You’ve got to start somewhere, right? Remember back to your first bike, it was probably a ratty-old 250cc that you didn’t care if you dropped, crashed or bashed. Fast-forward to today, and you’re probably burning through your weekends on a 100+hp speed machine. Now, a 350cc single-cylinder may not be the bike of choice for a seasoned rider, but as the old adage goes – it’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it. Opening the throttle and riding to the limits of a small-capacity bike is nothing but honest fun. The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is no exception to that. We took this nifty 350 out and about on the streets of Melbourne, to take the urban all-rounder for a test ride in its natural habitat.
The first impression of this bike was that Royal Enfield took no shortcuts in its design. Simple and sexy was the brief, and they certainly nailed that. Taking on a modern roadster design, the Hunter 350 slots nicely into the 350cc single-cylinder line-up from Royal Enfield, targeting riders who want to give a nod back to classic design but have their sights firmly set on the future. Available in two style variations; the Dapper and the Rebel, each style offers 3x colour options. The Dapper range gives metallic style and class to the bike, while the Rebel range speaks a little louder in blocked colours and large print design. In person, the Dapper range really shone.
Maybe it was the metallic flair underneath the rare Melbourne sun, but the pop of turquoise on the Ash was definitely an eye-catcher. This bike will quickly earn its place amongst Royal Enfields 350 range with its timeless design, bulletproof reliability, easy-riding nature and beginner-friendly price point. For us, the 350 Hunter has proven itself as one of the most accessible, versatile and enjoyable motorcycles on the market.
One of the standout features of the 350 Hunter is its engine. At the heart of the Hunter beats a fuel-injected, long-stroke 350cc J-engine that delivers a smoother ride, higher RPM and dollops of torque. Paired with a steady downtube spine frame and grounded suspension, the Hunter 350 gives the right amount of power and precision, whether you’re revving up the city streets or gunning down the motorway. This may not sound like much compared to modern motorcycles, but it’s more than enough for its intended use.
Getting into more of what we want to know, is just how far can you customise the Hunter 350 before you roll it off the showroom floor? The availability of parts is enough to get you started, with a smoked windshield, front and rear LED indicators, bar end mirrors, side pannier, a taller flat seat, and likely more on the way. Royal Enfield went for quality over quantity with these extras, simple choices that won’t break the bank and will give your new bike a boost of style.
But the 350 Hunter is more than just a pretty face. It’s practical and versatile. The bike has a low seat height, which makes it easy to ride for riders of all sizes. We rode on the taller seat, and honestly, for this bike the tall seat isn’t just for tall riders. As a self-proclaimed short king, riding the taller seat was comfortable and gave the perfect ride height. Its flat design takes me back to hooning around on my DRZ400, and probably added to the failed attempts at trying to pop a wheelie (although ‘Mono-Mal’ didn’t seem to have a problem with that).
Now onto the ride. Departing Essendon Fields, we took the opportunity to warm up the brand new tyres by hammering down the freeway. A smart move, so with balance in mind I took the opportunity to do something dumb. One of the first questions that pop up when riding a new bike is; “how fast does this thing go?” Call me curious. With a lot of revving and gear changes under heavy load, I was pleasantly surprised with just how easy each kick was.
The Hunter 350 is tuned differently to its 350cc counterparts. It’s responsive, and within the context of this single cylinder, had a nice pop of torque. This escapade produced my only negative thoughts on the bike: 1) The engine and exhaust are far too quiet, and 2) With wind and highway traffic noise, it’s difficult to hear and feel your gear changes without a tacho. Both of these have easy and affordable custom solutions. Alternatively, you can kill 2 birds with one hammer by knocking out the baffle and going on your way.
For those of you who just want the damn number, I pretty smoothly reached 116km/h. Not bad for a 20hp single.
Continuing through our urban commute, we tackled a few twists and turns on the track kindly provided by VicRoads. The upright riding position of the Hunter 350 with the taller seat made whipping this 177kg pocket rocket through traffic a whole lot of fun. It’s simple to ride, and easy to maneuver. After a quick sprint to the beach, we chased the sun back to our final stop, before fueling our bodies and taking a crisp night’s ride back to base. Riding with the city lights blurring past your visor felt right on this bike. It really does what Royal Enfield set out to achieve and that is to give you an urban commuter with style that you can enjoy – and what more do you want out of your first bike, or even just a bike in general?
Overall, the Royal Enfield 350 Hunter is a classic motorcycle that offers a unique blend of vintage style and modern practicality. It’s a bike that is perfect for riders who appreciate the simple pleasures of motorcycling and value a reliable, easy-riding machine that can handle any situation. If you’re looking for a fun, versatile motorcycle that will turn heads and put a smile on your face, the 350 Hunter is definitely worth considering. At $6,500 + on road costs, it’s got to be one of the best new bikes on the market in that price bracket. Whether you’re a seasoned rider looking for something lightweight to cruise around on, or you’re new to riding with a bit of cash to spend, this bike is what you need. We certainly gave it the Pipeburn burnout of approval.
[ Photography by Jason Lau & Tom Fossati ]