Royal Enfield Himalayan review: Top speed, price, comfort and thoughts

By | March 18, 2016

I’ve never been an RE guy, but I’d be lying if I said their latest bike never had me interested. They have done some very innovative work as far as marketing this thing goes, the latest video is very well made. As soon as the test ride bike arrived at the showroom, I was there with a bunch of friends for the Royal Enfield Himalayan review.

We rode this thing on the highway, through traffic, into dirt, with and without pillion, just to test out every little aspect of it that we could. A day well spent I suppose!

This Royal Enfield Himalayan review is divided into 3 sections to keep things nice and organized:

  1. Positives: Things which kick ass
  2. Negatives: Things which don’t kick ass
  3. Fixable negatives: Things which don’t kick ass, but can be improved with a little mechanical love

Royal Enfield Himalayan review: Positives

Let’s take a look at the positives first, and the thing that stands out here the most is ergonomics and comfort. Everything is spot on, the handlebar position, the footpegs, the switches, the seat height, the fuel tank width. It took me barely a few seconds to get used to this bike and be at home with it, both sitting and standing up.

Vibrations are there, but far lesser as compared to any other RE you might have ridden. It depends on the bike that you are coming from, if you are used to Japanese refinement, the Himalayan will feel rough. I’ve come from a Duke 390, so the vibrations were pretty OK for me. Same goes for the engine heat, which was fairly manageable and nothing too distracting.

The clutch is light, gear shifts are smooth, throttle is precise, brakes work fine, and the bike is pretty nimble on its feet. Since the Himalayan weighs 182 kgs dry, I had expected it to be a bit difficult at slow speeds, but not only is it brilliantly easy in U-turns thanks to the sexy turning radius, you never really feel the weight, even at standstill.

Which brings us to the power. Now I’d thought that 24.5 bhp would not be enough, but in my ride experience, it’s just about. I was able to hit a top speed of some 135 kmph indicated, although I don’t think it’ll ever touch 140, because this speed was on a slight downhill section. The first 2 gears are very usable, the first one takes you to 50-ish, and the second one is good till 80-ish, with the third taking you well past 100, followed by the 4th and 5th which are mainly meant for highway speeds and better fuel economy. The windscreen was very effective in preventing wind-blast at higher speeds, although it might be a bit less useful for taller guys.

It’s effortless in slow traffic, it’s easy to power through mud, and it can sit at 110 kmph on a highway, even with pillion or luggage. I’d call that good enough.

Next up is ground clearance, which is just phenomenal at 220mm. Even with a pillion, jumping over rocks or pavements was no big deal at all. My Duke comes with 170mm of GC, and I have scraped its bottom far too many times than I’d have liked to. This would be a welcome change!

The third positive is what all you get in the standard package. With many companies, especially the premium ones, the base price of the bike gets you just that, a bike. If you want any of the additional bells or whistles, you gotta pay for them. With the Himalayan though, you get the bash plate, fly screen, 15 liter fuel tank, beautiful instrument console, and partial fitments for luggage/fuel among other things as standard fitment. There’s going to be a bunch of official accessories too that you can buy to customize your ride, but the base package is thoroughly impressive.

The 10,000 kms of service interval is just plain awesome. I’m not good at taking care of my bikes, and a machine that can do 10,000 kms without oil change is exactly what a lazy cunt like me needs. Also, the fuel economy is pegged at some 35 kmpl for real world conditions, which combined with the 15 liters of tank gives a very tasty 500+ kms of range.

Finally, the price. The Himalayan has been priced exceptionally well, not only against the competition, but existing RE models as well. Do keep in mind the ex-showroom Mumbai price 1.56 lacs now that we’re moving towards the negatives of this thing.

Royal Enfield Himalayan review: Negatives

The most immediate problem when you see the bike for the first time, is the fit and finish. I don’t mind ugly bikes, I’d always prefer function over form, but for many out there, the Himalayan might be a bit too bare bones. The build quality is not bad, although the plastic cosmetic touches around the bike are fairly flimsy and prone to fall off.

Lack of switchable ABS was a problem for sure. The brakes are good, but it’s hard to gauge the limits of traction on those CEAT tires. The rear is very easy to slide, and the front would be difficult to manage if it lets go. I know a lot of people feel ABS is not required for off-roading, but the problem with that logic is this:

Riding is not like a game of Counter Strike. You don’t just directly spawn in the middle of nowhere.

