Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Royal Enfield's lineup of motorcycles has always been known for its retro looks. Combined with a proper old-school riding experience, and anyone riding an Enfield has always been the subject of envious looks both for the bike's looks and the strength required to control these big beasts on the go.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

However, all that has changed with the arrival of the all-new Hunter 350, a bike that Royal Enfield boss Sid Lal states is 'Old School Meets New Age'. Royal Enfield states the new Hunter 350 is 'Maximum Motorcycle per Square Inch'.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

So what exactly does all this new funda jargon actually mean? Does the new Royal Enfield Hunter 350 really change the game for this more than a century-old motorcycling icon?

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Has Royal Enfield really managed to uncork the genie from the bottle or are these all fanciful delusions full of hot air? Well, Royal Enfield invited us down to Bangkok, Thailand to ride the new Hunter 350 and this is what we found out...

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Design - Old School Cool With A Few New Age Tweaks

The Hunter 350 may be an all-new motorcycle but it follows Royal Enfield's core design directives to the letter except for a few changes. These tweaks to the design make the Hunter 350 stand out from the rest of its J-platform siblings and give it what Royal Enfield calls a hip retro-metro aesthetic.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The new Hunter 350 features all the usual characteristics of a retro motorcycle with a circular headlamp flanked on either side by circular turn indicators. The front fork with its gaiters and the short mudguard complete the retro look. The 17-inch forged alloy wheels (shod with tubeless tyres) add a dash of modernity to the Hunter 350's retro looks.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Sitting atop the headlight unit is the circular pod that plays host to the retro-styled speedo and an LCD that gives the rider all the info that is required including fuel level, trip meters, odometer, and time among others. Owners can also opt to add a second circular pod that hosts a display that is compatible with the Royal Enfield Tripper Navigation System. This pod can display turn-by-turn directions for your ride and connects via Bluetooth to the Royal Enfield app on your phone. The retro switchgear especially the rotary starter switch cube is cool and the USB port is a rather essential feature for those looking to keep their devices charged on the go.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The fuel tank is typical Royal Enfield but features creases on its sides that look to be the perfect spot to lock your knees onto when on the move. Also seen is a new side panel that sports the Hunter 350's cool new logo. Underneath the fuel tank sits the familiar J Series engine is blacked out as is the exhaust that delivers the rumbling notes of the RE's single-cylinder powerplant.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The singular seat setup looks rather nice. The seat gradually steps up for the pillion rider who gets split grab rails to hold on to on the higher-spec Metro variants.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The circular taillight is a LED unit and like the headlight at the front is flanked on either side by circular halogen turn indicators.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Royal Enfield Hunter Specifications - Lighter With The Same J Series Heart

The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is powered by the marque's tried and tested 349cc, fuel-injected J Series engine. The single-cylinder powerplant produces 20.2bhp at 6,100rpm and 27Nm of peak torque that is sent to the rear wheel via a 5-speed gearbox.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Royal Enfield hasn't revealed the acceleration figures for the Hunter 350 but claims the new motorcycle will hit a top speed of 114km/h.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The Hunter 350 is lighter than the other J Series REs around. Thanks to a lighter chassis setup and the new forged alloy wheels, the new Hunter 350 weighs just 181 kilogrammes, 10 kilos lighter than the Meteor and 14kgs lighter than the Classic 350.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 sports a twin downtube spine frame setup with 41mm telescopic forks at the front and preload-adjustable twin shocks at the rear. Braking duties are taken care of by a 300mm disc with two-piston callipers at the front and a 270mm disc with a single-piston calliper at the rear.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 rides on 17-inch lightweight cast alloy wheels shod with tubeless tyres. The front wheel features a 110/70-17 tyre while the rear unit is even chunkier at 140/70-17.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

So how do all these components combine on the Hunter 350 from Royal Enfield? Here are our thoughts...

