The Royal Enfield Thunderbird is one motorcycle that has been with us for almost two decades. Over the years while it has evolved from an AVL engine to a UCE one, apart from that there have not been any major changes to it albeit the regular cosmetic ones that kept coming every few years. The new Thunderbird 350X then technically falls into the same bracket. But wait, while a whole lot has not been changed, it has enough on it to make a difference and deserve a second look.
The whole idea of the new Thunderbid X series is that it comes ready from the factory in a style that a lot of its customers wanted to evolve their machines into. The changes start with the unique colour scheme and the 350X comes in two colour options, the red we have here and a white colour option. The next big change is the different handlebar, it is now more flat than the one on the regular Thunderbird. And then comes the change that almost everyone wanted, alloy wheels and tubeless tyres. There are many other minor changes too and we shall go through them in the following review.
The engine and the chassis on the Thunderbird 350X remain the same. That means we still have the 346 cc big piston producing a power of 19.8 hp @ 5250 rpm and more importantly 28 Nm @ 4000 rpm. Although the engine and the silencer are unchanged, for some reason the sound from it feels more pronounced on the new 350X. The engine character though is still the same, it is at its best between the 2000 and 4500 RPM mark. The comfortable cruising speeds are at about 80-90 km/h and while it will do higher speeds the bike loses its composure after that. Keep it in the right RPM range and just cruise on that wave of torque, that’s the way to ride this machine. The typical Royal Enfield vibrations too are least in this RPM range. The engine returned a decent 30 kmpl throughout our ride and couple that with the 20l tank, you can expect a good 500+ tank range.
Coming to the handling of the 350X, there are no surprises here. Royal Enfields have typically not been known for their handling and the 195 kgs of weight does not help either. But on the flip side, this machine is meant for cruising and that it does very well. On the highway it feels planted and easy to manoeuvre using its own momentum and in city conditions too it’s the same. Highways are where the new handle bars really show its worth. But in slow moving bumper to bumper traffic the weight does get to you and that is something that prospective buyers will have to get used to. This is also another place where the heavy clutch makes its presence felt.
The Thunderbird 350X now also gets a 240 mm rear disc brake and that’s definitely welcome. The same 280 mm front disc is retained. The brakes have adequate stopping power but a more progressive feel would have done the whole setup better. Either ways we feel its high time Royal Enfields moved to at least a single channel ABS system.
Coming back to the riding position and overall comfort, the new flat handlebar is definitely good but we feel shorter riders would not be that comfortable with the setup. The seat though, is definitely more comfortable now and has lovely contouring and coloured stitching to go with whole theme. From a pillion point of view the back rest on the standard Thunderbird would definitely be missed but the uniquely designed grab rails on the 350X do provide an alternative to supplement it. But honestly we would recommend people to fix that back rest if you have a regular pillion.
From a looks perspective the Thunderbird X series does not disappoint. The all black treatment, the shortened mud guard and the vibrant colours all come together well. In the few days we had it, there were no real glaring defects in build quality or issues that popped up and over all apart from the mirrors that needed constant readjustment, it was smooth sailing.
Spec for spec, yes the 350X might not match up to its competitors but it still has that retro look and feel going heavily for it. With the Thunderbird 350X, the company has also made serious improvements on overall build quality and that shows, and while it could be better, one thing is certainly clear. This is the best Thunderbird yet.
Oh and by the way, follow the link for some HD wallpapers of the Thunderbird 350X. And check out the video below for a detailed look at the 350X.