Friday, May 5, 2023

Royal Enfield's Hunter 350 Metro Rebel

Screen shot of Royal Enfield Bangkok video.
Royal Enfield's Hunter 350 is meant for the chaos of urban traffic.

 Royal Enfield introduced its new Hunter 350 motorcycle to the world with a video of Hunters cutting through thick traffic in Bangkok. It even added a speeded-up segment of that wild ride to its website. 

The video put the emphasis on the neon-lit  metro scene and the Hunter 350's great maneuverability (at least compared to other Royal Enfields). 

Adam Child of Motorcyclist was there and caught the vibe: 

"In Thailand’s seething capital of Bangkok, Enfield’s carefully selected location for its first test, the Hunter excelled. It was punchy enough to surge ahead of the traffic, chassis perfectly balanced at low speeds, a breeze to steer through the gridlocked cars and taxis," he wrote. 

Lighter than other Royal Enfield models, with smaller wheel size and steering geometry to add maneuverability, even the Hunter 350's fuel injection "has been tweaked for a sharper throttle response in urban riding," noted Mercedes Streeter in The Autopian.

And, yet, the Hunter 350 packs only 20.2 brake horse power. Reviewers are saying the Hunter 350 tops out at 71 mph, and "might" get to 75 downhill, with its rider tucked in.

The driver's foot pegs are set back (probably due to the low stance of the smaller wheels). Some reviewers have found that this can cause a passenger's toes to interfere with the driver's heels.

So the Hunter 350 is not the motorcycle you and your significant other will choose for a long cross-country cruise with full luggage. It's pure Metro Rebel.

"Can you believe that Royal Enfield is trying to sell our nation's youth the joy of urban motorcycling?" Maynard Hershon asked me in an email.

He shared a column he wrote about a year ago for Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine. Here's an excerpt:

"The buzz about urban bikes has never been louder. Everyone’s talking about, writing about and making YouTube videos about urban bikes, bikes with fewer horsepower than the 250cc Honda CB72 I bought 60 years ago. Is that remarkable? I think so.

"If you buy a 20-hp bike you are committing to urban riding. You’re buying a limited-performance motorcycle - for real motorcycle money. Real two- or three-year-old capable motorcycle money." 

He remembered when Americans bought small motorcycles to learn on. The underpowered motorcycles were light and unthreatening. But riders were expected to move up to "real" motorcycles.

"Why? So they could ride out past the madding crowd to the hinterland where the riding was good. So they could escape the mean streets of their cities and ride on the blissful, sparsely trafficked country roads that motorcyclists have favored for more than a century.

"Selling city riding as somehow edgy and glamorous is the idea of some guy whose boss makes 20-hp motorcycles. The boss needs to sell thousands of them to urban young people with jobs who’ll get caught up in the glow the marketing guy manufactures."

In actual fact, riding in the city is tedious, Maynard wrote. Worse, it's dangerous. 

"You ride in the city because you have to, not because it is joyful, cool or X-treme. You go there to make a living, not to enjoy riding. Riding in the city isn’t enjoyable. It’s a damn minefield."

He's not wrong. I know. I racked up a lot of miles commuting in the city on my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet, a motorcycle slower and less maneuverable than any current Royal Enfield.

Incredibly, I paid as much in 2001 for that Bullet as a vastly more capable, brand new Hunter 350 would cost me today. If I had a job to go to today I would be in line for a Hunter 350.


  1. Anonymous5/06/2023

    Not interested in a Hunter anyway, as a second bike?

    1. Very interested in the Hunter 350. But, realistically, I already own my "second bike," because my only bike is a 1999 Bullet with a "performance envelope" that limits it to the city. The Hunter is a huge value at its price. But how much more travel does it open to me? Realistically, the only way OUT of my city requires using high-speed roads.


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