Motorcycle Road Testing the Royal Enfield Classic 350 

“I only had the test bike for one week but it was a thoroughly enjoyable week; a week when I remembered to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life,” said Paul Angus.

IT HAD been a crazy week. I had been running around trying to get a few jobs finished and only succeeding in finding more jobs to do. In an effort to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living in the Emerald city, I had spent the whole weekend fixing stuff for other people. While being good for my debt repayments it was not good for my body and soul. Monday brought more work and rain. A lot of rain. I was in two minds as to whether to take the bike out or start building an Ark. I probably should have started building the big boat as riding around Sydney in heavy rain is surely not the best use of a motorcycle. Tuesday arrived and I still had lots of stuff to finish, and thanks to the rain, time was running out. On top of which Skol (Ozbike publisher) wanted me to pick up a motorcycle and it was still raining. No wonder they call it the rat race.

The motorcycle I had to pick up was Royal Enfield’s Classic 350 Chrome. A ‘retro’ styled 350 cc single making 20 horsepower. To put that in context, Yamaha’s RD350 made nearly twice as much horsepower when it was released 50 years ago. I should also mention that it may be classed as a ‘retro’ bike but the little Royal Enfield is a complete upgrade of their previous 350 model. It is now so up to date that there is even a USB port discreetly mounted beneath the handlebar. The rain finally stopped as I arrived at Motociclo in St Peters to collect the bike. John showed me the new motorcycle showroom they have just finished then tossed me the keys to the 350 Classic.

“What’s it worth?” I asked on my way out.

“$8790 on the road.” came the reply “It’s the top of the 350 Classic range. The basic model is around a thousand dollars less.”

In the metal, of which there is a lot of, Royal Enfield Classic 350 Chrome is a very pretty motorbike. At least to my eyes. It also sounds like a proper motorbike to my ears. There is something special about the simplicity of a four-stroke, single-cylinder motorcycle. 

Royal Enfield Classic

The little Royal Enfield came fitted with a few official accessories—touring seats for both rider and pillion, a touring rack and the touring screen. All these items together add up to less than $700. Amazing. The last comfort seat I bought cost more than that on its own and was not as comfortable as the Royal Enfield’s. The 350 Classic also comes with an unlimited kilometre, three-year warranty. 

I needed to get on and get back to work. So I took off along the end of the Princess Highway into Newtown adjusting the mirrors as I went. King Street in Newtown is basically a carpark so I took to the alleyways and back streets. I know a good short cut and it shaves off a few minutes and bypasses the worst of the traffic. However, that particular day it did not save me any time. Instead, something strange happened. I found myself thinking what a beautiful day it was. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the single cylinder was making those noises only a single can make. Everything seemed right with the world. What a perfect day for a ride. That is the Royal Enfield 350 Classic’s party trick—it does not take long for it to weave its magic. The little Enfield is all about slowing down and enjoying the ride. You can not pretend to be a big bad outlaw on it. You can not pretend to be a TT racer. You can not pretend to be a Dakar competitor. It is what it is.

Royal Enfield Classic

In my newly acquired zen-like state, I decided work could wait and a counter meal accompanied by a refreshing ale was a much better idea. After lunch, I figured work could wait until tomorrow and set off for a ride to the eastern beaches. Usually, a run out to the east means dodging badly driven Range Rovers, or worse, Tesla drivers with drag racing illusions. Not today. The little Royal Enfield weaved its magic again. With its easy torque and slim profile it is a doddle to ride through traffic. Not only does riding Royal Enfield’s 350 Classic make you feel good, it seems to make everyone else feel good too. I stopped at a little cafe in Bondi and a woman with a toddler came over to say what a great looking motorcycle it was. She asked if she could take a photo of her son on it to send to her dad. Then as I was getting back on the bike some guy came over to say how great it was to see a proper motorbike.

I spent the next couple of days enjoying the charms of the 350 Classic around town. My youngest daughter thought the pillion seat was very comfortable on numerous rides to school and various friends’ houses. It was all very idyllic so I decided to see how it would go on the open road. This, I thought, would be the little bike’s achilles heel. It is only a 350 single after all. The little Royal Enfield kept up with the freeway traffic but only just, and it was not in its happy place. I took the first exit and left the world of three lane madness behind. On a two lane road with more bendy bits at sane mostly legal speeds, the 350 Classic was a delight. Obviously, it is not designed for racing, but if your ego will cope with that, it is fantastic fun. If I wanted to be picky, the front brake could have a little more umph, but if you use the rear as well, it was all good. I had such a ball I rode non-stop for three and a half hours enjoying life and the little Royal Enfield. When I did stop it was for only because I needed fuel. That touring seat really is very comfortable. Fuel economy is pretty good too. The tank holds 13 litres and I rode well over 300 kilometres before refuelling. When I finally got home, I had spent over eight hours on the little Royal Enfield and enjoyed every moment… except maybe the freeway.

In our crazy world of global pandemics, lockdowns, utes the size of Mac trucks, war in Eastern Europe, electric family cars that accelerate as fast as supercars, alcoholic free beer and people publishing photos of their food online, surely there is a place for the honest simplicity of the Royal Enfield 350 Chrome. I only had the test bike for one week but it was a thoroughly enjoyable week; a week when I remembered to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. If I had to sum up, the little Royal Enfield is, well, far be it from me to glamorise illegal drug use, but riding it is a lot like smoking the magic herb. Slow down, chill out, relax and enjoy…

Paul Angus

Once again, you do not need to take my word for it. Go and test ride one.

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