An All-New Single-Cylinder 350 From Royal Enfield

New from Royal Enfield, the 2023 Hunter 350. The 349cc single-cylinder engine remains untouched, but almost every other component is completely new.

New from Royal Enfield, the 2023 Hunter 350. The 349cc single-cylinder engine remains untouched, but almost every other component is completely new. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

Royal Enfield’s current focus on producing bikes for its home and emerging markets is eloquently expressed by the Indian manufacturing giant’s new Hunter 350.

The Hunter 350 is specifically designed to excel in the cut and thrust of the world’s largest and most congested megalopolises. It’s nimble, cheap to run, and propelled by an unburstable air-cooled single-cylinder engine that gives the bike just enough gumption to keep ahead of the scooter hordes when the lights turn green.

But there’s more to the Hunter than practicality. At just 399 pounds, it’s 22 pounds lighter and has a shorter wheelbase and sharper geometry than its 350 siblings. Its 17-inch wheels, a first for Enfield, help give it a welcome sporting edge in the urban context. With more than 80 percent of the manufacturer’s sales now coming from India itself, its modern styling is clearly aimed at a younger audience too.

The air-cooled SOHC 349cc single is identical to that found in Enfield’s Classic 350 and Meteor 350, producing a gentle 20.2 hp at 6,100 rpm and 19.9 lb.-ft. torque at 4,000 rpm. The fuel injection has been tweaked to improve throttle response; Enfield quotes a top speed of 71 mph. As you might expect, there are no electronic riding modes or rider aids.

There’s no hiding the fact the SOHC two-valve 350 is as basic as they come. But 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.

The fueling is soft and easy, the gearbox positive while feeling robust, and even during a 62-mile night ride, I never for a moment wanted any more power or performance. An indicated 75 mph was achievable when I tucked in tight, though only when the going was flat and there was no headwind.

Of course, the traffic usually moves with a little more freedom in the cities of Europe and the USA, and there’s a question mark regarding how well the Hunter will cope in a faster environment. It lacks zip when accelerating from 50 mph, and if you are commuting in and out of the city, it may struggle to stay ahead of the traffic.

Chassis-wise, those new 17-inch wheels are 3.3 pounds (front) and 3.5 pounds (rear) lighter than the rims seen on its stablemates, for a significant saving in unsprung weight. The frame is beefed up, the wheelbase is shorter, and the head angle is more aggressive than its 350 cousins too. Suspension is completely new, with 5.1 inches of travel at the front and 4 inches at the rear, plus preload adjustment on the rear. The footpegs are slightly higher and set back farther, while the CEAT tires have been specifically designed for this model.

All this, plus a low, generous, pillion-friendly seat, makes for a supremely easy bike to ride. The Hunter feels perfectly balanced, agile and relaxed as if the center of mass is held low in the chassis. The steering lock has an extremely tight turning circle that’s perfect for weaving through stationary traffic.

When the streets clear and the pace gets hotter, the Hunter 350 maintains its chilled but sporty attack plan. Specially developed CEAT tires lack feel and side grip when pushed (and the exhaust touches the asphalt a little early), but there’s plenty of fun to be had. The front fork is a little soft, the rear end a little firm; the only adjustment available is rear spring preload. The single disc and twin-piston caliper with dual-channel ABS up front is unintimidating to newer riders and delivers just about all the stoppage the Hunter needs.

In fact, it’s easy to imagine new riders and veterans alike enjoying a gentle ride along a country lane on the Hunter. It is modern in its outlook and poise, but also charming and refreshingly simple; slightly old-fashioned too, if that makes sense. It will also be pleasantly cheap to run. The other 350 models in this Enfield stable regularly average over 83 mpg (US) if ridden sensibly, and Enfield quotes a slightly pessimistic 71 mpg (US) for the Hunter.

