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  • MotoringPulse

Royal Enfield Himalayan - First 500 km Review

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

Himalayan is a wonderful “little” motorcycle. It is not really little as such. But as an adventure motorcycle, it is one of the smallest ones out there. Capable of slicing through city traffic with surprising ease.

I recently bought one and have ridden around 800 odd km so far. Got the first service done at around 500 km, and I’ve been riding it more normally now, a bit more lenient with the throttle. The engine has been responding well. Better than I expected it to, to be fairly honest.

My previous motorcycle was a KTM RC 390, yes, that one! I had it for nearly 4 years and had loads of fun on it. So from an RC to a Himalayan is quite a radical switch for me.

There are some reasons for choosing a Himalayan - I intend to tour and my budget was limited (anything north of 3 lakhs was a problem). And after the RC, I really wanted to have something comfortable but none of the current sportbikes in this price range were enticing enough. I didn’t want to go for a Duke as I wasn’t looking for another KTM. Everything else was either a bit of a stretch financially or simply wasn’t attractive enough. Yes, the new Interceptor 650 was an option, but I believe the overall design lacks finesse in its execution.

I always had Himalayan in my options list. But my biggest apprehension, or perhaps the only one, with it is the absence of quick acceleration I had become so used to with the RC 390. I admire that small KTM single so much for the way it goes.

I was always well aware of the fact that Himalayan will be a much slower experience, and while the lesser top end was alright with me, I worried a lot that I would miss the quickness too much.

That being said, I wanted something different rather than merely a comfortable alternative to the RC. And I had already developed a great affection towards adventure motorcycles. So, convinced that the issues that plagued the Himalayan BS3 were well taken care of in the newer, fuel-injected, ABS-equipped, BS4 version, I took the plunge.

Most of all, the Himalayan looks great. I actually find it executed better than how the Interceptor and the GT 650 have turned out. And… it promises to be affordable in possibly all the ways I can imagine.

Leap of Faith

“Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith first. The trust part comes later” - a memorable quote from the movie Man Of Steel.

I have taken a leap of faith with my new motorcycle, the Royal Enfield Himalayan in Snow.

But I already trust it to be deliver me exciting riding experiences, better than any of my earlier motorcycles. I have covered around 800 km on it already. The first service has been done and the engine is freeing up nicely it seems. It does a ton quite comfortably, can hold on to it easily and has room for overtakes when needed. I believe it will get even better with more kilometers on it and it atleast after one more oil change.

I have been using it only for commuting so far - home-office-home - along with small weekend rides with friends. But my commute is 35 km one side and I get to ride it in all the situations that a city traffic can throw at me - empty gaps between stop-n-go traffic jams that can irritate anybody, smooth tarmacs, potholed sections, speed-breakers and no tarmacs. And yes, add rains too. In fact, I got drenched along with my Himalayan on the day I brought it home. Adventure began on the first day itself!

Never once have I felt that it’s a handful in traffic, not even in the slowest ones. This bike doesn’t have disadvantages of a big adventure motorcycle - being a handful. It is small and compact enough to be ridden effortlessly in city traffic and the low 800 mm seat height really makes halting and going super easy.

The seat is well padded, cushy and yet thin enough to help keep the motorcycle feeling narrow between the legs. I find the padding capable of supporting my butt for prolonged riding. I haven’t found it running out of its sponginess in my more-than-an-hour long commute of one side. So it should be good for touring. And anyway, who is asking to ride nonstop for hours!

The engine is soft in the way it releases power. It feels nice given that it is a simple, modern, air-oil cooled single cylinder engine. At 411cc, it produces 24 PS at 6500 RPM and 32 NM of torque at 4250 RPM. It is Royal Enfield’s first proper modern engine with SOHC architecture.

The power delivery is linear and it has an interesting pull-away sensation, in each of its 5 gears, especially while climbing a flyover. It does it in a relaxed manner which feels quite good actually. And it’s not to be confused with being slow. Yes, Himalayan is not really quick but it is quick enough as I’m finding out!

One of the things I really like about the Himalayan is its exhaust sound. It produces smooth yet distinct thump with each stroke. It is, by far, not anything like the traditional bullet thump and I’m glad for it! But it sounds like how a decently performance-oriented, simple, air-cooled, single should.

I think the real stars of this motorcycle are its chassis and suspension package. And what a package it is. Regardless of how different the bikes are, in a straight comparison, Himalayan’s suspension blows the RC 390’s suspension out of this world. Not because it soaks up the bad roads better as it is made to do so, but because of its overall road-holding capability, even while cornering, which is better than what I experienced with the KTM. Himalayan stays stable throughout a corner. It doesn’t squat at all. I haven’t felt that the preload setting should be changed, even with a roughly 60 kg pillion. I will see what happens when I tour on it with luggage. But that also depends on how much I carry. Overall, I just love the Himalayan’s suspension.

This is also visible in the way the motorcycle handles. It is clearly one of the best handling motorcycles I have ridden. Modern adventure bikes are very well built and one of the best things they do is handle well. The Himalayan goes through traffic like it’s nobody’s business. I mean the bikes like the Duke 390 are designed to destroy traffic unlike anything, but the easiness of the Himalayan is more than impressive, especially among its own kind. It has surprised me immensely.

The brakes are good too. They are progressive with good feel. And for the kind of performance the Himalayan delivers, the brakes appear to be fully capable of performing their duty. Ceat tyres haven’t been a disappointment either. There are things that can always be better though, for example, there’s a buzz from the front around 2000 RPM and the windshield shakes at high speeds!

The Himalayan is a promising motorcycle and it is the first motorcycle by Royal Enfield that I really really like. Interestingly enough, this is my second RE and so, I can see how far the company has come and the direction it has taken with the Himalayan and the 650 twins.

And I cannot wait to ride it more and more and go out on my first long ride on my new Himalayan.



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