Nick landed in Thailand for the first time ever and got to experience the two-wheeled life of Southeast Asia courtesy of Royal Enfield and the new Hunter 350...

Pure excitement mixed with nerves best describe how I felt when I got the call to test out the all-new Royal Enfield Hunter 350 in Thailand. Everyone is well aware of the traffic antics of Southeast Asia, it’s a culture shock for a giant Aussie who is used to strict road rules…

Partying, riding and experiencing Thailand for the first time is always an eye-opening experience to the chaos everyday commuting is in Southeast Asia.

Partying, riding and experiencing Thailand for the first time is always an eye-opening experience to the chaos everyday commuting is in Southeast Asia.

I’d never been to Thailand, but I was well aware of their road and traffic conditions, courtesy of one of my favourite Top Gear episodes. “Sh&t” I thought to myself, “I’d have to be the biggest bloke in Thailand, I hope the bike is big enough for me”! Sitting here putting the launch report together I can’t help but laugh. Naivety sums it up well, I really had no idea as to how wild a time it would be.

Moment of impact on the long-boat.


Read Nick’s review of the Hunter 350 here…



Word obviously got out to the journalists prior to arriving in Bangkok, Thailand. We were headed halfway around the world on a five-day launch for a single-cylinder 350cc, 20hp commuter. Now, to be honest, and to speak for the majority of the journalists who were heading over, I wasn’t particularly thrilled, nor was I particularly excited for the ride. We were all hoping for a new 650… 

There was a symphony of single-cylinder 350cc bikes as the Hunter 350s were lined up in the hundreds!

There was a symphony of single-cylinder 350cc bikes as the Hunter 350s were lined up in the hundreds!

Just before heading over, I’d dropped back the big Harley Davidson baggers, I’d spent a few weeks on some big litre bikes and had grown quite fond of 100+ HP. But, as I’ve always said, riding a small machine to its absolute limits is always more enjoyable than barely opening it up on a big HP machine. I knew it was going to be some fun for sure, but I wasn’t aware of how good this little thing would be!



The business class flights were really tough, not! Particularly the part where we skipped through the two-hour check-in and border security lines… Getting served endless meals and drinks really did a number on me.

I ended up having to sleep in my private pod for the majority of the flight. A real bummer! As I’m used to the old cattle class, and my knees being ever so close to the passenger in front, I was actually quite refreshed after a six-hour sleep on the plane.

Nick wasn't the only one that didn't get the memo to not overdress...

Travel light… That’s the aim of the game when going to a launch. Although, a singlet and shorts would’ve helped as Nick was sweating to death in his riding jeans!

That is, until we stepped out of the air-conditioned cabin and into 36 degrees and 350 per cent humidity in the outskirts of Bangkok. I looked like a proper twat in jeans, boots, and a jacket, having left Sydney in the middle of winter.

Being thrown in the deep end, having to ride a motorcycle in a country that you've never even been to has to be a scary feeling.

I’m sure the locals got a good laugh out of the sweaty white boy gasping for air and a smoke! Like in Sydney, we skipped ahead of the immigration lines and were greeted by the friendly Thai immigration and airport security. I’ve never been smiled at so much in my life – probably something we Australians could take note of. Costs nothing to throw a warm smile!



Luckily – Bangkok airport had a few signs in English, but that was about it for the rest of the flight. I jumped into the App Store and downloaded a translator app, which was put to decent use, well, if you consider learning “Ow bia nueng khuat” (I’ll have a beer) and “saawng boo ree” (a packet of cigarettes) putting the app to good use. ‘Marlboro Gold’ also seems to be a universal term!



Hand gestures and the thick, nasal Australian accent got me the rest of the way past the ever-present language barrier… We were herded straight into luxury Toyota Hiace vans, while I’m no-doubt butchering the model name, that’s the best description I can provide.

The leather reclining seats, and air-conditioning was a god-send after the short wait in the airport terminal. The trip from the airport terminal to the hotel was not far, as the crow flies, but I quickly learnt that in Bangkok, give yourself an extra two hours to get anywhere if you’re travelling in or on anything other than a scooter or motorcycle.

