Royal Enfield Himalayan: 6 positives, 6 negatives, price and thoughts

By | March 16, 2016

The Royal Enfield Himalayan was officially launched today with an ex-showroom Delhi price of 1.56 lacs, which is very impressive. Click here to read my personal ride review. Here are the on-road prices in almost all major cities, with Delhi missing since it appears RE has run into some trouble with the strict emission norms over there.

CityRoyal Enfield Himalayan on-road price
Bangalore1.84 lacs
Chennai1.76 lacs
Hyderabad1.77 lacs
Mumbai1.79 lacs
Navi Mumbai1.71 lacs
Pune1.70 lacs
Kolkata1.82 lacs

There are many positives about the Royal Enfield Himalayan apart from the pricing:

  1. Bash-plate as standard, makes sense for something that’s supposed to stay mostly off-road
  2. 15 liter fuel tank, not too big like the Benelli 650GT’s 27 liter unit that fucks with handling, not too small like the 11 liter joke in the Duke that’s always running empty
  3. Information-rich console, the compass is a nice touch, so is the temperature gauge
  4. 10,000 kms service interval, great for lazy cunts like me who don’t want to care about their motorcycle at all
  5. 220 mm of ground clearance, I know how important that is after repeatedly scraping my Duke’s bottom that’s got 170mm of it
  6. A decent pillion seat. I don’t think it’s going to be overly comfortable, but my wife will take literally anything over the Duke

And there are some obvious negatives too:

  1. Carburettor on a so-called “adventure” bike is proper stupidity. Sure carbs can be fixed by hand against the specialist tools required for an EFI system, but it’s very rare for the fuel injection system to go kaput, which is why all the bloody cars have them. RE themselves claim the carb is setup to go only till 12,000 feet, and most of the interesting places in the Himalayas are way higher than that
  2. Lack of ABS is a downer, but I don’t mind it at that price point. What would be truly awesome is an ABS version at a slight premium, plus maybe EFI too?
  3. The general consensus about off-road wheels seems tilted towards spokes rather than alloys, but I don’t really understand that. Alloys have come a long way, and the advantage spokes used to have in terms of weight is no longer there. With the spokes that the Himalayan has, you get tube tires, and they suck, because punctures are a huge pain in the ass. The ease of use of an alloy and the extra safety nets it offers over a spoked rim are just too much to ignore
  4. 24.5 bhp is just not enough, and it appears that everyone agrees with it. Hopefully this is just an experiment by RE, and a bigger engine will come in the future
  5. The sweet spot for the Himalayan seems to be similar to that of a Bullet 350, which is something around the 80-90 kmph mark. Even if you ship your bike from Mumbai to Chandigarh, you still have to do roughly 1000 kms of highways in a standard Ladakh circuit, and the Himalayan won’t be much fun over there
  6. Why wasn’t the brilliant projector lamp from the Thunderbird series used in the Himalayan? The light from that thing is just so much better than any standard bulb, and you already have it in one of your bikes!

But the thing that I’m most interested in during the discussion that is this article, is what really is an adventure motorcycle?

The word “adventure” has become one of those bullshit phrases that marketing people manipulate to sell you stuff you don’t need and spend money you don’t have. “Adventure” has been nicely sprinkled all over the entire months of campaigns that Royal Enfield ran before launching the bike, and a lot of people seem to have bought into their ideology.

There is no such thing as an adventure motorcycle.

It doesn’t exist, because it simply can’t. Adventure is a state of mind, what is adventure for you might be daily routine for me. When a foreigner rides in India and encounters the cows, the jaywalkers and the asswads that we have everywhere, it’s an adventure for him. When I go to pick up groceries and an ox is auto-erotically asphyxiating itself in the middle of the road, it’s annoying.

BMW was probably the first one to use this marketing tactic with their morbidly obese bikes, because there’s no market in the motorcycling world for a fat tourer. The insanely successful R1200GS gives you an idea of how much money people have, and how easily they can let go of it on something that’s obviously idiotic.

But herein lies the problem, that’s their adventure. The idiocy is the fun, the sheer unreasonability of it is attractive.

There are other people who go in the opposite direction, like Ed March who has ridden his 90cc Honda across the face of this planet, while ridiculing the big adventure bikes every chance he gets. That’s his version of adventure, equally idiotic and unreasonable.

I’ve been doing some hard-core off-roading with my Duke 390 the past few months, does that mean I should start calling it an adventure motorcycle, rather than the street bike it so obviously is? Some guy put off-road tires on a Ducati Panigale and started sliding in the mud on it. Is it an adventure bike, rather than the track tool that it’s always been?

