2017 Royal Enfield Classic 350
Engine: 346cc air-cooled, OHC, four-stroke
Transmission: Five-speed, constant mesh, chain clutch
Torque: 28Nm at 4000rpm
Wet weight: 187kg
Seat height: 775mm
Fuel capacity: 13.5 litres
Colours: Chestnut, Mint, Ash, Classic Black, Lagoon Blue
Essentially a small version of the Classic 500, their looks are almost identical; the differences being the dual seat/horns on the 350, the 500’s oxygen sensor located on its header pipe, and oh yeah — the ‘350’ and ‘500’ decals on the side panels.
A ball-tearing machine decked out in gadgetry it is not — and it doesn’t need to be. Carrying the brand’s trademark reliability, it will hammer away at any hill in its path, sit on 90km/h all day long while sipping 3 litres every 100km and hold its own on 110km/h freeways. So forget the tech, this brings the old school cool — with just the right amount of thrill.
Part of that old school charm includes the post-war detailing, the happily-dated analogue speedo/odometer, and a kick start back-up to the electric start. Yes, we’re talking about choking the carby when it’s cold — and speaking of DIY devices — the rear wheel can come off while the sprocket and chain stay in position for quick roadside repairs, and there is a mini yet surprisingly well-stocked tool kit in the lockable left side cover. Aces.
As a very narrow machine, the Classic 350 can easily swerve through to the front of the traffic light scrum, and won’t be a snoozer come green light time thanks to the tuned Keihin carby and the high-torque twin-spark engine. Smallest in the line-up, the engine’s design has been around since 2007.
Originally made from cast iron, the switch to aluminium came in 2012 in order to increase reliability at a lower operating temperature. The outcome: smooth power delivery at 5250rpm and a thumping signature note from the single-cylinder exhaust. All the while braking is being handled by a front 280mm disc with two-piston caliper and drum at the rear.
With endless chrome finishes, spoked wheels of the stainless steel variety, and a comfortable sit-up-and-beg sprung saddle (old school for seat), it’s hard not to gravitate toward a motorcycle with such old world toughness and vintage appeal. While modern bikes constantly out-clever you with their all-seeing, all-knowing electronic sensors, the Royal Enfield’s Classic 350 silently slays in all its raw mechanical glory. And with a rideaway price of $6,490 — it will be appreciated by the hipsters and the beard-less alike. ■