We rode the all new Royal Enfield Classic 350 for a week, here are our primary impressions on what has changed and what has not.
When Royal Enfield recently launched the all new 2021 RE Classic 350 after ages of anticipation, the motorcycling enthusiasts were all very surprised. 2021 Classic 350 had all the signature design ethos of the familiar 'Classic' moniker warmly incorporated into a modern frame and contemporary mechanicals. Let's dig deeper into this.
Royal Enfield has played wisely with the design. The overall shape and design see no change on the new motorcycle. It continues to have the familiar silhouette and proportions, something very welcoming considering the fact that the Classic 350 is a model that reshaped Royal Enfield's prospects in India, and the design being of key importance in doing so. Even while keeping the core design cues intact, Royal Enfield has reworked all the panels and surfaces on the new Classic 350. There are no part carryovers from the old motorcycle.
Also changed are the overall fit, finish and paint quality. There are now better plastics for the switchgear, premium-looking bar-ends, better-finished levers (with no options for adjustment), better-finished fuel filler cap and footpegs, and a comfortable, well-cushioned seat. The twin spring setup for the rider seat is no more and what you get is a more contemporary cantilever mount, providing for better ride comfort around corners. But yes, there is the option to buy the (aesthetic) springs as official accessories, if you miss them too much!'
The switchgear design is similar to the one we had previously seen on the RE Meteor 350. Much in the same way, the controls for the lamps are set on a rotary switch. This might not always be the most ergonomic for all, especially the 'pass' function.
At the rear is a tidier tail lamp assembly and decently positioned number plate. The motorcycle gets cleaner welds and no exposed wiring. This evident bump in overall build and material qualities is a clear sign of RE eyeing more global markets.
The new Classic 350 gets a number of key feature additions. The instrument cluster gets a new analog speedometer with a glowing needle and reworked markings. The new Classic 350 no longer has to bear the blame for not having a fuel gauge, as the new digital display gets a digital fuel gauge alongside a clock, 2 trip meters, and odo. This gauge, however, displays minor errors in readings occasionally, much the same case with most other RE motorcycles with similar gauges.';
The new Classic 350 gets Royal Enfield's Tripper Navigation system, as an Optional Extra. This can be specced using the Royal Enfield Make It Yours (MIY) program. The manufacturer will start offering this on more variants as and when the semiconductor shortage eases. The Tripper display is neatly integrated into the overall cluster and thus does not stand out absurdly as it does on the new Himayalan or the Meteor, quite soothing a fact for the beholder.
Talking of its performance, the Tripper offers good accuracy and precision, thanks to the Google Maps-based engine. We did face a few pairing glitches occasionally. Royal Enfield could also think about adding call or SMS alerts to this system, as these are already on offer on similar Bluetooth suits in many other motorcycles. The Classic also gets a USB charging point neatly incorporated into its handlebar.
Extensive Mechanical Changes
The 2021 RE Classic 350 gets extensive mechanical changes. It is underpinned by the Meteor's J platform and powered by the same 349cc SOHC engine. However, you would instantly recognize that this engine on the Classic stands evidently distinct from the one on the Meteor in the overall behavior. This is because the Classic gets tweaked ignition timing, exhaust layout, and fueling map. The new engine produces 20.2 hp and 27 Nm. This is 1.1 hp more than the BS6 Classic 350, however, the torque has dropped by 1 Nm. The transmission on offer is a 5-speed unit.
The departure of the pushrod setup is evident in the soundtrack. The new Classic 350 does not sound like the old cast-iron bullets or even the old Classics. It sounds more refined and civilized. You do get to enjoy a RE-spec thumping effect in the exhaust note. However, this narrows down rapidly as you move up in rpms. The overall refinement has boomed. The new Classic is calm, composed, and significantly 'quiet'.
The overall performance and rideability have had significant improvements on the new Classic 350. The new engine is evidently more enthusiastic than the previous 346 cc UCE unit. There is more juice in the new motor, and at times feels better than the one on Meteor, apparently due to the reworked fuel maps and ignition timings. The Classic pulls keenly and does the 0-60kph run in 5.2 seconds, 100 kph comes in 16.2 seconds. This is considerably better than the previous bike's 6.5 and 25-ish seconds. The speed buildup is quite enjoyable and so is the deceleration, as the engine braking is carefully tuned. The 5-speed gearbox offers precise shifts but the clutch has much weight to it. City crawls can thus be cumbersome.
The new Classic 350 feels well at home at high speeds. It can cruise effortlessly at around 90 kph (a first for any Classic till date) The overall refinement is great. There are minimal vibrations felt at low and mid rpms. Towards the upper rev range, you get slight vibrations at the footpegs, which again are nowhere near to what the old motorcycle used to have. You might, however, get to see slight vibes in the mirrors at mid revs and above, and we think the design of their mounts is to blame here.
Here is a quick video showing the vibration levels in the all-new Classic 350, against the ones in a 2020 BS6 Classic 350. Also, notice the difference in soundtracks on both.
Ride And Handling
The new double downtube frame that replaces the old single cradle unit has given the overall road manners great hikes. The new Classic feels matured to ride and invokes the vibes of a modern-day middle-weight motorcycle rather than something from the dark age! The mainframe and swingarm are identical to the ones on the Meteor. The foot pegs and rear sub-frame differ sharply in their placements, giving the overall ride experience an air of freshness. The ground clearance has increased and now tips the scales at 170mm. RE claims to have reworked the suspension as well. With all these in place, you get to enjoy good road and corner manners with the new bike.
The Classis, on a very strict note, is firm-sprung, but is never any harsh. 2021 Classic 350 runs on CEAT tyres, which offer decent grip overall. The confidence around corners has gone up and you feel completely in control of the motorcycle while riding it. However, this doesn't mean you can smash this flat into corner like you would do with a say, streetfighter. Blame this on multiple things like the set of tyres used (19 inch F, 18 inch R), 195 kilos of kerb weight etc.
Braking is another area that has seen massive improvements on the new Classic. The motorcycle gets 300 mm front and 270 mm rear discs. You might feel the front disc to offer a slightly restricted bite, but the overall braking perfromance is quite good.
Though we did not do a E-to-E mileage run, the average figures we got over our 7 day stint with the new Classic 350 was 35 kpl on highways and around 31 kpl in the cities. Expect the real-world figures to be somewhat similar.
Variants And Prices
The new Classic 350 is available in 5 different variants (with various sub-groups as well)- Redditch, Halcyon, Signals, Dark and Classic Chrome. The ex showroom prices start from 1.84 lakh for the Redditch and go up to 2.15 lakh for the range topping Classic Chrome. Read this for further details.
2021 Royal Enfield Classic 350 is what we prefer to call an example of a flawless resurrection. It is the post-modern reinterpretation of the legendary Classic nameplate. You get the entire signature design essence of the legend wrapped around an advanced, agile mechanical skeleton. This essentially means that one wouldn't need to compromise everyday usability or contemporary motorcycling experience to own the iconic RE. Even better, he/she no longer has to stitch narrativess to cover up the flaws of his proud possessions!