Royal Enfield unveiled their all new Hunter 350 in Bangkok, Thailand. We sent Nick there to give it a thrash through the wild streets and on a go-kart track! Check out what he thought... Photos: Royal Enfield & UMI.

Palpable excitement accurately sums up the feelings I had, having read the late-night text from Jeff, “Want to go to Bangkok in August for a world launch?” “Yes” I said, with a touch more aggression. That’s where I got my first look at the all-new Royal Enfield Hunter 350…

We shipped Nick off to Thailand to go and check out the all-new Royal Enfield Hunter 350. Check out what he though...

We shipped Nick off to Thailand to go and check out the all-new Royal Enfield Hunter 350. Check out what he thought…

The bike itself was under a contractual embargo at the time, and although there were a few secret suspicions as to what it could be, I was mostly in the dark. I had the odd sneaking visions of dropping a bike mid intersection or getting lost in the bustling centre of Bangkok without a phone. Either way – I was a tad nervous, and rightfully so…


Read about Nick’s Wild Thailand adventures here!


Secretly, I was hoping for a new 650 twin, a Meteor, something with enough grunt to get me out of a sticky situation. Regardless, I’d have, and would ride anything for an epic trip to the other side of the world. If it was to be anything like the last global launch Royal Enfield put together for the Interceptor and Continental GT 650s, a launch that is now legendary in the media circles, I was in for a wild time…



I looked like a proper twat landing in jeans, boots, and a jacket, having left Sydney in the middle of winter. I’m sure the locals got a good laugh out of the sweaty white boy gasping for air and a smoke! 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! Four bucks too!

Royal Enfield had planned a 6-hour night ride. Yes, that’s right, 6-hours through the heart of Bangkok and out into the edges commencing at 9pm, followed by a track session at an outdoor go-kart track.

Royal Enfield had planned a five hour night ride. Yes, that’s right, five hours through the heart of Bangkok and out into the edges commencing at 9pm, followed by a track session at an outdoor go-kart track!

Royal Enfield had planned a five hour night ride. Yes, that’s right, five hours through the heart of Bangkok and out into the edges commencing at 9pm, followed by a track session at an outdoor go-kart track (IMPACT Lakeside Arena) and a trek back to the hotel that would finish in the early hours of the morning (3am). While most of us were hesitant at first, hearing ‘night ride’, I eventually thought screw it, this place is wild! Why not have a wild first ride too?”



Plus, at 9pm, it was only 30ºC and 250 per cent humidity, so it was bit easier on the old body and lungs. I reckon by that time I was sweating pure Chang beer and nicotine; “Those Bangkok Belly bugs wouldn’t survive in my body!” I thought to myself

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 ready to go…

The hundred or so Hunter 350’s were lined up in order, backed by a giant ‘Hunter 350’ neon sign. None had registration plates! We were given a bike number and tasked to find our bike. “Trusty #57” I thought, “We’re going to have some fun!”…



I strapped on the chest-mounted GoPro as we were given the briefing. Basically, it was keep up and try not to fall too far behind. Stay as a group and be careful. We were waived and clapped off straight out onto the busy main road. ‘Thrown into the deep end’ barely covers it, Bangkok is lane filtering like I’ve never seen it before. And we rode flat out – full throttle, for the next few hours!

Night time in Thailand with no reception and not knowing where to go is not somewhere you want to be. Nick kept close to the lead riders on the road.

Night time in Thailand with no reception and not knowing where to go is not somewhere you want to be stuck. Nick kept close to the lead riders on the road.

My game plan was to stay right on the lead rider’s ass (the Royal Enfield test riders are very quick, mostly ex or current GP and Superbike riders) and not get lost. Follow his lines and I’ll be fine. As I squeezed through gaps that I still believe were smaller than the bike itself, I started to get a feel for why this bike had so much hype around it. I began to understand why this brand has made so much noise around the world. It feels good! Really good!



One of the most important aspects of inner-city riding is the ability to change direction quickly and efficiently, and this bike does it very well. Royal Enfield have completely designed from new the twin downtube spine frame chassis. Harris Performance have provided an incredibly well-handling platform, that feels so nimble and agile, even in the tightest and trickiest situations, all while feeling tight, strong, and well put together. Fantastic, engaging geometry, just like the 650 Twins have… 

"The short wheelbase, revised rake and trail angles make a significant difference in heavy traffic and tight environments, and I found myself taking gaps that I’d never dream of on a bigger bike."

