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Hunter 350: RE’s welcome nod to newbies

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This J-series model comes with a 349cc making for a smooth ride, courtesy a superior fuel efficiency as compared to the Classic and Meteor

This J-series model comes with a 349cc making for a smooth ride, courtesy a superior fuel efficiency as compared to the Classic and Meteor

Royal Enfield has a lot riding on the back of the Hunter 350, which is to broaden the brand’s customer base and attract a wider audience. The Hunter 350 has the classic British roadster design and is available in many colour schemes. It is powered by RE’s smooth and torquey 350cc J-series engine and comes at a starting price of ₹1.50 lakh (ex-showroom). On paper it appears to be rather compelling, but only a full road test will determine just what the Hunter 350 is all about.

The Hunter 350 is styled to look like your typical retro roadster and gets a round halogen headlamp, teardrop-shaped fuel tank, a flat seat, a small side panel with the Hunter 350 branding and a neat tail section with a round tail-lamp. The model we tested was the higher Metro variant in the Dapper Ash colour scheme, which we think suits this motorcycle particularly well. There is also the entry-level Retro variant on offer, which gets simpler paint schemes and wire spoke wheels. In terms of quality, we found the paint finish and the switchgear on the Hunter to be especially good, considering the price point.

An area where the Hunter falls a bit short is equipment levels, as something like a TVS Ronin is better equipped for a similar price. The Metro variant gets 17-inch alloys, a USB charging port, two trip meters, dual-channel ABS, an optional Tripper navigation pod, hazard lights and an LED tail-lamp. The base Retro variant is even more sparsely equipped, featuring a simpler instrument cluster, single-channel ABS with a rear drum brake, slimmer tyres, a halogen tail-light, rectangular indicators and a tubular grab rail. 

As is the case with modern Royal Enfields, there is a whole host of accessories to choose from for the Hunter 350. Buyers can customise their Hunter 350 as they please, with the accessories catalogue including bar-end mirrors, LED indicators, passenger backrests, windscreens, engine guards, luggage, seats and even a tail tidy, which is a first for the brand.

The new Hunter 350 seats pegs are a bit rear set and there is a slight reach to the handlebar. Overall, it can be described as a comfortable riding position with a hint of sportiness. Tall riders will find it spacious enough, but the relatively low 790mm seat also means that it will comfortably fit shorter riders. However, it is not as comfortable for pillions, as the seat is not particularly large.

On the move, the Hunter 350 feels light on its feet, which does not come as a surprise, given that it has lost 14kg over the Classic 350 with which it shares its platform. Furthermore, the changes RE made to the chassis also play a role, given that the Hunter still is not exactly light, at 181kg. The 20mm shorter wheelbase compared to the Classic, the 17-inch wheels and the wide handlebar, all help in making the Hunter 350 feel like the agile machine that it is. As such, the Hunter 350 feels completely at home in city confines. The Hunter is quite enjoyable around bends too, as it turns in quickly without much effort and has a good grip. Furthermore, the motorcycle is predictable and stable in the corners, which will be confidence-inspiring for newer riders in this segment.

However, the ride quality of the Hunter 350 is a mixed bag. Suspension duties on the motorcycles are handled by a 41mm telescopic fork up front and preload-adjustable twin shocks at the rear, but it is not the hardware that is the issue, it is the set-up. While the front end feels nice and absorbent, the rear feels unusually stiff. It can feel quite uncomfortable going over a broken patch of road and uneven expansion joints, be it at slow or high speeds.

In terms of the brakes, the Hunter 350 Metro with the discs at both ends and dual-channel ABS has adequate stopping power, but it could have done with a bit more feel at the lever. In our test, the Hunter managed to come to a dead stop from 60kph in 16.18m. The Hunter 350’s ground clearance of 150mm also seems rather low but, we did not face any issues with the belly scraping on speed bumps. 

Being a J-series model, the Hunter 350 gets the same 349cc, single-cylinder engine that powers the Classic and Meteor 350s. It puts out 20hp and 27Nm, which is adequate for a bike of this size, and comes paired with a 5-speed gearbox. RE says it has changed the engine’s mapping to suit the Hunter’s characteristics better and thus it does feel a bit more responsive than on the other two. The engine itself is a smooth and torquey unit and has a good low-end pull, it rarely feels stressed and on this Hunter, has a nice raspy tone. 

The Hunter 350 does 0-60kph in 4.95sec, which is faster than the Meteor and the Classic, and it is quicker in gear too, but that is not really what it is about. The Hunter likes to be ridden in a relaxed manner and feels comfortable cruising at triple-digit speeds. The clutch lever feels too heavy, even heavier than on the Classic and Meteor, and it can get painful while commuting in peak hour traffic. 

In our fuel-efficiency test, the Hunter 350 returned 30.61kpl in the city, which is actually a bit lower than what the figures we got from its J-platform siblings. However, the Hunter makes up for that by being superior in terms of highway fuel efficiency, which is 39.84kpl and higher than both the Classic and Meteor.

Some existing RE owners may still prefer the larger and slower Classic and Meteor, but the Hunter 350 is meant for buyers who want to enter the Royal Enfield fold and do not want a motorcycle that is intimidating or cumbersome to ride. 

Priced between ₹1.50 lakh and ₹1.69 lakh, the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is priced significantly lower than the Honda CB350RS and on par with the 225cc, TVS Ronin. RE wanted to make an attractive and affordable motorcycle that will be able to draw a wide audience to the brand, and the Hunter does exactly that.



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