Spring is here and summer is right around the corner, for many Americans, now is the prime time to get on two wheels. If you’re looking for a new motorcycle and are not flush with cash, Royal Enfield has a new machine for you. The 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is freshly on the scene in America. It brings some incredible classic style and some highway-capable power for a starting price of $3,999.
If you haven’t noticed lately, I’m looking into buying my first new motorcycle. My stable currently includes a torquey Buell Lightning, a symphonic Triumph Tiger, and a romantic Genuine Stella scooter. For the past couple of years, I’ve been singing the praises of Janus Motorcycles and Royal Enfield, specifically their designs. Riding a Janus Halcyon 450 was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels. Unfortunately, I don’t have $14,545 burning a hole in my pocket to buy a bespoke Janus two-wheeled time machine, but I do have the kind of cash for a Royal Enfield, and Royal Enfield has been knocking it out of the park over and over again lately. The company has another new bike for America and this one looks to be another home run. This is the 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350; just take a gander:
Royal Enfield Hits Its Stride
Royal Enfield has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts in recent years. The company, known by many riders as the company that builds cheap bikes that tend to break, found a winning formula. In 2015, it purchased Harris Performance Products in the U.K.. Pierre Terblanche was then poached from Ducati to become RE’s head of industrial design. James Young and Simon Warburton came over from Triumph, where they worked as heads of engines and products, respectively.
Royal Enfield still wasn’t done, as it headed over to Bosch for some fuel injection. Royal Enfield even found a Harley-Davidson manager, Rod Copes, to run its North American operations. While this was happening, Royal Enfield’s CEO Siddhartha Lal divested 13 businesses from parent company Eicher Group, leaving the company with a more focused portfolio.
This all adds up to a Royal Enfield lineup of today that’s more attractive, more reliable, better quality, and designed in the U.K. Reviewers and owners alike can’t get enough of Enfield’s time capsules and the company’s newfound popularity has been good enough to convince Mahindra to try to replicate the same success by reviving British marques like BSA.
For riders all over the world and here in America, Royal Enfield provides affordable machines dripping with classic style. It’s also a manufacturer notable for building a scrambler from the bones of an off-road bike rather than a street bike like its rivals. As Ryan from FortNine pointed out last month, a number of manufacturers are cashing in on the off-road bike craze by slapping off-road bits on sportbikes and cruisers. But Enfield? Its Scram 411 started off as the Himalayan adventure bike.
The Hunter 350
Despite its retro looks, the Hunter 350 is a new Royal Enfield design. It was designed to tackle those commutes to the city core. Originally launched last year in its home market in India, the Hunter 350 has been a smashing success. Enfield sold 50,760 Hunter 350s in just three months from August through October 2022. Part of that has to do with the fact that the Hunter 350 is the cheapest Royal Enfield. Here in America, you can snag one for just $3,999. But more than that, Enfield pulled some tricks out of its sleeve to win over riders.
On the surface, there’s not much different about the Hunter 350 than the Royal Enfield Meteor 350 or the Classic 350. It just looks like a different variation of the same thing. Indeed, its 349cc engine makes just 20.2 HP at 6,100 rpm and 19.9 lb-ft torque at 4,000 rpm like its siblings.
The difference here is that the fuel injection has been tweaked for a sharper throttle response in urban riding. When Motorcyclist tested the machine in 2022, the publication found that the engine provided more than enough punch to shoot through traffic.
That engine is bolted to an all-new frame. Unlike its other 350cc class siblings, the engine is a stressed member here. By doing this, Enfield was able to make the Hunter 350 weigh 21 pounds less than the Meteor and a whole 31 pounds lighter than the Classic 350.
The whole machine weighs 399 pounds wet. Also helping the Hunter 350 navigate cities with poise is its 17-inch wheels, which are smaller than its siblings that have 18-inch and 19-inch wheels. Adding to the Hunter 350’s nimble credibility is the fact that its 53.9-inch wheelbase is nearly an inch shorter than the Classic 350’s and more than an inch shorter than the Meteor’s.
In terms of suspension, it has a telescopic fork up front and twin tube emulsion shocks out back with adjustable preload. Braking is handled through ByBre brakes consisting of a 300mm disc up front with a twin-piston caliper and a 270mm disc out back with a single-piston caliper. In terms of technology, you do get dual-channel ABS but don’t expect any rider aids. You do get a USB port for charging a device, which is nice.
