The Classic is the highest selling model of Royal Enfield and with good reason. It surely the most beautiful bike in the Royal Enfield stable (barring the Continental GT may be, but it is a niche product). The company introduced many new colours in the last couple of years and the ‘Ash’ is the best looking in my opinion.
Looks – There is not much to say about the looks of the Classic, as no one can deny the beauty of this bike. The classic Royal Enfield Bullet silhouette, with a much refined stance and numerous little intricate details. It still looks very Royal Enfield, but with a modern touch.
Engine – The Classic 350 uses the same UCE 349cc engine from the RE line-up. It has 19.8 BHP of power and 28 Nm of torque with a 5-speed gearbox. It retains the classic linear and meaty power delivery of the bullets of old with massive low end torque helping the bike accelerate in any gear at any speed. The engine never really gets bogged down and never needs to be revved much to extract performance out of it. But on highways revving does produce enough speed to comfortably overtake most cars and you can cruise all day at 80 – 90 kmph.
Ride and Handling – The Classic rides very well; uneven surfaces and rough roads never pose a big challenge. Its soft suspension is very forgiving and handles most situations with ease. But one place it falls behind is handling, which can be best described as adequate. General city use as well as touring is not a problem and you never feel scared to take corners, but it is not the most confidence inspiring when pushed hard. It feels very heavy and cumbersome. It doesn’t turn in fast, nor does it feel very stable mid-corner and you have to be light on the throttle as you exit corners. The Classic is definitely a cruiser. And in true cruiser fashion it scrapes the footpegs, centre stand, rear brake pedal or the long exhaust every time you lean.
Reliability and Maintenance – Of late the reliability of Royal Enfields has improved by leaps and bounds. Typical problems of oil leakage, engine breakdowns and electrical problems have gone down. But still they are not completely trouble free. You should expect small issues once in a while though mostly nothing that will keep you stranded. But stringent maintenance and basic mechanical knowledge is always necessary. Maintenance costs are high as compared to most bikes in the price range.
Fuel Efficiency – Depends on riding style but usually in city conditions you can expect 35-38 kmpl and on highways about 40-45 kmpl.
Specific questions by Amit Gupta –
- Fuel guage – Not available. You have to learn to live with it. Shake the tank and with experience you’ll be able to tell exactly how many litres of petrol remain by just the splashing sound.
- Tubeless tyres – Not available. But this usually does not pose any issues. Any roadside mechanic can repair tubed tyres wherever you go, unlike tubeless tyres which many puncture guys, especially in interior areas, cannot repair. But once you discover a puncture though, you have to push this 200 kg beast to a puncture shop.
- City use – Bike is heavy. You need to get comfortable with the weight. Parking and riding in slow moving traffic is not easy. Clutch is also heavy. Not the most user friendly city bike. But once you’re used to it, it’s not an issue.
- Known problems – Not too many. But things like electrical issues, rust, paint chipping off etc do exist. The gearbox isn’t the smoothest and you will encounter a few false neutrals. If the bike is abused and ridden very hard, engine, gearbox and wear and tear related issues can crop up.
- Oil leakage – It happens quite rarely. Even if oil leak is there it is very minor and is easily fixable unlike old bullets.
Comparison with KTM 200 –
These two are completely different bikes. The Classic is a cruiser which is to be enjoyed at low to moderate speeds and on tours. Relax riding is recommended.
The KTM 200 on the other hand is fun, light and basically a mini street-racer. It’s very responsive and fast with excellent handling and best enjoyed in corners and short rides. It’s very fun to ride in the city as well as occasional highway blasts. It gets more fun the faster and harder you ride. Maintenance costs are marginally lower than the Classic but may give slightly lower fuel economy.
Which should I buy?
I cannot answer this question. It depends on specific requirements of the rider and what his/her riding style is. If you like relaxed riding without expecting high speed riding with aggressive cornering and mostly ride on open or bigger roads, the Classic will be amazing. But if you love riding hard and fast and love cornering on twisty roads, the KTM will keep you very happy. Also the KTM will be more at home in the city and its congested roads and traffic.
Both bikes are fun to ride but in different ways. Your preference is the only deciding factor.