Returning to riding in my mid-40s: Initial review of my new Hunter 350
At the first glance, you will feel that Royal Enfield has improved the quality of its bikes but as they say, the devil is in the details.
BHPian cormodore recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
I will keep it very short with respect to my initial review of my newly acquired Hunter.
I am in my mid-40s and wanted to get back to riding motorcycles, as riding Jupiters and Accesses left me wanting for more. With Jupiter, Santro and Vento already in my garage there was no need for a bike, however, my heart wanted me to pick a bike for my rides which I currently do in Vento.
Started test rides of various motorcycles and my heart and head could not come to a common ground on a particular motorcycle. It was a three-year hunt and a lot of persuasions at home, that I could pick up the Hunter.
Test drive 1 (June 2019) – Triumph Bonneville
This was more of a window shopping, as I was near the showroom for some other work, went inside and asked for a test ride, and they provided the same. Loved the bike, the torque, and the looks. Fell in love with the bike at the first glance. Heart wanted to swipe the card and get the bike, but the calculations in my head paused me and let it go. Initial purchasing was okay but with huge service bills, and with all the complex gadgetry, and given the state of our vehicle services, it will be tough to maintain (I am coming from maintaining my Vento experience).
Test drive 2 (June 2020) – FZ25
Felt ok after riding the bike but could not connect to the bike due to its bulbous fuel tank shape and the weird headlight design. Did not pick up the bike, even after the dealer threw in discounts.
Test drive 3 (around the time when 4V was launched) – Xpulse
Bike was a bit tall and did not feel any step up from a commuter bike, with respect to initial power delivery. At 1.65 lacs on road, I felt the bike was pricy for what it offers. The plastic parts and the sound of the bike did not make me look at the bike again.
Test drive 4 (Mar 2022) – Himalayan
The bike was tall, and I liked the suspension and the power delivery. Rejected as I had to spend around 2.6 lacs and the headlight was not moving along with the handlebar.
Test drive 5 (Oct 2022) – Hunter
RE has copied the design of Bonneville and gave us a baby Bonneville, which I liked, and the initial power delivery is particularly good along with a beautiful exhaust note. Its refined (J series engine) and the gears slotted beautifully which sealed the deal and made me overlook all the other stuff which I going to write in cons.
Also, I checked out the Dominar and N250, but neither my wife nor myself liked them. Apaches were rejected due to poor pillion rider seats.
Following are my observations after riding the bike for about 1500Km. Wish companies/showrooms give us exhaustive test rides based on which we can make better vehicle purchases.
- Baby Bonneville
- Initial power delivery till 60KMPH
- Nice exhaust note
- Striking colors
- Although the headlight is halogen, the throw and spread are very good
- Excellent paint quality of the petrol tank
- Excellent riding triangle with slightly rear-set foot pegs
- Gears slot exactly without any jumps or missing gears
- Amaron battery is provided as OEM fit
- Extra fuses provided by RE in the fuse box, in case anything goes wrong with the fuses in use
- Lots of plastic parts which are inferior in quality (especially the headlight, and side covers)
- No place to keep the documentation or any stuff
- Inconsistent build. Especially the welding portions leave a lot to be desired
- No discounts and high waiting periods for a newly launched bike
- Stock mirrors vibrate a lot during lugging and once the speed crosses 80KMPH
Could be better
- Switch gear is okay but can be improved
- Feature set when compared to its peers (Ronin)
- Although the stock MRF looks good, it does not do justice to the bike. Need to replace with a grippy rear tyre
- RE should have concealed the wiring much more effectively (RE please copy the wiring stuff from Bonneville)
- In the days of LED lights, RE is still struck with Halogens
- Clutch is on the heavier side and could have been lighter
- Suspension should be a bit softer. I feel it is on the stiffer side
- Brakes are just ok
- Costly accessories – RE accessories are priced very high
Things that will not improve
- High taxes on vehicles – Governments (central and state) have collected 60K taxes in the total of 2Lacs that I paid (on-road price).