The instrumentation is also pretty neat. It’s a mix of an analog gauge and a monochromatic display. Sure, you can get better displays elsewhere, but I love how Royal Enfield stays true to the classic look while adding a few modern touches.
Other good news comes in the form of ergonomics. The new frame and its new rearward footpeg placement make the Hunter 350 an upright standard-style motorcycle.
Combined with a 31.1-inch seat height, it should fit a variety of riders and provide a comfortable commute. If there’s any bad news for me to deliver, it’s that Royal Enfield’s quoted top speed is 71 mph. I’ve seen Classic 350s hit 75 mph given a long enough flat road, but just be aware that this probably isn’t the bike to ride if you live in a place where traffic flows at like 90 mph.
Really, think of this as a commuter, an urban motorcycle, or something to bomb down country roads on. It even comes in a plethora of colors, too, so you might find one in a style you love. As I said, the starting price for this motorcycle is just $3,999. Some of the cooler colors are a $200 option and you’ll likely pay a little more for freight, setup, and other fees at a dealership. Still, it’s an attractive motorcycle for an alluring price. I will see if we can swing a leg over one this summer!
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Offering a 350 single in the US is a bit of a full circle since the original Enfield Bullet was a 350 before being bored out. I hope it has a bit more oomph than the 500 Classic I tried in 2014 which felt underpowered. Granted I normally ride a BMW Airhead which has twice the cylinders and less antiquated engineering. I’m not the market for this bike but beginners in temperate cities are
I’ve been impressed with Royal Enfield lately. That’s a good looking bike and I’m old enough to remember when a 350 was considered large enough. Nothing wrong with having a bike not suited for the Interstate. I’m eager to lay eyes on the Super Meteor 650. I believe that will be the real attention getter.
Us aging boomers have always had a love for smaller displacement bikes. While we started out on the proverbial dual purpose enduros, a street focused bike was always a better choice for street riding. No shame, and more fun. Admittedly these RE bikes are too heavy for their displacement, they have the “stuff” that riders nowadays want. Hope they sell a boatload or three of them.
But, and an old boomer whose moved up, I ain’t giving up my Kawasaki ZRX.
My Dad is an aging booming and pretty seriously considering a Royal Enfield. He had a Goldwing back in the day and has had two Honda Silverwing commuter scooters. All three of them he used as touring bikes, from Minnesota going to Nova Scotia in the east and Seattle in the west and several trips to various places in the Rockies. The Silverwing has been good for him, and the step-through design is good for his old joints. But, he has found that he’ll get 1000 miles from home only to be stopped from some cool place by 5 miles of gravel.
So he’s considering the Himalayan. I’ve gone and looked at them a few times with him, Royal Enfield’s lineup is pretty cool! Personally, I’ll pass though. Not because of any issue with their motorcycles, but because I’m a bad combination of adventurous and clumsy.
“now is the prime time to get on two wheels.”
I’ve already seen two people wipe their sportbikes out on cold pavement. This time of year is so much fun to watch the overconfident and impatient. LOL
Assuming the speedometer is in mph and not kph, getting to use less than 1/2 of the gauge seems wee bit ridiculous.
The final gen Toyota Celica (the endurance racer looking one) had a similar speedometer but for real (in MPH, I mean) – the top speed listed was like 210, so for most of your everyday driving, you were squinting at the lower left hand quadrant of an already small gauge. And having the numbers in an “edgy” curvy font didn’t help either.
Considering that top speed is no better than my wheezing Rebel (even with the RE having a bit of extra power), I wonder if the rear gearing is set up for a little more low speed punch, and if more top speed is available if that’s what you’re looking for. I don’t need wild acceleration, but something a bit more highway capable would be nice just to leapfrog past the sprawl to get to the good roads. Really, the INT650 is just about perfect for what I’d be looking for if I had new bike money, but the smaller bikes are pretty decent looking too.
looks like a dechromed classic, nothing wrong with that I suppose.
I would want to opt for the 650 twin for a couple grand more. but I am disappointed they don’t offer a kick start back up starting option for the times when the battery drains down a bit.
I too would love a kickstarter for a backup! I park my bike in a parking garage, so no battery maintainer for me, and it’s so frustrating when there’s almost but not enough juice to turn her over.
I’ve been looking at the Meteor for a bit now, and this is fantastic in all the ways that get me excited about that one. I need to see if I can go check them both out.
