The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is the perfect motorcycle for someone who’s just started riding or for a younger rider that wants a simple, no-nonsense commuter.
It’s one of the lightest Royal Enfield motorcycles on the market and the only one with factory-fit 17-inch wheels, making it a joy to ride around in the city.
The engine makes rather humble output figures, so if this is your primary motorcycle, you might find yourself yearning for more performance very soon.
2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Review
Royal Enfield has been in the business of building motorcycles for well over a century now. What you see here is its latest model—the 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350—and it’s been designed with the intention of attracting a younger audience to the brand. In the words of Siddhartha Lal himself, Managing Director of Royal Enfield, the Hunter 350 is for consumers who love Royal Enfield and love the idea of “pure motorcycling” but find that none of the existing Royal Enfield models are what they’re looking for.
In that sense, the Hunter 350 is a step away from the other motorcycles in the current Royal Enfield Lineup, as well as those we’ve gotten accustomed to over the last couple of decades. It’s based on the recently introduced J-series platform and is one of the more contemporary models the manufacturer has on sale.
Royal Enfield was kind enough to lend me the new 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 for a few days. Over the length of this review, I’ll go into what it was like to ride through the city streets (where it’s been designed to thrive), how it performed out on the highway, and dive into all the specifications that will be of value to you as a potential consumer.
Simple, new-retro-styling with modern-day reliability
Lightweight and low seat height makes bike easy to maneuver
Extremely accommodating to new riders
Tractable gearbox lets you stay a gear (sometimes even two) higher than optimal
Will likely be the most affordable Royal Enfield when it goes on sale in the US next year
Taller riders can look a little odd on the compact Hunter 350
The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is based on the J-series platform we’ve previously experienced on the Meteor 350 and the Classic 350. So while we know what to expect from the engine, much of what surrounds it is new. For that reason, I’m going to talk about the styling before addressing the powertrain, which is typically the most important aspect of a motorcycle.
“Maximum motorcycling per square inch”—that’s Royal Enfield’s tagline for the new Hunter 350, and it certainly holds true. Compared to the Classic 350 and Meteor 350, based on the recent J-series platform, the Hunter has a revised rake angle and a shorter wheelbase. It’s also the first Royal Enfield in the recent past to feature 17-inch wheels at both ends. This gives the Hunter a much more compact look, unlike any Royal Enfield we’ve seen over the last few years.
In its home market, where a significant majority of two-wheelers are sub-200cc commuters, Royal Enfields are sought after for the on-road presence they bring. The Hunter 350 may not share the stature of the thumping, chrome-laden models that are most popular in India, but in my time with it, it still turned a few heads for different reasons. Bright color schemes, attractive styling with the tank and side panels, and a clean, stubby tail section make for a motorcycle that will stand out without drawing untoward attention.
Despite being one of the more contemporary motorcycles that the 120-year-old manufacturer has produced, the Hunter 350 exemplifies the modern-retro niche with a round halogen headlight, basic instrument cluster and switchgear, and minimalist styling.
The Hunter 350 you see in these images is part of the ‘Metro’ series, available in six colorways. It’s the more expensive variant and sets itself apart from the ‘Retro’ bikes with alloy wheels over wired spokes, wider tires, and more premium-looking switchgear.
Honestly, the ‘Retro’ bikes that opted to lean harder onto old-school styling made for a more attractive motorcycle in my eyes. It’s available in two simple color schemes—effectively black or white—resulting in a simple yet nicely done package.
As it typically does, Royal Enfield offers a host of optional accessories that you can choose to equip your motorcycle with. While many of them will alter the aesthetics of your bike, they are also functional, so we’ll take a look at them in a section further below.
2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Engine & Performance
The J-engine made its debut a couple of years ago aboard the Royal Enfield Meteor 350, after which it made its way onto the new Classic 350 too, so it’s not one we’re unfamiliar with. On the Hunter, it produces the exact same output figures—20.2 hp and 14.9 lb-ft of torque. However, the company has made some minor adjustments to the engine mapping, resulting in a more responsive throttle. The changes are most noticeable off the line, and you’ll have the most fun on the Hunter 350 as you use its power band (all of it) to sprint from one stoplight to the next. This experience is only enhanced by a characterful exhaust note.
Overall, the Hunter 350 isn’t a fast motorcycle. There’s enough performance to have a little fun around town, but outright acceleration is certainly not its strong suit. Apart from the humble output figures, the 181 kg curb weight also plays a massive role in keeping this motorcycle grounded.
With a 198 lb rider (myself) at the saddle, the Hunter reached a top speed of just over 110 kph (68 mph) with minimal vibrations at the handlebars. However, this modest performance is what makes it ideal for the audience Royal Enfield has catered it for—younger riders for whom this will probably be a first motorcycle.
Even at top speed, the engine doesn’t seem overly stressed, but keeping it at about 90 kph (55 mph) is definitely the smoother (and smarter) cruising speed to maintain. In terms of acceleration, the Hunter has a 0-100kph (62mph) time of about 15.15s.
That’s lackluster in comparison to the company that the Hunter 350 will probably find itself in with rivals like the Honda Rebel 300, but, as we mentioned above, the Hunter provides an experience that’s ideal for more leisurely riding.
