Royal Enfield Himalayan Review
Bike Tested: 2016 Royal Enfield Himalayan; Road Test No. 701
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,78,750/-
“Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both ‘at one with’ and ‘separate from’ the outside world. These discoveries are essential to realising what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive.” – Roman Payne.
The Himalayan is everything that completes RE’s touring lineup and it does that with a lot of style
On a narrow path that barely qualifies as a road, surrounded by terrain where no machine may dare tread, wanders a soul that feeds on lust for adventure. A soul that demands you to go places and redefines your comfort zone. A soul that has made exploration, wandering and adventure, a purpose of its existence. A soul, so pure, its name would put forth an adventure of a lifetime in just a blink of an eye. One rider, one machine, one soul, the Royal Enfield Himalayan. Named aptly after the purpose which it was built for, the Himalayan is the salvation of the mad Indian wanderer. For the last five decades, Royal Enfield has been associated with possibly everything there is to motorcycling in India. Its machines were exclusively used to conquer the highest motorable roads in the world. Realising this, Royal Enfield has finally given birth to the one thing that was missing in this country, a purpose-built, honest-to-God adventure-tourer, the Himalayan.
Motor Quest: The Himalayan is a third attempt from the British manufacturer at trying something new in their current line-up. the Thunderbird worked very well for them while the Continental GT didn’t quite stir things up as expected. While RE bikes were always associated with touring, this time the Himalayan takes a step forward and brings the element of adventure into touring.
Styling – The Himalayan hardly looks like a Royal Enfield is supposed to, but everything that an adventure motorcycle should. Thank you for that RE. The round headlight, the raised mudguard and the rubber dust cover on the suspension symbolise its creed. The chassis has been conveniently exposed to give it that dauntless look. And mind you, this is not something any other motorcycle can pull off, it looks b-e-a-utiful! The lack of body panels does not leave enough room for styling but the suave Himalayan illustration on the fuel tank does enough talking in this aspect.
Styling is aptly done and every bit of it speaks nothing but pure adventure
The exhaust isn’t really the best looking as it seems to have undergone no post-production visual treatment. But who cares? This only adds to the raw magnetism of the overall appearance. The headlight is traditionally round with an LED pilot lamp in it while the tall windscreen is hard to miss. The colour scheme is kept single tone and is available in only black or white. The rear mudguard is one of the most badass looking in the Indian market. The build quality is pretty solid and there were no noises from the body even on the roughest of roads although the saree guard broke on our test bike.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Instrument cluster on the Royal Enfield Himalayan means serious business. First look at the cluster would remind you of a compass, while it literally gets one too! The speedometer, tachometer and the fuel gauge is analogue while the information display and the compass is digital. Things do look a bit cramped up in here and one needs to strain their eyes to find the required information. It’s all about getting used to it. Information displayed includes ambient temperature, time, gear position, two trip meters with respective average speeds, odometer and a reserve fuel odometer. The console gets two buttons, one to change the mode on the display and one to activate the hazard light.
Ergonomics – What intrigues about the Himalayan is the typical adventure motorcycle kind of ergonomics. Is it comfortable, does it put you in control? Well, the answer is both. The Himalayan seats you pretty upright and down low with the bike. With a seat height of 800 mm, the saddle may seem a little high for a daily bike, but it’s actually a good deal for adventures especially when you’re standing while riding. The seat dimensions are a good compromise between road and off-road dynamics.
Performance – The Royal Enfield Himalayan houses a 411cc long-stroke engine that breathes through just two valves. While this Enfield loses its iconic ‘thump’, the engine is full of torque down low. The 32 Nm of torque is just pure twisting moment at the pop of the clutch. However, a lot of it is spent on hauling its 182 kg of weight. Power figures at 24.5 BHP at a relatively high 6500 RPM make the Himalayan a bit rev friendly and it surprisingly feels quite comfortable in the high rev-range.