The juxtaposition of the lovely hotel and presentation area vs the streets of Thailand is amazing. It's like stepping into another world.

The juxtaposition of the lovely hotel and presentation area vs the streets of Thailand is amazing. It’s like stepping into another world.

After a solid 50-minute drive through the heart of Bangkok, we arrived at the W Hotel, and were greeted with ice-cold beer (Chang’s are bloody brilliant) and yet more smiles from the ever-attentive hotel staff.



The staff giggled as I went to grab my bags from the back of the van, “No, Sir! You inside, we will take this to your room!”. “Damn, I could get used to this I laughed to myself”. The rooms were spectacular, which was of no surprise after seeing the hotel lobby. I was in pure luxury…



After unpacking, and by ‘unpacking’, I mean sitting on my bed and finishing the beers in the mini-bar and leaving my bag where it fell the first day, I whipped out my phone and thought I should probably suss-out the itinerary. Jeff had said something about not riding much, and a night ride, what was that all about? I laughed.



Royal Enfield made sure that this trip would not only be enjoyable, but also relaxing, and gave us enough time to experience Bangkok in all its glory. We weren’t even scheduled to ride for the first two days! All we had on was to attend a couple of tech-immersion sessions and get to know the other journalists who flew out!

The amount of planning and effort that goes into these world launches are spectacular!

The amount of planning and effort that goes into these world launches are spectacular! Sid Lal announced the Hunter!

The rest of the time was solely there to experience the city, the culture, and the local atmosphere. Between us, Nigel Patterson and Hamish Cooper managed to round up the other Aussie journos and myself to get us out on a boat trip through the city rivers and canals.

"The 3L boosted ISUZU motor bolted to a 2-metre prop shaft absolutely hauled-ass, and the waste-gate flutter had us in stitches, until we crashed at full-noise into the side of another long-boat."

“The 3L boosted ISUZU motor bolted to a 2-metre prop shaft absolutely hauled-ass, and the waste-gate flutter had us in stitches, until we crashed at full-noise into the side of another long-boat.”

The 3L boosted ISUZU motor bolted to a 2-metre prop shaft absolutely hauled-ass, and the waste-gate flutter had us in stitches, until we crashed at full-noise into the side of another long-boat. While we thought it was absolutely hilarious, the Jordanian tourists in the other boat were certainly not laughing.


After the crash, we were yelled at and told to leave the boat at once. Not sure about that one…


I could feel them staring daggers, but it was quite hard to see them through the diesel soot and river spray! After the crash, we were yelled at and told to leave the boat at once. Not sure about that one…



For the rest of the ‘relax’ days – we spent the majority of our time in the rooftop pool, in Tuk-tuks on the wrong side of the road, or in hotel bars we probably weren’t permitted to be in. Oh, and watching mock Muay Thai fights that looked more like WWE than anything. It was almost offensive when we were asked to actually gear up and do some ‘work’. “What do you mean we actually have to ride?” I laughed to the boys. I think we were all in a similar position, it felt more like a holiday than anything! 

Royal Enfield have a fan base that sees their machines as more than just motorcycles. They're a lifestyle...


The night ride was insane, screaming through the streets, bright lights and crazy traffic, bouncing off the rev limiters and jumping bridges. It was so much fun. The photoshoots were total chaos, which is why there are very few action shots, but it all added to the fun in a way. My video will be up soon, so check that out – you will get a laugh out of the on board footage that is for sure!

There aren’t any special gadgets, no cruise control, rider modes or anything. It doesn’t need it. The controls are simple, easy to access and likely very cheap to replace if and when required.

“I had a blast on the Hunter 350. I reckon I’d have had a blast just about anywhere on the bike.”

I haven’t even mentioned the ‘official’ global launch. Check out the pics in the gallery, words fail to describe the attention to detail and the level in which they went to for this launch. I’m talking a floating stage, ice sculptures, movies, and music… all night.



In all honesty, I went out with moderate hopes for a decent commuter that would probably be OK in the streets of Sydney. I came back with the biggest damn smile on my face, and thoroughly impressed with the product they provided. And I can’t wait ti get back to Thailand! 

Thailand Hunter 350 launch.


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Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Thailand Launch Gallery


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