Royal Enfield Classic 350:Review

Royal Enfield and Classic 350 are those words which don’t need any definitions or introduction. Though around 30,000 new Classic 350 comes on the streets of India every month, every time you see a person standing next to you on traffic light riding them, you give a look that “Oh Man! How manly it feels.” So reviewing a motorcycle in 2016; that too having technology next to nothing in it is a challenge. And here we took it! Let’s dive into Royal Enfield Classic 350 review.

Before you jump in the review, make sure you visit this: SHOULD YOU BUY A ROYALENFIELD?

Styling:-

Styling and design are not changed since ages, but the longer you see the bike, more attractive it becomes to your eyes. Big round headlight with a basic speedometer in the front; big retro looking fuel tank, giant and comfy rider’s seat, a big 346cc engine below tank and body coloured fenders. What else you need in a retro styled classic bike? Oh yes, chrome touches are also here and there!

Stock exhaust isn’t the most attractive piece on the bike; though you can take a look at a whole lot of factory made exhaust options and swap it. Front and rear wheels are spokes and not the alloys, so there isn’t any discussion about how good or bad they are!

Classic 350 styling
Classic 350 styling

A single disc at the front and drum at rear maintains its classy looks. On the right you get an oval shaped body coloured box, behind it there is your air-box and air-filter lives there. On the left side battery is located with triangle box that screams it’s a CLASSIC 350. Huge carburettor can be seen below front seat, and it looks huge and cool.

Classic 350 air box and air-filter
Classic 350 air box and air-filter

Speedo maintains the touch of past, but it actually remained a design of past and is useless! More on this later!

Classic 350 speedometer
Classic 350 speedometer

Engine, Gearbox and Performance:-

346cc single cylinder 4-stroke engine with twin spark ignition and air cooling is huge. 70mm x 90mm bore x stroke is really huge for single cylinder and you can feel the torque produced by that! Engine compression ratio is 8.5:1 and thus you don’t need greater RON premium fuel in it all the time. Engine has twin spark plug set up, thus engine knocking is reduced, which was a common issue in past. Somehow little bit of misfire is present in it till date.

Classic 350 engineblock
Classic 350 engineblock

Engine produces maximum power figures of 19.8bhp @5250rpm and maximum torque is 28Nm @4000rpm. As these jaw dropping torque figures suggests, bike will actually pull you forward like Mohammad Ali punches your face. Whichever gear you are in, bike will pull you ahead. Though in real world, you can only feel that adrenaline rushing pulling, on the other side at speed spectrum and pick up timings, you’ll remain wanting more.

Turn the ignition key, switch on the ignition switch and press starter button to turn engine alive. Cold engine will start with some khat-khat tik-tik sound and then will settle in idle rpms without making unwanted sounds. Twist the throttle slowly and engine will react, give a sudden twist on throttle and engine response will lag a bit. As RE350 is not using overhead camshaft to open/close valves, so more components means engine reaction will remain slow.

Clutch slip is not there but engagement of clutch is not consistent; you can’t get fixed point when clutch will exactly get engaged.

Comes with 5 speed content mesh gearbox! Now changing gear is almost next to easy; with riding boots, gear shift is easy, but if you’re wearing flip-flops, stuff goes little on thud-thud side. False neutral is present in lower gears, when you change gear and release the clutch with throttle twist, engine will rev suddenly and no gear is engaged. Little bit of practice may help you but person like me who switched from smooth gearbox may face little problem!

Vibrations?:-

Accept it or not, in higher rev range you will feel vibrations. Unlike other common commuter bike vibrations, these vibrations on RE CL350 are not bearable at all for longer drives. Okay Classic runs well within the speed limits and that’s why you can give your hands a relaxing twisting movement while driving with alternate hand, though not too good to drive at least 350cc Classic on long drives.

For example while riding motorcycle on mid to higher rpms; you won’t be able to see what’s going on behind you via rear view mirror! In a classic bike vibrations are fine and that feels like a diesel generator is running between your legs and ready to explode.

Handling:-

If your heart tells you that buy a RE, don’t think about handling at all. But if your mind interferes that how will be the handling of my machine?-then understand that you can’t ride a CL350 like other smaller capacity sports bike in market.

Classic 350 weighs near 180KGs with fluids, and that weight with only one disc at the front for braking and drum at rear, your chances of stopping the machine from 100-0 in an emergency situation is next to zero. And it is not the weight of the bike only that matters, stock tyres doesn’t offer best grip, too!

Classic 350 front looks
Classic 350 front looks

On the fly handling is above average, because of the weight and sitting position, cross winds on highway or high-speed truck overtake won’t make your ride move here and there. Cruise between 40-80kmph and you’ll have comfort like sitting on a bean bag at home, cross 80kmph mark and vibrations will come to make you uncomfortable. Though those vibrations are not alarming and you can easily make way up to 90-95kmph, but then you won’t feel relaxed after riding more than 60km!

Talking about turning, obviously you can’t lean in corners; you’ll find yourself planning corner turns, 90° turns can’t be done without slowing down. On the other side, highway maneuvers can be easily tackled.

Comfort:-

Front (rider’s) seat is the most comfortable seat I’ve ever been on motorcycle, period. Leave motorcycle suspension, RE provides separate seat springs, that absorbs almost all the so called “well maintained Indian highways!” Sitting posture is straight up and handlebars are well spaced so you don’t’ have to lean forward. Take your machine on solo ride and you’ll just find yourself relaxed.

Neither sitting posture nor seats make you tired; vibration, (not so cool) engine + exhaust sound, lot of vibration, continuous thinking about “will my bike stop on time if I apply brakes or not?” makes you tired.

Royal Enfield Classic 350 Sitting Posture
Royal Enfield Classic 350 Sitting Posture

I myself have done 350+km one day ride and believe me or not, in first 100km my mind told my heart not to buy a RE at all.

Rear seat have a different painful story with it. If the rider is fat like me and you’re sitting as a pillion, you’ll have to sit with legs open wide because rear seat is at the same level of rider. By opening your legs open wide; your body will shift its weight on your bottom bones and that’s really painful. Really really painful on long rides. Foam of pillion seat becomes very soft and after some riding, it won’t remain supportive enough; so you’ll find yourself making painful expressions!

Classic 350 sitting with pillion
Classic 350 sitting with pillion

Ownership experience?:-

Owning a RE CL350 is now so common that every tom-dick-harry is getting one. Sales figures say that every month around 29-30k CL350s come on road, and if you can’t relate figures, they are f-load of numbers. Spending 140Grand on a outdate though almost young machine that works as an adrenaline pump to make you feel alive.

Next to zero “feel good factor” from RE after delivery. Okay, they arrange trips and gathering programs, but almost all the RE service centres aren’t great enough. Nowadays RE’s approach to end users is changed though I would say bikes are perfect not the company, IMHO!

If you don’t take care of your machine, rusting is a big issue. Leave rust and all aside, parts aren’t 100% reliable. You can read other’s opinions about it too on various forums and sites.

Cost of ownership isn’t hard on pocket until you break some important parts. Oil change intervals, service times and stuff are pretty normal on these retro bikes.

Let everyone buy REs, people will always turn their heads to look at you.

Final verdict:-

If your heart takes all the decision, go ahead and buy RE, if you take decisions by mind, think twice before making a booking. As there is next to zero tech on it, no proper fuel gauge, no trip-meters, no fuel injection, etc. 13L fuel tank is not at all preferable for long rides and fuel efficiency isn’t that great.

So buy it if your heart says yes, DON’T if your mind thinks over it!

So decide wisely. Enjoy motoring!

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