Ridden: Royal Enfield Hunter 350 review

Matheiu Day-Gillett
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Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is the new entry point for the brand in NZ.

Royal Enfield’s new Hunter 350 joins the market as the fun performer of the brand’s 350cc line. But instead of charging extra for the privilege of a more engaging ride, the Hunter is the most affordable bike in the entire Enfield range, at just $7590.

Royal Enfield Hunter is the fun performer of the 350cc line.

Royal Enfield made a lot of noise about the Hunter being the lightest and sportiest member of the 350 range, which also consists of the Classic 350 we tested last year and the Meteor 350 cruiser. With a stylish design, lighter weight and easy-to-live-with ergonomics, it sounds like a real winner.

The rear suspension features six-level preload adjustment, while the fork is a pretty simple 41mm telescopic unit. Being on the porkier side of riders, I added a couple of clicks of preload which measurably sharpened the handling, as well as prevented the shocks from bottoming out with my weight on board.

On the spec sheet, with 17-inch wheels front and back and a wet weight of 181kg compared to the 191 of the Meteor 350 and 195 of the Classic 350, the Hunter 350 comes across as being a bike that is set up to be more agile and fun than its stablemates.

Modest power is the main limiting factor of the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 .

Just like the other 350 Enfields, the Hunter is powered by the 14.8kW J-series SOHC single-cylinder engine, and that is the bike’s main limiting factor.

With 27Nm, it holds speed well once you manage to get up there, and I found the bike holding 110km/h nicely on the Waikato Expressway on a ride up to Auckland. Like the other 350 Enfields, the Hunter is not a quick bike, at least not on the open road. But that’s not the environment it was primarily designed for.

Get the Hunter 350 into the bustling city centre and it suddenly becomes one of the best urban commuters and traffic-beaters around.

If Royal Enfield knows anything, it’s how to make an excellent commuter for the masses and the Hunter 350 fits the bill perfectly.

Seat height measures 790mm, so planting both feet down at a stop light is easy for even those short of inseam, while the width of the handlebars is nice and narrow, allowing you to easily fit through gaps - be it between cars or around tricky parking spaces. That means filtering up to the head of traffic is incredibly easy and you’re not constantly worried about knocking into the mirrors of regular traffic.

I’m generally pretty hesitant to involve myself in the practice of lane splitting. Crashing while doing it tends to have that effect. But riding the little Enfield was such a huge confidence booster and I soon found myself splittin’ with the locals as if I was once again one of their own.

While its open-road performance is adequate, in the central city 14.8kW/27Nm becomes more than enough to slay traffic. Filtering to the front of traffic lights, the Hunter’s mix of short gearing and light weight makes getting away from traffic lights a breeze. Plus, the torquey engine can essentially be left in second gear as you pootle about town.

As always with Royal Enfield’s single-cylinder machines, the clutch is very forgiving, helping to ensure the Hunter is easy to control at slow and technical speeds.

As the third bike in Royal Enfield’s 350cc lineup, the Hunter differentiates itself from the Classic and Meteor with a modern roadster aesthetic that I think is quite reminiscent of the Triumph Speed Twin 900. Unlike the Triumph, the Hunter is learner-approved and incredibly attainable price-wise.

The stylish little Hunter definitely seemed to get the nod of approval from the public too, with a pair of ladies yelling their approval as I rode past them in the Viaduct harbour.

Now if that’s not reason enough to jump on board, I don’t know what is.

PRICE: $7590
ENGINE: 348cc J-Series SOHC single-cylinder
POWER: 14.8kW/27Nm

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