Why Hunter? Why Bangkok? These were the two questions I asked Siddharth Lal, who is fondly called Sid – perhaps the only MD of a motorcycle company who can also be safely called a Dude. Why the name Hunter ? because RE was aiming at hunting down all those who have not yet got hit by the bullet fired from the barrels of Meteors, Classics, Scrams & Himalayans of the world.Why Bangkok? Because it is a huge market in itself, and there were journalists from as far as Columbia, there is a visa on arrival, and there is a RE manufacturing unit as well. Bangkok is a vibrant city which offers to crawl traffic and open roads at the same time. And of course, if you are tired of riding, you can book yourself a Thai massage and go back riding again!
The propositions of Hunter were quite clear, targeting city dwellers of 125- 250 cc riders, first-time riders who were otherwise bewildered by the heaviness of a classic Royal Enfield. Riders, who can cruise around the city with a lighter and more affordable RE swag.
Design and Styling:
Well, Hold on. I am not biased when I say – the Hunter is the best-looking motorcycle in its segment, especially in the Rebel blue colour scheme. Moreover, RE has done an exceptional job with the graphics and paint scheme. Hunter is something unlike that we haven’t seen from Royal Enfield before. It’s an attitude. The modern-retro styling grows on you with its unique clues such as round-shaped headlamp and taillight unit along with round-shaped turn indicators. Hunter has two variants – Retro and Metro. The Retro is the base variant with 17-inch spoked wheels with slimmer tyres, a disc-drum brake setup with a single channel ABS, and a basic digital-analogue cluster. In comparison, its top-end Metro variant gets all bells and whistles with a 17-inch tubeless tyre setup with comparatively wider tyres. A disc brake setup with a 300mm disc at the front and 270mm disc at the rear with dual-channel ABS. It also gets a premium instrument cluster with a navigation pot on the Metro Rebel variant. On top of that, you get various colour liveries to choose from in the Metro variant. That sums up as a Metro variant to be the most viable version to get into your garage. Here’s a big miss, there are no chrome inserts that we Indians are obsessed with. However, the all-blacked out with contrasting colour shades look quite attractive. The weight of the Hunter is down to 181kg, which is 14kgs lighter than Classic 350 and 10kgs lighter than Meteor, making it one of the most lightweight bikes built on a J-series platform. All thanks to newly designed alloy wheels and the use of plastic mudguards. The tank capacity remained unchanged at 13 litres. The seat height of 800mm is comfortable enough for the average Indian commuter. The seat layout is also slightly different in both variants, with the tubular grab rails in the Retro and split grab rails in the Metro variant. It’s unmistakably a good-looking motorcycle, which can turn heads around.
Engine and Performance
The Hunter hunts on with the same 350cc engine that churns out 20.2bhp of power and 27Nm of torque. However, the engine has been tuned to offer more low-end grunt and is mated to a 5-speed gearbox which is smooth and slick, and the gear ratios are actually well calibrated. The gears have shorter throws. The clutch is on the heavier side, which was a little cumbersome to ride in the heavy traffic of Bangkok. Overall, the powertrain has good feedback and is easy to modulate. Well, the inclusion of a slip and assist function would have been nicer, but that would bump the cost of the Hunter.
RE could have managed the heat dissipation a lot better. I felt the engine’s heat quite significantly, especially at the crawling speed. Highway cruising is something you would do without a sweat. I touched 100km/hr of speed with a lot of confidence. Moreover, there are minimal vibrations and lower to higher band transmission is smooth, and I enjoyed cruising at the 80km/hr mark. Short exhaust, which I am not a big fan of when looked at from the design perspective, has a role to play for the right centre of gravity. The foot pegs are aptly positioned, and I didn’t scrap it when riding it hard on the go-kart track.
The Hunter 350 gets Telescopic 41mm forks at the front and twin tube emulsion shock absorbers with 6-step adjustable preload at the rear. I am 81kg heavy, and the suspension is not well tuned enough to provide a comfortable riding experience.Whereas, in Classic 350, the suspension absorbs the undulation and bumps quite confidently enough. I wish Hunter would have a better suspension tuning to enhance the riding experience.
The Hunter is not just lighter but also more compact than the Classic 350 and Meteor. With 1370mm of wheelbase, it is 20-30mm shorter than the Classic and Meteor. With the reduced weight and wheelbase, Hunter has become agile and nimble to handle. Moreover, ergonomics is also comfortable enough for long-distance cruising. The chassis geometry, handlebars, and footpegs are mounted spot-on. And the new riders jumping into RE DNA won’t be that nervous because it’s comparatively lightweight than any other bikes on sale under the RE portfolio.
Metro variant comes with a complete disc setup with a dual channel ABS, and the Retro comes up with a disc-drum setup with a single channel ABS. And the braking in the Metro variant feels progressive. However, for urgent braking, you need to squeeze the lever quite hard .
After hunting with this Hunter for more than 200km through open stretches and jam-packed traffic of Bangkok, I am convinced enough that this Hunter is capable enough to hunt on the 200-250cc motorcycle segment. Prices starting from Rs1.49lakhs to Rs 1.69 lakhs makes Hunter the compelling choice for whoever wishes to own the legacy of the RE brand. Honestly, this is something not worthy enough as its elder sibling Classic 350. Hunter with a 250cc engine proposition would have been an ideal choice, especially with fuel efficiency, But RE does not yet make one. Nevertheless, it’s still an attractive bet in terms of value for money offering. I wish suspension should be softened a bit to provide better ride quality. In addition, when ridden at a slow speed, the engine heats up, downgrading the experience. Royal Enfield has done a tremendous job building the bike from the ground up, and you might just bite the “Hunter Bullet “and get a “Classic” taste of a Royal Enfield.
|Tyres||Tubed, 110/80-17(F) 120/80-17(R)||Tubeless,110/70-17(F) 140/70-17 ®|
|Brakes||300mm disc (F) , Drum (R)||300mm disc(F) , 270mm disc(R)|
|Price||Rs 1.49 lakhs||Rs 1.64- 1.69 lakhs|
Engine – 349cc, single cylinder
Power-20.2bhp , Torque-27Nm
Transmission – 5-speed
Price- Rs 1.69lakhs