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  • Sachin Sen

2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan - World's Oldest Bike-Maker Goes Modern for the First Time

Royal Enfield Himalayan
Royal Enfield's best motorcycle, arguably

I still can’t believe that the 2024 Himalayan is a Royal Enfield product. Because bikes like the new Himalayan happen when there’s a radical shift in mentality.

Think about it, for the first time ever, there’s nothing old-school about a Royal Enfield motorcycle. Consider this; a liquid-cooled engine with a DOHC head, a full-blown TFT display, a twin spar frame, and ride by wire. Even the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 are fairly outdated in comparison. It seems that Royal Enfield has finally embraced technology…

And the first shockwaves occurred well before this motorcycle was even launched, when its spy shots emerged on the internet. I wasn’t expecting the original Himalayan to be succeeded by something so radically different. The new Himalayan is a completely new DNA with muscle and brain power much beyond what its predecessor was capable of.

Any one who has ridden the previous Himalayan and the new one would know. I do, I own a 2019 model and the new one is as different as night and day. Historically, all Royal Enfield motorcycles have felt more or less the same to ride because that’s how they had been made for a long time; single platform, different bikes. While this is still true, at least the current generation is good! Previously, they were simply pathetic. No evolution while revolution was a concept unknown. 

Today though, the differences between various RE models are more pronounced, with totally different genre of motorcycles catering to completely different types of riders; standards, roadsters, cruiser, scrambler, and an adventure bike, along with air-cooled and liquid-cooled single-cylinder engines as well as air-cooled parallel twin engines. And they all have dedicated chassis and suspension to serve their purposes.

Royal Enfield has at last figured out how to please a variety of riders, old and new, and old and young, with motorcycles that actually fit in the environment they’re meant to be ridden in.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
All-new 452cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve, single-cylinder engine; all-new stiffer frame, and suspension

And I would say that the 2024 Himalayan is Royal Enfield’s flagship motorcycle. It isn’t the most powerful, but its componentry demands it gets that title. It is possibly the only motorcycle with the RE badge that I’ve found most satisfying to ride in the shortest amount of time. The company has never made a motorcycle like this before. And I mean that in terms of how far away it is from Royal Enfield’s usual philosophy of making simplistic motorcycles. It is the only, entirely unique, motorcycle in their lineup at present.

The experience is heightened as soon as you look at it and sit on it. The bike is bigger and much more accommodating. I’m 5 '7, so I fit quite comfortably on my 2019 Himalayan as well. However, the new Himalayan is more spacious in all directions. The seat is flat, long, and wide compared to the scoop that is found on the previous Himalayan which restricts hip mobility. On the new one, I can conveniently move around depending on my comfort. The padding is better too and the overall feeling is of higher quality. It is a very comfortable motorcycle to ride whether or not you compare it to its previous generation. It is also taller with an adjustable seat height between 805 mm and 825 mm. The ergonomics are optimised better for stand-up riding when off-roading. I like the new handlebar and its position more, it feels more commanding and adventure-oriented. Overall, the riding position is more engaging.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
40 PS @ 8,000 RPM, 40 NM @ 5,500 RPM, 320mm front disc brake

The new Himalayan is also built better. Everything from the paint finish to the build quality is noticeably better and makes the bike desirable enough. The quality of the switchgear has also improved; it is more tactile and doesn’t feel as flimsy as it did earlier. It is substantial and 6 kg heavier than my bike at 196 kg (my Himalayan is a BSIV model weighing 191 kg wet). The BSVI Himalayan (411cc) weighed 199 kg wet. So Royal Enfield has actually made the new one lighter.

From here on, the rest is even more impressive. The riding experience on the new Himalayan is transformational. While it is quite heavy to lift from the side stand, it feels much lighter to ride and that happens as soon as you ride away. Its lightness on the move is a brilliantly nice surprise. In its entire history, It is the first time that Royal Enfield has managed the weight distribution so well on its motorcycle. That brings us to the chassis.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
All-new 4-inch circular TFT display that is placed well and can display full google maps

A twin spar frame is one of the best ways to inject some proper sporty attitude into a motorcycle and that’s what the new Himalayan has. Once again, this is a first on an RE bike. The new Himalayan’s twin spar frame is not only lighter than the downtube frame of the previous Himalayan, it is more compact and heightens rigidity which is vital for responsive, sporty, and stable handling. With this, RE is able to infuse never-seen-before precision into the handling characteristic of the new Himalayan, something that cannot be found in any other RE. Even with the 21-inch front wheel, the new Himalayan displays the level of accuracy, agility, and responsiveness in traffic that are usually hard to achieve. The new chassis is just brilliant and it has transformed the bike’s character completely.

The new suspension is equally good, complementing the chassis in its overall composed and reactive handling. The upside-down forks from Showa are very well tuned for regular commutes and spirited riding on the twisties. There is not a hint of nervousness as you cut through the city traffic or when you take a corner fast. Even with the tall front-end, the handling is precise and you notice it while navigating gaps between vehicles. Especially on a Royal Enfield, this particular experience is quite intoxicating and you can’t help but praise the company for this.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
Front Showa upside-down 43mm forks are nonadjustable but they're setup very well; plush in the city, over bad roads, and stiff enough for spirited riding around the corners at high speeds

The chassis and suspension setup encourages very good lean angles and can be pushed to its extreme. The suspension not only makes it handle better, it reacts much better on bad roads too compared to the previous Himalayan. The motorcycle glides over bad patches while larger undulations are handled with much better composure. You can also carry higher speeds over speed breakers without affecting the bike’s stability. Here, particularly, it is comparable to the G 310 GS.

You must understand that there are a number of other bike makers for whom delivering such a motorcycle is not a big deal. But this is Royal Enfield. Aggression is not its forte and even the nice surprises have come with compromises (thus far). On that note, the new Himalayan is a big deal because it comes from Royal Enfield.

Is it perfect? Definitely not. Very few motorcycles are and that also depends on how effectively they fulfil your needs. Once you own a bike, whether or not it is perfect depends purely on your ownership experience.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
The bike feels lighter on the move compared to the previous generation; the fuel tank can hold up to 17 litres of fuel

The new engine, although impressive, is noisy and harsh. It is not really a smooth unit by any means and in the motorcycle that I rode, it was an inconsistent experience. At times, the mechanical clatter was there right when the engine would start, other times it would occur while riding. But it would always come up. That said, it didn’t seem to affect the engine performance; the throttle response was generally crisp and the bike was responsive all throughout the rev-range.

But the mechanical noise was bad enough to ruin the riding experience. It makes it look as if the engine is either not well-engineered or it’s not taken care of properly. Nobody likes noisy engines, everyone loves a good exhaust note (which the bike otherwise has).

This is the only big gripe I have with the new Himalayan after riding it daily extensively for a full week. The highlights of the new Himalayan are its handling and performance and it is good enough to challenge the best in its category as of now. But, it is not a game-changing motorcycle in the segment, it is game-changing for Royal Enfield though. What it does is provide a good choice to the riders in the segment.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
The new 2024 Himalayan is a good-looking motorcycle. It is well-built and it's the first single-cylinder RE that is enjoyable at higher speeds on a highway. Royal Enfield has raised the bar for itself with this motorcycle; better things are expected in the future...

With the new 650cc platform and the all-new Himalayan, Royal Enfield is transforming at a rapid pace and for the good. People have begun to expect competent motorcycles from RE and, at the same time, that don’t compromise on reliability. With the expansion in major European and US markets, Royal Enfield’s mentality was bound to have changed. These new motorcycles are a result of that.

1 Comment

Jul 02

Lovely shots and write up.

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