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Riding Impressions - A Change Worth Enjoying

The Hunter 350 may have the same engine as the Meteor and the Classic 350, but Royal Enfield has tweaked the ignition and fuel mapping to achieve a more characterful ride.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The Hunter comes alive in its mid-range and has predictable power. The motorcycle pulls well from 60 to 100kph but then runs out of gas. However, when it comes to cruising down the streets of Bangkok, we found that shifting the Hunter into 5th gear at 80km/h was the sweet spot. Keep hitting these speeds and with the engine singing its tunes, the exhaust sound from that blacked-out pipe is impressively Sporty compared to the chugging REs of yesteryear.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The way the Hunter handles is the most significant change we've seen on an RE for quite a while. It is no longer your typical Royal Enfield, where you had to think twice before flicking it around. The Hunter is a "Sporty" Royal Enfield, and because of its sharper steering geometry and smaller wheels, shorter wheelbase, the Hunter responds to quick directional changes and is agile and easy to ride.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The foot pegs are sporty and placed higher compared to the Meteor, allowing for more lean. The weight savings in the form of the lighter chassis, new alloy wheels and a few more pieces of plastic all contribute to a better and more responsive handling bike.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The front suspension is progressive. Under hard braking, there was very little fork dive and the rear 6-stage preload-adjustable shocks are firm and squat less under acceleration. We couldn't test out how the suspension works over large potholes and ruts (Thailand roads are a whole lot better than the ones back home), but taking on a few road humps, the energy transfer from the suspension to your arms and lower back is well-controlled.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Braking has improved compared to other REs. The initial brake bite feel can be discomforting, as it is not sharp as compared to your other sporty 300cc bikes. However, you will soon get used to it. Just keep note that a bit of rear braking is required to square up the bike.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

The tyres fitted to the new Hunter 350 provide ample grip. We put the Hunter to test at the Impact Speedway Park in Bangkok, and the motorcyclefelt solid and responsive at speed and in corners. However, when pushed too hard, we noticed some rear tyre slippage. This is quite understandable and forgivable as these tyres are meant for the road and we're not exactly sure how many riders will take the Hunter out onto a track.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Now let's address the most important question - how are the vibrations on the Hunter 350? We were quite pleased to find out that vibrations from the mirrors, pegs and tank were very minimal.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Highs & Lows - The Good & The Nitpicky

Highlights

  • The speedometer is easy to read and nicely lit for night rides.
  • Good seat height of 790mm, which makes it easy to reach the floor.
  • Comfortable to ride and is solid and responsive at speed and in corners.
  • The chassis is well-tuned, and the suspension doesn't dive under hard braking.
  • The Hunter 350 sounds throaty in the mid-range and when speeding up.
  • Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

    Nitpicky Mutterings a.k.a. The Lows

    • We wish there was a rev-counter included.
    • Performance slaves would have preferred a bit more power.
    • If you have a riding style where you sit closer to the fuel tank, you will feel some tank vibration.
    • Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

      Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Spec Sheet

      Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Specifications
      Capacity 349 cc
      Power (BHP) 20.2
      Torque (Nm) 27
      Max Speed 114 Km/h
      Fuel Economy (Kmpl) 36.2
      Weight (kg) 181
      Fuel Capacity (L) 13
      Seat Height (mm) 790
      Wheelbase (mm) 1370
      Tyre Front 110/70-17
      Tyre Rear 140/70-17
      Suspension Front Telescopic
      Suspension Rear Twin Tube Emulsion Shock Absorbers
      Front Brake 300 mm disc
      Rear Brake 270 mm disc / drum (Retro)
      Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

      Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Price List

      Variant Price (Ex-Showroom Chennai)
      Retro ₹1,49,900
      Metro (Dapper) ₹1,63,900
      Metro (Rebel) ₹1,68,900
      Royal Enfield Hunter 350 First Ride Review - New Age Shikari On The Prowl In Bangkok

      Royal Enfield Hunter 350 - The Verdict - Goalpost Mover

      The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 sees the Chennai-based retro motorcycle manufacturer move away from its comfort zone. The all-new Hunter 350 is sporty in a way that Royal Enfield isn't known for. With prices starting at Rs 1,49,900 for the base Retro variant (which misses out on the alloy wheels, tubeless tyres and the LED taillight), the Hunter 350 is sure to attract a whole new breed of riders into the Royal Enfield cult of riding like the ladies who would prefer the lighter bike to a younger crowd looking to enter the RE way of life.

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Read more on: #review
Article Published On: Monday, August 8, 2022, 18:03 [IST]
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