There’s no doubt that the Hunter’s ease of use and friendly delivery will make it a favorite with many. Some will understandably turn their nose up at its lack of power and performance, its basic LCD clocks, and ugly switch gear. But swap those CEAT tires for something grippier and the Hunter will make for a rewarding ride, both in the city and along quiet back lanes.

2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Technical Specifications and Price

PRICE TBD
ENGINE 349cc, SOHC, air-cooled single-cylinder; 2 valves/cyl.
BORE x STROKE 72.0 x 85.8mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 9.5:1
FUEL DELIVERY Fuel injection
CLUTCH Wet, multiplate; cable actuation
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 5-speed/chain
FRAME Steel downtube spine
FRONT SUSPENSION 41mm telescopic, nonadjustable; 5.1 in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Twin shocks, preload adjustable; 4.0 in. travel
FRONT BRAKES 2-piston caliper, 300mm disc w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE 1-piston caliper, 270mm disc w/ ABS
WHEELS, FRONT/Rear Cast alloy; 17 x 3 in. / 17 x 4 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR CEAT; 110/70-17 / 140/70-17
RAKE/TRAIL 25.0°/3.7 in.
WHEELBASE 54.0 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 31.5 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.4 gal.
CLAIMED WET WEIGHT 399 lb.
WARRANTY 36 months
CONTACT royalenfield.com

This is the first Enfield to feature sporty, lightweight 17-inch wheels front and rear.

This is the first Enfield to feature sporty, lightweight 17-inch wheels front and rear. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

The air-cooled SOHC 349cc single is identical to that in the Classic 350 and Meteor 350.

The air-cooled SOHC 349cc single is identical to that in the Classic 350 and Meteor 350. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

Enfield claims to have played with the fuel injection to give the Hunter a crisper feel, and quotes a top speed of 114 kph/71 mph, which is actually achieved in fourth gear and not top (fifth).

Enfield claims to have played with the fuel injection to give the Hunter a crisper feel, and quotes a top speed of 114 kph/71 mph, which is actually achieved in fourth gear and not top (fifth). (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

We visited Bangkok to see if the new Hunter 350 could cut it in one of the busiest and most congested cities in the world.

We visited Bangkok to see if the new Hunter 350 could cut it in one of the busiest and most congested cities in the world. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

No rider aids, no rider modes… Just the two-channel ABS which cannot be deactivated.

No rider aids, no rider modes… Just the two-channel ABS which cannot be deactivated. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

There is no hiding the fact the SOHC two-valve 350 is basic, but in Thailand’s seething capital Bangkok, the Hunter excelled.

There is no hiding the fact the SOHC two-valve 350 is basic, but in Thailand’s seething capital Bangkok, the Hunter excelled. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

The low seat is accommodating for short riders, and there appears to be plenty of room and decent grab handles for the pillion.

The low seat is accommodating for short riders, and there appears to be plenty of room and decent grab handles for the pillion. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

The LCD clocks are neat and easy to read with a clear gear position indicator. They are on the basic side but do the job.

The LCD clocks are neat and easy to read with a clear gear position indicator. They are on the basic side but do the job. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

Push the handling and the exhaust will eventually touch down the right side with an attached risk of lifting the front tire.

Push the handling and the exhaust will eventually touch down the right side with an attached risk of lifting the front tire. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

It is no sportbike, but below 50 mph spirited riding is rewarded.

It is no sportbike, but below 50 mph spirited riding is rewarded. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

You could easily be fooled into thinking the Hunter 350 is just a Meteor or Classic with some fresh bolt-on parts but, engine aside, is actually an entirely new bike.

You could easily be fooled into thinking the Hunter 350 is just a Meteor or Classic with some fresh bolt-on parts but, engine aside, is actually an entirely new bike. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)

Prices are yet to be confirmed but the Hunter is set to be the cheapest of the 350 range despite being arguably the most appealing and attractive.

Prices are yet to be confirmed but the Hunter is set to be the cheapest of the 350 range despite being arguably the most appealing and attractive. (Royal Enfield/Nigel Paterson/)
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