys along with a pillion, you should pick the Meteor as it has a better in-built navigation system and doesn’t compromise on pillion comfort. But, if you mostly ride in between or around the city, then the H’ness is a better choice. So then, which one should you go for? Well, that depends on where you live. Yes, you read that right, we say so because the H’ness is only offered at Honda’s BigWing showrooms which are limited to tier 1 and some tier 2 cities. On the other hand, RE is present almost everywhere in the country.