2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Features
The 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 doesn’t have an extensive feature list, but it does have all the essentials in place. Plus, this barebones approach will likely reflect an affordable price tag—it’s certainly been the case in the Indian market, and it’s a fair assumption to make for the United States and other markets.
While there are two variants to choose from—an old-school ‘Retro’ and a slightly better-equipped ‘Metro’—the two are separated only by a couple of notable differences.
Wheels & Tires
As I mentioned above, this is the first modern-day Royal Enfield to feature 17-inch wheels at either end. Out of the factory, these wheels are shod in CEAT tires, but the more universal wheel sizing opens up a world of possibilities for the rubber you choose to equip your Hunter 350 with.
One key difference between the Retro and Metro variants is that the latter comes with wider, tubeless tires on alloy wheels (110/70-17 at the front and 140/70-17 at the rear). This should also make for quicker resolution, should you have to deal with a puncture.
On the other hand, the ‘Retro’ features wire spoke wheels—certainly the more charming of the two—that wear more conventional tubed tires (100/80-17 at the front and 120/80-17 at the rear), meaning you can’t just plug them in at the side of the road and continue riding.
Suspension on the Hunter 350 is handled by a 41mm telescopic fork and twin shock absorbers, with 130mm and 102mm of travel, respectively. While the front fork doesn’t offer any adjustability, the rear has 6-steps of preload. I didn’t have the opportunity to play around with the suspension, but I can tell you that the rear suspension is set up slightly on the firmer side.
The instrument cluster is a relatively simple digi-analog cluster; along the circumference of the circular console is an easy-to-read analog speedometer, and within it lies an (also circular) digital unit that contains all the other information—tripmeter, gear position indicator, and fuel levels. Initially, I found that this digital unit felt a little crowded, but I got familiar with it rather quickly, and once you know where to look, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
The braking department is another area where the two variants have a difference. The better-equipped ‘Metro’ line features ABS at both ends, while the safety feature is available only with the front wheel on the ‘Retro.’
Braking hardware, meanwhile, is identical on both iterations—a two-piston caliper bites down on a 300mm disc at the front, and a single-piston unit clamps down on a 240mm disc at the rear. You’ll find that the brakes are more than adequate for the speeds this motorcycle is capable of, with likable progression and initial bite.
I only got to ride the Hunter 350 in dry conditions and had to brake really hard to get the ABS to trigger at the front wheel. As with most motorcycles, the system kicks in more quickly at the rear.
Royal Enfield has a rather extensive catalog of accessories you can choose to equip your bike with. One of the more desirable ones is the company’s ‘Tripper’ navigation system. This adds a secondary, fully-digital screen that gives you navitagtion prompts with the help of arrows and distance. So while you can’t see your positin on a map, like you would with a purpose-built navigation system or Google Maps, it should make getting lost a little less difficult.
On the downside, the Tripper system is controlled via the Royal Enfield app, which I found was glitchy and slow, making for a rather cumbersome experience. The tedious process of entering the app, heading to the ‘Navigate’ tab, entering your destination, and then waiting for it to be relayed to the motorcycle hampers the convenience of it all.
Some of the other add-ons include a tinted flyscreen, panniers, engine guards, different mirrors, and multiple seat options.
What’s It Like to Ride the 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350?
I really enjoyed my time with the Hunter 350. It’s not for someone looking to do a lot of spirited riding, but it’s still proper fun around the city. The shorter wheelbase, tighter rake angle, and smaller wheels also translate to a nimble commuter with which you could also get by on a motorway.
While the easy-going engine leaves quite a positive impression, I was more impressed by the gearbox. You can go over speed bumps in second gear without any hiccups, and at times, I even pottered around town at a measly 25 mph in 5th gear without any disapproval or intolerance from the engine.
The Hunter is also very accommodating with respect to its ergonomics. I’m 6 feet tall, and there wasn’t a moment where I felt like I’d have liked a little more room—the seat is spacious, and the footpegs, despsite being slightly rearset, didn’t put my legs in a cramped position. When I first saddled the bike, I immediately noticed how I had to reach forward and down for the handlebars. It’s not uncomfortable, but some aftermarket handlebar risers should make a notable difference.
With a slightly firm suspension setup, the Hunter 350 is stable and eager to go around corners. On the flipside, you will have to slow down considerably if you want to go over broken patches of road comfortably.
Royal Enfield has also added an ‘Eco’ readout to the digital unit on the instrument cluster. I experimented with it and found that the ‘Eco’ symbol is illuminated every time you hold a steady throttle, irrespective of your speed. For that reason, it might not be the most accurate indicator of whether you’re riding efficiently.
Should You Buy the 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350?
The 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is the manufacturer’s attempt at enticing younger and newer audiences to the brand. It’s lighter, easy to ride, and more accommodating than most of the manufacturer’s other models, so it’s got the formula perfectly right. With a starting price of Rs. 1.49 lakh ($1,825 USD), the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 undercuts nearly all of its competition in the Indian market, making it an excellent choice.
The bike will cost notably more in the American market when it does make its way here. It’ll also rival more established and capable models like the Honda Rebel 300, so the little thumper has its work cut out for it.
Ultimately, if you’re keen on owning a modern-day Royal Enfield, just getting started in the vast world of two-wheelers, or looking for a fun little machine to belt around town, this is definitely a bike you should be considering.