Royal Enfield Hunter 350 first ride review: What's all the roar about?
- Agile handling
- Looks attractive
- Torquey engine
- Heavy clutch
- Stiff rear suspension
Royal Enfield has had an exciting 2022 so far and the year isn't even over yet. While the company may end the calendar year with a bang with the possibility of 650 cc options on the unveil, the biggest bang came courtesy of the Royal Enfield Hunter 350. Such has been the craze for the Hunter 350 in the short period post its launch that many are already putting it up against its own sibling, the Classic 350. But what is it about a hot-shot newbie that has made people sit up and take note in a way that even the best-selling Royal Enfield may be in its line of sight.
Here's our first ride review of the Royal Enfield Hunter 350:
Does Royal Enfield Hunter 350's design stand out?
In terms of design, the Hunter 350 is a good-looking roadster that does attract attention on the roads. There is a theme of circles that goes throughout the motorcycle. The headlamp, tail lamp, turn indicators and instrument cluster are circular in shape. There is no LED Daytime Running Lamp on offer but the tail lamp does get an LED setup.
The turn indicators are halogen units but Royal Enfield is offering official LED turn indicators as an accessory. Speaking of accessories, the manufacturer will also offer a tail tidy kit, rear backrest, flyscreen, engine guards, sump guard, oil filler cap, bar-end mirrors, seat covers etc.
Also check these Bikes
Is the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 comfortable?
The riding triangle of the Hunter 350 has a hint of sportiness to it. The foot pegs are slightly rear set and the rider sits just a tad bit hunched down. But this does not mean that it is uncomfortable as there is no pressure on the wrists. The riding position does remind me of my Interceptor 650.
The single-piece seat on the Hunter 350 is a bit on the firmer side and on long distances, the rider's back does start hurting. However, Royal Enfield is offering another seat with 3D net technology that should be more comfortable than the stock seat.
As for comfort, the front suspension is very well damped. It absorbs uneven undulations, speed breakers and potholes and only the sharpest of the bumps are transferred to the rider. The rebound on the rear suspension is quite aggressive and the suspension feels a bit firm. This does transfer some jolts to the rider. However, Royal Enfield must have done this to reduce the chances of scraping. But I still managed to scrape the underbelly once on a nasty speed breaker.
How does the Hunter 350's engine perform?
The engine on the Hunter 350 is the same unit that is doing duty on the Classic Reborn and the Meteor 350. However, it is running in a different state of tune where the Hunter feels more eager than the other two. It is still refined and smooth and only at 100 kmph - or over - do some vibrations start to creep in. The ideal cruising speed of the Hunter 350 is between 80 to 95 kmph. A special mention goes to the on-off throttle transitions which are butter smooth, the exhaust note is raspy and there is a whine that the rider can hear. So, yes this engine does have character.
The 349 cc, air-oil cooled unit produces 20 hp of max power and 27 Nm of peak torque. Most of the torque is in its lower and mid-range. So, the rider does not need to constantly work the gearbox. It pulls cleanly from lower revs even if the engine is in a higher gear.
Speaking of the gears, the transmission on the Hunter 350 is a 5-speed unit and is a joy to use. The gearshifts are precise and they slot in with a positive feel. However, the clutch is on the heavier side which means that in heavy city traffic, the left hand would start to ache a bit. Honestly, this should not have been the case considering that the Hunter 350 is aimed at people who will be using it for city use primarily. In fact, I felt that the Hunter 350's clutch is even heavier than the Classic 350. Moreover, the rearview mirrors have a lot of vibrations.
How is the Royal Enfield Hunter 350's handling?
The handling of the Hunter 350 was a big surprise for me. Yes, I have ridden the Meteor 350 and the Classic Reborn, and both are miles better than the original UCE Royal Enfields. However, the Hunter 350 takes it up a notch. It is based on the same platform as the Classic Reborn and Meteor 350 but feels a lot more nimble and more agile than them. There were times when I even managed to scrape the foot pegs while cornering.
This is because Royal Enfield decided to go with 17-inch rims. In fact, the Hunter 350 is the first Royal Enfield to use 17-inch wheels. The motorcycle changes directions quickly and even holds on to the line until you start losing confidence because of the tyres. So, a new set of stickier rubber will only enhance the riding experience further.
The braking setup on the Hunter 350's Metro variant is done by discs at both ends. There is dual-channel ABS on offer also. The rear brake has a good bite but then again, the tyre does rob away the confidence as the tyre starts skidding. The front brake is quite good but the rider needs to pull the lever with power to get the desired effect.
Royal Enfield Hunter 350's feature list
Royal Enfield is offering the same circular instrument cluster that is available on the Scram 411 and the Meteor 350. The readouts are clear and it takes very little time to get accustomed to it. The instrument cluster might look a bit basic at first but it still is attractive, especially during the night. The small digital readout shows a service reminder, eco indicator, time, two-trip meters, fuel gauge, gear position indicator and a trip F. There is also a USB charger.
Royal Enfield is also offering alloy wheels, tubeless tyres and a dual-channel ABS on the Metro variants. There is also a Tripper Navigation system on offer as an accessory.
Is the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 worth it?
The positioning of the Hunter 350 is quite interesting. It is one of the most affordable motorcycles in Royal Enfield's line-up. Yes, the Bullet 350 with UCE engine is priced very close to the Hunter 350 but that will soon be discontinued and will be relaunched with the J-platform because of which the prices will increase, and the Hunter 350 will become the most affordable RE in the stable.
At ₹1.50 lakh for the Retro variant and ₹1.64 lakh to Rs. 1.66 lakh for the Metro variants, the Hunter 350 is a very compelling proposition. The Hunter 350 looks really good, has a decent engine, is easy to handle and most importantly, it is very accessible and inviting which will help in attracting new buyers.