2023 Royal Enfield Bullet 350 first ride review: A legend reincarnate
Royal Enfield's tagline is 'Made Like a Gun,' and its Bullet motorcycle plays a significant part in the manufacturer's rich heritage. Even the name 'Bullet' is a hallowed one that resounds in the halls of Royal Enfield to this day. It's a motorcycle that the company built its legacy on since the first Bullet rolled out in 1932, spawning knockout single-cylinder bikes like the Thunderbird, or the Classic and the Meteor in the later years to come out here in India. Compared to the older BS-VI Bullet that was sold out here, this could be considered a generational change, the most recent in the motorcycle's 90 years of existence. But in the world of today, it isn't exactly all new. Let's get down to what the 2023 Bullet 350 is all about.
Design-wise the Bullet retains the silhouette that generations across the world have come to adore the motorcycle for. It still oozes retro charm from head to toe. But it the light of today, the Bullet 350 can clearly be seen as a different rendition of the existing J-series Classic 350 with some subtle yet definitive changes to some of its panels, the seat and badging. Because in essence that's what it actually is. Aesthetically it sports the squarish airbox and battery covers, the flattish bench seat and the slightly angled rear fender that set it apart from the Classic 350 that's currently sold in India and around the globe. This top end version gets those neat pinstripes on the tank as well as those lovely stand-out copper/gold badges that the Bullet was always known to brandish.
The 2023 Bullet gets the same instrumentation layout as the Classic so you get the analogue speedo with a digital bar underneath that reads out things like trip, odo and such. Like the other 350cc Enfields sold out here, you'll have to shell out extra for the navigation pod, or wait for some special edition to be launched, because that bit of kit doesn't come standard otherwise.
Just like with the Classic 350, the J-series engine on the bullet is a real gem and a mile ahead of the older 346cc power unit. The balancer shaft in the modern 349cc long stroke motor makes for a sublime ride experience with just enough vibrations to let you know that you're riding a motorcycle of some substance. Its output figures remain at 20.5PS and 27Nm, never a bad thing. The 5-speed gearbox from the Classic 350 makes an appearance here too with its gearing unchanged. The wheels, suspension, handlebar, tank and ABS equipped brakes are all common between the current Classic and the new Bullet models. I would have loved for the bar to have been slightly flatter and a ribbed front tyre on there for good measure, just like on the older models.
In terms of ride dynamics, the double downtube frame still feels ready to take on long sweeping bends. The single bench seat has altered the rider triangle marginally and the stock exhaust note sounds a tad different in comparison to the Classic 350, but you still won't get that cracker 'thump' of the older models. The ergos are very relaxed, which is awesome and the seat is very comfy and, like before, will be great for long touring stints. With its 13-litre tank and 195kg kerb, (same as the classic) the Bullet is a breeze around the city too.
Before the other Royal Enfield models began to arrive on the scene in 2009, the Bullet 350 was seen as a status symbol, a bike that stood out in front of the rest as a sign of success and brawny masculinity. But times have changed and so have those particular notions, because what RE has done with the Bullet 350 is let it finally catch up to the other J-series 350s in the line-up in terms of an overall package. So although it may not be all that unique, it doesn't mean that the bike is a lemon in any way. It's more the case of the Bullet now getting in line with the rest rather than being a real standout on its own.
What's that you asked? Why should the Bullet 350 it even exist if it's pretty much a Classic 350 in disguise? Well for starters, RE wanted hit that refresh button on the Bullet 350, thereby turning to a new chapter in the legacy of a motorcycle that's been around for 90 years and making it accessible to a younger generation. The Bullet has even served it's time in the Indian armed forces, so it really is a national icon. And looking at the high number of Classic 350s flying about the place, riding a Bullet 350 is a bit more than just standing out from the crowd, it's like being a part of that rich pride and heritage that helped build Royal Enfield to the powerhouse it is today.
Starts Rs 1,30,764
Starts Rs 1,49,900