The Chill of Riding - 2023 Royal Enfield Bullet 350
The Bullet’s exhaust note used to be distinctive. A sound once so iconic, like a bugle to announce the arrival of royalty. But even if the sound has changed, this is still a Bullet. The familiar retro styling, the badges, and most importantly, the meaty low-end that allows you to cruise gracefully to your destination. With the Bullet, there’s no hurry. And it's evident in the fact that Royal Enfield took their own sweet time to bring it to the J-Series era. After all, you don't rush royalty.
The Bullet borrows its underpinnings from the Classic 350. It gets the same twin downtube cradle frame and the same 350cc air-oil-cooled J-series engine. With that engine, the Bullet now makes 20.2bhp at 6100rpm, and 27Nm at 4000rpm. While it's the same output as the Classic, it’s a 1bhp bump and 1Nm drop from the previous generation. Its 5-speed gearbox is now smoother and easier to operate.
All of this lets you comfortably cruise in the city or on the highway. But this engine is better enjoyed at a steady pace. Breathe in, calm down. You are on a Bullet. The world can wait till you arrive. You ride with grace and panache. You slot it into a higher gear, drop the revs and just chug along. The purists amongst you will miss the original positioning of the shifter, but the Bullet has moved on from that.
What the Bullet hasn’t moved on from, is the spoked wheels that help it retain its old-world charm. However, now they are wrapped in wider tyres on both ends; which slightly add to the Bullet’s bold appeal. They are adequate in terms of performance, especially for how a Bullet is meant to be ridden. Though it now gets some updates, including optional rear disc brakes, with dual-channel ABS. A complete braking package, and the one you should go for, if you can. These brakes are sufficient for moderate city speeds, and most highway speeds. With ABS on both ends, you can now safely slam on both brakes without really losing control.
Coming to the suspension, the front fork stanchions have gotten slightly thicker now. These 41mm units are still the standard ones. No fancy USDs here. At the rear, you get the familiar twin shock absorbers. The front and the rear units work in tandem, like well-trained palanquin carriers to keep the royalty comfortable. Gobbling up bumps with grace, and rough patches with ease. The Bullet rides with a calm demeanour. There’s a good synergy between the wheels, suspension and the seat to help you ride at ease. The ergonomics are upright and commanding. The pegs are a forward set but not too much. The clutch action is light, and that can go a long way in delaying fatigue. The Bullet has always been a simple bike to ride, and the lack of a kickstarter has made it even easier. Although the elimination of the kickstarter doesn’t bode well with the purists, we aren’t complaining.
The same can be said about the features of the Bullet. The new one still gets halogen lights all around, and an analogue speedo cluster. But now you get this little digital display that shows you fuel levels, trips, and whatnot. No more do you have to open the tank lid and shake the behemoth to check if you’ll make it to the next fuel bunk. The ammeter has given way to this cap that proudly showcases the bike’s name, and no, there’s no tripper display available for the Bullet as of now. There’s no smartphone connectivity either, but you do get a USB port here, should you need to charge your phone on the go.
And the simplicity mantra is carried over to the styling as well. There’s nothing much that has changed on the Bullet, maybe apart from the new colours or this new RE logo that flanks the 13-litre teardrop fuel tank on both sides. The seat is slightly roomier and offers better support. While I didn’t face any fatigue on this rather short ride, I don’t expect it to be as fatiguing on longer rides either. The Bullet has been known to have a comfy seat. But if it’s still not up to your standards, Royal Enfield is offering a few different seats as a part of their GMA catalogue. This should also help you customise the Bullet to your tastes and preferences.
The new Royal Enfield Bullet is now priced from ₹1.73 lakh and goes up to ₹2.15 lakh (ex-showroom), and is available in three different variants. That’s a significant bump in price, which now brings it close to the Classic 350’s prices. And there’s nothing really out there that can compete with the Bullet. Sure there are better-performing retro bikes out there. But you don’t buy a Bullet for its outright performance or for the thrill of riding. You buy a Bullet, for the chill of riding. And on that front, this new Bullet 350 delivers in spades.