Honda CB350 vs RE Classic 350: 350cc Roadsters Fight It Out!
Reviews by Team Drivio | 25th Nov 23
As similar as they both sound and feel, they’re actually quite different
- Honda has tuned the CB350’s 348cc engine to make 21.07PS and 30Nm
- The Classic 350, on the other hand, makes 20.2PS and 27Nm
- Both engines are paired to similar 5-speed gearboxes
Honda introduced the H’ness CB350 back in 2021 as a challenger to the rather impressive Royal Enfield Classic 350. But the bike back then had failed to do it because while it looked retro, the bike’s engine was rather revvy and while you revved the bike out to extract maximum performance, it felt rather vibey, making the overall experience not exactly pleasant.
But now that Honda recently launched the CB350 (yep, no H’ness), a bike that looks a bit TOO similar to the Royal Enfield Classic 350, can it actually beat the master in this segment? Let’s find that out:
Honda CB350 vs Royal Enfield Classic 350: Designs
The design ethos of the Honda CB350 and Royal Enfield Classic 350 pays homage to the roots of motorcycling, steering away from the clutter and complexities of contemporary aesthetics. The Classic 350, adorned with its trademark hooded headlight and regal pilot lamps, exudes a sense of stately charm.
On closer inspection, the Classic reveals meticulous design updates, retaining its basic silhouette while integrating modern elements such as a semi-digital instrumentation pod, providing a delightful uncluttered front profile.
The Honda CB350, with its true-blue retro charm, strategically positions itself to capture the attention of Royal Enfield Bullet 350 enthusiasts. Noteworthy design elements include full-length metal fenders at both ends, a restrained color scheme, and subtle yet impactful enhancements compared to the Honda H’ness CB350.
The addition of a chromed-out pea-shooter exhaust, split seats with premium covers, tank grips, and metal covers for the fork elevates the CB350's aesthetic appeal. The exhaust, specifically designed for a low-pitched thump, caters to the preferences of Royal Enfield enthusiasts.
Honda CB350 vs Royal Enfield Classic 350: Engines
|Royal Enfield Classic 350
|349cc air-cooled 2-valve SOHC
Delving into the heart of these machines, the Royal Enfield Classic 350 stands out with its long-stroke J-platform motor, delivering generous bottom-end torque for a leisurely and unhurried ride. The engine's performance is a seamless blend of low-end grunt and a surprising push higher up the rev-range, uninhibited by vibrations or a depleting powerband. The Classic's thumping beat, though deeper than its predecessor, maintains a rhythmic cadence, best enjoyed at low RPMs.
On the other hand, the Honda CB350 presents a contrasting experience, challenging expectations set by spec sheets. Despite featuring a long-stroke motor similar to the Classic's, the CB350's power delivery is a polar opposite. It builds linearly through the mid-range to a strong top-end, offering a thoroughly modern riding experience. The Honda's motor, though lacking the low RPM grunt, compensates with a pronounced thump, especially notable in the cityscape.
Now what the aforementioned lack of grunt does, is that it makes the CB350 rather boring at lower revs, something that we don’t exactly expect from a retro bike, that too, a Classic 350 competitor, a bike that has plenty of low-end torque. And if you think the solution to that is revving the CB350 out, well, the issue with that is that the CB tends to get quite vibey, especially when the bike is redlined. So if you do try to rev it out, the vibrations make the overall riding experience rather unpleasant.
So yeah, if a proper, authentic retro roadster, easy-going riding experience is something you’re looking for, the Classic 350 definitely makes for a better case. The torquey riding experience is borderline intoxicating.
Honda CB350 vs Royal Enfield Classic 350: Suspension, Tyres & Brakes
|Royal Enfield Classic 350
|41mm Telescopic Fork
|Twin Hydraulic Shocks
|310mm Disc Brake
|240mm Disc Brake
|270mm Disc/ 153mm Drum
|Dual-channel is optional
While these motorcycles aren't designed for aggressive cornering, both the Honda CB350 and Royal Enfield Classic 350 exhibit capable handling, ensuring riders feel confident even in bends. The lighter Honda offers effortless steering, providing a natural and responsive feel. In contrast, the Classic demands a bit more effort but maintains stability once leaned over, catering to riders who appreciate a more involved riding experience.
The suspension setup plays a crucial role in defining the riding experience of each motorcycle. The CB350 boasts a softer suspension, delivering a plush and comfortable ride in various situations. However, as speeds rise, the front end may feel less planted, exhibiting a degree of nervousness.
In contrast, the Classic's suspension setup strikes a balance, offering an unflappable and confidence-inspiring ride even at rapid cruising speeds. The upright and 'king of the road' riding position further enhances stability, making it a preferred choice for riders seeking a relaxed and enjoyable journey.
Honda CB350 vs Royal Enfield Classic 350: Dimensions
|Royal Enfield Classic 350
|Fuel tank capacity
Beyond the aesthetics and performance, the dimensions of these motorcycles contribute significantly to their overall appeal. Weighing in at 181kg kerb weight, the Honda CB350 strikes a commendable balance between nimbleness and agility, creating a friendly environment for beginner riders. The riding posture of the CB350 aligns with the team's mandate, characterized by an upright and relaxed stance. The flat and wide perch, coupled with user-friendly controls, promotes an all-day comfortable riding experience.
However, a minor drawback surfaces in the elevated angle of the heel and toe portion of the gear shifter, introducing a degree of inconvenience. Riders have found it more practical to utilize the toe side for seamless shifting in the 5-speed gearbox. For those considering a pillion passenger, the CB350 offers a wide and comfortable seat suitable for short to medium-distance rides. While accommodating for brief journeys, the seat may not provide optimal support for extended durations, necessitating periodic breaks for enhanced overall comfort.
Honda CB350 vs Royal Enfield Classic 350: Price
|Royal Enfield Classic 350
|Rs 1.92 lakh
Honda really has nailed the pricing of the new CB350. At Rs 1,99,990, the bike is just almost Rs 8,000 more expensive than the Royal Enfield Classic 350 that we rode. That said, the difference in prices isn’t that big as to affect your buying decision.
In the realm of traditional metrics encompassing acceleration, handling, and braking, the Honda CB350 emerges as the more capable motorcycle. Its lighter build, enhanced speed, and superior handling position it as a formidable competitor against the Classic 350. However, it's crucial to recognize that this segment extends beyond these conventional metrics. The pursuit here is not merely to determine the more capable motorcycle; it's about finding the best time machine.
The Royal Enfield Classic 350, with its design, soundtrack, and overall riding experience, encapsulates the essence of a retro journey. It transcends the limitations of on-paper specifications, offering a thoroughly nostalgic ride that feels rooted in a bygone era. Riding the Classic 350 blindfolded, you'd find it challenging to discern its retro nature solely based on the riding experience – a testament to Royal Enfield's success in marrying retro aesthetics with modern convenience.
In essence, while the Honda CB350 excels in conventional performance metrics, the Classic 350 emerges as a faithful retro motorcycle. It not only pays homage to the past but seamlessly integrates retro charm with contemporary comforts, creating a motorcycle that's not just capable but emotionally evocative. Royal Enfield has masterfully crafted a motorcycle that resonates with riders seeking an authentic and emotionally connected journey, making the Classic 350 a standout choice in the world of retro motorcycles.