The moment you start up the bike, the difference from the older model is noticeable instantly. This one settles into a thumping yet smooth idle. Although it has the same relaxed character, the acceleration feels more energetic and livelier, especially at city speeds. There’s ample low-end torque to pull off easy overtakes. Reaching the speeds of 80-85kmph is not a sluggish affair but post that, it takes its own sweet time to reach the 100kmph mark. And if you keep on gunning it, it maxes out at around 114kmph. Progressing through the gears isn’t a task anymore as the gears shift with a slick feel and much lesser effort now. And this proves to be a boon in the city. However, the clutch starts feeling heavy after a point, especially when you spend long hours in traffic.
Vibration was a phenomenon that came as a part and parcel for the buyers of the Classic 350 previously. But I am glad to report that’s not the case anymore. Guess what, it can now cruise at 100kmph all day long without giving you the fear of its panels falling off. You only feel a minor buzz on the handlebar and footpegs beyond 80kmph or if you go wringing it in every gear.
Similar to its design, Royal Enfield has also tried to keep the commanding riding position of the Classic 350 unchanged. The only small revision in its riding triangle is that the handlebar has now been moved slightly forward to shift the rider’s weight at the front, which basically contributes to better handling. The seat has also been worked upon and the design and cushioning are different than before.
As for my experience, the overall ergonomics felt comfortable for a good amount of time. But on a long ride, after about an hour, my tail bone started hurting a bit and the pain only kept on increasing with time. After around two hours of continuous riding, taking a break became crucial. This was mainly an issue with the design and cushioning of the seat. So, it’s great in the city or shorter rides, but if you plan to go touring, you might want to install an aftermarket touring seat.
On the brighter side, all the hardware changes have resulted in a drastic improvement over the previous-generation model. At 195 kilograms (kerb), the Classic is a pretty heavy motorcycle and you can definitely feel that weight while changing directions. But it comes across as a more obedient and confidence-inspiring package while making way through traffic. And it’s the same story around twisties. Even if you push it around corners, the bike doesn’t really get upset as the rear end doesn’t squirm as much.
These improvements are also courtesy of better weight distribution than before. It’s two per cent heavier at the front now with the distribution being 46 per cent at the front and 54 per cent at the rear. That’s why it feels easier to move around on the main stand.
It also sheds speed quicker! The front, in particular, sheds speed much quicker by delivering a stronger bite and feel. To be precise, Royal Enfield claims the stopping distance has been reduced by 21 per cent. As for the rear, it feels way too soft for our liking, but the company says it has been tuned as per the riding style of most Classic users.
Moving on to the ride quality, the Classic 350 irons out minor road imperfections, small potholes, and stones efficiently. But it’s only when you hit a nasty speed breaker or a deep pothole that you feel the firmness of its suspension, even at slower speeds. The rear end literally bobs you around if you don’t slow down enough. And things remain the same with a pillion on board.
For those who are curious to know about its mileage, the 2021 Classic 350 returned around 31kmpl, which is decently fuel-efficient. With its 13-litre fuel tank fully topped up, you can do about 403km before having to take a fuel stop.