Royal Enfield Himalayan Review
We’ve just ridden Royal Enfield’s brand new Himalayan and by brand new, we mean it’s got a new chassis and a new engine. Royal Enfield says that it’s been designed to be easy to use in the mountains as well as in the city, as an everyday motorcycle. Is it? I rode it through the narrow, twisting roads around Shimla, through heavy snowfall and on dirt tracks and here’s what I think of it. I love the way it looks – minimalistic and purposeful. Royal Enfield hasn’t gone overboard on the decals, what is on the bike is very tasteful and cool. Closer inspection reveals clean welding, lots of quality bits and bobs.
Instrumentation consists of a digital display that shows most of what you would like to know when you are touring. In addition to trip and odo, there’s a clock and an ambient temperature gauge. Apart from this, there’s an analogue fuel gauge, a small tachometer and a digital compass (that reads funny, but anyway).
I love that the seat height is just right – I can get both my feet on the ground and that makes handling it on rough roads easy. You get raised handle bars and the ergonomics are mostly good. I say mostly because I’m not too sure how comfortable the seat to foot peg ratio will be over longer distances, especially if you are tall. You see, the bike has 220mm of ground clearance and because they wanted the seat height to be low enough (800mm) to allow people of average height to reach the ground easily, your legs do get a bit cramped. Another easily fixable grouse is with the mirror stems that aren’t long enough. Because the mirrors don’t stick out enough, all I saw was my shoulders for most of the day.
The heart of this new Enfield is the 411cc, carburetted, long stroke motor. This is a revolutionary motor in the sense that Enfield has ditched pushrods and has instead used overhead cams and that means it revs more than the traditional Enfield motor. It makes 24.5bhp and 32Nm of torque and does most of its good work once it is past 3000rpm. It isn’t as torquey below that and when you open the throttle, it grumbles a bit before waking up and getting into its powerband. It is pretty quick and feels peppy but I still think that, in the name of effortlessness, it could use more power. About 10bhp more would have been good and I say this because you do have to rev it a bit when you are starting off on slopes and I imagine it could use the extra power when you travel two up and fully loaded with luggage. It is a smooth though (possibly the smoothest Enfield engine yet) and revs up quite quickly as well.
The suspension is good – there’s 200mm of travel up front and 180mm of travel at the rear (Enfield’s first monoshock rear suspension) but the setup is slightly stiff at low speeds. The suspension comes alive when you start to fly over bad roads. At higher speeds, it soaks up bumps impressively without throwing the bike off. It also doesn’t bottom out like on the older Enfields and for further protection, it has got a hefty sump guard.
That suspension also helps handling – the Himalayan is a whole lot of fun to throw around and it simply doesn’t feel its weight. It changes direction willingly, is very flickable and it has a tight turning circle as well. It encourages you to stand up and ride over bad sections and when you do, you’ll find that the brakes and the gearlever are easy to use when you are standing up. The front brakes however need to be stronger. They are good in the sense that they don’t lock up easily on dirt but on tarmac, they don’t have enough bite. In contrast, the rear rear brakes need less bite. They are sharp and it is easy to lock up on and off tarmac. Admittedly, there is good feel through both levers and you soon adjust to use the brakes accordingly. There is no ABS for now though. Adding to this, the Ceat Gripp XL tyres worked really well on wet roads and muck alike.
Also, the Himalayan is totally unintimidating to ride and I think Royal Enfield, in this respect, achieved exactly what they set out to do.
One thing you can’t ignore though is how much it costs. At Rs 1.55 lakh (ex-Maharashtra) the Himalayan comes at a killer price and deliveries start this month. As is, it is a very good motorcycle and like me, the price just might tempt you to accept 24.5bhp as just right.