Friday, September 3, 2021

New Royal Enfield Classic 350 is reborn retro

New Royal Enfield Classic 350.
Royal Enfield's new Classic 350 is a new motorcycle 
that clings to its classic retro styling.  

 The all-new Royal Enfield Classic 350 will come to American markets in the 2022 riding season, Royal Enfield North America announced Sept. 1.

 The press release aptly called the Classic Royal Enfield's "iconic" motorcycle.  More than the Himalayan, more than the 1960s inspired 650 twins, more even than the Bullet model that remains on Royal Enfield's India website, the Classic has indeed been classically beautiful.

"The Classic launched in 2008, was a modern and capable motorcycle that symbolized the timeless post-war styling from the heydays of the British motorcycle industry. Its captivating design language and simplicity coupled with dependability catapulted the Classic to global popularity," Royal Enfield boss Siddhartha Lal is quoted, in the press release introducing its "all-new" replacement.

Royal Enfield boss on an original Classic.
Royal Enfield video introduces the new Classic
with a nod to the timeless beauty of the original.

In fact, Lal is shown mounted on a 2008 Classic at the beginning of the video launching the new Classic.

Probably there were video production reasons for that; but the impression I get is that he feels a little bit as I do. And that is this: It is impossible to tear your eyes off the 2008 Classic and its sculpted UCE motor.

The new Classic 350 is undoubtedly more modern, with a double down-tube frame and the 349cc air/oil-cooled, single-cylinder motor first seen in the new Meteor 350. This motor looks like a powerplant, not a piece of sculpture.

There are retro-style nods to the original Classic, including the nacelle with its twin pilot lights and circular, analog speedometer. There are triangular toolboxes and oval side covers and wide, comfortable looking single seat. Flashing wire wheels are shown in some photos although modern trends toward blacking out mechanical parts and wheels also appear in photos.

Shiny new Royal Enfield Classic 350.
The new Classic 350's retro styling still shines from some angles.

There is no kickstart lever; the motor is electric start only. Royal Enfield's India website shows a bewildering selection of attractive and imaginative color schemes, and there are "Signals" versions that look like military issue motorcycles.

The new Classic 350 certainly qualifies as a standard, naked motorcycle, with upright seating position and retro design.

It's just not as pretty as the Classic it leaves behind.

Maybe it's the increased ground clearance, or the fact that the new motorcycle carries its engine above the lower frame rails instead of down between them. This new Classic looks short-coupled in comparison to the original: chunkier; beefier, somehow more angular. Is that a bash plate visible between the front down tubes in some photos or just a modesty panel? (Answer: it's an accessory sump guard of heavy duty aluminum plate and is removeable for cleaning.)

Chart of color combinations for Classic 350.
Signals models will display tank  "census" numbers unique to each motorcycle.

Those who have ridden the new Classic 350 praise its handling, torque and quality of construction. Digital read-outs and on some versions the Tripper navigation feature are shown in the nacelle. Who can deny these have advantages?

I stumble though, at this: we know that the same motor in the Meteor 350 , praised for its beefy torque, provides a top speed only barely acceptable on U.S. Interstates. The Royal Enfield buyer will still need to move up to the more-than-capable INT 650 or Continental GT 650 if he or she wants to go far.

Could this mean there is a 500cc or perhaps even 650cc motor in the Classic's future? Or am I missing the point?

Artwork of Royal Enfield Classic 350.
Royal Enfield's new retro Classic invites you to be new, too.

Leave it with this: Sid Lal is not just the guy who makes the decisions at Royal Enfield. He is the company's chief philosopher and keeper of the flame. It's worth reading his recent message, on the occasion of the new Classic 350, posted on Instagram:

"The last 18 months have been devastating for many and life altering for everyone. The pause in all our lives has allowed us to reset ourselves. To gain clarity in our individual purposes and priorities.

"I want to see the world with fresh eyes. Be wonderous and inquisitive like a child once again. To savor every moment and enjoy the slow passage of time. And to begin a new journey, one that is truly me, yet in congruence with the energy of the world around us.

"Royal Enfield has always stood for exploration; of the world outside and that within ourselves. We have put our heart and soul into creating a new machine that is familiar, and yet at the same time, totally new. The all new Classic 350 is the most timeless and classic form in motorcycling, yet it is fully equipped for everything you throw at it; and a little bit more.

"Your ally for the new you."

To which I would only note that Royal Enfield's catch phrase for the new Classic 350 is "Be Reborn."

Watch the launch video for all the details (features and colors described are those announced for India).


3 comments:

  1. I like it. I thought, at the time of its introduction, that the 350 Meteor was a mistake with it's "cruiser" feet-forward seating position. This is MUCH better.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The 350 is just a piston & counter balancer away from 500cc.
    The question is will they stretch it, or just dress up the 650 Twin as a Classic (standard) motorcycle? The 650 is already 50 state legal, they'd sell a "new" 500 for about the same retail figure and have to EPA test it as well.

    I'm thinking they won't, for the same reason Royal Enfield went to twins back in the 1950's - market demand. But I'm guessing the aftermarket folks will be selling 84mm - 87mm pistons & barrels soon enough. If the pistons are the same weight, the counter balancers won't need to change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. That is very interesting. Thank you for a great comment.

      Delete

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