The Classic 350 is the most important motorcycle in Royal Enfield’s portfolio and churns out sales numbers higher than any of its competitors. Its popularity, at least in the Indian market is unmatched. Royal Enfield launched the BS6 version of the Classic 350 earlier this year. Its heavily updated version has been spied on many occasions but for now, we have to make do with the BS6 version only which sports only a few mechanical changes over its predecessor.
We got a chance to ride the BS6 version of the motorcycle and the variant that we rode, is also the top-of-the-line Chrome variant which also gets dual-channel ABS. So how does it ride as compared to the model it replaces? Has the performance changed and are the vibrations are still there? Read on to find out!
The most prominent visual change comes in the form of a bigger catalytic converter. The position of the catcon is also changed. In terms of styling, there are not too many changes, except for the fact that the bike is offered in two new colour options – Stealth Black and Chrome Black. The Stealth Black and Gunmetal Grey bikes are shod with alloy wheels which appear to be borrowed from the Thunderbird X range and come wrapped in tubeless tyres. On the other hand, the Signals, chrome black and classic black variants are shod in spoke-type wheels and tube-type rubber. Apart from this, there aren’t any visual changes which make it cosmetically different than the model it replaces.
The variant that we rode came all draped in chrome which makes the Classic 350 even more retro. The chrome garnishing certainly works in its favour and elevates its retro appeal even further. The striping details on the front and the rear fender and the tank also makes it look very pleasing to the eyes.
Engine and performance
The engine is BS6 compliant now and that has been achieved with the help of a bigger catcon, electronic fuel injection system, an O2 sensor and a temperature sensor. The 350cc, single-cylinder engine developed 19.8PS and 28Nm of torque on the BS4 bike, while in the BS6 variant, the maximum power output has come down to 19.1PS. The engine is still a low-revving unit and we didn’t expect any change in that department either. The overall characteristics of the engine are pretty similar to the model it replaces.
We managed to achieve a speedometer-indicated top-speed of 123 km/h. It still gets a kick-starter because it certainly would have disappointed the veterans if RE missed out on that. The engine has dollops of torque available at lower revs which makes the motorcycle very tractable. It can putter around in 5th gear at as low as 40 km/h. The throttle response has improved a lot as compared to the BS4 version, all thanks to the inclusion of fuel injection.
Are the vibrations still present?
The question requires a detailed answer and a simple yes or no wouldn’t cut it. The Classic 350 is renowned for its vibrations and that has become one of its most defining traits. Vibrations can be a part of a motorcycle’s character too but in the case of Classic 350, they go on to become a bit bothersome. The vibrations are still there, even in its BS6 guise. Though when it is ridden in lower and middle revs, things are a lot smoother than before. But the story remains the same when you rev it a little. It is high time now that RE addressed this issue and we hope that the updated version which has been spied on many occasions, has a vibe-free affair.
Ride and handling
The ride is still as comfortable as before and we are happy to report that the retro charm of the Classic 350 has also remained intact. You would often find ‘Bulleteers’ going gaga over how it feels to ride when you are out on the road. If you ride it the way it’s meant to be ridden, it puts a smile on your face. As we mentioned earlier as well, it feels at home in the lower and middle revs. The thump is also present even in its BS6 guise.
Its rivals might offer an overall better riding experience but when you talk about riding something which will remind you of the years gone by, there’s no match for the Classic 350. The suspension setup includes 35mm telescopic forks at the front with 130mm travel and 5-step adjustable gas-charged twin shocks at the rear. The suspension setup is tuned to provide a comfortable ride and the flat, wide seats with springs also increases its comfort quotient. Though it isn’t meant for cornering, but we still feel that a better set of tyres would have gone a long way in increasing the confidence of the rider.
The Classic 350 still makes do with a halogen headlamp and it’s a good thing because most of the modern-day LED headlamp units aren’t that great in terms of illuminations. In addition to dual-channel ABS, the bike also comes fitted with a side-stand inhibitor that stops the motorcycle from moving forward if the rider forgets to lift the stand up. Its fuel economy hovers in the 30-40 kmpl range. The Classic 350 can hold 13.5 litres of fuel in the tank.
The not-so-great bits
We found some corrosion on the engine case which goes on to show the despite its chrome treatment, there are certain areas where RE needs to work upon, in order to make it feel more premium. The absence of fuel gauge isn’t justifiable either. It doesn’t make any sense to trade-in practicality for the old-school feel. The switchgear quality too, should have been better.
The base variant is priced at INR 1.59 Lakh while the top-of-the-line Chrome variant with dual-channel ABS is priced at INR 1.84 Lakh. If you compare the prices of the BS6 Classic 350 with its rivals, the Classic 350 turns out to be the most affordable of the lot. Sure, it doesn’t pack the performance and equipment its rivals have to offer but it isn’t bought for the things mentioned above. It is bought for the legacy it brings to the table, for the thump which is certainly unmatched and for the way how it makes the rider feels.