2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan Test Ride Review
We do a detailed road test to tell you what's new on the BS6 Royal Enfield Himalayan.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is still a one-of-its-kind bike for the price
Bike tested: Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6; Road Test No. 1204; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,38,165/-
The Royal Enfield Himalayan was once the most powerful and the only sub-600cc adventure bike in India with no competition. But times have changed, and RE has had to work on making the Himalayan a better motorcycle in order to retain its strong fan-base. While the BS4 Himalayan solved many issues, the owners still had a fair share of inputs. This is exactly what RE aimed with the BS6 Himalayan, to give the people what they want. The BS6 Himalayan sees some new features and updates for the same. Has RE made the Himalayan better? Let’s find out!
Side note– The bike sent to us for testing had some accessories pre-installed. The accessories list is given below with the price-
*Touring Seat, Rider – Rs. 2300/-
*Aluminium Pannier Pair – Rs. 23,500/-
*Pannier Rails – Rs. 3000/-
*Hand Guard Kit – Rs. 2200/-
MotorQuest: Royal Enfield introduced the Himalayan back in 2016, and it was the only affordable adventure bike in the market. Pierre Terblanche designed it initially and the styling has not changed a lot since the first iteration. RE updated the Himalayan with FI and ABS during BS4 in order to increase refinement and reliability. Currently, the Himalayan sits right between the super affordable but underpowered, Hero Xpulse 200 and the expensive but more powerful, KTM 390 Adventure.
Styling: If you liked how the RE Himalayan looked earlier, we have good news for you! The Himalayan looks exactly like the previous models. There are minute changes, though. Firstly, there’s the fat catalytic converter on the exhaust pipe which is there to help the bike meet the BS6 norms. While we don’t mind the bulge, the finishing is slightly disappointing. The initial part of the exhaust is black and from the converter to the end-can, the exhaust is copper-ish, which is not something you’d want after spending around Rs. 2.5 lakhs. However, the least amount of body panels, exposed frame bit and the raw design do make it look purposeful.
Even we had to take a close look to find out what’s different on the BS6 Himalayan aesthetically
The second noticeable change is the Himalayan logo on the panel under the rider’s seat. The third and last aesthetic change is in the colour options. The Himalayan now comes in 3 new colour options- Gravel Gray, Lake Blue and Rock Red. However, there is an extra premium of around Rs. 4000/- for these new colours. Nothing else has changed in the looks department. We think the Himalayan still looks good and purposeful but the absence of LED headlights, LED indicators and other modern features is a bummer. These missing features become a major setback for the Himalayan in 2020.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear: Like the styling, the instrument cluster and switchgear is pretty similar to the previous model, but it has some new bits. The instrument cluster is roughly the same, but there’s an addition to it. It now gets an ABS switch. Yes, you read it right! RE has listened to the customers and finally introduced a switchable ABS. While the button doesn’t switch off the ABS completely, it disengages the rear ABS letting you lock the rear as much as you like while still keeping the safety bracket of the front ABS. Other than that, the cluster remains exactly the same. It is semi-digital and shows info like fuel range, temperature, time and gear apart from the standard bits. It also retains the digital compass in case you decide you to wander off without a map.
The addition of the switchable ABS makes the Himalayan even more fun off the road
Coming to the switchgear, it is also roughly the same as before with one addition – a hazard switch. The hazard switch is right below the kill switch which is an odd position but we’re not complaining. The hazard will come in handy on long-distance touring, especially in low visibility. We feel that the switchgear quality is okay by RE standards but can be better as they feel plasticky. Also, while the instrument cluster is nice and shows plenty of information, the quality is decent and could’ve been more premium.
Ergonomics: Being an adventure bike, the Himalayan continues to offer the enviable blend of perfect ergonomics. The seating position is upright and the footpegs are centre-set. This helps matters off the road when one needs to stand on the pegs. Another thing that helps is the shape of the tank, which helps you lock your knees while standing. The handlebars are tall and might be a stretch for short riders but feel good overall. However, if you like cornering, the Himalayan isn’t the best bike to do so. The 800 mm seat height is very accessible for short as well as tall riders but as we had the panniers we hit our knee or leg if we didn’t stretch our legs properly.
The ergonomics of the BS6 Royal Enfield Himalayan remain exactly the same, comfortable and purposeful
The seats are very comfortable for both the rider and pillion, as they are wide and offer good cushioning. But the rider’s seat will get a little uncomfortable over long riding sessions as the cushion shrinks down with time. However, since we had the Touring Kit seat, we faced no problem at all. Overall, the ergonomics remain exactly the same and the motorcycle is still touring and off-road friendly with good comfort on offer even if someone wants to join you as a pillion. While the mirrors are big and offer good visibility, they vibrate at times making it harder to see what’s behind. Finally, Royal Enfield has also updated the side stand on the BS6 Himalayan making it much sturdier than before, which some people had complained about.
