Suzuki Intruder FI vs Royal Enfield Classic 350 – Comparison Test

14 September 2018, 10:36 AM Ranjan R. Bhat

Introduction

 

In a very short span, the Royal Enfield Classic 350 has established itself as the new aspirational bike for the common man. It is one of the few motorcycles that wouldn’t look out of place in any environment, be it an IT park in Bandra or in Ladakh with the Himalayas in the backdrop, on the highway laden with saddlebags or on the broken roads between farms. So how does it stack up against one of the most advanced commuter bikes that you can buy for a similar budget?

This is not exactly an apples to apples comparison. The Suzuki Intruder FI and the Royal Enfield Classic 350 do not belong to the same genre and there is a huge disparity in the engine capacity as well. But surprisingly, data shows that the Intruder and the Classic 350 are two of the highest compared motorcycles on BikeWale. So we spoke to a bunch of Classic 350 customers to see what they thought of their priced possession, benchmarking it against the Intruder FI. 

Things Classic 350 owners like

Street presence 

This is one of the strongest points of the Classic 350. The curvy and svelte styling, liberal use of chrome and the hefty appearance command a street presence that dwarfs the Intruder. There is something about that styling that you just can’t get enough of. And although it is not a true-blue ‘Bullet’, the brand-name plays a big role in drawing customers to the showrooms.

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 1,39,039

The Intruder FI does attract attention with its modern and radical styling, but it is more out of curiosity than awe. The problem with contemporary styling is that it has a really short shelf life. Retro, on the other hand, never goes out of fashion. Besides, there is no heritage or nostalgic value attached to it as with the Classic 350.

Seating comfort

The Classic 350 offers an upright seating position with neutral-set footpegs. The wide handlebars are slung low and the sprung seat itself is wide and comfortable and surrounds your derriere in a soft and supple seat cover. The Classic 350 gives you a commanding riding position, making you feel like you are sitting on a throne. 

On the Intruder, just like the bike’s stance, you sit low with the feet stretched out in front. The contoured seat offers good support for the tail bone and the raised handlebar allows your elbows to droop.  Despite the contrast, both the seating positions are equally comfortable. 

Build quality

The Classic 350 is one of those few motorcycles which are built purely out of metal. Barring the switchgear and a few other components, there is hardly any use of plastic in the bike. And this gives the Classic 350 a solid build quality, which is treasured by its owners. The Intruder on the other hand, is a typical modern bike which makes extensive use of plastic body components. These are well put together, and there are no panel gaps to speak of, but it still lack the ‘bullet-proof’ feel of the Classic 350. 

Efficiency

The last thing you would expect a 346cc engine to be is frugal, but the torquey engine will surprise you. On our standard test cycle, the Classic 350 managed 35kmpl, which is a very generous number for such a high-capacity engine. However, the Intruder FI, thanks to the smaller capacity and lighter weight, returned a mind-boggling 49kmpl. 

Things Classic 350 owners don’t like

 

Performance

Comparing a 350cc bike with a 155cc bike for straight-out performance might border on blasphemy, but the Intruder FI surprised us. The sprint to 60kmph from a standstill is accomplished in 5.2 seconds, which makes it 1.7 seconds quicker than the Classic 350. 

The Classic 350 is best ridden between 50kmph and 70kmph, and is left gasping for breath post 80kmph. By this time, the Intruder FI is just getting warmed up. You can cruise at 100kmph without putting stress on the engine, and with enough power in the reserve for a quick overtake.  Overtaking on the Classic 350 usually necessitates a downshift or two. 

Refinement

When it is out of its comfort zone, you get lot of vibrations through Classic 350’s handlebar, tank, footpegs and the mirrors which discourage you from revving the engine too hard. It is especially a pain when you are touring on open highways. The Intruder on the other hand, feels stress free and composed all the time. There are hardly any vibrations to speak off apart from a slight buzz on the footpegs, and it feels in its element even when cruising at 100kmph.

High maintenance

The metal components might give a solid build quality, but they are not immune to rust or wear-and-tear. In the long run, the vibrations take a toll on the fit-and-finish, and replacing the components costs a bomb. A paid service for the Classic 350 will set you back by anywhere around Rs 2,000. The Intruder, thanks to the plastic components, is relatively lighter on the pocket. A service will cost you around Rs 1,000. 

Lack of features

Complementing the Intruder FI’s modern styling is the fully-digital display. It integrates a host of functions like a tachometer, fuel gauge, dual trip meters, gear position indicator, clock, shift light and service due indicator. 

Why do I bother mentioning these run-of-the-mill features? Well, because the Classic 350 doesn’t get any of these. The round clocks might look attractive in their own right, but are too basic. Even otherwise, the Classic 350 gets nothing that can be termed as a creature comfort; this isn’t something that you would expect from such an expensive motorcycle. The Intruder FI feels lavish in comparison, thanks to the LED position lamp and tail lamp and preload-adjustable monoshock.

Verdict

The Classic 350 has been leaning on people's passion and loyalty for close to a decade, and the strategy has worked wonders! It clocks over 50,000 units in sale every month. Of course, it has its upsides and advantages, but at Rs 1.6 lakhs, the Classic 350 is just too expensive for what it offers. The Suzuki Intruder FI on the other hand, is definitely one of the most delightful commuter bikes you can splurge your money on. 

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

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