- Service – Unless the technicians are paid well and we improve their dignity of work, the service will be bad. We as a society look down on the people working in services, and we get what we deserve. In addition to the technicians, the dealers also try to fleece the customers with unnecessary add-ons and extras. I do all minor repairs and fix punctures myself without depending on the service people.
- Quality – Companies take customers for granted, as we have useless laws protecting the customer. The quality of Hunter is just about okay. Within a week of purchase, and after riding about 150 Km, fork oil seals broke, and fork oil was leaking. Bike was with the service center for two days (none of my vehicles went to the service center so early) and with all the front dismantled and attached once again.
More details about the bike
- Battery – 8 Ah (Amaron maintenance free)
- Headlamp – 55 W
- Fuel tank – 13 liters (low fuel warning at 4 Liters including dead stock of 2 liters)
- Sprocket ratio – 2.8:1
- Drive chain links – 104 links
At the first glance of it, we will feel RE has improved the quality of their bikes, but as we say, the devil is in the details, and there is still a lot of room for improvement. Let the pictures do the talking from now on.
Front View – Looks good with the minimalistic design and a slight offset console
Side view – Notice the cover on the smoke pipe. Not sure of the long-term impact of doing the same. Its to protect my kids, if they accidentally touch the smoke pipe
View from top
Mirrors – Once your cross 60KMPH, they are of no use and vibrate a lot
Cockpit – Provides very basic but all-important information. It’s very bright at night
Wiring under the cockpit. RE should have concealed in a much better fashion. The tape applied by RE is very flimsy and is ready to peel off.
Bybre brakes – Stopping is adequate but would have preferred some more bite.
Wiring under the right side cowl. RE should have done a much better job with respect to wiring here. It’s a mess under the cowl. Removing the battery is pretty tough. If I had seen this before purchasing the bike, I would have definitely dropped the idea of purchasing the bike.
Engine – Many have talked about the engine, but I will not dwell much deeper with respect to the engine. It serves me adequately, as I do not go beyond 90 KMPH.
Under the seat – there is no storage at all. I just kept the bike papers covered in a polyethene cover. Need to find a permanent fix
Right side switch gear – the quality is just about okay
Left side switch gear
Fuse box under the seat – good thing RE gave extra fuses
Left side suspension setup – It is a free-standing spring between the bottom and top base, and rotates 360 degrees. I have not seen this kind of setup in any other suspension. The suspension is a bit firm and we cannot perform any adjustments.
Rear tyre pattern
Right side cowl
Fuel tank – Took the bike to Kingkoti market in Hyderabad and applied PPF in one of the roadside shops. They did a pretty bad job. Would never recommend the Kingkoti shops in Hyderabad for after-market accessories.
Left side tank and seat view
Engine guard – although cheap, it’s flimsy – again never go to Kingkoti shops in Hyderabad for RE accessories.
Seat – Provides good cushioning. I did a 300 KM ride, without any issues.
Left side gear shifter position
Welding – RE needs to improve a lot in this aspect
I am using the bike as of now in the city and did a 300KM round trip to a temple near Siddipet near Hyderabad. Based on my 1500 KM ownership below are a few pointers.
- Although the bike looks a bit small, at 180KG, the bike is heavy when parked and takes a little effort to move from parking spots.
- The handlebar is wide and the turning radius is a bit more than my expectation. Requires me to lean forward a bit when taking full u-turns.
- The bike does 0-70KMPH pretty quickly and starts taking time for the additional speed.
- After a quick overtake or a quick manoeuvre, the bike takes time to come back to the straight line (maybe because of the crappy MRF tyres).
Overall, I would say, we get what we pay for, and for 2 Lacs on road, this is an okay deal, considering how costly the vehicles have become.
Let me know, if you would like to know more about the bike, or if you want any other information.
Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.
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