The engine isn’t very aggressive and is ideal for off-roading and Indian highways
The Himalayan has a very different feel to its engine. The power figures do not speak a lot about it, but while revving its engine one can feel how different this Royal Enfield is from the others. The torque filled engine will accelerate you quick enough to be pushed back a bit while the bike feels rock solid due to its weight. Peak power comes in at 6500 RPM and the Himalayan crosses this mark very comfortably. Speaking of high RPMs, the NVH level containment is pretty impressive when compared to other RE bikes. Although the engine is noisy at all times, the vibration levels are very well on the lower side but still can be felt on the handlebars, footpegs and seat when you near the 8000 RPM redline. The gearbox also feels very harsh. The clutch is heavy and contributes to a little fatigue in all riding conditions. There’s still quite a lot to work on refinement.
Not really a straight line performer this one, but the Himalayan can do 0-100 km/hr in 11.11 seconds. While we managed to push it to 130 km/hr (VBOX), on the highway, cruising speeds of around 100 km/hr are barely at 5000 RPM. However, this isn’t why exactly the Himalayan came into being. When out in the dirt, the first gear is tall enough to keep you cruising at 25 km/hr without stressing the engine too much. Shift into second and it still doesn’t mind. The gearing thus being pretty tall eliminates awkward gear-shifting moments and lets you focus on the road. First gear is good enough for almost 60 km/hr, second makes you do close to 90 km/hr while in third you cross the ton. Fuel efficiency isn’t great and this motor returns around 30 km/l.
Riding Dynamics – Come to think of it, the Royal Enfield Himalayan isn’t really a dirt bike; it’s not a dual-sport either. So what exactly is it? It is a road bike that is equally comfortable on rocky and muddy terrains. It feels well balanced on highways up to 100 km/hr, after which the weight and height of the bike make it difficult to switch between lanes and tackle high speed curves. The tyres do not facilitate for the best of cornering abilities, but they do what they’re designed for. The front and rear brakes get steel-braided lines, and they have a very progressive feel to it. The rear brake has a typical ByBre feel to it as initially there is no feedback but wheel-lock will eventually be there without any warning.
The Himalayan has well balanced dynamics for versatile conditions
What is awesome about the Himalayan is the ease with which it rides along any kind of terrain. Be it rocky, muddy, slushy or tarmac, the Himalayan is protean! The massive 220 mm ground clearance is pretty helpful in dodging some big rocks while the 21-inch front wheel along with the 200 mm travel suspension takes care of the rest. The footpegs are well designed and standing on them while riding gives more confidence than ever. Even the most amateur of adventurers are going to feel in control because of these well balanced dynamics. Brakes have an appropriate feedback as you’d want them to be in the absence of ABS.
Verdict – Royal Enfield has always been about the emotion associated with riding motorcycles. For years, its bikes have always won hearts of passionate motorcyclists. It is good to see that RE has finally stepped up and has created something to own the Himalayas. The Himalayan is something that has set out on a mission to redefine touring standards in India and for the first time associates adventure to it. For Rs. 1.78 lakhs, it is not exactly the fanciest or a silicon clad bike in our country, but it is an honest-to-God, purpose-built machine that has unparalleled character.
* Most refined Royal Enfield engine till date
* Good mid-range grunt
* Built in luggage and can mounts on chassis
* Balanced ergonomics for off-roading as well as cruising
* Gradual braking feel that does not contribute to wheel lock-up
* Long travel suspension does a pretty neat job
What’s Not So Cool
* Hard gear shifts
* Short tank range with the average mileage
* No projector headlight on offer
* No ABS or FI
* Mirrors are useless with a riding jacket on
Alternatives: Mahindra Mojo, KTM Duke 200
Royal Enfield Himalayan Specifications
* Engine: 411cc, single-cylinder, oil-cooled, 2-valves, SOHC
* Power: 24.5 BHP @ 6500 RPM
* Torque: 32 Nm @ 4000-4500 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
* 0-100 km/hr: 11.11 seconds
* Top Speed: 130 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 30 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Half-duplex split cradle frame
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks, 200 mm travel (Front), Monoshock, 180 mm travel (Rear)
* Tyres: 90/90/21 (Front), 120/90/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm Disc, 2-piston floating calliper (Front), 240 mm Disc, single piston floating calliper (Rear)
Royal Enfield Himalayan Dimensions
* Length x Width x Height: 2190 mm x 840 mm x 1360 mm
* Wheelbase: 1465 mm
* Ground Clearance: 220 mm
* Seat Height: 800 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 15-litres
* Kerb weight: 182 kgs
Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta
Further Reading –