Monday, April 18, 2022

You won't miss what's missing from Royal Enfield's new Classic 350

Royal Enfield Classic 350 motor and gearbox.
No kick start lever here. Classic 350 is electric start only.

 No. you don't get a kick start lever with the new Royal Enfield Classic 350. Oddly, this is not the first time the Classic has gone without a kickstarter.

Let's have a show of hands: how many of you remember that the 2009 Royal Enfield Classics sold in America were electric-start only? That didn't last long.

The Classic was first sold outside India and, as one wag put it, "who ever thought you could sell a motorcycle in India without a kick start?"

So the kick start returned in 2010 for India and everywhere else. It was traditional and even useful, as earlier Royal Enfield attempts to add electric start had not been considered reliable. The version used in the Classic since 2009 is apparently good enough and probably few riders ever bother kicking anymore.

For 2022, your thumb will have to go it alone.

The kickstarter is not the only thing you won't get (at least for now) on the 2022 Classic 350. 

"The Classic 350 for the US/Canada Markets will not have the Tripper. The Meteor 350 will continue to have it as well as the new Himalayan." Bree Poland, Royal Enfield marketing lead for America wrote me in an email.

Tripper is Royal Enfiel's Bluetooth navigation device that, synced to your smart phone, gives turn-by-turn instructions on how to get where you're going.

Tripper was supposed to be installed in the face of the Classic 350 nacelle, the spot once occupied on Royal Enfield Bullets by the ammeter gauge. It's not going to be there on U.S. models. The worldwide shortage of chips has been blamed.

Royal Enfield Classic 350 dashboard.
Round plug reminds you that you have a Classic 350.

This leaves a hole in the Royal Enfield casquette. U.S. Classic 350s will fill that hole with a round piece of metal labelled to remind you that you are riding a Royal Enfield Classic 350.

I call it a "plug."

"You mean an electrical plug?" my wife asked.

"No," I replied. "I mean it plugs the hole, like a cork."

"You can't call it a plug," she said. "'Plug' has too many meanings."

"What would you call it?" I asked.

"Oh, nice way of turning it around on me," was her answer. "Consider my comment a bit of useful feedback and ignore it at your own risk."

"OK. It's a... cover," I added, uncertain.

But here too, there is a Royal Enfield precedent to follow. I knew I had seen this sort of cover thingee before, on a vintage Royal Enfield.

Graham Scarth, chairman of the Royal Enfield Owners Club UK, told me the 1964 Royal Enfield  Crusader sent to the U.S. had the forks and headlight assembly of the better equipped Continental GT but didn't get a tachometer.

"The twin-clock top yoke had speedo only, with blanking disc in the rev counter hole," Graham wrote.

Tachometer space filled by metal cover.
Royal Enfield used a blanking disk on 1964 bikes that lacked a tachometer.

That's it: It's called a Blanking Disk!

Some disappointed buyers may consider the dashboard plug on the Classic 350 a blankety-blank disk. 

But three points:

First, I think it's an intriguing oddity that one day will distinguish these Royal Enfields. Whatever appearance shortcoming it has is possibly compensated for by the fact that the blanking disk will never become obsolete, as electronic gizmos quickly do.

Secondly, won't it be fun to see what accessories creative people find to fill the hole? Wouldn't a matching analog clock or thermometer be nice? For mountain use, why not a barometric altimeter?  There is a thread on the Unofficial Royal Enfield Community Forum regarding replacing Tripper with a tachometer. It's said to be easy to do, and looks nice.

Thirdly, speaking personally, the dashboard should be the last point on earth I should be staring at as I near a corner on a motorcycle. Hello, cross traffic!

Better riders may have the bandwidth to absorb live navigation. I'm better off getting lost.

Royal Enfield Classic 350 pilot lights.
What you DO get on the new Classic 350: the time-honored Royal Enfield casquette and its small pilot lights. What are they good for? Nothing else is better at telling the world, even at a distance, or at night, that a Royal Enfield is coming.

2 comments:

  1. kevin mahoney4/19/2022

    I think that if you believe that you need the "tripper" on a 350 RE you are looking at the wrong bike. It's all you need in a motorcycle and nothing more

    ReplyDelete
  2. I personally wouldn't buy an RE without a kickstarter, isn't it part of the character of an old looking Brit bike to have a kicker. I never use the button on my C5. As for the spare hole stick a clock in it, most useful.

    ReplyDelete

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