The new Royal Enfield HNTR350, aiming to win over a younger audience
With this model, Royal Enfield tries to make motorcycling and commuting by motorcycle accessible and attractive to a younger audience. Think new riders, students, young working professionals, perhaps even as a second, lighter motorcycle. The lines remind of us of the British heritage. It would not look out of place in a line-up with the moderns classics like Triumph.
The little thumper produces 27Nm of torque and 22 BHP of power that are predominantly experienced through the mid-range of revolutions. It is third in line after the very successful Classic and Meteor model (check out our First Ride Review and this Starship custom). It is based on same the 350cc J engine. This single cylinder bike has an entirely different geometry and thus creates a very different riding experience. The reduced rake (25°) and trail (94mm) combined with the 1370mm wheel base make the bike feel light and agile, perfect for city riding. The motorcycles we rode were brand new. Pushing them to their limits, testing peak power at 6100rpm, would have been disrespectful to the technology and torturing the machines. We will save that for another ride… 😉
It easily climbs through the revs and the black dial speedo with white numbers clearly displays increasing velocities. 60km/h to 100km/h in fourth gear is a comfortable acceleration without discomforting vibrations. These do show up at 80km/h in fifth gear, so do not short shift it!
That said, the engine is very forgiving in second and third due to the heavy flywheel. This makes it very suitable for city riding. Unpredictable and abrupt city traffic stops are the responsibility of the 300mm single front and 270mm rear brake rotor. Combined with the dual channel ABS, these do the job.
Room for improvement
Room for improvement can be found in the suspension and in the exhaust. The cobblestone pavement in the historical centre of Dijon and surrounding villages, and the French country lanes did put the suspension to the test. Observations: the linear rear shocks are rather hard, the front suspension is rather soft, a little unbalanced. Though, rear suspension upgrades can be performed rather easily at home. As to the exhaust, for city riding it is, to our taste, too loud and not a pleasant, well-rounded thump one would expect from a little thumper. Plus, I experienced that with a very average EU size 42 I found the heel of my boot touching the exhaust more often than not. A small nuisance, yet I image it to be worse for people with larger feet. Taken both into account, if I would own one of these, I would swap the exhaust for an aftermarket (slip-on) exhaust as soon as they would become available.
Make it your own!
Besides the exhaust and suspension, other work on the bike to do at home would be personalisation of your HNTR. And this is where it becomes even more exciting. We try to provide a platform to inspire motorcycle owners to personalise and customise their motorcycles. Therefore, we are happy to see that RE offers a plethora of accessories. These range from mirrors and indicators to engine guards and tail tidies that are easily bolted on and maintain the warranty. Especially the tail tidy with the ribbed seat will make it look very elegant in our eyes! There are two themes available from the dealers, urban and suburban, that include a selection of the accessories.
The suburban comes with black crash guards, a (although somewhat flimsy) pannier plus rack, touring mirrors, a pillion back rest.
The urban caters more to the (undoubtedly inspired by café racers) roadster image, a fly screen, a level seat, LED indicators, engine guards, and bar end mirrors.
What plays a large role in the outstanding looks of the HNTR350 is the paintjob. It is available in 6 colours, divided into a single colour and two-tone series, called ‘dapper’ and ‘rebel’, respectively. The former includes white, ash, and grey, the latter blue/white, black/white, and red/black. Personally I tip my hat to RE for not making the same mistakes as many other motorcycle (gear) producers when aiming to engage women riders. They offer predominantly white/pink and black/pink colour schemes. These nicely painted petrol tanks hold 13 litres of fuel, good for a couple hundred kilometres with reported consumption of 2.63 L/100km.
In all, I had a great time riding this very fun motorcycle! It is excellent for its intended purpose, so it might just be that the hattrick is not too far off. Of course, we all look forward to seeing what you do with these cool little rippers when it comes to customisation!
(Photos by Florian Meuret and Rodolphe Herpet)