“The short wheelbase, and lively rake and trail angles make a significant difference in heavy traffic and tight environments, and I found myself taking gaps that I’d never dream of on a bigger bike.”

The bike itself is compact, both visually and in the way it feels when riding. The short wheelbase, sharp rake and trail angles compared to the other 350’s make a significant difference in heavy traffic and tight environments, and I found myself taking gaps that I’d never dream of on a bigger bike!



The basic 41mm forks have 130mm of travel, while the twin tube emulsion shocks have six-step adjustable preload only. I’m over 100kg but didn’t touch either, they are set up near perfect for me, even as a bigger rider, they soaked up the rough Bangkok streets and speed bumps pretty nicely! 


Check out our Classic 350 review here…


Coming in a close second to manoeuvrability would have to be rider comfort. If this you purchase this as a commuter, you want to be comfortable, right? At 195cm tall, I found the bike ergonomics aren’t too bad. If you are near my height, I’d be suggesting a higher seat though.

It's obvious that the bike is quite small. Despite Nick's giant statue, he said the bike was still comfortable!

It’s obvious that the bike is quite small. Despite Nick’s giant size, he said the bike was still comfortable!

While the overall rider position was great, I found my knees starting get a little sore after an hour or two. Maybe due to the jumps we were doing over bridges… The pegs sit a little too high for my liking and I find myself almost crouching on the seat, rather than sitting. The ‘bar positioning, however, is near perfect and I wouldn’t bother adjusting anything in that department. The smaller guys looked at home on the Hunter 350, however. So, it’s something worth considering if you’re a taller rider.

"The bike handles far better than I would have expected, but it’s of no surprise considering the time and effort that Royal Enfield put into this design."

“The bike handles far better than I would have expected, but it’s of no surprise considering the time and effort that Royal Enfield put into this design.”

The bike handles far better than I would have expected, but it’s of no surprise considering the time and effort that Royal Enfield put into this design. If I’m honest, most companies will sit and tell you how much effort went into their newest product, how it’s the best motorbike, etc. But seriously, Royal Enfield have hit the nail on the head in terms of handling. It tips in nicely, it’s smooth when cranked over, and sturdy under heavy braking. I was stoked on the streets.



It would be the perfect bike for a first-time rider to start understanding cornering, braking, and riding position in the twisties. The Hunter 350 has an aura of safety and security, while urging the rider to lean a little further, brake a little later and accelerate a bit harder, all while feeling totally in control. The 650 Twins have that same inherent personality in their geometry as well. It has come from experienced test riders and a lot of experience probably through a mix of street smarts and race heritage…


“The Hunter 350 has an aura of safety and security, while urging the rider to lean a little further, brake a little later and accelerate a bit harder, all while feeling totally in control.”


As we neared the edge of the Bangkok city streets and towards the freeway, it was the perfect opportunity to open up the world-acclaimed J-series single-cylinder and really see what it could do. The 349cc air-oil cooled engine, which most of you would be familiar with in the Royal Enfield Meteor and Classic 350, produces a thundering 20.2hp@6100rpm and 27Nm@4000rpm.



Check out our Meteor 350 review here…


While these numbers aren’t anything to boast to your mates about, unless you’re comparing leaf-blowers, they’re well suited to the platform, and very well suited to the target environments. And that’s what this bike is all about right? It’s well a well suited, and well-targeted bike, aimed at populations who love these types of motorcycles, new riders, returning riders and Royal Enfield enthusiasts. 

"The power curve results in a decent amount of grunt down low, that’s just enough to get you ahead of the busses, trucks and taxi’s overflowing the inner-city streets."

“The power curve results in a decent amount of grunt down low, that’s just enough to get you ahead of the busses, trucks and taxi’s overflowing the inner-city streets.”

The power curve results in a decent amount of grunt down low, that’s just enough to get you ahead of the busses, trucks, Tuk Tuk’s and taxi’s overflowing the inner-city streets. I can still count on one hand how many traffic light hole shots I lost, one was to a Porsche GT2 RS and the few others were to some stupidly modified two-stroke scooters ridden by a bloke in thongs and no shirt. I won the rest! But we were riding like mad, every set of lights was a race start. It was insane fun!

