The Himalayas threw everything – rain, hail, and snow – at its namesake, the latest bike from Royal Enfield. So, how did it hold up then?
How would you feel if you managed to convert a 7-hour journey into one that took over 10-hours? Pretty frustrated, right? To make matters worse, it was all my own doing – so I guess I deserved it. You see, we were attending the Royal Enfield Himalayan ride in Shimla – which is really just over 7-hours from Delhi by road. The obvious choice would be to drive up to the hills, but if only life were that simple. As always, I had to complicate matters. I thought it would be wiser to take a flight to Chandigarh, and then a taxi to Shimla. Call me lazy, ignorant or naive, but I thought this would be the more comfortable option. Little did I realize that not only would it be longer, but also that I would suffer from motion sickness sitting in the passenger seat of a taxi in the hills. Fortunately, once we reached our destination, the fresh air of the Himalayas and the sight of the all-new Royal Enfield Himalayan parked at the hotel’s entrance meant that nausea was the furthest thing from my mind.
Fresh from a good night’s sleep, we were all set for the ride. Even the weather gods seemed to be in a kind mood, as the sun was clearing the dark clouds and fog away. But once we got saddled up, the weather threw a curve ball at us as the heavens opened up and the downpour started. I couldn’t help but think though – could the conditions be more apt to test the Himalayan in the Himalayas? We fired up the adventure-tourer’s brand new 411cc engine and the first thing we noticed was that it didn’t have the typical Enfield thumping exhaust note. The weather was getting worse by the minute, and with each passing kilometre, so we began wondering if we were testing the Himalayan or if it was the other way around?
But, back to the bike – it’s brand new 411cc motor did manage to diminish some of the doubts that were lingering our minds. Before getting on the bike, we weren’t convinced that powerplant’s maximum output of 24.5bhp at 6,500rpm would do the bike justice – especially since it’s less than some 250-300cc motorcycles. But, in the hills at least, it never felt underpowered. The 32Nm of torque would kick in immediately, ensuring that it easily climbed the steep inclines on our route. Royal Enfield have specifically tuned this new engine to be responsive at the low end with an ample amount of torque. No matter the terrain or the conditions, the Himalayan never wavered. But we would still like to test the bike fully laden with panniers full of gear and jerry cans brimmed with fuel.
As the downpour turned to a hailstorm, we took a detour towards a narrow, winding, and broken slip road. With the conditions getting worse, I was starting to get nervous. But this is where the Ceat Gripp Dual Purpose tyres showed their mettle, as they provided plenty of grip and confidence. The good news for all potential Himalayan buyers is that these tyres come standard on the bike. But when we hit a track covered in slush, the dual purpose tyres started losing grip at the rear – which certainly served to keep me awake! The good bit is that these tyres work pretty well on tarmac as well.
On chatting with Sid Lal, he explained why they stuck with a carburettor as opposed to going fuel injected with the Himalayan (you can read his take once you turn the page) – i.e. to keep the keep the costs down – but we would expect a fuel injected version pretty soon. The Himalayan gets a 15-litre fuel tank and weighs 182 kilograms, which is a little on the heavy side.
Royal Enfield kept reminding us time and again that the Himalayan had been tested in all kinds of daunting conditions – on off-road trails of course, but also on the racetrack. Well, on this ride, it proved without a shadow of a doubt that it can certainly withstand a lot of punishment indeed. The ride is a tad bit stiff, but it’s never uncomfortable and it even manages to cushion some pretty serious, crater-like potholes. Not once did we face a spine jarring moment, and that says a lot in these conditions. It simply dismissed the dirt, snow and, of course, ditches. The Himalayan manages to achieve this thanks to its telescopic front forks that have a long travel of 200mm and the mono-shock at the rear that has 180mm of travel. Add to that an impressive ground clearance of 200mm, and you’ve got some pretty impressive go-anywhere ability.
What surprised us even more was the Himalayan’s handling. Sure, we only rode it in the mountains, but even in these treacherous conditions it handled like a charm. Plus, it has a great turning radius – so taking those tight hairpin bends in the ghats will be no problem whatsoever. The Himalayan’s riding position and split seats are very comfortable too. What was a bit of a surprise, though, was that the Himalayan only comes with an electric start – no kick-start!
So far, adventure bikes have been synonymous with rich boys’ toys – but the Himalayan, priced at just Rs. 1.55 lakhs, ex-showroom Mumbai, shatters this notion and creates a completely new segment. It’s an answer to the prayers of many a rider, and stays true to RE’s philosophy of making sturdy and affordable bikes. RE has grown its sales by 50% in the past year – and we expect the Himalayan to accelerate that sales growth even further. We certainly expect this bike to fly off the shelves… So, head to the Himalayas – no more excuses!
Royal Enfield Himalayan Video Review
- Royal Enfield Himalayan
Engine: 411cc / Single-Cylinder / Air-Cooled, 4 Stroke, SOHC
Transmission: 5-Speed Constant Mesh
Power: 24.5bhp @ 6,500rpm
Torque: 32Nm @ 4,000-4,500rpm
Fuel Supply: Carburetor
Cooling Mechanism: Air cooled
Length (mm): 2,190
Height (mm): 1,360
Width (mm): 840
Wheel Base (mm): 1,465
Ground Clearance (mm): 220
Seat Height (mm): 800
Kerb Weight (kg): 182
Tank Capacity (Litres): 15
Front Tyre (inches): 90/90 x 21
Rear Tyre (inches): 120/90 x 17
Front Brakes (mm): 300 disc
Rear Brakes (mm): 240 disc
Price: Rs. 1.55 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Mumbai)