Performance: Usually the switch from BS4 to BS6 means a significant decrement in the power output. Surprisingly, RE has limited the power drop to just 0.2 BHP! The Himalayan’s BS6 compliant 411cc FI motor makes 24.3 BHP at 6500 RPM and 32 Nm of torque at about 4000 RPM. But the difference is the new state of tune. The new ECU’s tune is such that the bike has become much more linear and, consequently, smoother. The bike feels much more refined while riding as well. The vibrations have also reduced a lot, and the only vibrations you’ll probably feel are after the 5000 RPM mark. The linear tune means that the mid-range isn’t as punchy, though. Thanks to the FI, the throttle response is also great, but it is still not very sharp. The redline stays the same at 7500 RPM.
The LS410 motor on the Royal Enfield Himalayan is now much more refined, linear and vibration-free too
The 5-speed gearbox has also remained unchanged and the lack of a 6th gear is still a bummer. Also, the gearbox still doesn’t get a slipper clutch function which would really enhance the riding experience if present. Speaking of the clutch, the clutch is the lightest it has ever been on a Himalayan. Earlier, people found the clutch painful in city conditions, but RE has addressed this issue and the new bike will not be a problem in traffic whatsoever. Further, the bike can easily cruise at a 100 km/hr and will manage a top speed of around 135 km/hr. The vibrations get really intolerable near the redline, though. Finally, when pushing, the Himalayan returned a fuel efficiency of around 26 km/l but if you ride sanely, the engine is capable of 30+ km/l. This rounds up the total range of the 15-litre tank to around 450 kms.
Riding Dynamics: As the ergonomics remain unchanged, the riding dynamics are unchanged as well. The high handlebars and weight decrease the cornering capabilities of the bike further. The key difference comes because of the 5 kg increment in the weight. While we had the panniers which made life a little difficult, when we removed them we noticed that there wasn’t much difference overall. The motorcycle is still fun to ride and won’t tire the rider at all. The superb off-road capabilities are still intact as well. The only place where you might feel the weight is while taking a U-turn which requires a slightly more effort than before.
The additional 5 kg weight of the BS6 Himalayan is mostly felt during slow manoeuvres
The suspension setup is perfect for bumpy Indian roads and there is plenty of suspension travel and ground clearance on offer for proper off-roading stints as well. Coming to the brakes, RE claims that they have drastically improved them and they feel somewhat better. However, they are still not as confidence-inspiring and you will have to start braking a little earlier. The extra weight which results in extra momentum doesn’t help the braking either. All in all, the RE Himalayan has gotten better than before in the braking department but the added weight may cause minor hindrance in the riding dynamics. The switchable ABS does come in handy if you want to go sliding off the road.
Verdict: Is the Royal Enfield Himalayan better than before? Surely. It’s quite impressive how RE has managed to keep the performance figures intact in the BS6 times. It’s still far from perfect, though, as the quality and finishing feel a little compromised at places. But the BS6 changes like the improved refinement, switchable ABS and hazard switch also shows that the manufacturer is actually paying attention to the public which is a step in the right direction. The price has gone up by around Rs. 8000/- but we feel that the Himalayan is still pretty value for money. However, if you own the previous model of the bike, there is no need to upgrade to the BS6 model. We can still say that the Himalayan is the best adventure to buy under Rs. 2.5 lakhs.
* The switchable ABS is a real nice addition
* The refinement has increased a lot and the clutch is also lighter
* New colour options look great and the bike has that road presence
* Comfortable ergonomics and huge list of accessories make it appealing
What’s Not So Cool
* A lot of vibrations creep in near the redline
* Braking feedback is still not up to the mark
* The quality is still not great, especially of the metal bits
Alternatives – Hero Xpulse 200, KTM 390 Adventure, BMW G 310 GS
* Engine: 411cc, Single-Cylinder, Oil-Cooled, 2-Valves, SOHC
* Power: 24.3 BHP @ 6500 RPM
* Torque: 32 Nm @ 4000-4500 RPM
* Transmission: 5-Speed
* 0-100 km/hr: 13 Seconds
* Top Speed: 130 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 30 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Half-Duplex Split Cradle Frame
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks (Front), Monoshock (Rear)
* Suspension Travel: 200 mm (Front), 180 mm (Rear)
* Tyres: 90/90/21 (Front), 120/90/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm Disc (Front), 240 mm Disc (Rear)
* 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: 199 kgs