Royal Enfield has always been a consumer-friendly brand, despite its flaws and shortcomings. The century-old manufacturer deferred from its traditional “bullet” models in 2016 when it launched the Himalayan, a brand-new adventure tourer. Almost half a decade later, it is back with a fresh set of clothes and some technological updates. But are they sufficient to help the Himalayan stay in tandem with the trend? I recently got a chance to find out.
To begin with, Royal Enfield has not tried to fix anything that isn’t broken and it shows. The hardware, i.e. the engine, chassis, suspension and fuel tank have been carried forward. What has changed though, is the seat. Still sporting a split unit, the Himalayan now gets thicker, more comfortable seats to endure that long haul better. Nevertheless, it is still fun to ride it standing (more on that later.)
Another and the most major update to the motorcycle is the Tripper gauge, copy-pasted from the new Meteor 350. The gauge works in tandem with Google and can be navigated via a smartphone app. It can be majorly used as a navigation unit, though it also doubles up as a prominent and easy-to-read digital watch.
The aforementioned engine is the same 411cc, single-cylinder air-cooled unit that makes 24.3 bhp and 32 Nm. While it is sufficiently powerful for cruising, it lacks the low-end grunt and when coupled with a heavy clutch that the Himalayan comes with, the engine takes its sweet time to get to its ideal rev range. When it reaches its sweet spot around the 4000 rpm mark, however, it noticeably springs into action and takes charge. There on, it is as loyal as Bucephalus was to Alexander. Its peak torque kicks in around 4500 rpm, while the power maxes out at 6500 rpm. This meant that though the engine can rev up to almost 7000 rpm, its goldmine lies at the halfway point.
It stays comfortable at near-hundred speeds and can even stay stable past the three-digit marker, topping out at around 120kmph. However, despite being BSVI compliant, the Himalayan’s engine has stayed as fuel-hungry as ever. The motorcycle will gulp up petrol despite munching miles at the same time and frequent fuel stops will become inevitably mandatory. When that is taken into consideration with the traffic conditions in Mumbai, expecting a great mileage would be a rather longshot.
Royal Enfield has been unsuccessful in addressing one of its core issues: engine heat. Soon after embarking on a cross-country journey, or even your usual office travel, you will realise that your thighs are just a few degrees away from being cooked medium-rare. Well, at least that’s what I felt. Nevertheless, Royal Enfield has redesigned the front rack to make more legroom for taller riders and that was a much-needed respite.
The switchable ABS allowed me to properly test the motorcycle’s off-roading capabilities and it did not disappoint. With the ABS switched off, the braking of the motorcycle was equally enthralling and intimidating, thus ensuring I did not have a single dull moment during my course through the gravel. Its kerb weight of 199 kilos has also been quite well-distributed and the motorcycle feels agile under most conditions.
The suspension units have always been flawless and its 800mm seat height meant I was equally comfortable riding the motorcycle as some of my shorter colleagues were. However, as I mentioned at the beginning, the motorcycle is more fun to ride when standing straight. I mean straight, with no hunch whatsoever. The Himalayan is as comfortable and manoeuvrable as ever and the view is just something else. Don’t try this on city roads though!
Three new colour schemes are on offer, including Granite Black, Mirage Silver, and Pine Green. All three colours add fresh appeal to the motorcycle and are a welcome addition to its decently wide range of colour options. I was particularly smitten with the Pine Green unit that I reviewed, despite my internal apprehension towards the colour. With all these upgrades, the price has also understandably increased to Rs 2.01 lakh (ex-showroom). It still poses as a promising package and a potent competitor to the currently hotly contested segment of entry-level adventure tourers and the resultant competition will be interesting to witness. Till then, we can confidently say that we have successfully scaled the Himalayan!