Front on, you can see just how small Nick makes the Hunter 350 look! Perfect for darting in and out of traffic.

Front on, you can see just how small Nick makes the Hunter 350 look! Perfect for darting in and out of traffic.

One my fondest memories is when we pulled over for a few quick snaps. While we were getting the brief from the photographers as for where to look and turn around, I noticed the distant ringing of a two-stroke getting louder and louder, quite quickly. In the breakdown lane, at easily 180km/h, was old-mate in thongs, shorts, singlet, and an open-face helmet. Imagine a Thai Doohan on the NSR500, full-noise with thongs and a singlet, in the dark, on the freeway. I’m pretty sure it was a Honda too!


Would I be stoked with this motor up the Old Road? No, of course not. Would I be stoked with this in inner-Sydney or Newcastle? Hell yeah I would be…


For the most part, the J-series provides the perfect amount of power to make you feel like you are flying through the streets, and safe enough on the freeway to overtake when needed. Would I be stoked with this motor up the Old Road? No, of course not. Would I be stoked with this in inner-Sydney or Newcastle? Hell yeah I would be. I reckon it uses a drop of fuel per 100km to!

Royal Enfield have completely remapped the EFI system, to give the Hunter 350 a reimagined power curve and feel.

Royal Enfield have completely remapped the EFI system, to give the Hunter 350 a reimagined power curve and feel.

The 75mm bore and 85mm stroke adds that characteristic ‘longer’ stroke sound and feel, which is nice and torquey when you need it, plus it has plenty of tractable flywheel effect to keep it going like a steam engine. Royal Enfield have completely remapped the EFI system, to give the Hunter 350 a reimagined power curve and feel. They’ve done it pretty well, in my opinion. The power is nice and balanced, right throughout the rev range, with no coughing, spluttering or dead spots that I could notice. The bike itself started flawlessly every time, no matter the temperature….



The five-speed transmission feels bulletproof, throughout the night-ride I was not easy on it, and it didn’t show a single sign of any issues. In the city, you’ll find yourself putting between first and second, which are quite tall, and then into third and fourth on the freeway. I rarely reached fifth, only when going for those top speed runs, about 115km/h!

Awesome geometry for town work makes the 350 good fun and engaging.

Awesome geometry for town work makes the 350 good fun and engaging, while steering stability is still solid.

The wet, multi-plate clutch feels just right for the little bike. It’s incredibly easy to operate, with just the right amount of feel to it for my liking. I still believe that the thing is impossible to stall! The bike responds much nicer around the 4000-4500rpm mark, at that peak torque, so I found myself hovering around there, with the more than occasional limiter bounce as we ripped around Bangkok at night on a ride that I will never forget…

Track time on a commuter bike might seem silly, but it's the perfect opportunity to see how the bike can handle all the stresses of being on the limit!

Track time on a commuter bike might seem silly, but it’s the perfect opportunity to see how the bike can handle all the stresses of being on the limit!

After a breather at a giant passenger jet bar (yes, you read that correctly), and grabbing a few much-needed bottles of water, we headed out to the go kart track for a couple of laps. While it was not intended to be a race, as if us Aussies would treat it as anything other! The track marshals mentioned ‘being careful’ a few more times than I’d have liked, but, as expected, we were on the rev limiters as the flag dropped and the clutch was well and truly dumped.



Being a go-kart track, the corners were tight with very little run off.  The twin piston floating caliper bites down on the 300mm front disc nicely, and as I have said earlier, I was not being gentle. The brakes at both ends were getting hot, but I failed to notice any significant brake fade as I would have expected. The rear got a fair bit of use of course, as I tried my absolute best to aim it towards the straight and away from the barriers. We weren’t allowed to scrape the ‘pegs, so it was a matter of hang-off as much as possible without touching the tarmac! Obviously, they’re not track brakes, nor are they designed to be. They’re great for the bike and pull it up very well. The front and rear ABS is a neat addition, especially on the slippery, oil-stained streets of Bangkok. They got put to good use more times than I’d like to admit. Feel and modulation at the lever is just right for this level of motorcycle. Gentle… 

"The hoops are specifically designed by Royal Enfield for the Hunter 350 and are aimed at being a perfect ‘all-round tyre’ for this type of bike."

