Meet the first of our ‘Best of 2022’ winners – the Royal Enfield Hunter 350. First things first, this is not just an all-new product – it also marks a step in a new direction for the brand that promises a more youthful, sporty approach. Now, for a traditional and heavyweight brand like Royal Enfield, this could have ended either way – a sales dud or a masterstroke. But since the Hunter 350 has made it to the ‘Top Three’ in our final scores and is selling like hotcakes, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which way it went for RE.
With the Hunter 350, Royal Enfield has created a modern-retro roadster, without losing the heart and soul of the brand. And it’s not just limited to its design and philosophy but also extends to the engineering of the bike. The Hunter gets an all-new frame and suspension setup, meaning it doesn’t ride or handle like any other RE motorcycle. It’s got a completely new geometry – sharp rake, 17-inch wheels, and stiffer springs, all of which result in a sporty riding experience. So sporty that you can’t believe it’s a Royal Enfield. For instance, when Simran took the bike out for the first time, he was totally smitten by the experience. ‘I can’t believe how light and agile it feels around the track. Doesn’t feel like a Royal Enfield at all,’ he exclaimed. Again, we aren’t implying it’s an outright track tool, but for a brand with a reputation for making laid-back motorcycles, the Hunter’s handling is a pleasant surprise.
At heart, the Hunter 350 is still an RE. That’s because it’s propelled by the same 349cc J-Series engine that powers the Classic and Meteor 350. As you might already know, this engine is an absolute peach. It’s got oodles of power and torque (20.2bhp and 27Nm), and for the Hunter, it has been re-tuned to become livelier – the throttle response is peppier, and it revs quite freely now. The gearing is also spot-on. In the real world, the drivetrain has superb tractability in virtually all riding conditions.
Last but not least, the Hunter’s design is another of its USPs. You can’t deny that the Hunter is a pretty cool-looking roadster. It’s got the right mix of modern, retro, and sporty elements. The dimensions are of a classic roadster, and it looks proportionate from all angles. Couple all this with some tasty paint options, and what you end up with is a sharp and contemporary RE roadster. Everybody on the jury, and even team members from our design and video team, couldn’t stop raving about the looks of the Hunter 350.
Now, while the Hunter 350 bagged the ‘Best of 2022’ honour, it doesn’t imply that it’s flawless. There are a couple of areas where it could be better – the rear suspension, for instance, is quite stiff, which results in a jarring ride on bad roads. Similarly, it needs grippier tyres and stronger brakes, which will certainly add to its overall handling. Better rubber could have easily shaved a second or two from its final lap time.
In the end, what seals the deal for the Hunter 350 is its stellar pricing. With its price tag ranging between ₹1.50 lakh and ₹1.69 lakh, the Hunter offers spectacular bang for your buck. If you think about it objectively, the Hunter offers the best of both worlds. It’s not conspicuously an RE, and yet, it inconspicuously offers everything that you expect from an RE.
- Royal Enfield Hunter 350 (Lap Time – 01:24.4)
|COMFORT & PRACTICALITY||10||7.5|
|RIDE & HANDLING||10||8|
|VALUE FOR MONEY||20||16|