Royal Enfield Classic 350: Road Test Review
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Has the comprehensive overhaul resulted in the RE Classic 350 losing its iconic charm?
After dominating the classic motorcycle segment for over 12 years, Royal Enfield has given the Classic 350 a complete overhaul. The RE Classic 350 is the brand's bread and butter product, and it gave the retro motorcycle segment in India a new lease of life. The Classic 350 was never a perfect product, in fact it had a number of flaws. Despite them, the Classic 350 was able to connect with Desi bikers and it’s among the most aspirational two-wheelers on sale in India. With the next-generation Classic 350, Royal Enfield plans to enthrall a new generation of buyers and make sure its rivals are kept in check. Has Royal Enfield fixed the issues with the old Classic and more importantly can the 2021 Classic 350 scale new heights just like its predecessor?
- Engine refinement has improved a lot.
- Revised ergonomics make it more comfortable.
- New chassis makes it easier to ride in traffic.
- Doesn’t have the top-end performance of the Meteor 350.
- New footpegs foul with your legs in traffic and while parking.
- Thump of the old engine is missing.
- The Classic 350 finally gets a fuel gauge.
- Tripper can be retrofitted and is useful.
- Fit and finish of the bike has improved tremendously.
Design & Features
- The first thing you will notice is how similar the new Classic 350 looks to its predecessor and this is no coincidence.
- RE designers wanted to maintain the old-school charm of the older bike and have not used a single LED element on the 2021 Classic 350.
- The changes are so subtle that hardly anybody gave our media unit a second glance even though we were riding it a week prior to the launch.
- However, if you look closely, the lines of all the panels are different, the fuel tank shape is wider, the fuel cap is fish fitting, seats are different, taillight is redesigned and the mudguards are wider.
- The 2021 Classic 350 also receives a new instrument cluster with a digital display for fuel gauge, tripmeter, odometer and clock.
- Even the switchgear has been redesigned and the flick switches are the same as the ones found on the Royal Enfield Meteor 350.
- Another major improvement is quality. The paint finish is top notch, weld quality is impressive, panel gaps are tight and the wires have been neatly packaged. In terms of fit and finish, the Classic 350 is a proper modern bike.
- The updates here too are subtle, but functional.
- The handlebar has been lowered, slightly curved back and the rider now sits closer to it. This has made the riding posture upright, comfortable and you feel more connected with the bike.
- Battery box too has been redesigned and this has made the bike slightly slimmer, which will help shorter riders.
- RE will also be offering a low seat option that drops the seat height by a further 32mm.
- One concern are the new spring-loaded foot pegs that foul with your legs while parking or paddling through traffic.
- Pillion seat too is very spacious and the padding isn’t too soft which will increase comfort while touring.
Engine & Performance
- The biggest update on the new Classic 350 is the addition of a new motor that we first saw on the Meteor 350.
- First thing that you will notice is the engine refinement which has massively improved and the new bike is also much faster than the previous bike with a sharper throttle response.
- It also has a better low and mid-range performance that makes commuting fun and effortless.
- Clutch action is also lighter and while the 5-speed gearbox unit works well, it could have been slightly better.
- You can cross triple digit speeds on the bike, but the Classic 350 is most happy cruising around 90kmph.
- One might think that the 2021 Classic 350 is basically a Meteor with a different set of clothes. That’s not the case.
- Royal Enfield engineers have tuned the motor differently to give it a relaxed feel as experienced in its predecessor.
- Yes, it doesn’t have the top-end grunt of the Meteor 350, and you will need to downshift for overtaking.
- The relaxed and stress free nature of the motor makes touring a joy.
- Exhaust note isn’t thumpy like the cast iron motor, but it’s pleasant, deep and bassy. The intake growl when you open the throttle is something riders will appreciate.
- In terms of fuel efficiency there isn’t much of a difference between the new and the old Classic 350.
- However, considering the improvement made in performance and refinement, the numbers of the new bike is impressive.
- However, fuel tank capacity has been reduced by 0.5 litres which will affect the overall range of the 2021 RE Classic 350.
Ride, Handling & Braking
- Apart from the new engine, the 2021 Classic 350 also gets a new chassis.
- While the kerb weight is the same as the old bike, the balance of the new chassis makes the new bike feel much lighter and you can hustle the bike through traffic.
- The frame is very communicative and the bike feels confident and rock solid on mountain twisties.
- Suspension hardware has also been revised with fatter fork, increased suspension travel and revised spring rates.
- The result is that the new Classic 350 feels composed on broken roads and undulations at slow speed, however at high speeds one has to be a bit cautious.
- Ground clearance has also been increased which should make your Ladakh journey a bit more easy.
- Braking hardware has also been updated with larger rotors and the braking performance has improved a lot.
- Yes, it does lack a bit of initial bite, but the feel and feedback through the levers are on point.
Price & Variants
- Prices for the new Classic 350 start at Rs 1.84 lakh and it undercuts the Meteor 350. However, the Chrome variant is priced over the Meteor 350 and we feel RE has been a bit greedy.
- Pricing aside, Royal Enfield has delivered with the new Classic 350 and how!
- It was very easy for the brand to overdo the iconic Classic 350, but they have managed to find the right balance and the updates have been done only where required.
- With the new bike, Royal Enfield has ironed out the issues with the Classic 50 UCE such as refinement, performance and quality.
- What makes the 2021 Royal Enfield Classic 350 a great bike is the fact that RE engineers and designers have maintained the charming DNA of its predecessor but without the niggles.
- For this very reason, we feel the new RE Classic 350 is the best retro-styled roadster on sale in India and it’s a worthwhile successor to an iconic bike.