Here is the latest generation model of one of the most iconic motorcycles in the world: the Royal Enfield Bullet 350.
Story: Azaman Chothia
Photography: Apurva Ambep
The Bullet 350 has been somewhat of a legend in the world of motorcycles. With the production of the first-generation model beginning in 1932, this is one of the oldest motorcycle models in the world with a run spanning 91 years and counting. For 2023, Royal Enfield have introduced the new Bullet 350 which has been upgraded with the J-platform engine and some other minor tweaks.
In terms of design, the bike stays true to its roots, so you still see the iconic retro silhouette, but one of the main visible differences is that the Bullet 350 now sports a re-designed single-piece seat. At the front, the round headlight unit now misses out on the small hood and the bike also has a slightly re-designed rear end. As you get astride, the new seat is exceptionally comfortable and, given its height of 805 millimetres, it is accessible to shorter riders as well. Ergonomically, this is similar to the Classic 350 with forward-set foot-pegs but you sit more upright as the handlebar on the Bullet 350 is set higher. With a kerb weight of 195 kilograms, this is a heavy motorcycle but the weight is not felt as much once the bike is on the go.
There are a total of five colour options spread across three variants. The base Military variant is offered in two colour schemes, black and red. Meanwhile, the Standard variant is being offered in Black and Maroon. The top-end Black Gold variant gets a blacked-out engine, silencer, and sports golden pinstripes. Just like the new Classic 350, this one, too, gets heads turning in the city. The instrument cluster is similar to the one we see on the Classic 350. This is an analogue console with a digital unit under it that displays simple but vital information. The Bullet 350 does not get the tripper navigation pod, even as an accessory. Switchgear is also updated to the one seen on the Classic 350. Apart from that, the handlebar grips and levers are the new units we have seen on the updated Classic 350.
The main upgrade to the Bullet is the new engine, which we have already seen in the new Classic 350, Hunter 350, and Meteor 350. This is a 349-cc, single-cylinder motor churning out 20.2 hp at 6,100 rpm and a peak torque of 27 Nm at 4,000 rpm. This engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox and in the same tune as the Classic 350. So, this is essentially the most refined version of the Bullet 350 to date. It pulls strong and smooth from the low-range rpm and revs to the red-line without any harsh vibrations to ruin the overall ride experience. There is a very slight buzz at the foot-pegs when you really push the motor, but, in all fairness, this engine is not really meant to be used that way. It is very tractable and can easily cruise around in fifth gear at a speed as low as 40 km/h. Cruising between 80 km/h and 100 km/h is when the bike feels at home. What I really liked was the crisp throttle response, slick gear-shifts, and an easy-to-operate clutch that made the ride experience all the more engaging. The only thing that hardcore enthusiasts don’t seem to appreciate so much is that the bike does not get a kick-starter any more and the iconic thump from the exhaust has somewhat diminished. These are sacrifices that riders are going to have to look past, especially when you consider the high level of refinement and comfort that the Bullet 350 now offers.
The Bullet makes use of a double downtube frame with a 41-millimetre telescopic fork up front and a pair of twin shock-absorbers at the rear. Meanwhile, it uses a 19-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel with broader CEAT rubber. This suspension set-up has been tuned perfectly to tackle our road conditions. It feels more on the stiffer side but still manages to chug along on bad roads and undulations without discomfort for the rider. When it comes to handling, it is a precise motorcycle. As you enter a corner, it holds the line really well and this is also thanks to the CEAT tyres that do a really good job of providing grip. With these stable handling characteristics, this is a really confidence-inspiring motorcycle to ride when compared to the older variant.
Stopping power comes from disc brakes at both ends with the assistance of dual-channel ABS. This braking set-up is a big leap ahead when compared to the older model. The brakes get the bike to stop way quicker, which gives the rider more control and confidence. Meanwhile, the ABS is calibrated well to get the bike to stop gradually and in a stable manner when you get on the brakes hard in case of an emergency.
Priced between Rs 1.74 lakh and Rs 2.16 lakh (ex-showroom), the new Bullet 350 is just slightly more expensive than the older model. After my time spent astride this motorcycle, I came back really satisfied with the experience even though a classic cruiser is not my preference when it comes to motorcycle genres. It goes to show how much the Bullet 350 has improved as a motorcycle and it is nice to see that its legacy still lives on after all these years. With an extremely refined and tractable motor, comfortable ergonomics, and stable ride quality, Royal Enfield have got the formula right yet again and we hope to see the new Bullet 350 being appreciated by many enthusiasts.