Royal Enfield's best-selling motorcycle has returned with a significant update. We find out if it can reclaim its throne.
When Royal Enfield launched the Meteor 350 last year, we were mighty impressed with the overall build quality and performance of the bike. In fact, I still ride my long-term Meteor on a daily basis because the bike is comfortable, the quality is great, and most importantly the engine is fantastic for everyday use. Now, we have obviously been waiting for the Classic 350 to be launched and while RE did take some time to do so, we finally got our hands on the bike, and let’s just say that we were not disappointed at all.
In the past, I spent a lot of time with the Classic 500 and I did like that machine very much. The only problem that I had with it was the comfort levels, which were not the best, and the quality was certainly low grade. However, the Classic 350 was also Royal Enfield‘s first global product, and it was exported for the international market and it did very well. In the last 10 years of its existence, the Classic 350 has sold over 3 million units, which is a sales figures target any manufacturer would be proud of. The Royal Enfield brand has been on a roll lately and ever since the launch of the 650 Twins, we have seen the quality of their bikes grow leaps and bounds. That has a lot to do with the entire Royal Enfield team, which is now a truly global one. Royal Enfield has hired some of the best engineers and technicians from all across the globe and the end result is that their products are also now truly global. So, let’s find out just how different the new Royal Enfield Classic 350 is compared to its older and very successful sibling.
New Design But Still A Classic
The new Classic 350 looks almost identical from far away, but when you walk up close to the machine you will notice very slight differences that make the bike look better than before. Starting from the front you’ll notice that the front forks are much chunkier and they give the bike some muscle. There’s also the addition of pilot lights above the new headlight, and the front mudguard is also much larger. Then you get to the instrument cluster, which now sports a digital screen as well as the optional Tripper Navigation encased inside the headlight panel but it still looks retro and classic. As you come to the mid-section of the bike the beautiful teardrop fuel tank has been slightly tweaked and then of course below it sits the new J- Series engine from the Meteor 350. At the rear, the tire is now wider and again the mudguard is also larger than before. There is also a new seat which will offer better comfort. The entire body of the bike is constructed around the same new chassis from the Meteor and even the switch-gear and USB charger is similar. The overall build quality is also top-notch and a huge step forward compared to the previous model.
Better Ride Quality
The Classic 350 has always been a great touring machine but not without some problems. First of all, the seat was incredibly uncomfortable but now with the new seat, you will feel just right. After riding the bike for the whole day it’s safe to say that the new seat is a great addition to the new model. It’s not as comfortable as the Meteor’s seat but it certainly feels very nice and plush. The handlebars are now closer to the rider which offers an easier laid-back overall riding posture. The suspension has also been allowed to have more travel, and this has certainly improved the ride quality. Because the Classic 350 is still considered to be a touring machine by many, its ride quality is great on all Indian road surfaces. The bike feels strong and stable at all speeds.
Graceful Engine Performance
We already know that the engine is a fantastic unit, in fact, that’s one of the main reasons why the Meteor won the prestigious Indian Motorcycle Of The Year 2021. The Classic 350 does have the same power performance as the Meteor but because of the larger rear wheel, top-end performance has been slightly affected. The engine has got a wonderful flat torque curve and power delivery is great throughout the rev band. However, when you reach the top-end, the Classic 350 seems to struggle to breathe. For highway touring, 80 to 90km/h is probably where the Classic 350 feels best but then it struggles to go past 100km/h. Most Indian roads today have improved significantly and even cruising at a speed of 90km/h sometimes does seem slow and daunting to some riders. The Meteor doesn’t have this problem and can easily cruise at 120km/h. Nevertheless, as an everyday usable machine the engine is fantastic, and if you don’t might a slower cruising speed the engine feels great and slightly more refined than in the Meteor.
The Classic 350 is a barebones no-nonsense motorcycle. It’s simply a chassis with a beautiful engine and two wheels. You obviously cannot expect sports bike-like handling but then it’s still a fun bike to hit twisty sections with. The front-end feels strong and even the new larger brakes do a great job. The ABS system also works very well. We also rode the bike in extremely wet conditions and the tyres also offered great grip. As an overall package, the Royal Enfield Classic 350 offers you an affordable good quality proper classic motorcycle that is fun to ride and also use on an everyday basis. If you want to tour, go on a weekend ride, or use the machine to go to the office every day, the Classic 350 can do it all, and it does so with style and confidence. The exhaust note also sounds brilliant and offers a classic Royal Enfield thump. RE has done a great job to retain the classic character of the bike but at the same time improve the overall performance, quality, and comfort. It’s certainly not a game changer and it’s entering the market which now has a lot more competition, but it’s safe to say that Royal Enfield has got another brilliant product that customers will enjoy. There are different colour options available and you can customise your bike on the ‘Make it Yours’ app, which is something that no other manufacturer allows. With a competitive price, classic styling, and the RE badge, the Classic 350 might just be another winner for Royal Enfield.
- 2021 Royal Enfield Classic 350
Engine: 349cc / Single-Cylinder / Air-Oil Cooled
Power: 20.2bhp @ 6,100rpm
Torque: 27Nm @ 4,000rpm
Price: ₹1.70 – 2.10 Lakh (Ex-Showroom)
X-Factor: A bare-bones no-nonsense classic motorcycle, which is also affordable.