2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Review – First Ride

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

A gateway drug to motorcycle enthusiasm

Being a motorcycle publication, Motorcycle.com largely caters to enthusiast readers. However, for every enthusiast there was once a potential rider who was curious about motorcycles.

Also, let’s not forget the multitudes of other motorcycle-curious folks who never transitioned into the rider fold for one reason or another. In the not-so-distant past, beginner-friendly bikes were called entry-level motorcycles, which sounds about as exciting as motorcycle training wheels. The more current means of breaking down motorcycle displacements into lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight categories feels a little less loaded, not to mention that manufacturers are making some legitimately nice lightweights that look and feel like they got the same level of development attention as their larger, more expensive brethren. The 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is a prime example of an attractive, functional, and reasonably-priced motorcycle that could help turn more potential riders into enthusiasts.

2022 Royal Enfield Classic 350 Review - First Ride

2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350

The 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is a good-looking, reasonably-priced motorcycle that stands a good chance of initiating many new riders to the sport.

Editor Score: 80.75%




















  • Surprisingly spunky engine
  • Attractive styling
  • Low price


  • Engine runs out of steam on backroads
  • Suspension and brakes clearly cost-savings items
  • Some fit-and-finish details could be cleaner

Motorcycle.com would like to thank Motorcycle Mechanics Institute | MMI for sponsoring this video.

And the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is reasonably priced. With a base MSRP of $3,999, the bike is certainly inexpensive when compared to other lightweight models and is within easy reach of people (such as college students) who might typically look at a scooter for practical, low-priced transportation.

The first step to creating more motorcycle enthusiasts is getting these people on motorcycles so that they can fall in love with the sport. And that’s the simple truth about motorcycling, it’s a sport that inspires passion. Once you’ve had some time on motorcycles, it can easily become an activity that you build your life around, as we here at MO and most of our loyal readers already know.

The three Hunter 350 models with the Rebel paint scheme pose for a family photo.

If we look closely at the Hunter 350, it embodies all of the necessities of motorcycling – and little more. In the past, I’ve called bikes elemental motorcycles, but Royal Enfield terms it pure motorcycling. The Hunter delivers this experience by being a nicely-styled motorcycle that can do most of what a city dweller would need to do at a reasonable price, but most of all, the Hunter 350 is a pleasant motorcycle to ride.

A smooth Single

One of the features that makes the Hunter 350 so enjoyable is the 349cc J-series engine. This counterbalanced, air-cooled Single is about as simple as it comes. With a single overhead cam operating just two valves per cylinder, the engine bay is about as uncluttered and elemental as you can get. However, that doesn’t mean it is without modern technology. The electronic fuel injection meters out the correct air/fuel ratio for the riding conditions the Hunter encounters, building to a peak claimed horsepower of 20.2 hp at 6,100 rpm. Torque reaches 20 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm that is sent to the chain final drive via a 5-speed constant mesh gearbox. Given the mild power that it has to deal with the clutch has a pleasantly light pull at the lever – a boon to riders new to navigating traffic with a manual transmission.

My initial impression of the J-series engine was that it had a surprisingly perky bottom end for pulling away from traffic at stop lights. Like most Singles, you don’t need to spin the engine to its upper reaches to generate the desired acceleration. Rather, shifting at the torque peak or a little after will provide motivating force. The gearbox’s spritely character comes from the spacing between the ratios that are focused more on moving smartly ahead of traffic in an urban environment than achieving high speeds.

Around town use is definitely the Hunter 350’s natural habitat, but it’s not averse to the occasional trip on the highway. The mill reaches 65 mph relatively easily, while it takes a bit longer to get up to 75 mph. In many places, this might be fast enough, but in Southern California, with its fast-moving freeway currents, the Hunter rider will be happiest in the right lane. I was, with a little effort, able to see an indicated 83 mph, but that took a while to achieve even with the assistance of running downhill.

This type of speed is not what the 350 is about. Run the engine out towards what I assume is close to its rev-limit (there is no tachometer), and the top end gets a little clattery, letting the rider know that it is out of its comfort zone. It prefers – and was designed for – the lower speeds of urban commuting. Still, the engine remains remarkably smooth for a Single throughout the rev range.

Moving out of the city, the Hunter, not surprisingly, prefers a more leisurely pace and requires a downshift or two to climb hills, but as long as you’re keeping the engine in its happy place, it’ll continue to put a smile on your face. The pleasantly burblesome exhaust plays a key role in the engine’s character, both in town and beyond.

An approachable chassis

The Royal Enfield Hunter 350 is an unabashed standard motorcycle that if it weren’t of Indian descent, I would compare to the Universal Japanese Motorcycles of the past. The design is one of functional utility. That’s not to imply that the Harris Performance-designed twin down tube spine frame doesn’t support nice-looking bodywork. It does, and that is part of the Hunter’s appeal.

Until recent years, many manufacturers released fairly uninspired, derivative lightweight motorcycles that, to this reviewer, often made the class look like an afterthought, with the primary focus on cutting costs wherever possible. Thankfully, that has changed, and lightweight motorcycles are finally getting some of the attention and respect they deserve. New riders want a motorcycle they can be proud of, and they can easily see which bikes the manufacturers are proud of, too.

The reasonable 31.1-in. seat height will appeal to shorter riders.