My point is that an “adventure” bike is an extremely loosely defined term, with its meaning based purely on the buyer’s perspective. Having said that, over the years a separate motorcycling segment has emerged, which is kinda analogous to the SUV department of cars. The requirement of this segment, which I shall call soft-roaders rather than “adventure” bikes, is as follows:

  1. Lightweight
  2. Frugal
  3. Not too powerful, but enough to cross 120 kmph with ease
  4. Big ground clearance
  5. Long suspension travel
  6. Comfortable seating position
  7. As less electronics as possible, just EFI and ABS
  8. Knobby tires
  9. Reliable
  10. Cheap to own and easy to maintain

Soft-roaders differ from street bikes in the suspension, power, GC and comfort department. They are the exact opposite of track bikes in every department except weight. They differ from commuters in power, looks and ease of use. They differ from cruisers in GC, electronics and tires. They differ from proper off-roaders in terms of seat height, comfort, and cost. They differ from superbikes because they aren’t the same thing.

What I’ve done here is remove the vagueness of the term “adventure”, so now we can look a bit more closely and ask the most important question of all:

Is the Royal Enfield Himalayan a soft-roader?

Not really.

At 182 kgs, it’s not exactly light. The fuel economy figures aren’t out yet. The engine doesn’t look like it’s good enough for 120+ kmph of easy riding. The ground clearance is spot on. Suspension looks good. Seating looks good. There’s no EFI, or ABS. The tires look good. And the verdict on reliability and cost of ownership is still out for judgement.

So it ticks 4 of the 10 boxes of a soft-roader, with 3 unknowns and 3 unticked ones. Hard to justify the hype then.

But don’t despair, because this is just the start. It’s quite surprising that Royal Enfield has become an innovator, bringing industry-first products to a thirsty market, but that’s a good thing. RE always had potential, and that’s one of the reasons why they always frustrated me, their apparent lack of giving a shit even with such a religious following was really irritating. You can tell that they are really trying hard by the bunch of accessories and whatnot that they’ve launched along with the Himalayan.

But the biggest reason why you shouldn’t despair is because pretty soon someone else is going to make a soft-roader that’ll be better than the Himalayan.

Now is the time to sit and wait, look for user reviews, test ride it, follow the threads that’ll pop up on Team-bhp. Royal Enfield is not a company known for doing things right, and they have launched what appears to be a completely new bike. A minimum of 6 months worth of real-world reviews is what I’d need for a proper opinion on the Royal Enfield Himalayan.

  • mark crompton

    Ha, funny, yet perceptive. And bang on about adventure. I’m from London and popping to More for whisky and taking a spin into the countryside, in my head I was a global adventurer. Keep it up. Btw, anyone tried buying a Duke in Pune and taking it to Europe?

    • Akhil Kalsh
      • mark crompton

        Cool, ta. Cost him a lot of money though. Incredible adventure but def not a way to get a UK Duke on the cheap.

        • Akhil Kalsh

          🙂 Nopes. It must be available for sale over there right?

          • mark crompton

            It is but at over twice the Indian price. Himalayan not available here yet but I expect it will cost a lot more. Eg, Enfield Continental GT on the road, about 5.5Rs lakh.

          • Akhil Kalsh

            Ah, but then again in the premium segment you have much bigger and cheaper choices than us 🙂

  • jyoti

    Hi it feel god to read such type of good discussions. I am planning to buy Himalayan and want to take good ride to ladakh can u please suggest me whether I buy Himalayan or I should wait and grab some more money and buy benelli trk 502

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Benelli isn’t coming. If it does, it’ll take 6 months to sort its problems out, so forget about it.

      Himalayan is a good bike for off-roading, but people who took it to Ladakh complained of huge problems at higher altitudes, mainly due to the carb. One guy had to push his bike to the top of Chan La, the damn thing had no power.

      Ladakh would be barely a few days when compared to your overall bike ownership, where else do you generally ride?

      • jyoti

        Thanks for the reply, i generaly ride mountain ghat area of pune now like mahabaleswar, tamini ghat etc but i want to buy a good bike and have a long ride , i planning it for last 1 year . I done test ride himalayan its good but my personal observation is himalan is laging due to its engine responce of high altitude due to carburettor engine and asusual leak issue in RE.

        The most dificult thing is when u r in between the long ride and u r bike did not corporate with u, i have experiance such type of situation.

        A good riding always need man and mechine both prepare for it and coperate with each other so u can achive the goal, I think i should go for himalayan and take good care for long ride.

        • Akhil Kalsh

          You can’t completely trust the Himalayan, it’s an RE. Also, it’s boring to ride it on highways or twisties.

          Have you tried the Mojo? Has it’s faults, but a far better tourer when compared to the Himalayan.

  • adie mohan

    over 100kmph on indian roads is insanity anyway. I think dashing away on the road from from Jammu onwards is stupidity. The chandigarh-manali road has crazy traffic post bilaspur, so i dont see anyone doing triple digit speeds there unless they have lost their minds. overall, i think the bike is not too bad. I have ridden the D390, and the braking kind of made me iffy with the ABS being over-compensaty. there is no rear pillion seat per se in the D390 or 200 and those bikes are meant for one rider in the city. In the hills, one does not need 40bhp to do anything 🙂 its a nice and easy ride to Leh. If you wanna race, go get a race bike. with 35-40kmpl, decent power and off-road capability, i think RE has a winner on their hands. Yes, 10bhp more would be fun, probably the same amount of power as a 500TB would be even more fun, but this is OK. at the price, one cannot nag too much, though there is always scope for improvement.