It’s been decades since I’ve been on a bike, but Royal Enfield manages to hit all the points I’m interested in. Price, style, and familiarity are way more important to me than top speed and acceleration.
As to a top speed of 70, that’s plenty for me. I’ve seen the drivers on the freeway. I don’t need to be any smaller and less visible than I am in my car, and certainly not less protected. I’ll stick to back roads and two-lane state highways.
There’s a dealership near me in Chicago that has new 2022 Meteors going for $3700. Can’t beat a deal like that in my amateur opinion.
Seems very similar to the 2018 Yamaha SR400 I had. It suited my city commute perfectly, but quickly found its limits on longer highway rides. I traded to a Yamaha XSR700 to get modern performance with some retro flair.
all of the bikes they offer except maybe the Himalaya look and feel a lot like the old XS series o Yamaha. These were Japanese clones of Triumphs and in a sense Enfield’s as well. In India the Enfield just never died. It is kind of interesting they don’t have a 500 single. I could have sworn they had one 20 years ago when I first saw these things at a dealer in Kentucky.
There’s still traces of them, if you know where to look.
Also, while I am not 100% sure that the Classic 500 from Malaysia was ever available here, I do see that the Bullet 500 was available as a 2020 model, so they had a 500 single in the US fairly recently.
Sounds like a great bike for city and suburban work – shorter wheelbase and small tires make the steering quick and responsive, and a scrambler suspension is good for rough streets. I like the upright riding position for street work – more comfortable. I also really like torquey vertical twin engines too. More power, please? Well, yeah, but: All that matters in city riding is keeping up with the housewives in their crossovers. You’ll be stopping at the next signal anyhow. So the low gearing for quick acceleration is a plus and top speed is kind of irrelevant.
Finally I appreciate the classic look – not everything has to look like Kaneda’s bike from Akira
In that vein, the Honda Nighthawks always to my eyes managed to capture that elusive mix of classic and futuristic, all the way until the end.
So refreshing and spoke to the time put in to deliver a bike for its actual use, not simply putting lights and mirrors on a race replica like much out there (though that’s changing finally).
I tell myself I’d ride a motorcycle just because of bikes like this. This may be the price point where I would have to put my money where my mouth is.
Paradoxically, you probably shouldn’t have a brand-new bike as your first.
As you’re learning, you’re likely to have a mishap or three. They sting a lot less if you’re riding a used machine.
Depending on where you are, you should be able to find some options in the $2000 range, leaving you a good budget for safety gear and maintenance.
we’re at a point where there are good classic 350s popping up used. Not for 2 grand, but you’ll be getting a close to new bike with ABS that’s cheap enough that you aren’t going to cry if you stall out and drop it turning into a parking space.
I was at the Town & Country in San Diego last week, and the Royal Enfield folks were there for some kind of press event/product launch for this bike. I got to see them up close, and they were very cool. I don’t ride, but this is exactly the kind of bike I’d want if I did ride. I had no idea that they were so inexpensive.
Slow bike fast?
It’s easy to smile as you pass people with fun, finesse and a little bit of situational pre-reading. On the freeway it would be a slog though. I have memories from the early 1970’s on my 1968 Triumph 250, my first street licensed bike, which was a little faster than this, it was fun everywhere else, but Hwy 401.
To be fair (to be faaaaaair) hardly anything is fun on the 401.
(I’m assuming you meant the one that goes through Tronno.)
Really glad to see the continued trend back toward middleweights.
When I first got my license, America was in the midst of its “the good times will be here forever right?!” binge that saw motorcycles come in basically 2 flavors (to reference Mercedes IIRC) – giant and chromed or green and insanely fast. The lack of choice for those of us who recognized our limits/the dictates of reasonable public safety and wanted something else was frustrating.
And hey – I ride year ’round, as long as there’s not snow on the ground! Though as I get older, I’ll admit it’s not nearly as bracingly fun to be out there in the 40s as it used to be!
it was certainly cold yesterday morning, but got up into the 50’s by the afternoon. road out the tank of stabil fuel anyway. These bikes never really went away. the single and vertical twin standard has been around since I got my license at 16, the early 90’s. Back then the 650 Savage and SR500 were still available new, yet of course me being a kid with not that much money, I was buying the 10 year old XS650 and Honda’s 450’s or Kawasaki LTD 454. Kawasaki made a pretty nice W650 in the early 2000’s too, but not many bought them. It all goes in spurts based upon the economy and how much the top dogs have raised prices.