“The hoops are specifically designed by Royal Enfield for the Hunter 350 and are aimed at being a perfect ‘all-round tyre’ for this type of bike.”

The rubber got a real workout on the go-kart track and the road. The fronts are a 110/70 tubeless, while the rears are a 140/70. Both are mounted on 17in alloy wheels. The hoops are specifically designed by Royal Enfield for the Hunter 350 and are aimed at being a perfect ‘all-round tyre’ for this type of bike. In my opinion, they are fine. They’re not perfect, but if it were me, I’d ride them until they were worn, and then throw on a decent set of hoops on. They’re a little slippery in the wet, but nothing that can’t be handled with a more conservative riding style. On the track, they held up just fine. They’re not what I’m used to, but I guarantee we were pushing the Hunter 350 well past its design limits. 

The fronts are a 110/70 tubeless, while the rears are a 140/70. Both are mounted on 17” alloy wheels.

The fronts are a 110/70 tubeless, while the rears are a 140/70. Both are mounted on 17in alloy wheels.

I couldn’t help it to be honest, Royal Enfield reiterate how ‘confidence inspiring’ the bike is, and I can tell you they aren’t wrong. Jump on one of these, whether you’re a first-time rider or an experienced veteran who is looking to get back into it, you’ll feel at home and ready to ride.



Trekking back to the W Hotel Bangkok at 3am, I was almost certain I was going to collapse from heat-stroke and dehydration if I didn’t get a Chang into me. We finished the night of with a few well-deserved coldies, reminiscing on the wild ride we’d just experienced. I overheard more than one journalist say, “That’s the best ride I’ve ever had!” and I wouldn’t disagree if I’m honest. It was epic. 



Up at 7am for the early ride, on about 2 hours sleep, I was feeling the effects and a bit concerned about riding, as were some of the others. Nothing that a 36ºC ride out through the sticks of Bangkok couldn’t fix though, right? In the early morning sun I got a solid chance to check out some of the colour schemes Royal Enfield are offering: Rebel Blue, Rebel Red, Rebel Black, Dapper Ash, and Dapper Grey. Personally, the blue was my favourite and not just because my trusty #57 was blue. They all look pretty damn good, really appealing.

Two hours of sleep and of course it was all the Aussies causing trouble on the streets of Bangkok...

Two hours of sleep and of course it was all the Aussies causing trouble on the streets of Bangkok…

Unfortunately, the morning ride was our first experience with the Thai Police, and I am still arguing that this had nothing to do with the fact that Spence and I figured out that the rear ABS would cut-out if you do a sneaky little second gear burnout.



“My ABS is gone!” yelled Spencer, as he skidded to a stop beside me like a 12-year-old on his Mongoose BMX. “So is mine!” I yelled back as the rear stopped throwing up dirt and gravel. As three or four more police cars rolled in, it was time to head home. Coincidence, right?

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

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

By that time, we were well and truly exhausted, and putted back with about 25 per cent of the charisma we’d rode out on. While I cruised, it was the perfect time to have a think about what this bike is, and why it’s had so much attention. What is it exactly that makes this bike special?



Well, it’s cheap (we hope) and attainable, first and foremost. It’s a platform that almost anyone can access. It’s a product of a proud, well-established company with a reputation that has stood for longer than many others. The short wheelbase and redesigned chassis provide a beautifully handling little bike. It’s light and easy to manoeuvre around the city traffic with enough grunt to get out ahead or give it a little spurt when you feel like a laugh.


“There’s also something special in the way that the staff at Royal Enfield talk about the bike, and the company, and the company leaders.”


The exhaust gives off a cranky little sound, which perfectly resembles the bike. As always, the styling is fantastic, with a huge range of colour options to choose from, while the retro front headlights and gauges are just enough to get you by without over complicating it. 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. 

2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350.

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.

There’s also something special in the way that the staff at Royal Enfield talk about the bike, and the company, and the company leaders. There’s a genuine, infectious joy that radiates from each and every one of them when they get a chance to speak about the bike, the man hours that went into it, and the product that we rode. The friendliness of the company leaders like Sid Lal, how they walked and talked like any other motorcycle enthusiast, was something very special. No matter the time, you’d get a smile and a nod from anyone at Royal Enfield. They simply wanted us to have fun.



