ENFIELD CLASSIC 350 (2022 - on) Review
- Impressive build quality with minimal plastic
- Easy engine makes a great noise, but could be faster
- Incredibly affordable introduction to retro motorcycling
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Royal Enfield Classic 350 is so much better than any £4500 single has any right to be. A charming blend of modest power, exceptional build quality and quaint styling harking back to the glory days of British motorcycling, it’s a delightful backroad companion that’s happiest chugging away below 65mph.
Novice friendly dimensions work in tandem with a gentle circa 20bhp output and five-speed gearbox, providing a top speed just north of the national limit and a chugging soundtrack that immediately transports you to the set of Heartbeat.
Although Euro5 and fitted with two-channel ABS, its metal tank, chunky mudguards, glistening spoked wheels and analogue single clock are pure '50s nostalgia and if there was a sideways numberplate over the front wheel, you’d easily mistake it for the real thing.
Yours for £127.25 a month on HP over three years, with a deposit of £299 and generating a tested 77.7mpg, it’s incredible value to own and run – making it refreshingly obtainable for young A2 licence holders wanting to join the retro brigade.
For all its good looks and chugging charm though, the Classic is slightly let down by its wooden brakes. It could also benefit from a sixth gear and a slightly higher top speed, to help make you feel slightly less vulnerable on the motorway.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The Classic is a doddle to ride. Gently set, with an 805mm seat height and easy reach to the floor, the handling is neutral and encourages you to gently tip into a bend before wafting out the other side to the gentle chug of the exhaust.
This is not a bike for frantic weekend scratching. It won’t thank you for wringing its neck and responds best to gentle inputs at speeds below 65mph. And that’s fortunate, because the engine is only capable of a claimed 71mph…
Suspended by non-adjustable 41mm forks and six-stage preload adjustable twin shocks, it works with the spongey rider’s seat to soak up the majority of cracks in the road. It's firm but forgiving, with no irritating fork dive under braking and minimal squat under acceleration. It's quality stuff that only falters over larger potholes and ruts – transferring some crashing energy into your forearms and lower back – and more than acceptable for the money you’re paying.
Braking power is provided by Bybre, with a 300mm single disc and two-piston floating caliper up front and a 270mm rotor and one-pot caliper at the back. Twin channel ABS comes as standard, too.
For a bike of this capacity, it should be more than enough, but the Enfield weighs a portly 195kg wet and the two-pot front lacks any kind of feel – which can make initial applications disconcerting.
There’s no intrusion from the ABS and it could benefit from a change of pad. A dab of rear brake is also needed to square the bike up before a bend, with ample grip in damp conditions provided by the CEAT tyres.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Three out of five stars might seem harsh for the gentle two-valve single-cylinder engine – because there’s nothing really wrong with it – but it’s just a bit too slow to feel comfortable at motorway speeds.
Royal Enfield are claiming 71mph on the spec sheet, which flags up as 75mph on the single clock. That’s fine for bimbling about town, or chugging along a back road, but it leaves you exposed on faster A roads and motorways, where the engine is revving its tiny head off.
That said, you’re unlikely to see many Classic 350s trundling along the M25 and whilst it may run out of puff at the national speed limit, it still feels smooth beneath you – with minimal vibrations through the bars, mirrors, pegs, or seat.
And away from any multilane misery, the Euro5 lump is a joy to behold – projecting a rumbling soundtrack from a bygone era through its pea shooter exhaust. Impressively noisy for a standard set-up, it’s happiest below 60mph and encourages you to short shift through the gears and dine out on a gentle wedge of torque.
It might bark back at you like a small-capacity trail bike, but this is no performance motorcycle. Big handfuls of throttle are met with the swift arrival of the rev limiter and the gentler you ride it, the more it’s circa 20bhp output makes sense.
The forgiving engine and miniscule price tag also make it an obtainable machine for young A2 licence holders. It’s frugal, too. Our 82-mile run returned a tested 77.7mpg, which is enough for a theoretical 222 miles from it’s 13-litre tank.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The Classic 350 feels incredibly well built. Run your fingers along the glistening tank, polished mudguards, and intricate panels and you’ll find almost no plastic. Instead, it’s a mixture of chrome and gloss, with chunky metal bracketry and a solid finish. You even get a centre stand for maintenance.
There are no panel gaps, or dodgy welds and it gives off the impression a bike costing double it’s sub-five grand ticket. You’ll also find no wires poking out where they shouldn’t and there’s a lockable cubby hole providing access to the battery and tool kit.
It’s hard to comment on long-term reliability, but a 20bhp single is unlikely to cause you many headaches. Plus, the 2021-on Royal Enfield Meteor 350 shares the same engine and is currently ranked 4.8 out of five stars for reliability on MCN owners' reviews.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
It’s hard to fathom just how Royal Enfield can sell the 350 so cheaply. At £4439 on the road, it’s more wallet-friendly than a lot of mass-produced Japanese 125s – many of which are draped in endless plastic and share none of the Enfield’s charm. Even with a deposit of £299, the bike is yours for £127.25 a month across three years on finance. It’s cheap motoring.
