2024 Royal Enfield Bullet 350 Review: Peak Retro?

Royal Enfield Bullet 350 - front

The Bullet 350 doesn’t offer much in the way of straight-line performance, but as a charming alternative to a bonafide classic, it fits the bill nearly perfectly

There’s no shortage of retro bike options these days, but one might just be the ultimate. The Royal Enfield Bullet is a bike that’s been in production in one form or another for nearly 100 years. The original, UK-based iteration of Royal Enfield began making the bike way back in 1931, and in 2024, you can walk into your local dealer and buy one that looks scarcely different. Does it get any more retro than that? 

You won’t need to pay much to grab the keys to one either, but you need to be ready for a relaxed approach to riding - this is not a very powerful bike, so you aren’t going to be getting anywhere fast. 

The version we’re testing here is all new, and we rode it on a variety of roads in the UK. 

Bullet 350 pricing and availability

The Bullet 350 is available now in three different colours - Black Gold (as tested), Black or Maroon. The latter two are both priced at £4,629, while Black Gold is charged at a small premium, giving a total price of £4,709.

You can grab the keys on a PCP from Royal Enfield for a deposit of £525.75 followed by 48 monthly payments of £69.99 at 9.9 per cent APR, with an optional final payment of £1,990. 

Bullet 350 engine, frame, and technology 

The Bullet 350’s J-series engine is described as all-new, but looking at the air and oil-cooled lump, you wouldn’t know it. The single-cylinder, twin-valve unit produces all of 20.2bhp at 6,100rpm, backed up by 19.9lb ft of torque peaking at 4,000rpm. It’s hooked up to a five-speed gearbox. 

That engine and transmission sit in a new twin downtube steel cradle frame, to which RE attaches a non-adjustable right-way up fork (yep, not upside-down as is the norm) providing 130mm of travel. The twin shocks at the rear offer six levels of preload adjustment. 

Slowing things down is a single 300mm disc at the front squeezed by a twin-piston calliper, with a single-pot calliper working on a 270mm rear disc. As is now mandated by law, the Bullet gets ABS, in the form of a simple twin-channel setup. The Bullet rolls on large diameter but narrow wire wheels. You’re looking at 100/90-19 front and 120/80-18 rear, with the Ceat Zoom tyres inflated via inner tubes. 

It’s a disarmingly simple bike, but you do at least get a USB socket near the analogue speedometer (there’s no rev counter), which has a small LCD for the odometer, trip computer and fuel gauge. 

What’s it like to ride? 

Before you swing a leg over the Bullet 350, you may find yourself standing for a moment or two to admire it. No sub-£5000, brand new bike has any right to be quite this well finished - there are the beautifully intricate, three-dimensional Royal Enfield badges on the sides of the tank, which also includes hand-painted gold stripes on this Black Gold version, and a whole heap of brightwork. There’s also something endearing about the way the tail gently shakes itself on idle from the inertia of the single-cylinder engine, accompanied by a ‘pop-pop-pop-pop’ from the exhaust. 

Once you’re done gawping at it, you can get comfortable on a wide, soft perch with a reasonably accessible seat height of 800mm. The legs go forward in a classic style, on some sizeable pegs, the left of which gets in the way when retracting the side stand - an annoyingly common theme on Royal Enfield models. 

Also a common theme on bikes from the Indian company is soggy suspension and spongy brakes, but thankfully, neither are present here. Royal Enfield seems to have turned a corner when it comes to chassis tuning for more recent models like the Shotgun 650 and this Bullet. Yes, the damping here is still quite soft, but there’s actually a bit of control through the compression and rebound strokes. It doesn’t just flop around when the going gets bumpy. 

And then there are the brakes. There’s none of the usual mushy feeling we’ve become accustomed to on Royal Enfield models during the initial bit of lever travel - instead, they start to bite quite nicely from even lighter squeezes. Some more stopping power wouldn’t go amiss - when you need to slow down more rapidly, the brakes do leave you wanting in this regard. 

That being said, it’s not like you can reach significant speeds particularly quickly. Or at all. It’ll quite happily sit at 60mph, but without a bit of downhill gradient to assist it, 70mph is only really possible with a wide open throttle and a bit of a speed tuck. Overtaking on single-carriageway roads requires pre-planning and a lot of space, perhaps also a quick prayer to your chosen deity. 

With 20bhp to its name, the Bullet is barely any more powerful than a 125, but it has a lot more weight to cart around than the average learner-legal bike owing to its chunky construction. Elements like the nose, which incorporate the headlight and big protective shields for the fork stanchions, contribute to a porky 195kg kerb weight. 

And so, acceleration, as well as the top-end speed, is leisurely. The torque figure is, at least, a lot more than found on a 125, so it’s a reasonably flexible engine and one that makes a nicely brawny exhaust note that belies the lack of power on offer. The gearbox shifts smoothly, too. 

Meanwhile, in the corners, those skinny tyres make for an agile-feeling bike that’s eager to tip in. Yes, thinner tyres do mean you lose some stability, but for a bike like this that you’re not going to be charging around on hunting corners, it’s really not an issue. 

Should you buy a Royal Enfield Bullet 350?

If you’re looking at covering significant miles, have a penchant for sporty riding or are looking for a big step up from a 125 after ditching L-plates, the Bullet 350 really isn’t for you. It’s more about pottering around the countryside and enjoying being out and about, at which it’s perfect, and will do it all at a bargain price, if one that is a good chunk more than other Enfield 350 models like the Hunter. That being said, the detailing on the Bullet is so well done, that it seems worth the extra.

If you like the idea of a classic motorcycle but not the thought of keeping one going, the Bullet 350 is an extremely appealing option. In both the looks and the riding experience, it deftfully replicates old-time bike riding, but with a full warranty and some actual reliability.