The ‘Pure Motorcycling’ experience they talked about at the start got to me initially. I’m not ashamed to say I thought it was a bit cheesy, but I get it now, I understand what they’re talking about. They wanted a bike that brought out the pure fun in riding a motor sandwiched between two wheels.

There are no concerns about power output, suspension, brakes, who’s got the fastest lap or who has the nicest sounding exhaust. It’s aimed at pure motorcycling, and the joy that riding solo, or with a bunch of your best mates bring. Royal Enfield have nailed it, successfully encapsulating the joy of riding a motorcycle, which I know you understand, or you wouldn’t be here reading…


“Royal Enfield have nailed it, successfully encapsulating the joy of riding a motorcycle, which I know you understand, or you wouldn’t be here reading…”


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 provided. It handles great, the J-series puts out just the right amount of power, the suspension soaks up just the right amount to still feel nimble and sporty, while the brakes pull you up without stress.

"It handles great, the J-series puts out just the right amount of power, the suspension soaks up just the right amount to still feel nimble and sporty."

“It handles great, the J-series puts out just the right amount of power, the suspension soaks up just the right amount to still feel nimble and sporty.”

I haven’t even mentioned the wealth of genuine accessories provided by Royal Enfield. The Hunter 350 – off the shop floor, is basically a build your own bike. You want a two-up seat rest, or a one piece? A windshield? Sure! What about new mirrors? Or a sump guard? Fresh shiny new bar-ends? This bike has only just been released, I’m incredibly keen to see where people take this platform and I’m sure we’ll see some wicked custom Hunters in the not-so-distant future.



The Hunter 350 gave me the most fun I’ve had on a bike in quite some time. It brings back some wicked memories of my early license years on some underpowered LAMS machines, wringing them out as though I was cranked over through turn 12 coming on to Gardner Straight. It’s always more fun riding something at full-noise and man, did we ride these things at full-noise. Arguing whether the Hunter 350 will serve its purpose is like arguing whether a calculator serves its purpose in maths class. It won’t take long for people to realise…

The Hunter 350 proved to Nick that there more to motorcycling than going fast. The 350 range is cheap enough to throw a leg over and have fun with your mates.

The Hunter 350 proved to Nick that there is more to motorcycling than going fast. The 350 range is cheap enough to throw a leg over and have fun with your mates.

I’m surrounded by open roads, long and sweeping corners and high speed straights. While I’m here, I’ll stick to my big litre bikes, adventure tourers and baggers, but for you readers in the bustling streets of Sydney and Melbourne, or any city, or those of you looking to join the two-wheeled fun side of transportation, don’t look past the Hunter 350…. 

We will get on one here in Australia as soon as we can, and I’ll do a good 1000km on our roads to give you a full accurate Aussie review. In the meantime, go and read my feature on the actual trip!  

2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Specifications

royalenfield.com.au

Price: TBA
Warranty: Three Years.
Colours: Rebel Blue, Rebel Red, Rebel Black, Dapper Ash, Dapper Grey
Claimed Power: 20.2hp@6100rpm
Claimed Torque: 27Nm@4000rpm


Engine: Single-cylinder, four-stroke, air-oil cooled, 349cc, bore x stroke 75mm x 85.8mm, compression ratio 9.5:1, Electronic Fuel Injection(EFI), wet, multi-plate clutch, five-speed constant mesh gearbox.


Chassis: Frame Type; Twin Downtube Spine Frame
Front suspension: Telescopic, 41mm forks, 130mm travel, Rear suspension: Twin tube emulsion shock absorbers with six-step adjustable preload
Wheels & Tyres: Alloy Wheel – 110/70 – 17in (Tubeless Type), Alloy Wheel – 140/70 – 17in (Tubeless Type).
Brakes: Front 300mm disc with twin piston ­floating caliper, rear 270mm disc, single piston ­floating caliper, ABS Dual Channel


Dimensions:
Wheelbase: 1370mm
Ground Clearance: 150.5mm
Seat Height: 790mm
Kerb Weight: 181kg
Fuel Capacity: 13L


Dash: Analogue dash.


2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 World Launch Gallery


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Editor’s Note: If you are reading this article on any website other than BikeReview.com.au, please report it to BikeReview via our contact page, as it has been stolen or re-published without authority.


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