Anglo-Indian brand launches another bike using its 350cc single platform
Royal Enfield has been one of the big hits of recent years, with both its 650 twins range and the latest 350 Classic and Meteor singles topping global sales charts. And it’s just released another variation on the 350 single theme – the new Royal Enfield Hunter 350 modern-retro roadster.
The Hunter has the same basic 20bhp air-cooled single cylinder motor as the Meteor, with a simple two-valve SOHC head, fuel injection, balance shaft and five-speed gearbox. It’s a capable, economical unit, and while it’s not going to set the world on fire, it’s more than up to urban work and the odd longer back-road run out.
New riders will love it, as will more mature riders looking to downsize from a massive 200bhp fire-breather to something a little more calming.
As ever with new Enfields, the magic will probably reside in the chassis setup. But that doesn’t come from any exotic components or trick design: on paper, the 183kg wet weight, single disc brakes at each end and simple roadster layout looks a little staid.
Rather it will be down to the Harris Performance team who work at Royal Enfield and design the steel tube frame, twin-shock rear suspension, 17” cast alloy wheels and RWU 41mm forks. It’s also down to the ex- and current BSB racers who are employed as the test riding team at the company’s Bruntingthorpe R&D centre.
Away from the basic engine and chassis package, the new Hunter 350 has what RE calls a ‘contemporary’ look, with dual-colour paint schemes and a selection of three chic tank colour and graphics options on the base edition.
There’s also a top of the range version, finished with a choice of three of ‘the most distinctive and disruptive petrol tank designs ever to adorn a Royal Enfield’, apparently. It’s also compatible with Royal Enfield’s neat Tripper tun by turn navigation pod which will be available as an OE accessory option.
Compared with the Meteor, you get sportier rubber: 110/70 x 17” front and 140/70 x 17” rear, tubeless tyres, with the same 300mm front and 270mm rear disc brakes, dual channel ABS, plus a handy centre stand. There’s an LED tail lamp and premium digital-analogue instrument cluster with odometer, tripmeter, gear indicator, fuel graph bar with low fuel warning, clock and a service reminder.
All the Hunters feature uncluttered handlebar controls, their rotary power and lighting switches giving a gentle nod to the past, and are fitted with a USB charging port. It also looks like there will be a load more cornering ground clearance, one area where the Meteor fell down a little, and the shorter wheelbase and reduced mass should help it feel a lot more agile than the Meteor mini-cruiser.
Royal Enfield CEO, B Govindarajan, said, “The Hunter 350 is an outcome of several years of insight gathering and consumer studies from across the world. It is a motorcycle that feels right at home in big metropolises and is exciting for the experienced rider, and easy and accessible for a new rider. Its shorter wheelbase, more compact geometry and lighter weight makes it very nimble and manoeuvrable within the urban context.
We are very confident that this new reimagined roadster will usher in a whole new set of global consumers into our world of pure motorcycling.”
And the top design bod behind the Hunter, Mark Wells said, “It just seemed the most natural thing in the world for Royal Enfield to develop a fun, lighter and more agile 350 roadster. It’s fresh but is still fully Royal Enfield. Every time I look at it, the Hunter gives me a carefree feeling – of being young, jumping on my bike and whizzing off to meet up with mates.”
The Hunter 350 will be in the shops in November, and prices will be announced at the Cologne Intermot show in October. We’ll be riding one as soon as they arrive into the UK, hopefully.