  • Prince Sirohi

    A slightly bigger rear seat, a projector setup up front, little more power for comfortable cruising on 100+ kmph, closed loop FI would have completed the package for me, for this price. but, even in its current form, it is quite good, considering here in india, there is no other bike to compete with it. what we Indians want is a himalayan with all the stuff i mentioned above + ABS and tubeless tyres at 2 Lakh Ex-showroom price. benelli trk502 will be an interesting bike to test ride, but being a benelli, it will be costly…..

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Since riding the 600i I’ve lost all hope in Benelli. Weight is the biggest enemy of anything that needs to be taken off road, and all Benellis seem to be obese beyond reason.

      I agree Himalayan could be improved as a package, it might even be a good idea to sell a premium version with the goodies and keep the basic version on sale too. But then again this is RE we are talking about, doing logical things isn’t their forte.

  • avin

    Many new riders are confused about the differences between a Dual Sport and an Adventure Bike. While an Adventure Bike is technically a type of Dual Sport, people usually use the term Dual Sport to describe lightweight “Enduro Style” Motorcycles that are street legal.

    To add to the confusion, some of these lightweight Dual Sport bikes can be converted into Adventure Bikes through aftermarket upgrades. Dual Sport bikes are also referred to as Dual Purpose, Dualies or Enduros as well, so it’s no wonder there is a lot of confusion.
    Dual Sport Bikes and Adventure Bikes are both designed to go either off-road or pavement. The main differentiating factor between the two is the location of their sweet spot. Adventure Bikes have a sweet spot that falls more towards the street bike side of the spectrum with an emphasis on long range comfort. Dual Sport bikes tilt more towards the motocross side of the spectrum with a no frills off-road focus
    For ex:hero impulse. A Dual Sport while Himalayan can b a adventure bike.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      🙂 Start your own website mate!

  • Kochu Mvk

    On the rim thing :

    No matter how advanced the alloy wheels are, they are rigid and brittle compared to spoked wheels. This is why many sports bike rims are damaged in India due to pot holes.

    Yes, tubed tires sucks.

    Best combination is spoke wheels with tubeless tires. Example: tiger Explorer.
    Unfortunately such rims are costly and definitely not Himalayan material at the moment.

    Considering this. I think the decision to use spoked wheels is welcome.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Kinda agreed 🙂

  • Avinash Tiwari

    CRUISING SPEED Although i haven’t ridden it myself, I feel (going by the spec sheet) the sweet spot would be higher than 80-90 kmph (Classic 350is). I feel it would be around 90-100 as the Classic 350 is around 8-10 Kgs heavier and has around 6 lesser BHPs.

    SPOKE WHEELS Royal Enfield has been lazy(as usual) by not giving tubeless tyre to this. Spoke wheels with Tubeless Tyres can be done and considering its just a pretty darn good duct tape and seals covering the spoke joints it seems to be an inexpensive thing too.

    LACK of ABS and EFI- Lack of ABS is a bad decision too. RE should have kept it as an option at least. Considering people will do a lot of touring on this ABS is the most important tool for it. They are saying though that provisions have been made in the design for both ABS and EFI making it future proof(Tighter emissions and is ABS becomes mandatory).

    LIGHTS- A lot of reviewers are saying that the light on the Himalayan are the best they have come across on a Royal Enfield bike, lets see how it performs in real world conditions on a day to day basis.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Correct, sweet spot is actually 100. Has anyone done that tape thing? I keep hearing it’s possible, but never seen it in action. Yeah, even I gotta try the light at night, then can comment better.

      • Delhite

        Engine is very much relaxed at 80-85 kph at 3.5k rpm. Till 105 it is not strained at all. Beyond that noise levels are gradually increasing. All these observation with a pillion.

        It has hell lot of torque available. I am guessing that front sprocket upsize can make 110 cruising seamless, make sense for highway riders.

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Agreed. Gotta test it out in real conditions though.

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  • Vj

    What an awesome review brother!!!
    You spoke my mind…. I have been thinking on the same lines for years…
    The problem with the Indian “Adventurers” mindset is buy an overpriced bike do some long drives then sell it and share stories in the evening over how he had to toil over the bike in a barren landscape….

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Hehe, yeah man. Hopefully things will change, and even if they don’t who gives a shit. Everyone does what everyone does.

  • Bakwas deGrass Tyson

    Not just RE , all manufacturers are facing issues in registering their two wheelers in Delhi NCR region due to Emission norms.

    http://Www.motostories.in

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Yeah, Delhi is fucked.

  • The Dukeist

    Well it’s atleast commendable that they came out of the chrome and glam shit

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Highly commendable!

      • Santosh kumar

        How is bajaja dominor 400 in comparison with himalayan. I am confused between two. My usage is office to home and home to office then week end rides of 300km or 500km. could you please suggest?

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Go for Dominar. Himalyan makes sense only if you’re a proper off roader.