Bike-scooters/ Comparison/ Pure Motorcycling | Hero Mavrick 440 vs RE Classic 350 vs Yezdi Roadster

Pure Motorcycling | Hero Mavrick 440 vs RE Classic 350 vs Yezdi Roadster

A modern-retro warfare where two formidable forces go up against a tall, long-standing wall.

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Overview

The arrival of thoroughbred, purpose-built offerings like ADV-tourers and faired sportsbikes has hit the industry like a battering ram. Gone are the days when Indian motorcyclists had limited options because now, every genre is dripping with offerings with their own individualistic flavours. We are spoiled, it is safe to say that. However, not every motorcyclist out there wishes to kick off a rooster tail while trail hunting, or venture into the unknown… or get their knee down. There are people out there who love motorcycles because they take them places. They don’t care about the motorcycle’s outright capabilities. They care about pure motorcycling. Trundling along with gorgeous vistas passing by while being one with the motorcycle. One good look around and you would know that nothing captures the essence of pure motorcycling better than the latest crop of modern-retro motorcycles.

Ask a kid to draw a retro motorcycle. Chances are, he would most probably draw a silhouette close to the Royal Enfield Classic 350. Talk about establishing an image… or asserting dominance. Despite being served in the same old bottle, the Classic remains an intoxicating offering to this day but now, there are new wines in town. Some are trying to imitate the legacy quotient of the Classic while others serving it in a carafe. Joining the RE Classic 350 in this modern-retro warfare is the Yezdi Roadster and Hero’s Mavrick 440.

Standing next to the Classic 350, the Mavrick looks like an impostor. A bad one at that. The reason being RE’s authentic retro styling. Despite looking the same since the time it was conceived, it has been raining Classics for more than two decades. A huge feat? You bet! The Classic is honoured with the tag of reviving Royal Enfield in modern times. The rest is history… and present. Several accolades have been sung for the Classic’s design and during this comparison test as well, it stood like an emperor. Unfazed by the competition. The chrome detailing splattered across, accompanied by elements that are bona fide retro, make the Classic look like a museum on wheels. RE made huge strides in the build quality department while debuting the J platform with the Meteor 350. The Classic 350 might look the same but all the body panels are new and it shows!

In terms of retro appearance, it’s the Yezdi Roadster that comes closer to the Classic than the Mavrick. We wanted to get the Jawa 350 for the test since it would have rivaled the Classic aesthetically better than the Roadster but we aren’t complaining. Classic Legends did face some hurdles during its initial years of operation, particularly because their motorcycles felt like they had been built in a barn. Not anymore though because the Roadster feels much better than before, to look at and the way it feels as well. Tiny round LED headlamp, twin peashooter exhaust and a droplet shaped fuel tank with nicely carved knee recesses are some of the highlights. The Mavrick however, finds itself at the far end of the spectrum because the only retro bit on the Mavrick is the round LED headlamp. Apart from that, it looks like a modern motorcycle through and through. Albeit a bit bland in our opinion. While the Roadster and the Classic look a bit more special than other sets of wheels plowing on our streets, the Mavrick refuses to stand out.

It is hard to fault most of the modern motorcycles in terms of build quality and we suffered the same fate because all the three motorcycles here, feel at par with each other and it all comes down to personal preferences. For instance, I, personally, am not a huge fan of RE’s modern switchgear. Yes, it is indeed a unique layout but I would prefer function over form any day. Where the RE trumps the other two motorcycles is the cockpit view which is as gorgeous as it can be, thanks to the retainment of analogue dials. It can also be specced with RE’s tripper navigation pod. On the other hand, both the Mavrick and the Roadster get a negative LCD instrument cluster. How can we expect it to have a positive impact on the rider when the name itself is negative? Both the displays suffer from blindness under bright sunlight with the Roadster’s looking like a black piece of bezel. The Roadster also misses out on bluetooth connectivity while the Mavrick has it, accompanied by turn-by-turn navigation.

