Test ride: The new Classic 350 without a kicker

The Royal Enfield got a new lease of life with the launch of its Classic model. And the Classic remained the king in the cruiser segment since its launch in 2009. Equipped with a unit construction engine, the first Classic bought the curtains down on an era. Now, 12 years later, the Classic is once again set to create history -- there is no kick start feature in the 2021 facelift. Moreover, it can also boast of several other changes that can rival the new entrants in the segment. Here are the major changes.

New chassis
The Classic 350 has dumped the single down tube chassis and borrows the double cradle frame from the Meteor. Result? The handling has improved and vibration has been reduced. Besides, the footpegs have been moved back a little.

The headlight is bright. Though the headlight has more or less the same design of the outgoing model, the doom can be adjusted. Besides, the headlamp glass is flatter and there are changes in the glass pattern as well.

The meter console has been updated. The biggest complaint among customers was the lack of a fuel gauge. Enfield has addressed the issue. Along with classic dials, there is a small digital meter, which features a fuel gauge, trip, clock and odometer. In place of the amp meter, the Classic 350 gets a Tripper navigation screen similar to the Meteor. The handle lock has been integrated with the ignition switch. The clutch brake lever and handle grips are from the Meteor. There are huge improvements in terms of overall quality.

Fuel tank
The size of the fuel tank has been reduced to 13 litres from 13.5 litres. Reserve capacity is four litres. The top model borrows the Royal Enfield logo from the Interceptor.

The suspension too has been updated. The length of the front fork has gone up. In the rear, there is no gas-filled suspension. Damping has been improved and ride comfort has increased. It can gobble up bad roads reasonably well even at decent speeds.

Both wheels get disc brakes, while the one in the front is bigger in size. Single and dual-channel ABS are on offer depending up on the variant.

The spring in the seat has been down away with. And the new seat gets good cushioning. The seat height in 805 mm, 5 mm taller than the old model. Actually, the removal of the spring has increased ride comfort. A 120-140 km ride in a single stretch won't tire you. The riding position is straight. The increase in ground clearance and the change in footpegs’ position help in cornering.

The rear seat is set higher; the pillion sat low in the old model and that issue has been fixed with a taller seat in the facelift. The pillion ride will now be comfortable. The grab rail too has been updated.

Side panel
The side panel that houses the air filter box and tool kit has been covered. It had created problems during rains and water service. Besides, it has also brought about positive changes in the looks.

The cables that used to hang between the handle and fuel tank have been packed inside a sleeve. Overall quality has been upgraded to the Interceptor level. The logo on the fuel tank is the best example. The fit and finish and welding are all top notch.

The thump
The Classic won't let you down with its exhaust note. The new Classic has the signature thump. That means, there is no need to buy a silencer as an accessory. The silencer is also shorter than the old model, which helps in avoiding road hits.

Earlier, kick-starting a Bullet was an art. Those days, people used to struggle with ampere reading and kick-starting. The Classic arrived with a kicker-start system that did not need ampere reading, and a self-start switch. In its latest avatar, it did away with the kicker too.

Bluetooth connectivity
The Tripper navigation and Bluetooth connectivity seen in the Meteor are present in the new Classic too. The Tripper meter has taken the place of the ampere meter in the console. There is a USB charging slot on the handle too.

New engine
The engine is based on the same unit in the Meteor. The lack of any vibration is the highlight of the engine -- the mirror does not vibrate! The new unit is a 349-cc air-oil-cooled engine while the old one was a 346-cc air-cooled powertrain. Though torque is less by 1 Nm, the new engine has higher torque at lower RPMs (4000 RPM). The powerband has also increased when compared to the old engine. Moreover, there is an increase of 1.1 bhp in power, which is available at 6100 RPM.

The engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox. The gears are shorter and shifts are smooth.

The unsteady nature usually seen after 80 kmph has disappeared. The motorcycle has good straight-line control. Even turns can be taken at speed. The test ride covered the 400km Kochi-Kottayam-Manimala-Ranni-Pathanamthitta-Ernakulam route effortlessly. The Classic tackled straight lines, S-shaped twisties and bad roads with ease.

Final lap
Compared to earlier Classic models, the facelift is eons ahead in the quality department. Fit and finish have been at par with premier siblings such as the Interceptor and the Meteor. Lack of vibration is the main highlight. The engine is refined and the exhaust note is nice. Ride comfort for both rider and pillion is good. The suspension offers good travel comfort.

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