2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350 Review: An Affordable Everyday Retro Bike
Royal Enfield may not be the most popular motorcycle brand in the United States, but the Indian bike maker has certainly been a hot topic of discussion ever since it launched the rugged and affordable Himalayan ADV. The Himalayan offered all riders a simple, no-frills motorcycle that could tackle any terrain with boldness. Shortly after the Himalayan caused a stir in the global market, it was the 650 Twins that followed and made some really big waves. Over the years, we’ve seen many more Royal Enfields rolling on American highways. Royal Enfield is sticking to its 110-year-old tradition to make reliable, affordable and fun retro-style motorcycles, and they do it very well.
Royal Enfield’s smallest capacity motorcycles are the Meteor 350 – a small cruiser motorcycle – and the Classic 350 – a true retro classic. Both bikes use the same platform and share the same 350cc engine that produces 20 horsepower. Although they may not be very powerful, they have a unique personality and they are also great fun to ride on a daily basis.
The Classic 350 was the company’s best-selling model, and that’s because it sells like hot cakes in India, where the bike is cheap and considered a big bike by Indian standards. Indeed, the vast majority of motorcycles in the country are either 110cc scooters or 150cc motorcycles used for daily commuting. The Classic 350 gives Indian riders the big bike experience, plus it looks pretty awesome thanks to its retro styling. Over the past 10 years, Royal Enfield has sold three million Classic 350s, a small portion of which also reached the global market.
Royal Enfield has now brought a new look and an all new engine to the Classic 350. While the Classic 350 may not be a big launch for American riders, there is still a small market for the bike here.
- two-channel ABS
- High quality material
- Model: Classic 350
- Engine/Motor: 349cc / Single cylinder / Air-oil cooled
- Powerful : 20.2 hp at 6,100 rpm
- Couple : 18.4 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Ideal for beginners
- Great stopping power
- comfortable suspension
- Weak power
- Low top speed
The Royal Enfield Classic 350 is pure motorcycling
Motorcycles today are getting pretty high-tech and using as many lightweight materials as possible. But Royal Enfield doesn’t feel shy about that, and they do a fantastic job of staying true to their roots of creating fun and reliable motorcycles.
The Classic 350 is all metal. There are hardly any plastic parts. That makes it a heavy bike for a 350cc, and it tips the scales at 430lbs. To put that into perspective, the Kawasaki KLR 650 weighs 432 pounds.
The Classic 350 has no safety features aside from ABS, and there are no driver assists. All you get is a classic-style retro piece of metal on two wheels and a motor. The instrument dial is still analog, but now gets a small digital display underneath.
The Classic 350 is also a nice bike, as it draws a lot of inspiration from the post-war G2 model of the 1950s. Royal Enfield has certainly improved the build quality of the bike as well. There is no more loose wiring sticking out and the switchgear is top notch. The seat is also better now. I remember riding the older model on a 1,500 mile trip through India, and that seat almost cracked my tailbone. The ergonomics are also better and the seating position itself is upright. The handlebars are now closer to the riders for a more comfortable position with little to no weight on your wrists. Although it is a short bike with a seat height of around 31.4 inches, it is easy for riders of all sizes to get into the saddle.
There are no LED lights; the classic round headlight design is common to all Royal Enfields, but the Classic 350 now gets sidelights. There’s also plenty of chrome to keep up with the retro styling. Compared to the previous model, the forks are now larger, the rear tire is wider, and the new J-Series engine sits under the redesigned teardrop-shaped fuel tank.
The Classic 350 is ideal for beginners and retro enthusiasts
At the heart of the new Classic 350 is its new 350cc single-cylinder engine. The engine develops 20 hp and only 19.9 lb-ft of peak torque. Those numbers seem almost laughable for a 350cc retro cruiser that weighs 430 pounds, but make no mistake, it’s still a pretty smooth engine, and it would suit new riders just fine. The engine has a flat torque curve and the power delivery is wonderful throughout the rev range. It is in the low revs that most of the torque is available, and this is how the Classic 350 manages to accelerate quite well. You get a brief moment of liveliness, but as soon as the needle enters the high revs, the top-end power is abysmal. You can hit 40mph pretty quickly but, to hit 70mph, the engine starts to falter.
While riding the Classic 350 on American highways may seem slow and intimidating to some riders, it’s important to note that this bike isn’t all about speed or quickness. The Classic 350 – at least in the US market – aims to appeal to retro motorcycle enthusiasts and a few purists. Riding the Classic 350 around the urban streets of a city is enjoyable and the bike can be used in everyday life. The suspension is quite soft and soaks up bumps in the road with ease, making it comfortable at all times. The Classic 350 is also easy to handle and it is small considering its dimensions. It also gets a well-functioning 5-speed gearbox. All of these attributes make the Classic 350 a great motorcycle for beginners.
The Classic 350 is a simple, no-frills machine. It is a chassis with a motor and two wheels. You shouldn’t expect sport bike-like handling, but the bike can also be fun in the corners. The front end is solid with easy steering, and the new, bigger brakes do a great job with the added dual-channel ABS system.
Another classic Royal Enfield trait is the thud of the engine, which gives the bike great character and makes you feel like you’re riding an old-school motorcycle. It’s still quite refined and the ride quality is enjoyable.
The Royal Enfield Classic 350 is a global product
The Royal Enfield brand has been on a roll lately, and we can see that the quality of their motorcycles has improved a lot. Royal Enfield has grown from an Indian bicycle manufacturer to a truly global brand. The oldest bicycle manufacturer in the world, Royal Enfield has hired some of the best engineers and technicians from around the world. They acquired Harris Performance a few years ago, and this partnership is promising. They have engineers and technicians from all over the world working on development in a brand new factory in Chennai, India, and they also have a team in the UK. The Classic 350 then testifies to the new ambitions of the brand.
The Classic 350 is certainly not a game changer, but it’s safe to say that Royal Enfield has another brilliant product that customers will appreciate. There are different color options available, and one of the benefits of having a motorcycle as simple as this is that you can customize it. Whether you want to glide smoothly down the open road like a classic motorcyclist or want to cruise around town, the Classic 350 is a great bike for both. With a price tag of just $4,499, you get exactly what you pay for. This makes it the most affordable and accessible retro-style motorcycle available in the United States. Parts and accessories are also inexpensive, and these bikes are tough and reliable. When it comes to getting what you pay for, the Classic 350 does not disappoint. There is no other motorcycle in this segment in the US market other than the Meteor 350, which is pretty much the same motorcycle but with road cruiser styling and ergonomics. If you want a cheap, reliable, underpowered workhorse that looks great and is fun to ride everyday, the Royal Enfield Classic 350 is a great choice.