• Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

The mountain goat gets friendlier and also feels slightly more polished in its latest avatar

At the expense of sounding clichéd, I’m going to start this review with the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. We’ve seen Royal Enfield follow it over the years, but the Himalayan has been an exception. It’s exactly five years now since the bike was launched, but the past half decade has had Royal Enfield push out updated versions at regular intervals. And that’s a good thing, because the motorcycle is a far better machine now than it was back in 2016.

Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

Positioned as an adventure tourer leaning towards off-road riding, the Himalayan has appealed to motorcyclists with varied interests since its launch. The BS6-compliant version that came out last year was a huge improvement in terms of refinement and overall rideability. And the bike has just received yet another shot in the arm. The Himalayan gets the Meteor 350’s tripper navigation pod now along with few other improvements. Every update is also an opportunity to add new colours to the palette and Royal Enfield has made the most of this one. One of the new colour options is this nice-looking, subtle, two-tone satin and metallic black paint job. Mechanical changes are far and few in between though. Taller riders will appreciate the redesigned metal frame on the sides of the fuel tank as it is more compact and does not foul with the knees anymore. The tail rack has also been redesigned and gets a metal plate to mount luggage better. 

Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

The windscreen is taller and also wider to accommodate the tripper pod. The screen also looks better, courtesy the light tint and the bottom half having a translucent texture with the Royal Enfield name. I like the tripper pod’s crisp display and large readouts and it certainly is a useful addition. I say that with conviction as my current long termer is the Meteor and I am used to having the tripper pod guide me easily, without needing to pull my phone out. That said, the pod’s placement on the Himalayan is odd, like an afterthought. Royal Enfield could have shoe-horned the tripper into the instrument cluster, replacing the digital compass perhaps. Fit-finish levels have improved further and the Himalayan thus feels even better built.

Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

The BS6-compliant, 411cc, air-cooled single cylinder engine offers the same 24.3PS and 32Nm and feels refined. The Himalayan is at ease sustaining 80 to 100kmph on long rides with barely any vibration anywhere, making it a good tourer. That said, open stretches of tarmac do make you want to go faster, but the Himalayan runs out of steam rather quickly once you get to triple digit speeds. The engine also feels stressed and you are better off sticking close to the 100kmph mark. The bike is also more comfortable now, thanks to revised seat cushioning.

Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

The engine’s long stroke configuration ensures there’s ample poke at low revs too, making the Himalayan well-suited to commuting duties. More importantly, it is an excellent machine for off-road trails where bottom- end grunt is crucial to having a good time. In fact the Himalayan is fantastic to learn riding off-road, despite its relatively heavier weight. The engine performance and gear ratios make things easier off tarmac even for inexperienced riders, coupled with the balanced weight distribution. This, besides the fact that the suspension soaks up everything you throw at it without unsettling the rider. I’m not an off-road expert, but the Himalayan sure makes things easy every time I take it to a trail!

Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

The Himalayan is thus an excellent go-anywhere, do-it all motorcycle. Some might argue it feels a little too utilitarian, but that’s where the bike’s true appeal lies. I do feel there is further room for Royal Enfield to offer more performance at higher speeds, which will broaden its appeal as a tourer. At Rs 2.08 lakh ex-showroom, it costs lesser than rivals like the BMW G 310 GS and KTM 390 Adventure. If you’ve read my review of the Triumph Tiger 900 GT last month, you would have sensed my love for adventure tourers. Owning a Tiger 900 GT is a distant dream but the Himalayan is something well within my financial reach. It is like a multi-tool, just not a Swiss Army one. 

 

Technical Specifications

Royal Enfield Himalayan

Engine: 411cc, single cylinder, air-cooled, SOHC

Power: 24.3PS @ 6,500rpm 

Torque: 32Nm @ 4,000rpm - 4,500rpm 

Weight: 199kg 

0-100kmph: 10.49 seconds (claimed) 

Price: Starting at Rs 2.08 lakh ex-showroom, New Delhi

Bikes First rides

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