23 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Review
Here’s a dense and compact example of a bike that you could consider your first, or your second, or third. We could go on.
Earl Lee on Apr 25, 2023
Royal Enfield has long been a cornerstone brand in the motorcycling industry, not because it makes the most cutting-edge stuff, but because it has the gall and the courage to remain old and true to its roots. With most of the MotoDeal team being advanced riders, we often get spoiled by technology and the latest and greatest powertrains from manufacturers from all over the world. However, sometimes it’s nice to take a breather once in a while and stretch your leg over a “chill” bike.
The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is one such model that was loaned out to us recently, and it stands as one of the most sedate riding experiences in the 300cc class. Barring other models with similar displacements, the Enfield makes its mark as a stylish and very well-built machine for the discerning motorcyclist, so how does it fare while out on a ride? Let me tell you more about it.
- Handsome retro looks
- Forgiving and friendly engine
- Characterful thump and well-mannered vibrations
I have to hand it to Royal Enfield. I’m not a total fan of the retro design, but I do appreciate the detailing and the commitment to keeping true to the brand’s roots. That’s on full display here, even if there are some more modern chassis-building techniques at play in the Hunter. The frame is not like your traditional backbone motorcycle, in fact, it’s quite modern from a geometry standpoint, but more on that later. The result is a bike that looks the part of an old motorcycle, but without the modernity showing too much to make it feel like it’s inauthentic.
There are no LEDs in sight, and normally we’d knock points off the board if it were any other brand, but this is Royal Enfield, all the brand has known is halogen, and it would probably be a disservice to its loyal user base if all of a sudden the brand wanted to go more neo than retro. It’s the paint job that has me a little perplexed since it’s Royal Enfield. While I will admit that I have a bunch of friends that are real retro riders, opting to ride on nothing but old-looking motorcycles, there are only a few right now that are in my age bracket, between 20 to 30 years old.
Royal Enfield is positioning this motorcycle as a young rider’s ride. Not only is that evidenced by rather modern graphics that you can get from the dealership, but also with regard to this bike’s approachability. While it doesn’t totally appeal to me, I get where the brand is coming from. I see that Royal Enfield has dug a hole in the market where nostalgia is king, now the challenge of attracting the new breed of riders is the problem and one that I think the Hunter has a chance of doing. Personally, I did start on a bike that is similar to this and it’s likely that some beginner riders can as well. For the experienced and more mature rider, the Hunter can also work, but perhaps the Classic or the Meteor can too if highway legality is not a priority.
Royal Enfield’s J platform is quite interesting, in that it has some rather modern geometry, but in a package that looks old. The engine is cradled just like a Continental GT 650 or Interceptor 650, but the headstock is more directly linked to the rear suspension. The result is a frame that is more rigid than traditional steeds resulting in handling that feels less aloof and more precise, well, for a retro motorcycle. With that in play, I was able to enjoy a little bit of cornering with the Enfield, not knee-dragging stuff, but enough fun to get the tires on the sidewall preluding to a quick direction change. Low-speed maneuvers were also really easy on this motorcycle. Paired with the forgiving powertrain and the easy-to-work clutch, I was flying through traffic and commuting quickly though. While it’s not a bike that I’d take to the race track or thoroughly enjoy on a twisty road, you might find that it’s not a total slug in the corners and while doing quick direction changes. However, it’s still not a sport bike or a sport naked, let’s get that out of the way. It’s way more relaxed than a thoroughly modern bike of that class, especially in the 400cc segment of bikes. I think that RE has done enough to keep it retro, but added just a bit of excitement into the mix. The result is a formula that gives you a bit of leeway if you’re into riding spiritedly. I think, however, that the model is a little too heavy at 181 kg to be a first-choice beginner bike. The model is a little bit of a handful to move in the garage. So much so that it rivals my personal big bikes in terms of weight. It doesn’t feel heavy while moving, but it does while you’re stopped or trying to stop it from falling, which is another point of consideration if you are buying this as your beginner bike. Although, the seat height of 790mm is quite good and Pinoy-friendly.
