2020 Royal Enfield Classic 350 Test Ride Review
We do a detailed test ride review of the 2020 Royal Enfield Classic 350.
Bike tested: Royal Enfield Classic 350; Road Test No. 1240; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,20,629/-
The Royal Enfield Classic 350 is one of the highest-selling motorcycles in the country, and it has gotten better now
Royal Enfield is a renowned brand, which is famous for its old-school offerings. Their lineup has become modern in the last couple of years, though, but their MVP has remained the same. The Classic 350. For BS6, Royal Enfield has finally bid farewell to the carb setup and the 350 finally gets a ‘modern’ FI system. However, the weight has gone up, the power has gone down, and there isn’t much new in the aesthetic department which might worry a few RE fans. Is it better? Is it worth it in today’s market? We review it to answer these questions for you.
Motor Quest: The Royal Enfield Classic lineup is one of the most successful lineups in the Indian market to date, with the Classic 350 being the highest selling in the bunch. While the Classic 350 has an enormous fan following, it has received a lot of criticism for missing out on key modern features including FI. Over the years, RE has answered the critics with updates like the addition of dual-channel ABS but most of the updates were usually mere paint jobs. For 2020, RE has finally thrown FI into the mix, but most of the bike has remained unchanged.
Styling: As stated earlier, the RE Classic 350 hasn’t changed much aesthetically. The biggest change we could notice is the revised cat pipe, which now resembles the positioning on all BS6 bikes. It comes with a cover, though, and doesn’t harm the overall classic appeal of the 350. RE claims the styling to be ‘timeless’ and it is somewhat true. The round halogen headlamp, round indicators, spoke wheels, long metallic mudflaps and the covered forks all result in an old-school design.
The design has changed little over the years, and it has started showing its age
However, basic things like LED lighting are still missing and make the Classic 350 feel outdated. The Classic 350 does offer many colour options and some of them also have alloy wheels on offer, though, which is a good thing. All in all, if you liked how the RE Classic 350 looked in the past, we have good news for you. But we don’t think the design is ‘timeless’ as it has started showing its age, thanks to the fresh competition that has stepped in.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear: Just like the aesthetic bits, the instrument cluster of the RE Classic 350 is exactly the same as before. The aged speedometer has an analogue setup and shows just the speed and has no trip meters. While this might come as likeable to a few people, the absence of a fuel gauge wouldn’t. Although you get a ‘low fuel’ telltale light, it isn’t too practical for long-distance riding. We don’t understand why RE has still left out on a fuel gauge even after undergoing so much criticism. Moving on, unlike the speedo, the switchgear quality has improved. The plastic feels better and there are no finishing issues as such. In summary, we feel that the instrument cluster is one of the biggest setbacks of the Classic 350 in today’s market.
Ergonomics: The Classic 350 has always been a comfortable bike, and it retains the tag. The front-set pegs, upright handlebars, and low seat height result in a comfortable riding triangle which is suitable for riders of all sizes. The 350 gets a split seat setup which feels good and accommodating, both for the pillion as well as the rider. The case remains the same for the mirrors as well. While the vibrations tend to hinder the rearview a bit, the mirrors offer a good view. Oh, and they come in chrome as standard, which is a plus! Here on the test bike, we have accessory mirrors attached finished in matte black.
Performance: Now, as usual, the biggest change for the 2020 RE Classic 350 comes as the BS6 compliancy. The BS6 compliant 346cc motor with FI makes 19.1 BHP at 5250 RPM and 28 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM. While the power has gone down, the torque is exactly the same as before, which shows serious damage limitation by the manufacturer. The 5-speed gearbox has also remained the same, but it is a setback as most of its competition gets a 6-speed one. But numbers don’t tell the entire story. The Classic 350 is actually faster than the previous model and has a higher top speed as well. However, the engine still feels a tad dull in the top-end and you will have to go down a gear to overtake a vehicle in front.
The addition of FI has made all the difference as the motor is faster and smoother than before
Another aspect in which the engine has improved is refinement. The motor has much fewer vibrations now, but it’s still not as refined as some of its competitors. The fuel efficiency has also improved, thanks to the addition of FI, the bike returned 36-38 km/l during our test. This means you can squeeze out about 500 km of range from the big 13.5-litre fuel tank of the Classic. However, one thing that might disappoint some fans is that the ‘thump’ of the bike has decreased a bit. We don’t think that’ll be a problem, though, since a majority of RE owners switch to aftermarket exhausts, anyway! Finally, we think that this is a step in the right direction by RE and the Classic 350 has definitely gotten better in the engine department.
Riding Dynamics: The RE hasn’t changed much here as well, but there is some improvement. The unresponsive riding dynamics are still present, and the bike still feels wobbly at high speeds. Moreover, the MRF rubber has been swapped with CEAT rubber, which offers decent grip in comparison and makes you even more conscious when approaching corners. Further, the weight has also gone up by about 1 kg. However, there are two aspects where the Classic has improved following the BS6 update. Firstly, the suspension setup. RE has intelligently tuned the suspension setup to a bit softer one. The ride still doesn’t qualify as plush, though, and big bumps might hit hard at higher speeds, thanks to the low ground clearance.
Braking has improved significantly, and the ABS intrudes just at the right time
Secondly, we have the brakes. Just like the 2020 RE Himalayan, there is a significant improvement in the braking department of the Classic. The bite is decent, and the bike manages to stop earlier than the BS4 iteration by a decent margin too. Moreover, the bike comes with a dual-channel ABS setup, which works pretty much flawlessly in tricky conditions. However, if you opt for the entry-level variant of the Classic 350 you will just get single-channel ABS as standard. While at least some ABS is standard, it is not switchable like the Himalayan.
Verdict: At Rs. 2,20,629/- (on-road Mumbai), the Classic comes at a Rs. 16,000/- premium over the previous-gen model. However, this price segment sees numerous options in 2020, which offer much better equipment and performance as compared to 350. But the Classic 350 still makes sense somehow. The decent ride quality, comfortable riding position, bump in refinement and improvement in riding dynamics have made the bike more desirable than before. While the changes might not be worth the extra premium, it is a step in the right direction and the Classic will definitely keep shining in the market, thanks to its huge fanbase. But if you’re into modern tech and styling, there are better options for you.
What’s Not So Cool
* Engine: 346cc, Single-cylinder, Air-cooled, EFi
* Power: 19.1 BHP @ 5250 RPM
* Torque: 28 Nm @ 4000 RPM
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Fuel Consumption: 36-37 km/l
* Frame: Single downtube
* Gearbox: 5-Speed
* Tyres: 90/90/18 (Front), 120/80/18 (Rear, Alloy), 110/90/18 (Rear, Spokes)
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks (Front), Twin gas charged shock absorbers (Rear)
* Brakes: 280 mm Disc (Front), 240 mm Disc (Rear); Dual-Channel ABS
* Length x Width x Height: 2160 mm x 790 mm x 1090 mm
* Wheelbase: 1390 mm
* Seat Height: 800 mm
* Ground Clearance: 135 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.5-litres
* Kerb weight: 195 kg