Royal Enfield Hunter 350 (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Impressive, nimble handling
  • Plenty of poke for inner-city riding
  • Retro roadster looks on a budget

At a glance

Power: 20 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.5 in / 800 mm)
Weight: Medium (399 lbs / 181 kg)

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Royal Enfields used to be as British as a drizzly bank holiday in Margate, but these days the Indian manufacturer’s primary focus is on emerging markets, particularly the subcontinent and Far East.

Take a look at the new Hunter 350, Enfield’s frugal and easy-to-ride new commuter, and you immediately understand the environment for which it has been built to thrive. It’s light, tough, agile and, with faultless fuelling and a tight turning circle, designed to revel in the chaos of urban centres from Madras to Bangkok.

Although the Hunter is propelled by the same unassuming 349cc air-cooled single found in the Classic and Meteor, the chassis is all new and features a sporty new frame and relatively light 17-inch wheels (an Enfield first). The wheelbase is shorter, the head angle steeper and, at 181kg (172kg dry), the Hunter is considerably lighter than its 350 siblings.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 on track at night

Outwardly, it’s a bum-basic 20bhp commuter, but in reality is built to boss the streets of the planet’s largest and most congested cities where the majority of bikes are tiddlers and speeds rarely reach 50mph.

In Bangkok, Thailand, where Enfield based this test, the Hunter was the king of the traffic light GP, surging ahead of the hordes of mopeds and scooters before deploying lively low-speed handling and manoeuvrability to slice between the crawling queues of cars and taxis.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Hunter 350's impressive handling is largely down to new 17-inch rims, which slice a total of 3.1kg of un-sprung mass, while its low centre of mass, stiffer frame down-tubes and more aggressive chassis geometry deliver a responsive ride that’s new to the marque.

The pegs are set slightly higher than those on the Meteor and Classic, too, and while the Hunter’s hardly a sportsbike, it’s as nippy as a litter of Labrador pups.

Learners especially will enjoy its fluency and low-speed balance as well as its cool looks. Less so, the hard-wearing CEAT rubber, which lacks feel and nibbles away at your confidence. Leaning the Hunter too far can land you in trouble, and some quality rubber would be a wise move.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 rear

The pegs touch early when the bike’s ridden aggressively and the ride is a little soft at the front and harsh at the rear (bear in mind that this machine is designed to carry not only a pillion plus heavy luggage but possibly even a second pillion).

The single disc and twin-piston caliper set-up up front is relatively basic but with modest power on tap is just about sufficient. Two-channel ABS comes at standard but it’s not lean sensitive and, when activated, feels more biased towards the rear, which should reassure new and experienced riders. The brake lever isn’t adjustable.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The air-cooled SOHC 349.34cc single is identical to that in the Classic 350 and Meteor 350, making a modest 20.2 bhp @ 6100rpm and 19.9lb.ft of torque at 4000rpm.

Enfield have tuned the fuel injection to give a sharper feel on the throttle, and quote a top speed of 71mph, which is actually achieved in fourth gear and not top (fifth).

There are no riding modes or rider aids to worry about and the fuelling is soft and precise, the gearbox positive, helping the Hunter to pull with more urgency than a 125 to an indicated 62mph.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 front

But if the Enfield is in its element in Bangkok, it’s less clear how it will fare in Brighton or Bristol, especially as the traffic flows a little faster – on a good day, at least! – in the UK.

Certainly, the Hunter will sit at 68mph all day but if you are commuting in and out of the city it’s likely to lack the punch to stay ahead of the traffic. New riders, though, will love its low seat height, easy-going road manners and claimed 102mpg economy; meanwhile its gurgling exhaust and sweet steering will charm the pants of leafy back lanes up and down this country.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The LCD clocks are basic but neat and clear with a useful gear-position indicator. The single-cylinder engine should prove incredibly frugal, too. Enfield quote 102mpg for the Hunter and the other 350 models in the Enfield range regularly average over 100mpg if ridden sensibly so it should be possible. Service costs will be minimal, the built is typically resilient and even a pair of higher-quality tyres should last until the petrol runs out.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 right side

 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

It would be all too easy to look down your nose at the new Hunter 350. But you have to remember who this bike is for: mainly the Indian and emerging markets – and you can’t ignore the likely sub-£4000 price. Enfield have intimated that the Hunter will be the cheapest of the 350 range and with the Meteor starting at £3879 in the UK, the Hunter’s likely to be very thrifty indeed.

In terms of direct competition, there's not much to go at outside of Royal Enfield themselves. The recently released BSA Gold Star is more powerful and expensive than the Hunter, and we expect Triumph's small capacity bikes to cost even more than that when they arrive.

The Chinese import Herald Classic 400 is a pretty close comparison but is slightly more expensive than the Hunter is expected to be and lacks the kudos of the Royal Enfield badge, too.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 turning left on track

If you wanted something more authentically classic-looking then the shinier Enfield Classic would be the way to go.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The switchgear is ugly and the clocks are basic, but these are relatively minor criticisms of a bike that costs less than half the price of a season ticket between Nottingham and London.

You do get an analogue-style LCD dash complete with Enfield's sub screen that's compatible with turn-by-turn navigation (but only as an option), dual channel ABS and a long list of factory accessories to choose from.

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 front quarter

Specs

Engine size 349cc
Engine type Single cylinder, 4 stroke
Frame type Twin Downtube Spine Frame
Fuel capacity 13 litres
Seat height 800mm
Bike weight 181kg
Front suspension Telescopic, 41mm forks non-adjustable
Rear suspension Twin tube Emulsion shock absorbers with 6-step adjustable preload
Front brake 300 mm fixed disc with twin piston floating caliper ABS
Rear brake 270 mm disc, single piston floating caliper ABS
Front tyre size 110/70-17
Rear tyre size 140/70 - 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 102 mpg
Annual road tax £47
Annual service cost -
New price -
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 20 bhp
Max torque 19.9 ft-lb
Top speed 71 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 292 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2022: Royal Enfield Hunter 350 launched

Other versions

Royal Enfield’s Classic and Meteor are built on the same J-Series platform. The Classic is a polished machine with the look of a genuine classic whereas the Meteor is a cruiser-style variant.

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