It also sounds terrific at any speed, is comfortable to ride, handles itself amicably in a bend and doesn’t dive under braking. I can’t really work out where they’ve scrimped on it, to make it so affordable. It makes you question why other smaller-capacity bikes cost as much as they do…
Our test mule, finished in 'Chrome Red', is nothing short of stunning. Each of the intricate spokes catches any scrap of sunlight on our glum February ride and is complimented by its shimmering single exhaust and mirrored petrol tank. And that’s before you get to the chromed preload-adjustable shocks, mudguards, headlight cover, and mirrors.
It's a pricier option than its one-pot retro rivals like the £3699 Benelli Imperiale 400 and Royal Enfield’s own £3879 Meteor 350, but those bikes lack the Classic’s authentic retro chic, and stand out finish. There’s no rattly plastics, the levers are reassuringly chunky, and even the rounded switchgear comes etched with Royal Enfield’s logo and founding year.
Equipment on the Royal Enfield is basic, but that’s to be expected on a bike costing less than £4500. Plus, it’s styled to look like something from the 1950s, so a TFT dash, or suite of lean-sensitive gizmos just wouldn’t sit right with the aesthetic.
That said, it does get six-stage preload-adjustable twin shocks and decent wiggle room for a rider and pillion. The switchgear also feels robust, with thick metal levers on the gently set bars, and rounded knobs featuring an etched Royal Enfield logo. Although there’s no span adjustment, both the clutch and front brake are within easy reach – even for those with shorter digits (like this tester).
There’s a central speedo, with a small LCD display showing your fuel gauge, trips, the time and more, but there’s no rev counter.
It’s easy to read and nicely lit for nighttime outings, with the predictability of the motor making it easy to snick through the cogs without need to look down at the dash. For additional road presence, the round central headlight is flanked by two smaller DRLs, with the horn also alerting others with purposeful honk.
|Engine type||Air-oil cooled 2v single-cylinder|
|Frame type||Twin downtube spine frame|
|Fuel capacity||13 litres|
|Front suspension||Non-adjustable 41mm telescopic forks|
|Rear suspension||Six-step preload adjustable twin shocks|
|Front brake||300mm disc and twin piston floating caliper, ABS|
|Rear brake||270mm disc and one piston floating caliper, ABS|
|Front tyre size||100/90 x 19|
|Rear tyre size||120/80 x 18|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||77.7 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£47|
|Annual service cost||£170|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Three years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||20 bhp|
|Max torque||19.9 ft-lb|
|Top speed||71 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||222 miles|
Model history & versions
2008: Royal Enfield introduce Classic 350 to certain markets, before ending production. It returns for 2022.
2021: Royal Enfield launch the Meteor 350. This forms the basis for the 2022-on 350 Classic – sharing a number of components, including the circa 20bhp engine.
Owners' reviews for the ENFIELD CLASSIC 350 (2022 - on)
2 owners have reviewed their ENFIELD CLASSIC 350 (2022 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Version: Signals Desert Sand
Early days but I LOVE IT. You generally get a good idea of a bike in your first few hundred K's. Totally recommended for the price. Fit and finish looks excellent, proportionally they have done an outstanding job, the bike looks brilliant in person and good enough to park in your living room as an artistic feature. Ergonomically you'll be hard pressed to find a better riders triangle which has all day comfort. Engine sound is bang on and doesn't need an end can. The bike is all about effortless lofty torque that propels you along like a pilot and instilling you with a sense of adventure. It's so easy to ride that eggs you on to take it that bit further off the beaten track and onto unsealed rutted roads. It does the scooter efficiency/practicality and motorcycle dynamics, involvement blend better than anything I can think of. I can see these selling exceptionally from young to old, novice to seasoned. Whether you want a city or country commuter, light adventure tourer, Sunday cruiser, courier vehicle, two-up joy rider or your one and only daily transporter the RE Classic won't disappoint. You'll love it. In fact the only thing it doesn't do for you easily is help you choose a spec and colour. They all look great.
Adequate but may need more miles for brakes to bed-in. They pull the bike up fine but lack initial bite and require more effort than you might be use to.
Does everything well, no flat spots, fuelling is smooth as silk, purrs along sweetly and gears are slick. Its a 350 air cooled single so high speeds above 110km/h may require planning when on dual carriageways but a sprocket size experiment might prove there's an easy solution to that. Once the engine has been run-in I think it will prove enough without looking into breather kits and remaps.
Reliability too early to tell but the bike looks like its built like a gun, pardon the pun.
Too early to say but initial impression and investigation on parts and service, fuel, insurance, registration and running costs appears to be 5/5. All this is a just more incentive to purchase a bike that is more than the sum of its parts.
What else do you want for the money... I mean it's even got directional Sat Nav or it's set up to take it when available. USB is cleverly hidden beneath the left hand switch gear. Centre stand is standard. Not sure about the CEAT tires but early days show no problems with grip.
Buying experience: Great. No complaints. Sydney based dealer.
Annual servicing cost: £168
Simply brilliant. Looks to die for. Very comfortable riding position. great build quality.
I bought this for back road bimble. At this it truly excels.
Lovely smooth engine with virtually no vibration. Excellent torque very economical
Very well built paint finish excellent.
First service costs very reasonable in this day and age
The standard tyres are fine I found. But you may wish to upgrade later. Good toolkit provided behind a lockable panel. Good range of accessories available from royal enfield UK. No sign of the tripper sat nav for the UK as yet
Buying experience: Excellent service from the dealers ready in just over a week. Nice welcome pack provided on collection and a free tank of petrol what's not to like.