Deano pinches the keys to AMCN’s long-term Royal Enfield Classic 350 Chrome
I’d just spent a few days blatting around on some of the most impressive bikes launched in the past 12 months for AMCN’s Motorcycle of the Year test when I must’ve subliminally thought that a change of pace was in order. After all, what else could explain my desire to head out to Pete’s and pinch the keys to the Royal Enfield Classic 350 Chrome?
Well, it wasn’t all subliminal, because I really like the look of the Classic 350 Chrome. I reckon RE has nailed the styling, retaining the overall profile of the original Bullet but in an all-new package with modern electronics and, seemingly, modern levels of reliability. Even the detailed stuff mimics REs of old, like the little beak over the headlight, the design of the fork, the shape of the cylinder head, the solo rider’s seat (the pillion seat is removable) and the wheel-hugging mudguards.
I’ve only been on a couple of short rides on the Classic 350 Chrome to date, one of which involved a run up the highway, which confirmed that the 15kW and 27Nm produced by the 349cc air-cooled single is better suited to cruising secondary roads at 80 or 90 clicks than fanging up freeways at 110km/h. Sure, the Classic will sit on 110km/h… but not when there’s an incline or a headwind to stall progress.
The other thing my highway run confirmed was that the optional touring screen fitted to our testbike had to go… at least while the Classic is in my possession. Firstly, I don’t like the look of it, and secondly it produces too much buffeting around my helmet.
If I raise my head a bit higher by standing on the ’pegs, the buffeting goes away, likewise if I crouch down a little lower, so this probably won’t be an issue for tall riders or midgets. Indeed, 186cm-tall Pete Vorst said he was quite fond of the protection afforded by the Classic’s touring screen on his recent Melbourne to Sydney run (AMCN Vol 72 No 08).
Removal of the screen is a straightforward affair, but oddly requires the use of both 5mm and 6mm Allen keys. In any case, it only took a couple of minutes to whip it off and would take no longer to refit it.
The other options fitted to our testbike – rider touring seat, pillion touring seat and rear rack – are more welcome additions. Sure, the Classic looks better without the pillion seat attached, but I think practicality outweighs aesthetics in this case, especially on weekly runs down to Dan Murphy’s for supplies.
There’s plenty to like about the Classic: for starters, it’s easy to ride, it’s comfortable and it looks fantastic. The sun’s out and the roads are dry, so I’m off for a ride…
Words & photography Dean Mellor