I just wish that the power from the 350cc single-cylinder engine would turn me on, though. Given my experience with more powerful bikes, I wasn’t blown away at all by this motor, but that’s not the point. What I’m trying to say is that if power, torque, and top speed are your primary concerns for a bike of this class, then look elsewhere. However, if riding, cruising, and ease of use are what you value the most on your hunt for a new bike, then keep reading. I like how the engine is very easy to use. The clutch is a bit on the heavy side, but the engine is so forgiving and willing to be lugged that feathering the clutch doesn’t have to be done all the time. The problem with most sporty motorcycles is that the engine likes to be wrung out, but that is not the case here. The Enfield has no problem getting lugged, and its characterful exhaust and induction notes are a great change of pace for an adrenaline-addicted motorcyclist like myself. While this bike was in my garage, I found myself wanting to use it simply because of the engine’s character. Sometimes, it’s fun to go slow, and perhaps the Hunter is the most characterful way to do it.
With just 20 HP and with 28 Nm of torque, it’s way underpowered for a 300-plus-cc motorcycle. With 346ccs of displacement, air-cooled and mated to a five-speed manual transmission, it’s not going to win any spec wars, but perhaps that’s not the point. Digging into the specs of a Royal Enfield will only leave you disappointed or enticed to swing a leg over if you are a beginner. Riding isn’t all about specs, sometimes it’s about how you ride. With 20 horsepower, you can get up to speed eventually, and that was the case with the Hunter. It’s quite slow in its upper rev ranges but it offers plenty of pick-up from a low speed. Friendly power delivery and a luggable engine mean that it is a very approachable motorcycle for pretty much anyone who just wants to ride. The low-end grunt also lets this bike filter easily through crowded city streets without much shifting. In fact, you can lug it in second gear while filtering through traffic with a bit of clutching in and out. The brakes, on the other hand, are a split between good and bad. The front is a bit forgettable, with a friendly bite and a progressive feel, but it’s not confidence-inspiring. The rear, conversely, is a little touchy but easy to modulate. I found myself using the rear a lot on the Hunter 350, especially in traffic. The front brake needs some extra bite, so perhaps a better set of front brake pads would do the trick, probably.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Almost Beats Classic 350 – Aug 2022 Sales
After many months of leaked images and teasers, Royal Enfield finally launched the new Hunter 350 in India last month. It is presented in three variants of Retro Factory, Metro Dapper and Metro Rebel. Retro Factory trim is priced at Rs. 1,49,900 while Metro Dapper and Metro Rebel are priced at Rs. 1,63,900 and Rs. 1,68,900 respectively.
Launch took place on 7th Aug, meaning it did not have a full month in sales. Despite that, Hunter 350 has become the 2nd best-selling Royal Enfield in Aug 2022. Classic 350 continues to remain the No 1 RE in Aug 2022.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Sales Aug 2022
Royal Enfield has sold 18,197 units of the new Hunter 350 in Aug 2022. This was in the domestic market. Exports too have started, as 78 units of the Hunter were exported last month. In comparison, RE’s top-selling Classic 350 registered sales of 18,993 units in the domestic market.
Together, the two REs, Classic and Hunter, have registered domestic sales of 37,190 units. Classic is just ahead of Hunter, by a margin of 796 units in Aug 2022. In all, RE sold 70,112 units last month; registering a growth of almost 53%. Of these, about 63k were sold in the domestic market (61% growth) while approx 7k units were exported (6% growth).
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is an Urban Scrambler that is positioned on RE’s J-series platform. It rides on a shorter wheelbase and gets 17 inch alloy wheels fitted with 100/80 rubber at front and 120/80 at its rear. This lighter and more compact framework offers better agility, maneuverability and handling on city road conditions. In terms of design, the new Hunter 350 Retro gets a halogen tail lamp, oval shaped turn signals, single channel ABS with disc brake in the front.
Hunter Metro trim gets dual tone colour schemes. It sports round shaped turn indicators, wide and long one-piece seat, LED tail lamps, an instrument cluster borrowed from the Meteor 350 with tripper screen and Bluetooth with smartphone connectivity and dual channel ABS. It gets 300mm and 270 mm disc brakes at the front and rear respectively and alloy wheels in a black colour scheme. Royal Enfield has also launched Genuine Motorcycle Accessories (GMA) in Suburban and Urban range, offering LED indicators, tail tidy, seat, bar-end mirrors, etc.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Specs
Both variants get a 150 mm ground clearance and 800 mm seat height while Hunter 350 Retro weighs 177 kg and is lighter as compared to the Metro variant which weighs 181 kg. Hunter 350 is available in 7 more colour options of Rebel Blue, Rebel Red, Rebel Black, Dapper Grey, Dapper Ash and Factory Silver.
