Long gone are the days when manufacturers reluctantly brought bikes with an engine capacity of a quarter-litre and above into the Indian consumer market. Now, almost every manufacturer has its own offerings ranging from the relatively smaller 250cc models all the way to 400cc machines that fare pretty well in terms of consumer popularity too. And not to mention the variety of engine options one has, like single-cylinders, V-twins, parallel-twins, inline-fours and so on (talk about spoilt for choice).
Two recent entrants into this bustling category are the Keeway V302C and the Royal Enfield Hunter 350. Both motorcycles are as different as they come, from engine mechanics, all the way to the pricing, but that makes it all the better of an example to show the diverse range of motorcycles now available. One is a 300cc V-twin cruiser by a Hungarian (pronounced ‘Chai-neez’) manufacturer while the other is a 350cc single-cylinder neo-retro roadster from an Indian manufacturer with British heritage. What better way to highlight the contrasts than to put them side-by-side?
The first impressions set by both motorcycles are pretty good, and without any more delay, let’s dive into the finer details. The Keeway V302C, if one goes by certain rumours, is born out of something that was a collaboration between Keeway’s parent company QJ motors and American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson. Upon closer inspection though, one can make out how much closer it veers towards its South-East Asian connections.
The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 on the other hand is birthed from an age-old, tried-and-tested concept of a single-cylinder 350cc. This time around, however, Royal Enfield has decided to take the more fun and sporty path to get there. Keeping up with its trend of building solid motorcycles, the Hunter also feels as sturdy as they come, with the refinement of the J-series engine. Lay it before someone who is familiar with the brand and they will immediately notice the new direction in which Royal Enfield has taken the bike.
Taking the two motorcycles for a spin, one can easily point out the differences between the two. The 298cc, V-twin liquid-cooled motor, makes 29.5 bhp of power, which is around 9 bhp more than the power output of the Hunter, which stands at 20.2 bhp. These are not figures that blow your mind when you think of a V-twin, but they are at par with other motorcycles in the segment, which is what we are looking for. The torque figures are pretty similar though, and not really as expected from the V-twin.
The transmissions on both motorcycles feel sorted, but they both come with a slightly heavy clutch. The gearbox on the V302C does tend to slip into the occasional false neutral, but otherwise remains dependable. The exhaust notes of both the Hunter as well as the V302C are pretty pleasing to the ear, with the former featuring a very distinct and aggressive rumble with periodic off-throttle pops, and the latter producing a sweet raspy tune in line with its somewhat rugged character.
In terms of the riding position and comfort, both motorcycles fare pretty decently, with each one doing its own respective thing. The sporty-upright riding position of the Hunter, with slightly rear-set footpegs, sets the tone for how it is intended to be ridden. The laidback and fairly relaxed rider triangle of the V302C does its part, although it could do with a slightly softer suspension setup. The stiff suspension is seen on both motorcycles and while the formula works on the Hunter, it proves to be slightly counterproductive in the case of the V302C.
When it comes to braking prowess, it feels like both motorcycles lack proper bite. Stopping power on the V302C comes from 300mm and 240mm front and rear disc brakes, with dual-channel ABS. The Hunter also gets similar 300mm and 270mm front and rear disc brakes, with dual-channel ABS. It does feel sufficient to bring the bikes to a halt safely, but one can only push the machines as far as the brakes permit, and this restricts the motorcycles from their full potential.
Upon looking at their respective price tags, the question that comes to mind would generally be along the lines of ‘What justifies the fact that the difference between the two amounts to almost 2.5 lakh?’ Sure, the V302C gets a V-twin engine, a belt-driven rear wheel and upside-down front forks, but that’s about it. One could further argue that the Hunter has been priced extremely competitively but in comparison with other products in the market, there’s only a subtle difference.
Look at both motorcycles from the perspective of fun, and they don’t disappoint in the least. Both machines are lively enough to kick some sense of excitement into the rider from the get-go. Of course, each one carries its own definition of fun, but that’s the point. Why would one want every motorcycle to do the same thing? Yours can go off-road? Look at what mine can do on the track. Long hauls over the weekend kinda guy? Meet the one who zips through traffic to work every day. That’s the beauty of having a wide range of options to choose from and with the direction we are heading in, we are in no short supply of choices.
Both motorcycles are more than capable of drawing eyeballs and are quite the lookers in their own categories. But rather than merely being eye candy, they manage to live up to the premise set by their appearances. Not to mention the fun factor that both motorcycles entail. So, in conclusion, each motorcycle is meant for a different type of rider, and for someone with deep pockets, the Keeway V302C would be a good fit. For the buyer who looks at the value-for-money factor, I would recommend the Royal Enfield Hunter 350.
29.1 bhp@8500 rpm
2.65 kgm@6500 rpm
F/R: 300 mm disc / 240 mm disc
F/R: 120/80 R16 / 150/80 R15
Rs 3.89-4.09 Lakh (ex-showroom)
MOTODATARoyal Enfield Hunter 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: 110/70 R17 / 140/70 R17
Rs 1.49 lakh to 1.68 lakh (ex-showroom)