At the cost of repeating myself, I’ll say it one more time. The first-ever motorcycle that I had the privilege of owning was a RE Electra from 2009. Since then, Royal Enfield has been sort of a household reality for me and my family. So, when I heard that Royal Enfield is bringing out an all-new Classic 350, I had a few questions. Is it really brand new? Is it a true successor to the previous generation Classic 350 or is it just Meteor with a different riding position? You see, this is an important motorcycle for Royal Enfield, and I was determined to find out if this is another page out of RE’s long history book or a beginning of a brand new chapter altogether. In short, does it still feel like an RE of yore? Check out our video review of the all-new Royal Enfield Classic 350 right here!
First things first – What’s new?
Let’s get all the juicy details out of the way. Now, Royal Enfield has put quite a bit of effort into improving the Classic 350 in many ways. For example, the seats are now wider, the tail lamp design is brand new, both the front and rear tyres are wider, while the front & rear disc brakes are bigger, too. The exhaust design is new and the Classic 350 now comes with a twin downtube spine frame. Then there’s the new headlamp and pilot lamps, integrated ignition and steering lock and a tiny LCD readout for info along with the Tripper system, which is only available on this top-end Chrome Red model for now. The Classic also gets bigger 41mm Dia front forks along with a USB charger and 13-litre fuel tank. A special mention must also go out to the switchgear, which feels a lot more premium and up to date than before. Oh, lest we forget – no more kick start. Gone are the days of the decompress switch.
How is it different from the Meteor?
Speaking of which, the all-new Classic 350 is now powered by the 349cc, single-cylinder, J-Series motor which produces 20.2 bhp and 27 Nm of torque. It’s pretty much the same as the Meteor, but RE has calibrated the fueling and ignition differently, to better match the Classic rider. Result – it sounds a little different, unique from the Meteor, at least. To put it simply, the frame, swingarm, brakes and handlebars switches are shared between the Classic and the Meteor. However, everything you see apart is specific to the brand new Classic 350. Also, another subtle yet prominent change is the position of the handlebar, which has been moved slightly forward for better weight distribution. So, how does it all come together when you’re on the move? All in all, this should make the Classic 350 a more able handler.
What’s it like to ride? Does it have that iconic thump?
One of the first things you’ll notice on the move is the seamless gear shifts and smooth throttle response. This new Classic 350 surges ahead with confidence, with significantly reduced vibrations. Sure, it’s not as torquey as the cast iron or UCE engines, but there’s a good reserve of power whenever needed. The repositioned handlebar also results in a more agile motorcycle than before, although there are few complaints. The tyres do lack grip, especially in wet weather conditions. Another area of concern is the lack of bite from those bigger discs. They do work well but bite point is something that’s slightly hard to get right. However, the riding position is comfortable and upright, which makes this motorcycle a breeze to run about in town. Since I have ridden the older Classic 350, I can say without a doubt that this is definitely a step in the right direction. Kudos to the folks at Royal Enfield!
RE also has to be given credit for the overall ride comfort. The all-new Classic 350 soaks up bumps extremely well, thanks to the improved ground clearance. In fact, this chassis is so tractable that one moment I found myself taking corners with relative confidence, while in the other I was out riding comfortably at 100 – 120 km/hr. Although it’s easy to get to the aforementioned speed, it is slightly difficult to go past it. That has to do with the kind of gearing RE has kept in mind for the Classic 350 buyer. Another slight concern is that the violent shaking of the mirrors when I was on the go. It only occurs when you’re in a higher gear (at a slower speed) and trying to torque your way out of a certain situation. However, with all that said, there’s no denying the fact that the all-new Classic 350 is a massive improvement from the previous-generation model. I, personally, also love the way the design has been kept true to RE’s history. There are these subtle changes that only hardcore RE fans will be able to figure out, and all of that kind of fits the bill, doesn’t it? I certainly feel so!
Still as iconic?
So, how does it all come together? Well, in my opinion – rather well. We all knew RE would have to make the transition from the UCE engine at some point. It started with the Meteor, and now the baton has been passed to Classic 350. All those improvements and changes to make the Classic 350 a more capable motorcycle than before, sure. But, it has lost just a little bit of its aura or essence from before. However, do remember that is an extremely small price to pay to ride a far more superior motorcycle in almost every single way. There are no two ways about it, this is a whole new chapter in RE’s iconic history, one that will be talked about for years to come.
Engine – 349cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled
Power – 20.2 bhp@6,100 rpm
Torque – 27 Nm@4,000 rpm
Gearbox – 5-speed
Price – Rs 1.84 – 2.15 lakh (ex-showroom)
Kerb Weight – 195 kilograms
Fuel tank – 13 litres
For – Easy-going dynamics, smooth power delivery & gearshifts, iconic design
Against – Brakes could’ve had better feedback at higher speeds