It was in September 2021 that we welcomed the new Royal Enfield Classic 350 into our long-term fleet. Now, after riding it for more than a year in varying conditions, covering nearly 14,000kms, we have bid farewell to the motorcycle. While we have already jotted down our thoughts about it on multiple occasions before, it’s time to squeeze everything in one last time to summarize our experience with the motorcycle.
Royal Enfield Classic 350 Long Term Review: Conclusion
Things we liked
The engine of the Classic 350 is one of the most charming elements of the bike. A part of RE’s new J platform, this 349cc, air/oil-cooled unit is a gem of a mill, mainly in terms of character, refinement, and tractability. While Royal Enfield has brilliantly retained the traditional, old-school thump, the vibrations are almost non-existent, especially until 90-100kmph. Plus, the fact that it can do speeds as low as 30-35kmph in fifth gear without any reluctance makes it effortless to ride at a low pace.
Accompanying the likeable engine is a fuss-free gearbox. Although it’s not absolutely slick in terms of shifting, the cogs transition without much effort, with a long and assuring throw. Notably, just like almost everything else, the gearbox of the new Classic is better than its predecessor by a significant margin.
Another aspect of the Classic that’s welcoming is the riding stance it offers. While it continues to be an upright and neutral affair, as was the case with the older model, the handlebar has been moved slightly ahead which makes the rider bend forward just a touch. That transfers the weight more on the front resulting in better weight distribution and handling. So, except for the stock seat, which needs better cushioning, the overall riding triangle is quite comfortable, even for longer rides.
Stability and composure are other strong weapons in the Classic’s arsenal. Although the ride quality of the bike is on the firmer side, it never feels unstable or nervous, even when ridden at speeds of over 100kmph. And if you cross a speed bump or a big pothole without slowing down, the bike continues to remain planted and composed. It’s a similar story while taking on corners. Enter the sharp or sweeping bends with smooth and gradual inputs and the Classic holds its line without feeling wobbly. However, not to forget, tipping it into corners requires some muscling, courtesy of its 195kg kerb weight and top-heavy nature.
Now, looks might be subjective, but I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t like how the Classic looks. It’s arguably the purest retro-looking motorcycle in its segment. With its clean and rounded design lines accompanied by generous chrome (in select colour variants), the Classic shows off its British roots unmistakably. It’s alluring and proportionate from whichever angle you at it.
Things we didn't like
Be it pushing it out of the parking area or trudging along in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the 195kg kerb weight of the Classic always makes its presence felt. It’s also a bit demanding when putting it on the main stand. Moreover, since it’s slightly top-heavy, it feels slightly tippy while walking around. However, it’s just a matter of time before one gets used to these traits of the motorcycle.
The Classic could also do with a lighter clutch. This comes across as a bane particularly in traffic when you have to use it more frequently than on the highway. Also, despite getting the bike serviced in a timely manner, the clutch had gotten heavier over a period of time.
Another area of improvement is the brakes. While the bike comes to a halt quicker than the previous-generation trim, there’s still scope for a better bite from the front disc and more feel from the lever. Having said that, both the front and rear have the right amount of progression which is a plus for newer riders.
We also observed minor quality issues in our test bike. In our previous reports, we have already talked about the mirrors not staying in the set position on the highway. Now, after a year of usage, we observed rusting in certain parts like the stem of the turn indicators, mirrors, and around the bezel of the console. One reason for this is the all-year humidity in Mumbai which makes the metal more prone to corrosion. However, a year is too short a period for this to happen. Nevertheless, Royal Enfield has come a long way in terms of quality and we never found components rattling or coming loose even after long, arduous rides.
Furthermore, while the Classic is sorted in terms of riding triangle, the cushioning and design of the stock seat need to be better. This is one aspect we have complained about after every long ride. While the seat feels pampering initially, the backside starts getting sore after about two hours and spending all day in it becomes troublesome. Well, one can swap it with RE’s accessory touring seat, just like us, which improves the seating comfort considerably. You can read our long-ride review of the touring accessories here.
Should you buy it?
As is clear, the Royal Enfield Classic 350 isn’t deprived of flaws. However, it’s such a characterful and emotive motorcycle that you won’t shy away from embracing the limitations it comes with. That is mainly down to its elegant design, the thumping long-stroke motor, and the imposing riding stance it brings to the table. And nearly all the issues that had plagued its predecessor have been fixed in the new model. It can be your daily commuter, a companion on leisure weekend rides, and a mile-muncher on that hallowed Ladakh ride. So, if you’re out in the market for a versatile motorcycle that’s retro in the truest sense, the Classic 350 is an incredible value with prices starting from 1.90 lakh (ex-showroom).
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi