Royal Enfield Bikes is one of the most popular British brands in history, and Indians have been buying them like nobody’s business, right since the first model came to India. A little more than a decade back, Royal Enfield came up with an engine platform that would eventually see the bike as one of India’s favourites, making it a unique offering for us Indians. Its Unit Construction Engine found its way on to Classic twins: the 350 and 500 models. And as it turned out, the Classic 350 happened to be the better selling of the two, eventually making it a huge runaway success for the manufacturer.
The years and generation may have passed, but the Royal Enfield Classic 350 remains more-or-less the same motorcycles it was known to be, very many years ago. It offers the best across all parameters, and in 2019, Royal Enfield managed to get 6,56,651 bikes off the showroom floors – and a major chunk of that huge number belongs to the Classic 350. And so, naturally, Royal Enfield decided to launch an updated version of the bike to help it comply with the recent BS6 norms, having come into effect. We get astride the bike to tell you what it’s like.
Still a classic?
The looks of the Classic 350 cannot have you mistaken for knowing it as anything other than Royal Enfield bikes. It retains the circular headlight, the round, hand-painted tank, the curved from and rear fenders, the chrome-finished engine and of course, the wire-spoked wheels. It is also sold in some new colours, like Stealth Black and Chrome Black. The rest of the colour themes include Gunmetal Grey, Signals Stormrider Sand, Signals Airborne Blue and Classic Black. The bike we’re riding is finished in Chrome Black, and it looks nothing short of ‘classic’ in terms of appeal.
So, what’s different?
Thanks to move to BS6, Royal Enfield has ensured an improvement in the smoothness and braking of the motorcycle. At low speeds, it does absorb the bumps well, and the exhaust note is now a lot softer than before. Retardation duties seemed to have improved in terms of progressiveness and it induces more confidence in the rider, however.
The engine updates bring with it fuel-injection, and the brand has tuned the engine to develop 19bhp and 28Nm of torque, and manages to be quicker than the bike it replaces. The bike doesn’t feel fast in any way, but there is a difference in throttle response. It also features a new catalytic converter, which further adds some weight to the bike, weighing in at 194kgs.
You can hit the sweet spot in the rev range at about 60kph, while maxing out at top speed of 80kph. The engine also likes to be revved, and you’ll get accustomed to the pace for as long as you don’t push too hard. But Royal Enfield owners have never considered performance a priority. The Classic 350 manages its heft rather seamlessly, and it also feel well balanced and a breeze to ride in traffic. That, however, isn’t to say that it is not heavy – in fact, we’d never recommend this motorcycle to first-time bike riders.
Buy one, then?
Most of the bike remains the same – right from the frame to its suspension, and so the bike continues to provide its rider with a mellow ride and performance that best fits a nice cruise down the highway. Prices for the new motorcycle start at ₹ 1.78 lakh, making it that bit pricier than the BS4 model. It may have improved in terms of refinement, but it does come with its own shortcomings. The vibrations, for one, filter through and performance of the bike makes one crave for something light and sporty.
But nothing really beats the charm of such a bike. And while this is most likely to be the last update it will receive, there’s an all-new model, based on an all-new platform, which is sure to be modern and is mostly likely to have improved certain aspects of the bike. The Meteor 350 has already been introduced in our market, and the next-generation Classic 350 will be based on its platform. For those of you who love the ‘Classic’, fear not, for the moniker is here to stay for the future. Also, grab the latest info on new bikes in India, only at autoX.