Royal Enfield Classic 350: 14,000 long term review
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Acquisition date: September 2021
KM traveled: 14,167km
Current fuel efficiency: 39 kmpl
After spending almost a year without riding a bike, following a long medical condition and surgery, I was quite nervous about getting back on the bike. Especially the one on my 2013 KTM 390 Duke – a rather aggressive bike that is now showing its age with failing ABS. So naturally I was pretty happy when the keys to our long-term Classic 350 were put on the line, as its previous rider, Kartikeya, left the company (of course, after first feeling really depressed by the departure of Kartik).
Before talking about my experience with the Classic, it makes sense to read a few words from the man who has spent the most time with it, Kartikeya Singhee.
“Of the three issues I encountered with the Classic, one occurred with annoying frequency. someone from the office. Jehan used it to test RE’s props; very carefully as the Classic had been gone for weeks! It stayed even longer because I refused to ride the bike with some of the terrible accessories. Then Amar tested his ability as a passenger by getting off in Goa with his wife (she was pregnant at the time)! They remain married and have a newly created family member who will have a hazy connection to the “thump”. Next, Arun used the Classic’s freeway sections for his weekly Mumbai-Pune journeys when the Meteor entered service. Rain, heat, night or afternoon sun, he traveled.
A missing rubber boot on the brake pedal was easy to overlook, but there was a real bummer. The handlebar clamp bolt sheared off on the first drop during the “Shooting SastaADV”. The bolt showed signs of rust. Other owners have also raised this problem with me with rusty bolts on new bikes. Not cool. RE needs to nail this. Fast.”
Now that I’ve put about a thousand and a half miles on the Classic as a daily commute to the office and on weekends, here are the things that really won my heart and some that made my life a little harder.
Easy Rider – YAY!
The the easygoing nature of the Classic is something that made us fall in love with it in the first place, and it is exactly this nature that welcomed me into the world of motorcycling after my break with open arms. My daily commute of around 22km one way involves around 70-80% motorway driving, and here the Classic sits so comfortably at 80km/h. It made my ride enjoyable and relaxing.
Heavy Metal – NO!
Unfortunately, my daily commute takes me through the swamp which is currently the construction area of Chandni Chowk in Pune. And on the way back, it usually involves going through 2-3 km of absolutely jammed traffic. And here, the Classic’s heavy clutch gave me a bad case of arm pump a few times. That said, that hasn’t always been the case. When the bike came to us, the clutch action was lighter. And over the course of a year, even with multiple services, it got a lot heavier.
Built like a gun – YAY!
One thing I’m very grateful about the Classic is its sturdiness. Once, while traveling to Lonavala on the old Mumbai-Pune highway, a rogue Vento driver swerved into the left lane to overtake a slow pace in his lane without checking his left side and the front of his car hit the right side of my bike with a loud ‘crunch’. But the Classic, thanks to its weight, was completely unfazed and kept going. While unharmed, I looked down to see that the entire right footpeg had been ripped off and the rear brake pedal was mangled. Luckily, the Classic’s footpeg mount was big enough for me to rest my foot comfortably on, and even in its mangled state, the rear brake still worked just fine. Built like a gun… yeah, that’s it! It’s more built like a tank!
As much as I love the aesthetic of wire spoke wheels on old school bikes, I hate the fact that it has to run on tube tires. On another trip back from Mumbai on the old highway, I had to stop to fix a puncture on the rear tyre. It took about 30 minutes, but the puncture was fixed and I was on my way. Turns out the guy hadn’t done such a good job and the air from the rear tire was still slowly escaping. By the time I realized this and pulled into another tire shop along the highway, the damage was already done. Upon inspection there were four more punctures on the tube but more than that the inside of the tire had torn in several places and required butt load patches to make the bike rideable enough to fit in at home. Total damage including first puncture – nearly Rs 3,500. Would have been better to buy a new tire and inner tube if I wasn’t literally in the middle of nowhere. I’m just going to say it… the tubeless rule and tube tires, especially for a bike as heavy as the Classic, sucks!
Now the Classic is off for repairs (needs not only a new footpeg and a new brake pedal, but also a new footpeg bracket and a tire and a rear inner tube). He should be back in a few days. I was looking forward to taking her to Rider Mania this year; but unfortunately, I have other commitments on these dates. But it looks like Jehan and Arun should have fun driving the Classic down to Goa for RM, where the bike will be the star of a cool story we have planned. So stay tuned!