Although looks are entirely subjective, most of us agreed that the Roadster drifts away from the Classic and the Mavrick, establishing itself as the motorcycle which is bound to turn more heads. There are simply too many Classics on the roads and the Mavrick? Too simple. Moreover, it also has a ‘since 1969’ sticker plastered on the side panel. Nice? Niceee. The Roadster has a sort of reckless abandon associated with it and it works in its favour. The same philosophy is reflected in the way you sit on the motorcycle with the Roadster feeling the most unique of the lot. Its handlebar is tilted towards the rider and with its mid-set footpegs, it results in a rider’s triangle that is as unique as the motorcycle looks. The Roadster feels a bit weird at first. On the other hand, the Mavrick feels like home. It feels like a motorcycle that you’ve owned for the past several years. This was accomplished by a wide handlebar that is more ‘normal’ as compared to the Roadster or the Classic for that matter. And also, the footpegs aren’t too far behind. The Classic? You sit on it like you sit on a chair. Whether that’s a good thing or bad, that depends on the involvement that you’re seeking from your motorcycle.

Their spec sheets dictate that they have the same genre of motorcycling in mind. Clocking fast lap times? Look elsewhere. Calling forth a dust storm on trails? Who are we kidding! Saying that these motorcycles are meant to go slow, would be slightly demeaning to them because they’re decently fast. However, these motorcycles egg you on to adopt a laidback lifestyle. Not the Roadster though but we will come to that later. The Classic, as authoritative as it looks, its mindset is even more rock-solid. It doesn’t mind going a little faster, but it LOVES going slow. The new 349cc, single-cylinder thumper is devoid of vibrations and turned out to be the smoothest of the lot. Us being enthusiasts at heart, we discredited the Classic and ditched it for the Mavrick and the Roadster when two of us went on a joyride. However, piloting the Classic made it clear - it is indeed a special motorcycle. It is devoid of any top end surge because all the ponies and thrust are concealed within the low and mid range. The thump at slower speeds has propelled the Classic to the status of a cult motorcycle and we can see why. The engine is a beautiful experience which makes you forget all the other aspects of motorcycling. It doesn’t mind cruising at 90kmph all day long but after crossing the triple digit mark, the progression is slow, if not lethargic like earlier. Smooth and precise gearshifts add to its old-school charm. It is a no nonsense motorcycle when it comes to how the engine behaves. Its job is to instill emotions in the rider which are nonchalant and it excels in doing that. However, if speed is your best friend then the Classic would turn out to be a nemesis. Wringing the throttle doesn’t result in protest but it won’t make you grin in the process.

I might receive some flak for saying this but if you consider just the engine architecture and how it makes the rider feel, I believe that the Mavrick is the better thumper than the Classic. Its engine, which is shared with the H-D X440, might not be as smooth as the Classic but has oodles of character. It makes you feel all the things that you expect from the Classic but in a slightly amplified manner. The Mavrick turned out to be much faster than the Classic and certainly more comfortable doing triple digit speeds. The sixth cog, which is absent in the Classic, works like an overdrive gear in the Mavrick. It doesn’t have that much juice in the sixth gear, restricting its use to highway duties alone. The Mavrick thumps to life with a deeper exhaust note than the Classic. The dug dug is Classic’s forte but the Mavrick also has a good soundtrack to go along with it. Cruising at 100kmph is a breeze for the Mavrick, lending it better touring credentials as compared to the Classic 350. Even at those speeds, it has enough grunt left in its thumping heart to breeze past other vehicles. It might not be as smooth as the Classic but in its own right, the Mavrick is mostly vibe-free. We found the transmission to be the best of the lot with just the right amount of tactile feedback communicated to the rider’s feet.

