Opinion: Platform engineered bikes can feel very different

    The Royal Enfield Meteor, Classic and the Hunter are based on the same platform, but they’re more different than you’d expect.

    Published on Oct 16, 2022 07:00:00 AM


    Rishaad's blog October 2022.

    They’re based on the same platform, but they’re more different than you’d expect.

    Platform-engineered siblings can be the exact same thing with different badges – as BMW has recently decided to do – or the idea can be executed exceptionally well, like we see with Royal Enfield J platform. This 350cc family of bikes now has three products in the Meteor, Classic and the new Hunter. While the Classic and Meteor felt similar with the main difference being in the design and how you sit on the bikes, the Hunter broadens the gap to its siblings.

    I’m surprised by how different the Hunter feels from my long-term Classic 350 and in a few respects, that surprise devolves into disappointment. Yes, a lot of the differences come down to the obvious things like the Hunter’s smaller size, 17-inch wheels, sharper steering and 14kg weight savings. All of this makes it feel quite distinct to the Classic despite the fact that the main chassis and engine are the same. In fact, the contrast is so great that the Classic 350 is a bike I have fallen in love with, while the Hunter stands as the least impressive Enfield I’ve ridden in years. 

    When I first experienced the Hunter in Bangkok, I thought the combination of a fast responding chassis and a slow thumping engine would feel strange and just plain wrong. But no, it’s actually quite nice in city traffic once you learn how to merge the engine’s slow tune with the chassis’ energetic dance. The Hunter’s petite dimensions don’t bother me either because I fit on it just fine, and I think it’s a good-looking bike, too. 

    What puts me off the bike is its punishingly firm rear suspension and painfully heavy clutch. If you’re from a land of smooth roads and light traffic, this is something you’ll hardly notice. Unfortunately, both those things are few and far between for most of us. 

    I don’t enjoy riding the Hunter in Mumbai, but I relish every moment on my long-term Classic. For some reason, its engine is happier at low revs than the Hunter and its clutch isn’t as heavy. Mostly though, the suspension feels luxurious in comparison. I adore commuting on this bike and soaking in the gobs of low-end torque, slick gearbox, smooth fuelling and heart warming exhaust beat. I’d go so far as to say I find the bike therapeutic at the end of a long and occasionally annoying day. It’s the first long-term test bike I’ve run in years that has me so smitten. 

    One of the key reasons the Classic fits so well into my life is that it serves as the perfect antidote to the violent KTM that it shares a garage with. And that just shows how different bikes can mean different things to different folks. It really pays to introspect on what sort of rider you are, what your riding environment is and what you aim to get back from your motorcycle. If you can be honest with yourself on those aspects, your chances of finding just the right motorcycle (for you) are that much greater.


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