The Royal Enfield Bullet has been an iconic and legendary model in Indian motorcycling history and has been subtly integrated over the years into part of our culture and tradition as well. Having charmed its way into the hearts and households of many a family, the motorcycle has stood the test of time, with many enthusiasts taking the time and effort to maintain their pristine-looking, or otherwise decently-running motorcycles, in the hope of it thriving for generations to come.
Established in 1901 as a British motorcycle brand, Royal Enfield introduced the first Bullet in 1932, and it has been in production with different engine displacements and models ever since. The brand was only introduced in India back in 1955 when the CKD assembly of the Bullet 350 first began, by means of a partnership with Madras Motors India. From then on, the Bullet name has become synonymous with social status, a symbol of power and even the cheeky concept of territory marking.
With the new Bullet 350, you can see the effort made to retain most of the iconic styling, like the lovely pinstriping on the tank, the badging, the single-piece seat, the squared-off fender and the tall handlebar. On the other hand, there have also been quite a few radical changes that may not sit well with purists, like the absence of the kickstart, the new blacked-out parts in place of all the traditional chrome (only on the top-end variant, thank god for that), and most of all, the lack of the beloved Bullet thump.
Featuring the J-series engine, which is one of the most refined engines from Royal Enfield, the new Bullet 350 joins the ranks of the Classic 350, Meteor 350 and the Hunter 350. Now deciding whether this is a good thing or not is left to individual perceptions, because the revival of the Bullet brand is a very important milestone for Royal Enfield, considering that the name was what brought the company into the limelight, and most likely held it there for so many years.
Riding the Bullet 350, it feels no different than the classic, save for an ever-so-slightly more laidback character, which is essential to the motorcycle. It pulls strong and steady, in a no-nonsense manner that can only be experienced on a Bullet, and that is reassuring. The mind tends to imagine that there is a difference in the state of tune, but that is mostly just a placebo effect. In terms of features, it gets the instrumentation from the Classic, with an emphasis on simplicity more than anything. Also included is a USB charging socket, which is very much the norm these days.
The ride quality of the Bullet 350 is pretty good, having borrowed generously from the Classic (the two models are now essentially identical), and features a more upright seating position, courtesy of the raised handlebar. The single-piece seat does a good job of supporting the rider for decently long spans of riding before the pins and needles start setting in. The motorcycle handles pretty well, adding to the refinement, although all this talk about refinement does make me question whether I’m really reviewing a Bullet.
As I listen to the motorcycle idling on the main stand, I hear something of a distant remnant of that iconic Bullet thump, so faint that you wouldn’t find it unless you were searching for it. Moving forward is inevitable in this fast-paced world, and the luxury of slowing down and savouring everything is something not everyone can afford. Maybe that makes the Bullet 350 what it is, a means to slow down and enjoy life as it passes by.
MOTODATA2023 RE Bullet 350
20.2 bhp@6100 rpm
2.75 kgm@4000 rpm
Type: Twin-downtube spine frame
F/R: 300-mm disc / 270-mm disc
F/R: 100/90 R19 / 120/80 R18
Rs 1.73 lakh to 2.15 lakh (ex-showroom)