When it comes to pick if a beginner motorcycle you want it to feature a few things. First off, you want an easy clutch action and mellow power delivery. Next, you want an easy reach to the ground. Lastly, you want a bit of a cool factor. Finding a bike that ticks all those boxes is usually tough, but Royal Enfield seems to have nailed each and everyone with the new Classic 350.
Available in a number of colour options, pricing starts at $7,990 for the Halcyon vase colours like our Halcyon Black test bike before going up in stages until you reach the top-spec Chrome options priced at $8,790.
The second bike to utilise the new J-series single-cylinder engine that debuted with the Meteor 350, the classic nails styling with its post-war British aesthetic but adds in modern touches including EFI and ABS.
Power is claimed at 20.4hp (15kW) and 27Nm while top speed is somewhere in the realm of 110-120kph. It’s not a fast bike, but that’s not what you want in something aimed at simple motorcycling.
A stand out feature for me was the sound of the engine. Even with the factory pipe, it has a throaty exhaust note that is full of allure. It sounds like a proper bike as it hums along from point A to point B.
Ergonomically the Classic is comfy, with an upright seating position and reasonably narrow bars making filtering to the head of traffic easy. One black mark against the ergos on my test bike was the gear lever position that required me to really dig my toe under it to shift up the 5-speed gearbox. I tried to adjust the position but ran afoul of the footpeg bracket which stopped me from getting the lever off to reposition it. The lever should be adjustable but it’s probably something you will need a dealer to sort if it annoys you.
After collecting the Classic from Royal Enfield distributors Urban Moto Imports in Tauranga, I had the daunting task of climbing traversing the Kaimai ranges to return back to home base. Knowing the Classic isn’t a powerhouse, I was a little anxious at how the little bike would manage to maintain the open road speed limit up over the hills.
However, in the real-world conditions involving heavy traffic over SH29, I had no issues with taking the little Enfield outside of its urban focus. I even managed, with a bit of planning, to nail a couple of overtake manoeuvres which filled me with a sense of accomplishment.
There are some areas the budget nature of the Classic manage to break through to the surface. The front 300mm disc with twin-piston Bybre caliper isn’t the most amazing stopper and I found I was adding in the 270mm rear unit for additional stopping power. The mirrors are also a bit buzzy, reducing your view rearward to a bit of a blur at higher speeds.
But high speeds aren't where this bike is designed to be, it’s a learner-come-commuter machine at its heart and it nails it around town.
When it came to running small errands around town, I found myself reaching for the keys to the Enfield for the simple joy of riding it.
By far and away the Classic 350 is a perfect tool for beginner riders looking at getting into the world of motorcycling with a bike that not only looks the business but is also easy to manage as well.
The clutch action is light and incredibly forgiving while its turning circle is incredibly tight - perfect attributes for nailing that 6R practical test.
Deciding to put my learner cap on and try my hand at performing practice U-turns for my “test” had me quickly sold on the Classic as a learner machine. It’s just so mellow yet surprisingly capable in the right circumstances.
If anything, the Classic 350 is honest motoring. It isn’t trying to be anything more than the sum of its parts. It is a stylish little learner-come-commuter that happily hums along from A to B and boy, does it look good doing it.
Check out the video below on the On Throttle YouTube channel.