Shootout: Bajaj Avenger 220 vs Royal Enfield Classic 350; Shootout No. 159
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 95,940/- (Bajaj Avenger 220), Rs. 1,38,320/- (Royal Enfield Classic 350)
The Avenger 220 and Classic 350 are two of the most affordable cruiser motorcycles in India
India has an unending love for cruiser bikes and the same is reflected in the sales of Royal Enfield motorcycles. The British brand’s most successful model is the Classic 350 and even though the Thunderbird 350 makes a better rival to Bajaj Auto’s Avenger 220, the lower price and higher sales of the Classic made us do this comparison. Both bikes have quite a few things in common and both are affordable cruisers with the lack of modern hardware but carry a ton of chrome to win over buyers. Is it worth spending the extra Rs. 40,000/- for the RE machine or can you be happy with the Avenger Cruise 220?
Motor Quest: The Avenger has evolved from the Eliminator and the 220 model was launched in July 2010 with the recent update coming in November 2015. The Classic 350 is the top selling motorcycle for Royal Enfield in India, accounting for 80% of the British brand’s sales.
Styling – The Classic 350 as the name suggests, has a classic design which packs in a lot of retro appeal while the Bajaj Avenger Cruise 220 also looks similar to its predecessor which was on sale for a real long time. Both bikes have a lot of chrome in common, with the Avenger having an excess of it. Both these motorbikes use similar elements so the headlight is round and so are the indicators. Both use chrome rear shocks and have muscular tanks with the tyres mounted on spoke wheels.
The Classic 350 is bigger than the Avenger 220 and feels more masculine all around
The Classic does look more beefy and with five colour options, it’s the better looker of the two. However, fit-finish on the Classic isn’t great with the Bajaj fairing slightly better in this regard. Many buy Royal Enfield bikes for the looks alone and that’s something the company has mastered with the colour schemes it offers like the Desert Storm and Chrome. The Avenger 220 can be bought in Street guise too which gives it a very Harley-Davidson like appearance. That said, the beefier looking Royal Enfield Classic is the more sought after machine as far as styling goes.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Both bikes feature a very basic console but the Classic 350 gives the word basic an all new meaning because it doesn’t even get a fuel meter. In fact, the only thing on the Royal Enfield bike is the speedometer, odometer and battery ampere indicator, the latter most helping with judging how to kick start the bike (no kick start on the Avenger).
Yes, there is no trip meter either while the Bajaj Avenger gets the same (in an LCD) along with a fuel meter and tell-tale lights. Switchgear quality is decent on both bikes with the Royal Enfield Classic 350 getting a handle-lock placed inconveniently and the Bajaj Avenger 220 has the ignition switch near the engine.
Ergonomics – One sits upright on both these cruiser motorcycles and they offer good comfort to riders of all sizes but the Classic is more comfy for highway runs. The footpegs on the Avenger Cruise 220 are further front-set and both bikes get rubber mounting to curb vibrations. The Classic 350 doesn’t come with a pillion seat as standard as the same is an after market fitment while the Avenger comes with a single-piece seat with back support. Pillion comfort is better on the Classic and the spring seat gives the rider more comfort. Both these cruiser motorcycles come with useless mirrors as the one on the Bajaj aren’t positioned far out wide while the Classic’s round mirrors offer good visibility but vibrate like crazy once you pick up speed.
Performance – Both these motorcycles employ twin-spark, single-cylinder carbureted engines with the Avenger 220 displacing 219.9cc, producing 19 PS and 17.5 Nm. The Classic 350 has a higher displacement and while its 346cc air-cooled motor only produces 20.07 PS, it has drastically more torque on offer of 28 Nm. What this results in, is the Classic 350 feeling faster than it is, having an extremely punchy mid-range which the Avenger 220 simply can’t match. But the Bajaj bike has a faster revving powerplant with a higher redline and feels more refined in comparison, having better NVH.
The Classic 350’s thump and massive torque surge make it quite fun to ride
While both bikes have some sort of vibrations, those on the Royal Enfield are just unbearable, restricting one to ride under 100 km/hr although both these motorcycles will hit an optimistic speedo indicated 120 km/hr. So the Avenger 220 Cruise is more at home at triple digit speeds, making it the more comfortable cruiser for highway runs. It’s also a clear second faster in the 0-100 km/hr run with gearshifts being much smoother. Where the Classic 350 beats the Avenger 220 is the exhaust note, the RE has the thump which some find exciting while the Avenger just sounds like a Pulsar 220. The Bajaj cruiser is slightly more efficient returning a couple of kms more per litre. That along with the fact that the Avenger has a 0.5-litre bigger tank gives it a slightly longer tank range.
Riding Dynamics – The Classic 350 has a softy set-up suspension while the Avenger has some stiffness but it’s the Royal Enfield bike that has the better ride of the two, taking bad bumps in its stride with more composure. Weighing 30 kgs more than the Avenger, the Classic 350 inspires more confidence by being stable at speed but the Cruise 220 has better handling as it feels more nimble to manoeuvre.
Neither of these bikes have good brakes with the rear being a drum set-up
The Avenger 220 also has smaller wheels but a 20 mm wider rear tyre gives it more grip and better dynamic ability. With a front disc and rear drum set-up on both bikes, it’s the tyres which play a big role in giving the Avenger better stopping power but both bikes have only adequate brakes.
Verdict – The Royal Enfield Classic 350 is indeed the better motorcycle here with some genuine cruiser traits that make it fun to ride and also good to flaunt. But the Avenger Cruise 220 offers some of the feel at a price which is Rs. 40,000/- less, making it our choice among the two. For Rs. 1.4 lakhs, we would prefer to buy other motorcycles which are better in almost every parameter.
Further Reading –