A charming bike that is well built, easily maintained and a pleasure to ride.
There are a number of reviews of the 350 Classic available with full specifications and one by H.Sam is a good starting point for owner reviews. Mine is identical to H Sams in the walnut colour which with the tan seat really looks the part.
I have had mine for nearly 2 months now and done just over 2000km's so it is officially "run in" and no problems whatsoever. My thoughts:
Running In: I had concerns about the 60 kmh speed limit for the first 500km - just not practical for the 100kmh roads around me. The Dealer (who has been selling RE's for many years) advised simply be sensible and use the gearbox and avoid 100 kmh freeways and don't run at constant speeds for any period. Good advice. I was able to happily reach 80 kmh in 5th gear, constantly varying speed and not lugging or stressing the engine.
Result: bike has minimal vibrations and mirrors stay clear at all speeds now up to 100kmh for short stretches. It really is smooth and no complaints after 2 hours constant in the saddle.
Handling: A test ride does not do this bike justice. The handling down a long twisty road with bumps mid corner etc is truly superb and whilst the suspension may be basic - it is does not let the bike become upset on mid corner bumps. The tyres are quite a surprise and grip is confidence inspiring (in the dry) so the bike goes exactly where you point it. Have not ridden in the rain yet.
Seat Comfort: I find the seat totally adequate and after 2 hours not experienced "numb bum" - this surprised me as one reviewer thought it had the comfort of a wooden plank after 1/2 hour.
Brakes: Adequate is the word - but I have had to do some quick stops in traffic and in fairness, they do the job.
The back drum brake does provide some assistance but is not "modern day" effective. They are OK for the speeds the bike will do.
Lighting and electrics: Have ridden at night a couple of times and headlight is just fine. All the electrical cabling looks neatly shrouded and tidy, including that in the headlight shroud which I siliconed sprayed.
Starts easily (I mainly kick start because you can). Tip for warming up is to allow full choke to start and then hold it back immediately to a half way position (with your index finger between the choke button shroud and the carb body) which drops the revs by half and allows you to regulate the engine revs to warm the engine. This will make sense if you ride one. Indicators, high beam/passing light switch and very loud dual horns are excellent and the horns are much more effective than on many bikes today. Dare I say it, the electrics look, feel and sound almost Japanese in operation, but they are Indian/European I believe.
Performance: Sedate is the word as you would expect, but it brings a new level of enjoyment to tootling along country roads and actually looking at the scenery. Any hills will quickly wash off speed, and the excellent gearbox will get a work out - but the ratios are good - you just have to adapt! In city traffic it easily holds it own - but if you want straight line speed and sitting on 110kmh on a freeway with ease, then look elsewhere - there are plenty of 250cc or under bikes that are faster but the charm? In my case, my other bike is a BM R1150R and that fulfils the long distance higher speed role.
Maintenance : This is a bike that you can easily maintain yourself - hydraulic valve actuation, oil/filter changes and chain cleaning/tensioning etc are all easy and everything is very accessible. I am impressed with the engine having a oil screen filter, plus paper filter and two magnetic drain plug inserts. The total re-design of this engine and gearbox by the manufacturer about 5 years ago has transformed this bike I believe from the "interesting" 1955 engine design prior to
that. The two year warranty and 2 year road side assist indicates the manufacturer has some confidence in the product now.
Why the 350 and not the 500 Classic? 1. The 350 I believe is smoother and simpler (no EFI). 2. Whilst the 500 will have slightly more power and torque, I believe it comes at the expense of increased vibrations. Yes, it would be nice to have a fuel gauge like the 500, but not a show stopper for me. 3. Price - I paid $6400 with 12 months solo registration. The 500 Classic is just over $2000 more. 4. The walnut colour/tan seat believe is only available in the 350 at this stage to my knowledge - but that is personal preference.
Improvements? Have fitted a rear rack with Hepco and Becker bag to cover wine/beer duties etc and a Marlin Clock on the bars. Plus I have replaced some bolts with Stainless Steel hex just for appearance and durability.
I would not bother upgrading the exhaust or any other improvements for possibly slightly more performance.
It so far as been a good, honest bike that will bring a smile to your dial just looking at it or enjoying the ride.
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