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The Royal Enfield Classic 350 is one of the game-changing motorcycles that exist in the Indian market. While it was already enjoying a cult status in India for years, Royal Enfield felt it was high time to bestow the bike with a major upgrade this year. For those who don’t know how well these changes fare in the real world, read our first ride report here. Now, I have been living with the bike for slightly over two months and most of it has been in the city. Needless to say, that will hold true for a majority of Classic owners in India. And in that case, isn’t it important to shed some light on its city ride-ability?
What makes riding the new Classic 350 in the city a breeze is its engine. The new 350cc motor is smoother and more eager than before. More importantly, vibrations are almost non-existent. As a result, you can keep it in the fifth gear at 40-45kmph and keep chugging along while enjoying the trademark ‘dug dug dug’ of Royal Enfield. Some RE purists might argue that it has lost character due to the softer thump than before. However, the difference isn’t drastic and it still sounds sweet and pleasant.
Now, coming back to being at 40-45kmph in the fifth cog, when you gas it from this point, it pulls away with reasonable urgency and without much drama. This is not only due to the improved acceleration but also courtesy of better fueling and throttle response. As for the gearbox, although it’s not the slickest unit out there, it’s not really troublesome either. Gears shift with a pronounced click and feel.
The new Classic 350 is also fun to flick around in the traffic. That might sound odd for a modern-classic bike weighing 195kg (kerb) with fairly basic hardware. However, thanks to better weight distribution, the motorcycle now changes direction without feeling too lazy. What also helps here is the tweaked position of the handlebar. You sit slightly hunched forward now, which makes the ergonomics more engaging, thereby urging you to do more tomfoolery in the city.
The build quality of the new Classic also deserves a mention here. Forget anything falling off, not even a single component or panel has started rattling until now, which shows RE’s increased attention to putting it all together sturdily. Kudos to RE for that!
The positives of the new Classic 350 manage to overshadow its shortcomings. But for a prospective buyer, some things are important to know. And the biggest complaint I have with the bike is the position of the footpegs. On the go, these contribute to very comfortable ergonomics. However, should you get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and trudge along slowly, these hit your calves every time you move ahead. At times, I try keeping it behind the pegs but then my shin keeps hitting them. Ultimately, I end up stepping my feet wide, away from the pegs.
Other negatives aren’t really major but they do need addressing. Firstly, the buttons are not in my easy reach and I need to take my hands off the bar to reach them. And thanks to the odd inclusion of the pass switch in the headlamp rotary button, I have never managed to use it in time. The conventional index finger-operable pass switch would have been much better.
Being a resident of Thane, potholes and broken roads are my constant companion and the Classic isn’t the most comfortable one while dealing with them. If I don’t slow down over sharp-edged potholes or taller bumps, I get a severe jolt to my back. But on the flip side, crossing minor, or even major undulations at high speed doesn’t make it lose composure. Lastly, a lighter clutch would have made the overall city experience of the Classic 350 a little more pleasant.