The Himalayas are the largest, highest and youngest mountain range in this whole planet. Each year travellers from across the world come together to admire the vastness, the grandness and exoticism of the ranges. Himalayas are a dream destination for people around the world and after being there several times, I would say there is no better way to explore the Himalayas than climbing on two-wheels and get-going.
Royal Enfield has been a famous name among the motorcycle tourers, the thumping machines have been one of the favorites when it comes to long-touring. Since a long time, the REs have been echoing in the Himalayas but now the homegrown company has unshackled the stereotype that it comes attached with to bring out the Himalayan. As the name suggests, the Himalayan has been developed especially for long touring but lack of features like ABS and fuel injection will put many buyers in a tight spot, or will it? We recently spent a good amount of time with the Himalayan and here is what we have to say about the motorcycle.Looks:
The Himalayan is not the motorcycle that you will find outside a fashion week event, it rather feels at home with the people who love to leave home for the unknown. The Himalayan has a minimalistic design. It only features the equipment, looks and things that will be needed by the rider. There is nothing to show-off in the Himalayan. The motorcycle is built very purposefully. The Himalayan has all the good things that will be ever needed to counter the terrain of mother nature. Let’s start with the front of the motorcycle. It has round headlamp on which an adjustable visor is attached to save you from all the oncoming insect and pebbles traffic and wind blasts. The motorcycle has rather ample capacity of 15-litre tank but Royal Enfield did not care about the design and made it in the best way possible to accommodate the rider who would want to stand and ride the motorcycle when condition demands for it. There are also mounts on the side of the fuel tank which can take load of fuel jerry cans if you are planning to head into really unknown place but Royal Enfield claims that on a full tank, the motorcycle can do about 450 km to 500 km depending on the riding conditions. This motorcycle has been built from the grounds-up and that means a new chassis. The Himalayan chassis cages the all-new engine beautifully. The new chassis and the engine are treated in all-black paint adding masculinity to the vehicle. The motorcycle is double-seat and has provision to add panniers in the rear of up to 12 kilos either side. From the rear, the Himalayan looks like a big machine. Even though no high-tech features, it sure looks brilliant with the standard tail-lamps and off-road mud-guards in front and rear. The engine also gets a guard but we think handlebar guards should have been added to the machine.
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The Himalayan also carries very smartly designed negative imprint stickers on the front and rear mudguard along with the tank, which make it look different and classic. The most advanced feature on the motorcycle is its console. The digital-analogue hybrid console is very thoughtful. There are two big dials that show the speed and engine speed respectively, and then there is a small dial for fuel. There is an LCD screen that can be used for two trip metres, temperature, and average speed done during current trip. Himalayan also features a digital compass. The differently sized front and rear tyres also take the looks of a bike a notch up. The front one is a 21-inches spoke and the rear one is a 17-inches spoke, both of which get CEAT dual-purpose tyres. The brake and gear lever are made up of steel without any rubber cover on it adding to the rugged purpose of the machine. Royal Enfield has also given provision of removing the rubber grip from the footpegs but even in heavy rain and snow conditions, we found the footpegs to be pretty sticky.
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Holding the front tyres are telescopic forks while the first ever mono-shock from Royal Enfield takes care of the rear. Moreover, it is a link-type mono-suspension and not a conventional setup where the shocker is directly connected to the swing-arm. The suspension setup is excellent giving optimum comfort and handling ability to the motorcycle. The ByBre disc brakes in front and rear take care of the stopping ability of the motorcycle, there is no ABS as of now but Royal Enfield says that there is provision for ABS and we may see it in the future. The Himalayan is built around a purpose, and that the motorcycle can do very effectively.
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The all-new LS 410 engine gets oil-cooling as well as air-cooling. We did not get to check the effectiveness of the new cooling system as the temperature stayed in single digit and below zero all through our ride but we are sure it will be a lot better than current Royal Enfield engines. The engine design is also kept as simple as possible. There are only two-valves and being Long Stroke, there's good low to bottom end torque for effortless acceleration. However, the Single Overhead Cam setup, which is a first for RE, enables it to rev higher as well. The combination of Long Stroke design and SOHC setup provides a very good power band in the engine and it is the highest revving unit developed by RE to date. The oil and air is mixed by a carburetor, which we think is bit odd for a motorcycle is purposefully built for the mountains but Royal Enfield says it is tuned to perform very well till the height of 12,000 feet. Royal Enfield says that there is power loss during high altitudes but it is not so much that the rider will feel it. Also, we did not test the motorcycle with full luggage capacity so we would not know about how it will perform with all the panniers and jerry cans in place. The best part of the new engine is the smoothness, it the smoothest engine from Royal Enfield till date and it is equipped with a counter-balancer to keep a check on the vibrations which the Enfields are infamous for. It still has vibrations, yet not the bone-crushing ones.
The smart and thoughtful design continues in the engineering of the machine. Now it has a ground clearance of 220mm but the seat height is just 800mm which induces great confidence to the rider in tricky conditions. The engine does not get a kick-starter but can be pushed to start. The electric starter brings the motorcycle to life with low thumps. It is a very different sounding machine. There are no deep thumps now, it is sharp and grunty. The engine churns out a maximum of 24.5 bhp at 6,500 rpm but almost 90 per cent of the 32 Nm torque is well-spread between 2,000 to 5,000 rpm making it a good revving machine and at the same time giving it enough low-end to tackle sticky situations.
You sit very upright on the motorcycle and the handlebars are at the perfect position. You can easily stand on the footpegs and because of the narrow tank design, it gives you a lot of room to move around and make your moves in case you need to ride in the stand-up position for extended period.
The engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox. The first gear is very tall and can take the motorcycle to above 50 km/h. It can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation you are riding in. We could not go beyond the third gear because of the conditions but highway rides should be stress-free for the engine. The gear shifts and the clutch are also very smooth. The clutch especially is not very heavy unlike the other products from the same brand. The setup of the motorcycle is perfect for off-road conditions, the duo of suspensions and tyres induce bucket-loads of confidence, also, the motorcycle is very flickable, it can change direction unannounced and will put a smile behind the helmet visor!
Even though there is no ABS, we did not find the need of it. The front brakes lack bite but if you get used to it, you will not be scared to use it in any way. Also, the rear brakes are good enough and do not lock easily. That said, new riders may face issue while riding on slippery conditions for the first time and Royal Enfield does target the first time motorcycle buyers with the new product.Verdict:Updated on 16th March: The Himalayan goes on sale at 1.55 lakh (ex-showroom), and this is fantastic pricing keeping in mind what all the bike offers!
It is a great off-road package and is light enough to be used in city conditions with ease. The motorcycle has all that is needed for making a first choice for adventure seekers but absence of ABS and Fuel Injection does put few questions on it. The performance nonetheless is above par. It can do all the things Royal Enfield advertises the motorcycle for. It is a product that will be loved by youngsters and will make up for a great choice for current Royal Enfield owners. In all, if I go out in market to buy a motorcycle, I will surely exchange the Himalayan with my money and will love to explore the Himalayas in the best way possible in a limited budget. This motorcycle has potential to make dreams of young riders come true, and we shall see so many of them roaring in the lap of Himalayas.