A cleaner engine and switchable ABS aside, nothing substantial has changed in the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan. So, is it still a compelling buy after all these years?
The idea of adventure has always been at the heart of everything that Royal Enfield does. Sure, for a long time, RE had only retro-classic and cruiser-styled motorcycles in their product portfolio, but that didn’t stop RE owners from taking the road less travelled, mostly as part of factory ride programmes.
In 2016, Royal Enfield made adventures more comfortable, fun, and, more importantly, accessible with the launch of the Himalayan. Yes, it did come with teething problems in terms of quality and reliability, but they were mostly addressed by the BS-IV update in 2017. Royal Enfield has now given the Himalayan another update – this time to meet the upcoming BS-VI emission norms. So, when we got the opportunity, we didn’t think twice to find out what has changed.
Not new but improved
As it’s clear from the pictures on these pages, the Himalayan is not a new motorcycle. In fact, the styling hasn’t changed at all since its debut in 2016, except for the instrument cluster, which now gets a white backlight. But in all fairness, it was thoughtfully sketched, to begin with, to rank high in terms of functionality – something that works well with buyers even today.
Royal Enfield has, however, made some noticeable improvements in terms of quality. From the sandblasted fuel filler cap to the new paint schemes – everything feels better put together. In fact, it won’t be too bold to say that it’s the best we’ve seen from the brand.
While the Himalayan continues to have the same 411cc single-cylinder motor, it now meets the BS-VI norms. The updated motor feels markedly more refined than before – it’s noticeable not only while riding at slow speeds but also on the highway. That said, even this new iteration of the Himalayan doesn’t set new benchmarks in terms of refinement. It can, however, comfortably cruise at a speed of around 100km/h, which is adequate enough if you are a law-abiding citizen. Although it’s not very apparent, the Himalayan has put on some weight – 5kg to be precise, which takes its weight to 199kg. The additional weight reflects in the way the Himalayan accelerates, but that doesn’t affect its rideability much.
The torque spread is good, and the gearing is sorted, which is great not just while riding in the urban jungle but also while off-roading. And thank heavens for that because the 5-speed transmission feels quite notchy at slow speeds. At high speeds, however, the transmission shifts a lot more smoothly and precisely.
The 2020 Himalayan preserves all the laudable bits of its predecessors. Its minimalistic design has allowed Royal Enfield to keep the seat height really low – in fact, it’s the lowest in its class at 800mm – despite its 220mm of ground clearance, which by the way is more than that of the BMW G 310 GS and the KTM 390 Adventure. The rider’s triangle is inch-perfect for both touring and off-road duties, and the pillion seat is, perhaps, the most comfortable amongst in not just this segment but across segments and price ranges.
Suspension duties continue to be performed by telescopic forks and a monoshock with 200mm and 180mm of travel, respectively. From potholes to rocky terrain, the Himalayan takes everything in its stride with ease. Aided by the bottom-end grunt, the 21-inch front wheel just ploughs through most obstacles without breaking a sweat. The 199kg weight can pose a challenge for rookie off-road enthusiasts, but the weight is well balanced and something that you can get used to. For the experienced riders, there’s more fun to be had, thanks to the presence of switchable ABS. The rear brake has a good bite and performs brilliantly, but the front feels a bit too spongy.
Except for a few changes, the BS-VI Himalayan’s is not very different from the old model in terms of design, which is its biggest problem. For instance, in a time when even scooters get fully digital instrumentation with Bluetooth and navigation, the Himalayan continues to have the same old semi-digital unit of 2016. It still misses out on LED lighting and a mobile charging socket – both of which are essentials for an ADV.
But its limitations don’t take anything away from the fact this updated avatar continues to be extremely comfortable and rideable. The riding position, ergonomics, suspension setup, and gearing are all spot-on. And the presence of Switchable ABS makes the motorcycle a lot more fun to play with. Also, the build quality and refinement have improved a lot.
It is a great all-round machine that makes regular commutes and highway rides comfortable and, at the same time, is extremely easy to ride off-road. The Royal Enfield Himalayan may not be the feisty girl that you’ve always wanted to date, but it certainly the one that you can get married to and live a life of fulfilment with it.
- Royal Enfield Himalayan BS-VI
Power: 24.3bhp @ 6,500rpm
Torque: 32Nm @ 4,000-4,500rpm
Price: Rs 1.90 lakh (ex-showroom)
X-Factor: Sometimes a jack of all trades is better than the master of one – the Himalayan is a perfect example of that.
• Front brake
• Heavy for its class