Bullet 500 vs Classic 350 Comparison Review

Published on: Feb 14, 2017
Royal Enfield Classic 350 vs Bullet 500 Comparison:

Pricing & Features Comparison: 
The Bullet 500, retails for 1.75 Lakh Rs on road Delhi, which is a good 28,000 Rs. more expensive, than the Classic 350, costing 1.47 Lakh Rs. In terms of features, both bikes miss out on a much needed rear disc brake.

Pricing of other variants: 

Classic 350 Redditch Edition - 1.47 Lakh Rs.

Performance & Tractability Comparison:
There is no replacement for displacement, they say. Looking at the spec sheet, we expected the Bullet 500 to leave the Classic 350 gasping for breath. But in reality the gap is quite small. The Bullet 500, takes just over 12 seconds, to accelerate from 0-100 kmph, which is just 2 seconds quicker, than the Classic 350. However, if you compare the cruising abilities of these two bikes, the Bullet feels far more relaxed, than the Classic 350, at the same speed. That being said, both bikes turn into a vibrating mess above 80 kmph, and make quite a racket at higher revs. Their famous thump, is only audible while doing poser level speeds, around city streets, and frankly we find the so called legendary thump, itself to be quite an overrated thing.

Power-to-Weight Ratio (PS/ton): Classic 350 - 106, Bullet 500 – 137 (difference 29%) 
Torque-to-Weight Ratio (Nm/ton): Classic 350 - 150, Bullet 500– 212 (difference 41%) 

Power (PS@rpm): Classic 350 – 19.8@5250, Bullet 500– 26.5@5100
Torque (Nm@rpm): Classic 350 – 28@4000, Bullet 500 – 40.9@3800
Kerb Weight (kg): Classic 350 – 187, Bullet 500 – 193

Displacement (cc): Classic 350 – 346, Bullet 500 – 499
Gearbox: Classic 350 – 5 speed, Bullet 500 – 5 speed

Reliability & After Sales Service Comparison: 
It is no secret, that Royal Enfield makes the least reliable motorcycles in the market. Worse still, they have been making essentially the same vehicle for over 50 years and still haven’t succeeded in sorting out some of the major issues on their bikes. Apart from the excessive vibrations above 80 kmph, other issues like rusting, starter motor and other electrical failures, chain sprocket wear out, oil leakages, loosening of spokes, brake wear and wobbling continue to haunt RE to this date. There is no logical linkage between these reliability issues and the charm of a 500cc long stroke thumper and the fear of losing that charm as an excuse for not sorting the issues out, can only be believed by low-IQ people.

Fuel Efficiency Comparison:  
The Classic 350, was just under 5 kmpl more efficient than the Bullet 500, in our back-to-back tests.

Test Mileage (kmpl): Classic 350 – 31, Bullet 500 - 26
Fuel Cost (for 60,000 km): Classic 350 – 1.50 Lakh, Bullet 500 – 1.80 Lakh

Resale & Cost of Ownership Comparison:  
Classic 350, constitutes over 80% of the sales, of the entire Royal Enfield brand every month! Such inexplicable popularity, means that it holds on to much better residual value, than the Bullet 500. Overall, the Classic 350, is bound to be around 40,000 Rs. cheaper, than the Bullet 500, in terms of Overall Ownership Costs, post a usage of around 60,000 kms, in 5 to 7 years time.

Resale Value (after 5 to 7 years):
Classic 350 – 85,000 Rs.
Bullet 500 – 85,000 Rs.

Total Cost of Ownership: (Price + Fuel Cost - Resale Value)
Classic 350 – 2.15 Lakh
Bullet 500 – 2.65 Lakh

Handling & Ride Quality Comparison:  
We wonder why Royal Enfield, has not used the Thunderbird's elliptical swingarm, on the rest of its bikes. Even 100 cc bikes like the Discover and Dream Yuga, don't use a poverty spec tubular swingarm, that the Classic and Bullet continue to use. Overall, the Enfields' chassis, has a lot of flex by today's standards, and destroys the handling, as well as the ride quality, of both these bikes. Due to the excessive flex, which causes problems like wobbling and instability, engineers have to make use of stiffer springs, which give the bikes a painfully hard ride, over bumps and ruts. Flex, also causes their handling, to become vague and unpredictable, around the bends.

Wheelbase (mm): Classic 350 – 1370, Bullet 500 – 1370

Ground Clearance (mm): Classic 350 – 135, Bullet 500 - 135

Tyre Size:
Front: Classic 350 – 90/90R19, Bullet 500 – 90/90R19
Rear: Classic 350 – 110/80R18, Bullet 500 – 120/80R18

Comfort & Ergonomics Comparison:
The Bullet 500, has a couple of key advantages, over the Classic 350, when it comes to seating comfort. First is the seat, Classic's bicycle inspired seat, has been highly compromised in favour of its styling. It does not provide adequate support, and causes soreness, in the most uncomfortable places, on long rides. And don't be under the wrong impression, about those under seat springs, which are of absolutely no use, in terms of comfort. Bullet's age old seat design, works far better, and its pillon seat, with its little backrest, is also much more comfortable than the Classic's, optional pillion seat.

The thing is, if you are thinking of buying one of these bikes purely for the 'swag', why not go all the way? Especially since the Bullet has a couple of practical advantages over the Classic 350. It is a more relaxed cruiser than the Classic 350 on the highways and has far better seating comfort for the rider as well as the pillion. Also, it is much more exclusive than the Classic 350, which is increasingly turning into, a common man's RE. It also looks more 'classic' than the Classic, and is the most affordable 500cc bike, in the entire Enfield range. Amongst the two, the Bullet 500 is definitely our pick of this test.