About - Contact - Motorcycles FS - Parts FS

Home page
^ Back to Home Page ^

Period Roadtests

Royal Enfield Meteor Minor De Luxe

Royal Enfield Meteor Minor De Luxe
Royal Enfield Meteor Minor De Luxe

Announced in April, the 496 cc Meteor Minor de Luxe is one of a trio of new Royal Enfield high-performance twins. It has many features in the established Royal Enfield tradition and others which are new or nearly so. Among those in the first group are the use of seperate iron cylinder barrels with heavely fined light-alloy heads; a one-piece cast-iron crankshaft; a half-gallon oil compartment formed integrally with the crankcase; a four-speed Alboin gear box bolted to the rear of the crankcase; and a vane-type cush drive in the rear hub. (There is also a transmission shock absosber in the clutch centre.)

The lightweight welded tubular frame, rear-chain enclosure and 17in-diameter wheels were previously confined to the Crusader models. Fresh ground is broken with "siamesed" exhaust pipes, a novel clutch having a scissor-type control mechanism, and a 7in-diameter front brake which is housed in a full-width hub.

Praise-and criticism
At a time when large-capacity machines on the whole are felt by many raiders to be a shade too high and wide, the relatively low seat height (29.5in) afforded by the Royal Enfield's small wheels was a real boon to riders of short or medium stature. One's feet could be placed firmly on the ground at traffic halts and kick-starting when astride the machine called for no feat of balancing. Relative positioning of the seat, footrests and handlebar gave a compact and relaxed riding posture which proved to be extremely comfortable for speeds of up to about 60mph. For higher speeds a footrest setting 3in farther rearward would have been preferred to reduce the pull required on the handlebar to counter act wind pressure on the rider's body (though the concave shape of the seat top helped in that respect). The top edges of the seat pan could be more rounded with advantage; they were felt to dig into the rider's thighs on long runs.

Handlebar width (24in) and grip angle are well chosen, and the lack of position adjustment for the clutch and front-brake levers-- the pivot blocks are welded to the bar-- was no disadvantage; the levers were found to be idally placed. The inner ends of the levers are neatly shrouded by extentions of the pivot blocks. Brake and gear pedals, too, were well sited and could be actuated without removing the foot archesfrom the rests.

Kept its feet
Though pleasently light, steering was very positive and quickly enhanced the feeling of confidence engendered from the start by the low seat and comfortable posture. At both ends of the speed scale it was easy to pick a precise path without conscious effort; and riding the Meteor Minor to a standstill feet-up was child's play. Stability on greasy surfaces was of a very high order. Only on fast bends with undulating surfaces was there a tendency for the model to weave-- a result of the rear suspension pitching. As the 15ft turning circle proves, the steering lock is generous. Footrest scraper
A low seat position brings difficulties for the designer. If the footrests are correspondingly low so as to ensure a comfortable knee angle (as on the Royal Enfield) then they may ground on corners as a result of the front and rear suspension compressing unless the overall width at the rests is narrow. Width across the footrests is 26.5in but they are prevented from foulingtoo readily by the rather firm action of the front and rear springing. Footrest grounding was not bothersome unless the model was canted over unnecessarily.

Braking was first class at all speeds. The controls were light to operate, yet not to light, and were progressive in action so that there was ample sensitivity for wet or slippery conditions. When the road surface permitted, the model could be pinned down really firmly, with both tyres squealing, from a traffic crawl or at top speed. Several hours of riding in teeming rain failed to impair brake efficiancy.

Bore and stroke of the new engine (70 x 64.5mm) are identical with those of the Crusader but there are similarity ends. In external appearance the unit is a scaled-down version of the 692cc Constellation engine which, in turn, is based on the Super Meteor. Starting proved to be simple and reliable. The preliminary drill for a cold start was quite normal: throttle set as for fast idling, air lever closed and carburetter tickled moderately. The kick-starter is fairly low geared so little effort was required to swing the engine over compression and the unit usually came to life at the second kick. A first-time start without any preliminaries was the rule when the engine was warm. For use in the event of the battery being run down, an emergency start position is provided for the ignition switch. The engine could be started with the switch in that position provided a really vigorous thrust aws given to the kick-starter.

Low-speed flat spot
Opening of the air lever after a cold start was best carried out in two of three easy stages, spread over the first mile or two. As soon as the engine had run a few moments it would idle slowly, evenly and denpendably when the twistgrip was rolled right back. At a throttle opening just above idling there was a slight flat spot which resulted in a hesitant response from the engine if the grip was twisted too rapidly. That apart, the engine pulled well over a wide speed range. Acceleration was smooth and satisfactory rather than fierce.

Smooth running and unusually supple transmission combined to make the use of top gear quite happy in areas with a 30mph speed limit. Indeed the effectiveness of th etwo rubber block transmission shoch absorbers is emphasised by the minimum non-scratch speed of 13mph in top gear. For neatness all control cables are routed through holes in the fork- top casquette; in thre case of the throttle cable that involves small radius which makes the control a shade sticky in operation. Delicate of control at small throttle openings was enhanced by re-running the cable.