Royal Enfield seems legitimately chuffed with the Hunter 350. The design is easy on the eyes and harkens back to other Royal Enfields, while standing as distinctly different from its J-series siblings, the Meteor 350 and Classic 350. With its 17-in. cast aluminum wheels and taller, less teardrop-shaped tank, the Hunter looks both more modern and sportier. The chassis numbers back this up. The rake is a quick 25° and trail 3.75 in. for responsive turning and around-town maneuverability, compared to the Classic and Meteor (both with a rake of 26.7°).

To aid in the sportier feel of the Hunter, Royal Enfield put the bike on a weight-loss program that has it tipping the scales at a claimed 400 lb., 30 lb. less than the Classic and 21 lb. less than the meteor. When you only have 27 hp pushing the bike around, a 7.5% and 5.3% drop in weight makes a difference. This was achieved, in part, by using plastic fenders and smaller wheels. Other pieces, like the headlight assembly, helped, too.

Suspension and brakes

When it comes to suspension and brakes, they were, with a single important exception, cost saving items. Starting with the non-adjustable 41mm traditional fork out front and ending with the preload-adjustable twin shocks in the rear, suspension capabilities are pretty limited, but then again, the Hunter’s job description doesn’t ask for a lot, either. On the city streets where these bikes will spend the bulk of their time, bump absorption, rather than chassis control is the primary goal, and the Hunter does a decent job. However, a spirited jaunt down a winding road will immediately highlight the suspenders’ limitations.

The same can be said of the brakes. A single 300 mm disc squeezed by a two-piston ByBre caliper handles the front braking duties, and a single-piston caliper mated to a 270 mm disc slows the rear. Braking power in most situations is best described as adequate, and the binders are capable of getting a panic stop done with a hefty squeeze. Should you ask for too much from either tire’s contact patch, dual-channel ABS steps in to help, which is a boon to newer riders and experienced ones alike.

Attractive design and price

In their presentation, Royal Enfield presented the Hunter 350 as a motorcycle for the Gen Z set, with videos of stylish young riders having fun riding their Hunters around various urban areas. If there is anything that the younger generation understands, thanks to social media, it’s style, and the Hunter 350’s designers heaped a ton of it on the platform. From the traditional round headlight to the single instrument to the sculpted bench seat to even the stubby exhaust, the Hunter’s personality is one of approachability. Then throw in the six color options for even more appeal.

As nice as the Hunter 350 looks and as pleasant as it is to ride, its real selling point is its impressively low price point. The base, or Dapper, models retail for just $3,999 in three color options: Dapper White, Dapper Ash, and Dapper Grey. For $4,199, buyers move into functionally identical but different color optioned rebel territory with the Rebel Black, Rebel Blue, and Rebel Red. Royal Enfield is able to significantly undercut the manufacturers of lightweight motorcycles thanks to the huge volume of bikes it sells in India, with 900,000 units sold per year. This is an astonishing number, and with its largest motorcycle line being based on a 650 Twin, Royal Enfield focuses exclusively on the lightweight and middleweight markets.

More new riders?

Whether the 2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 converts potential riders to enthusiasts remains to be seen, but I paid roughly $4,000 for my first new motorcycle way back in 1989 and it altered the direction of my life. We can only hope that the Hunter 350 and other bikes like it can make more people fall in love with motorcycling. If you’re a prospective rider who has found your way to this review, I recommend that you take a serious look at the Hunter 350 if you plan on doing most of your riding in urban environments. It will be right at home and get you started on the road to being a lifelong motorcyclist.

2023 Royal Enfield Hunter 350 Specifications


Single cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC, 2-valves


349 cc


72 x 85.8 mm




20.2 hp @ 6,100 rpm


20 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm


Electronic fuel injection


5 speed




Wet, multi-plate


Harris Performance-designed twin downtube spine frame


Telescopic 41mm forks, 5.12 inches (130mm) travel


110/70 - 17 54P


Twin tube emulsion shock absorbers w 6-step adjustable Preload, 4.8 inches (102mm) travel


140/70 - 17 66P


300mm disc, twin piston ByBre caliper, ABS


270mm disc, single piston ByBre caliper, ABS


400 lbs


31.1 in.


53.9 in.




3.7 in.


3.43 gal.


Three years, unlimited mileage

Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

More by Evans Brasfield

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4 of 18 comments
  • MJ MJ on May 03, 2023

    RE sure does build some good looking bikes, if a tad underpowered. I would take one of these over Honda's new CL500

    • Nigel Turner Nigel Turner on Jun 06, 2023

      I have just sold my RE 350 Classic. In many ways, a fine motorcycle. However the engine put out a very (imho) poor 20 horsepower. Which although it would suit many first time owners, made life harder (for me than it needed to be). So, if you're young and like the bike, there's no shame in it... get one and get some experience before you go up a notch to something with a bit more waft. Its not all the bikes fault - It was doing its honest best hauling my lardy butt around. The little niggles.. seems to have a few false neutrals (make sure not to rush your gear change - ensure it engages before letting your clutch out. There also seems to be an engine misfire/musfuel sometimes, which can be at least temporarily cured by rolling off on the revs, and back on again. By far the worst thing (to me) was the speedo would often misread by quite a lot, there was a lot of ignition key cycling on and off until the needle found its way back to zero. So not without its faults, but all in all, a bargain basement buy.

  • Bonnie white Bonnie white on Jul 08, 2023

    I love it ..I named my son in 1983 ARIEL after the Square 4

    • Hacksaw Hacksaw on Aug 28, 2023

      So you are L7! 😅 too bad RE doesn’t make a bike with some grunt.