RE Hunter 350 is powered by a 349cc air/oil cooled, single cylinder, J-Series engine that also powers the Meteor and Classic 350. This engine offers 20.2 HP power at 6,100 rpm and 27 Nm Torque at 4,000 rpm, mated to a 5 speed gearbox. Top speed is at 114 km/h while fuel efficiency is pegged at 36.2 km/l. Even as the new Hunter comes in with a host of new age features, customers can also customize their bike for a more personalized appeal via the Royal Enfield App.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Hits and Misses
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 becomes second best-selling RE within a month of launch
The new Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is a great platform for new riders to step into the world of big singles, as it offers a laid-back power delivery, perfect for someone to learn before owing the larger 650s, or other motorcycles. Royal Enfield has got many things right with the motorcycle, while also missing the mark on a few.
We take a look at some of the hits and misses of the new Royal Enfield Hunter 350 that make it a great motorcycle and some that could have been better.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 – Hits
The new Hunter 350 is the most affordable motorcycle in the Royal Enfield lineup and the Chennai-based motorcycle manufacturer has got the pricing right. Costing Rs 1.49 lakh (ex-showroom), the new Hunter 350 is accessible by many who want a new-age Enfield.
The new J-Series engine is smooth and reliable. We say so because, with the new J-Series engine, Royal Enfield has managed to eliminate several components that usually fail with REs. over, the engine makes 20 bhp and 27 Nm of torque, making it more than adequate for mere commutes.
17-inch alloy wheels
The 17-inch alloy wheels add to the modern motorcycle charm, as most manufacturers offer this size, and there is a wide selection of tyres. Also, the black ally wheels are wrapped in fat 110/70-17 front and 140/70-17 rear tubeless tyres.
The colour schemes offered with the new Royal Enfield Hunter 350 are eye-catching, yet subtle, complimenting the new motorcycle extremely well. The colour options are appealing to younger riders and reflect the motorcycle’s attitude very well.
Although the Hunter is RE’s entry-level offering, Royal Enfield has paid attention to offering a host of accessories to customise the Hunter 350. The new Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is the first motorcycle to get a tail tidy from the company, and apart from this, Royal Enfield offers several aesthetic, luggage, and protection accessories for the Hunter 350.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350 – Misses
The spoke wheels offered on the base Retro variants are also 17-inch ones, wrapped in 110/80-17 and 120/80-17 tyres. Royal Enfield could have offered a 19-inch front and an 18-inch rear set-up to cater to customers who want to take it off-road. This might put it directly in the line of the Himalayan and the Scram 411 but still won’t pose a threat to sales. At the least, RE should have offered 18-inch spoke wheels at both ends.
The instrument cluster on the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Retro looks like a last-minute add-on. Instead, Royal Enfield should have offered a simple analogue speedo with a white dial, something like what was offered with the older AVL Machismo 350s.
Cost cutting was primary with the new Hunter motorcycles, however, Royal Enfield should have offered LED headlights with the Metro variants. This would have given the motorcycle a modern touch, especially considering that its closest competitors, the Honda CB 350 RS and the TVS Ronin both get LED headlights.
This is another major miss for Royal Enfield as the motorcycle maker should have given the Metro and Retro versions disc brakes at both ends with a dual-channel ABS. Currently, the Hunter 350 Metro variant gets disc brakes front and rear, while the more affordable Retro gets a drum brake at the rear.
What Royal Enfield has done with the new Hunter 350 is give the market a new motorcycle, turning a new page in terms of how a new customer would look at the company. In that terms, the Royal Enfield Hunter 350, especially the Metro variants do not disappoint. It offers the modern, urban motorcycle one wants with an iconic name.
However, the Retro version seems like it’s put together to keep the motorcycle affordable, skipping out on a rear disc brake, an instrument cluster from the parts bin, and spoke wheels that offer no practical use.
Instead, the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Retro version should have been equipped with 18-inch spoke wheels (at least), knobbly tyres, disc brakes front and rear, a simple analogue speedo, and an exhaust routed through the side like the Enfield Woodsman to take on a retro scrambler look — worthy of the ‘Hunter’ name.
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