An Enduring Classic
The Royal Enfield Classic 350 has held fast to its monopoly in the segment for years. Things have changed now, but has the Classic changed enough?
iding along astride a motorcycle that looked as if it fell out of a black-and-white film, i suddenly forgot at what time i was supposed to reach my destination. in fact, it felt like whenever i arrived would be the right time. the rhythmic vibrations at the handlebar and the seat further assured me that there was no need to speed up or curse that teenager on a scooter who was diving in and out of traffic as if his pants were on fire. such is the charm of the royal enfield classic 350. or, rather, one of its many charms. time becomes relative and the more you ride, the more you believe that you left your house in 1960 and kept riding until you arrived in 2020.
as timeless as it feels to ride, it looks the part, too; a retromodern that has more retro than modern. of course, the motorcycle in this review is not standard because it is decked with more than rs 20,000 worth of accessories. royal enfield have smartly left the much-loved styling of the classic 350 untouched almost as if to say that to mess with the design would be blasphemy. so, the motorcycle continues to look as… umm… classic as it was when it was first launched. the latest classic owner barely has anything new to flaunt over owners of the previous generation models but has a whole catalogue of personalization options to choose from in the form of royal enfield’s genuine motorcycle accessories. don’t those canvas panniers go brilliantly with the motorcycle? Well, there is more where that came from.
the classic continues to sport an analogue speedometer and odometer accompanied by tell-tale lights. even in its latest iteration, the classic forces its riders to perform the rather undignified act of opening the fuel-filler cap and shaking the motorcycle to check the amount of fuel in the tank because there is still no fuel-gauge. instead, what it gets is a fuel reserve light that lights up when there is about three litres left; better than nothing but still far from useful. Furthermore, under direct sunlight, the tell-tale lights are rather hard to read. thankfully, royal enfield have not skimped on the quality of switchgear. all of them return good tactile feedback and complement the motorcycle’s built-to-last character.
some say the re experience begins when you kick the motorcycle to life, but i believe it starts when you settle into that saddle. this classic 350 was equipped with touring seats and they were plush and comfortable; noticeably more so than the standard fare. the classic’s low saddle height keeps within reach for most riders and its relaxed rider triangle further offers a neutral yet comfortable riding position. thankfully, the pillion seat is also fairly roomy and well-padded, so roadtripping with company is certainly a possibility with this one.