The Yezdi Roadster still feels like a custom-built motorcycle by a few nutjobs who wanted to build a retro motorcycle but with a high-revving engine. By custom-built, we don’t mean it in a bad way because it was the Roadster which plastered a silly grin on our faces. The other two made us smile while the Roadster made us laugh. It is hungry for revs and doesn’t possess the magical low end grunt of the Mavrick and Classic but its mid range is at par with its rivals. Where it trumps the other two is the sense of involvement. While the other two motorcycles are stoned hippies, it feels the Roadster relied on synthetic recreational sources. It has a high-revving engine which rewards as much as you’re generous with the throttle. Classic Legends have made some crucial changes to its powerplant and it shows. In the presence of the Mavrick and the Classic, the Roadster still feels a little raw. There are more vibrations than the other two motorcycles but now, they seem like its character as they’re not as bothersome as they used to be earlier. Apart from a deaf or an irrational person, no one dislikes some aural drama and if that’s what you seek, the Roadster will impress with its twin peashooter exhaust. A retro motorcycle with a sprightly engine and exhausts that let out pops and crackles? The Roadster is certainly eccentric and we loved it for that.

Their rest of the body follows the same path as their beating heart. On its feet, the Classic 350 justifies why Bajaj called it an elephant. Although indirectly, the tag definitely reflects Classic's on road demeanours. Its sheer weight can be felt at all times. Not to the extent that it comes off as a scary motorcycle to live with but riding it back to back with the other two motorcycles established that the Classic is a moving piece of concrete. Every cycle part that has been utilized here, has been tuned keeping in mind that the rider would want to go slow. Out of the trio, it is the least reactive to rider’s inputs. Looking for a good horror show with jumpscares? Tip the Classic into a corner as aggressively as you can. It will get you to the other end but with soiled pants. It might not be as dynamically capable as the other two but the suspension setup makes easy work of all the undulations that we so frequently find on our roads. The Classic has the best ride quality out of the three as it glides over potholes. Another reason why you would want to ‘glide’ over potholes is because bringing the Classic to a screeching halt is another experience. Sort of scary because the brakes have absolutely no feedback, apart from feeling woodden as well.

The Roadster again stood out in terms of riding dynamics because it has the stiffest suspension setup out of the lot. While it won’t throw the rider to a different dimension while encountering undulations, the Mavrick certainly feels more composed than the Roadster and the Classic? Definitely more comfortable than the Roadster. It instills more confidence while cornering as compared to the Classic but still, something felt off. Not with the motorcycle mechanically but the way it behaves in the real world. The awkward rider’s triangle adds to this feeling. The Roadster still feels a lot more manageable and flickable around bends as compared to the Classic. The same can also be said about its braking department which is not as potent or communicative as the Mavrick but it won’t put you off with unnecessary jumpscares.

Lately, Hero has struck gold when it comes to riding dynamics because even when it comes to the Mavrick, it struck the perfect balance between involvement and ride quality. So much so that it just outshines the competition while becoming the gold standard. Its 17-inch wheels at both ends lend it naked-streetfighter-like agility while the suspension setup makes easy work of undulations. It feels supple over bumps while also doubling up as an enabler if you wish to have some fun around bends. Even the braking department bestows confidence to go faster and faster with ample feedback and bite.

At the end of one fine day of riding these beauties back to back, it couldn’t have been more clear that if someone wants to buy an authentically retro motorcycle, they will certainly knock at RE’s dealerships. Not anywhere else. Many have tried replicating its old-school formula and all of them failed. If someone wants a Classic 350, they will get the Classic 350. The Classic has crushed its competition by asserting dominance you would expect from an emperor. It still stands its ground undaunted and we can see why. Then there’s the Yezdi Roadster which would appeal to enthusiasts out there who wish to own a retro beauty, sans the laziness that comes with it. It has oodles of character to keep you smiling ear to ear. For sh*ts and giggles, the Roadster is the way to go. However, for an everyday motorcyclist who’s seeking pure motorcycling, the Hero Mavrick presents itself as the strongest contender. Its biggest and only fault being its simple looks. If you can look past that, it weaves the magic of the Classic 350 and involvement of the Roadster together, to compose a spell which is bound to enchant most of the motorcyclists out there.



TopGear Magazine July 2024