On the open road the engine cheerfully took on any amount of hard work without tiring. Under average conditions, use of half throttle gave an indicated speed of about 75mph. At speeds up to 60-65mph in top gear there was a pleasing absence of vibration, and that was the speed range most used on long trips. At an indicated speed of 70mph engine vibration was perceptible. From 75mph upward vibration could be felt through through the duel seat. When checked electrically, the speedo read 2mph fast at 30mph and the error increased proggressively to 5mph at maximun speed.

mechanical noise was average and the exhaust, though flat in tone, was unobtrusive. A peculiarity of the machine tested was oil discharge from the crankcase breather pipe during hard riding; oil fouled the distributor cover and the region of left pillion footrest. The new clutch was light to operate, took up the drive smoothly and was free from drag.There was a slight tendency for the friction plates to stick, however, so that engagement of bottom gear at rest was accompanied by a slight jerk. Repeated clutch slipping, as when riding for several miles in haevy traffic or making a succession of rapid starts for the quarter-mile acceleration figures, brought about a slight increase in control backlash, which returned to normal when clutch cooled. Momentary clutch slip was occasionally experienced when the engine was pulling hard at about 60mph in third gear or 75mph in top.

Upward gear changes could be made quickly or cleanly without special precautions, but engagement of the dogs could be felt when changing down. Neutral could be easily selected with the gear pedal; but in any event the gear box is fitted with the familiar Royal Enfield neutral finder which permits ready selection from any gear excep bottom.

Both the intesity and spread of the headlamp beam were adequate for night riding at normal speeds. Unfortunately, with the lamp unit deflected to its lowest setting, the dipped beam was parallel to the road surface. Valancing of the mudguards is unusually deep, especially at the front, and served to trap a good deal of road filth.

Operating of a wide base, the prop stand was commendably safe for parking. For maintenance purposes, the centre stand provided firm support, close to the point of balance. When the valve gear was being attended to the ready detachability of the tank (after the removal of only one bolt) was greatly appreciated. Primary chain adjustment is checked through an aperture in the chaincase. Retensioning the chain by means of the adjustable slipper necessitates removal of the outer portion of the case which is secured by a single bolt.

Finish is black for the frame and fork, with a choice of polychromatic burgundy, Wedgwood blue or black for the mudguards, rear chaincase, tool and battery boxes and petrol tank; the tank has chromium-plated side panels.

Engine: Royal Enfield 496cc (70x64.5mm) overhead-valve vertical twin with separate light alloy cylinder heads. Camshafts driven by a single chain. Light-alloy connecting rods with steel-back shell big-end bearings. Crankshaft supported in ball bearing on drive side and roller bearing on timing side. Compression ratio 8 to 1. Dry-sump lubrication with oil compartment cast integrally with crankcase; oil capacity 4 pints.

Amal Monobloc; air slide operated by handle-bar lever. Vokes air filter.

Ignition and Lighting:
Coil ignition with auto-advance. Lucas RM14 70-watt AC generator driven by left end of crankshaft. Lucas 6-volt, 12-ampere-hour battery charged by rectifier. Lucas 7in-diameter headlamp with pre-focus light unit.

Alboin four-speed gearbox bolted to rear of crankcase; positive-stop foot control. Gear ratios: bottom, 13 to 1; second, 8.42 to 1; third, 6.08 to 1; top, 4.67 to 1. Multi-plate clutch with moulded inserts running in oil. Primary chain, 3/8in duplex in cast-aluminium oil-bath case. Rear chain, 5/8 x 3/8in in pressed-steel case. Engine rpm at 30mph in top gear, 1,990.

Fuel capacity:
3 3/4 gallons.

Dunlop 3.25x 17in; front ribbed, rear Universal.

Front, 7in diameter x 1 1/2in wide; rear, 7in diameter x 1in wide; finger adjusters.

Royal Enfield telescopic fork with hydraulic damping. Pivoted-fork rear springing employing Girling hydraulically damped shock absorbers with three-position adjustment for load.

53 1/2 in unladen.
Ground Clearance, 6in unladen

Royal Enfield dual-seat; unladen height, 29 1/2in

413lb fully equiped,with full oil compartment and approx 1 gal of petrol.

The Enfield Cycle Co LTD, Redditch, Worcs.

Performance Data:
Max Speed: Bottom 35mph; 2nd 55mph; 3rd 79mph; Top 89mph

Petrol Consumption:
At 30mph, 85mpg; at 40mph, 82mpg; at 50mph, 75mpg; at 60mph, 58mpg.

From 30mph to rest, 32ft dry road.

Turning Circle:

Weight per cc:

If you need work done on your classic machine, from basic service to full rebuilds, contact me, I can help.

Period Roadtests

netbikes is a registered business with the Queensland office of Consumer Affairs.
Business Names Act 1962 - 1990 Section 7 (4) Business # BN5951173
© netbikes Motorcycle ONLY Classifieds Australia
Brisbane 4122 QLD AU Ph. 0422819200