Normally 50% of your so-called off-road ride will be through tarmac, where ABS is essential, especially in a country like India.

A lot of people also seem to have some sort of sexual fixation with spoked wheels, but they are never really able to explain enough why I should prefer spokes over alloys. If you know the answer, feel free to comment and we’ll try and have a discussion. My problem with spoked wheels are tube tires, which lead to very messy punctures. Rim bending happens far less as compared to punctures, so I’d like to be prepared for the thing that’s expected to happen maybe 5 out of 10 times, rather than once. I have bent the rims on my 390, repaired them, and done some 25000 kms since, all while enjoying the safety net of tubeless tires.

One thing that really surprised me about this bike was the lack of a kick starter. It’s supposed to be taken through the middle of nowhere, just depending on self-start to get things going isn’t the brightest idea. Push start in the middle of the Himalayas sounds easier than it actually is.

Royal Enfield Himalayan review: Fixable negatives

The biggest problem when you ride the bike, is the sound.

The Himalayan sounds like a Hero Honda Splendor with a damaged piston. The Himalayan sounds like a Classic 350 with a can of Pepsi for the exhaust. The Himalayan sounds like a tractor engine that’s flooded with water.

The sound is too metallic, tinny. Every time you downshift it backfires like a bitch. It is fun, but only for the first 3 kilometers or so. Then it’s really annoying.

On top of that, the test bike seemed to have some sort of rattling sound coming out the front every time you gave it the beans. It might have been nothing, but weird sounds on an RE generally mean something is about to fall off, so I was a bit scared.

If I ever happen to buy one, the exhaust is the first thing that’s going to change, and a bottle of Loctite should be handy.

The mirrors are absolute shit, and a bit pervy too. After every few minutes you can find them staring blankly at your dick. Change them immediately.

The carb didn’t cause much problems during the test ride, but I think things are going to be different up in the mountains. I don’t like to get my hands dirty, and I don’t really know how to tune a carb, or even clean it for that matter. EFI would have been much better, but I guess a bigger carb would also do the trick, along with a better air filter, spark plug and the exhaust.

The footpegs are too small. When I tried to stand up with the foot on the rear brake and the knees clamped on the tank, my legs were touching the super hot engine. Aftermarket pegs should be easily available, or make some of your own.

Royal Enfield Himalayan review: Final thoughts

That’s it, this is all I have to say about the Himalayan for now. I’m very impressed with this machine, but that might be because I didn’t expect anything from RE to begin with.

It’s probably the only bike out there right now that can do everything with at least 80% proficiency or better. It’s good for commuting, nice on the highways, and brilliant off the road, with the unique ability to keep your pillion happy all the way.

But would I buy one? No, not yet.

Royal Enfield’s reputation precedes them, they have never made anything that isn’t constantly breaking down.

On top of that, every new bike, right from the small street bikes, to S1oooRRs and R1s, face problems with their initial batches. There’s no amount of testing that can prepare a bike for the real world, and I expect many updates to be made to this thing over the course of the next 6 months.

RE has changed, and I like the direction they are going in now. I’m not a purist, I don’t give a single shit about thump or brotherhood or heritage. If the Himalayan is able to stand the test of time, I’ll buy one. All I ask of RE is for a premium version with EFI and ABS. I will pay for it, and I’m sure a lot of others will too.

In any case, I can assure you of one thing. This year’s Raid de Himalayas will have a lot of Himalayans in it.

  • asish sharma

    i like the versatility of the royal enfield himalayan but need a little more power and some semblance of reliability.Is there any other bike you would suggest that is not grossly overpriced.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Mojo is good, but sucks off the road. Needs a bit of spanner love to make it dirt worthy.

  • N Sharma

    so you finally did like something about RE … 🙂

    wow ! 0-50 in 1st and till 80 on 2nd, this engine should be on RE street bikes too which consume all 5 gears till 55 k/h :((

    and the spokes, yeah they look awesome when shined but is of low value compared to having tubeless tyres..

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Agreed.

  • Matthew Howard

    Why would anyone buy the bike this year when RE have a lot of work to do with the shit feedback they are getting from this bike!?
    This bike is a fresh run and has some major issues coming from owners that are over 5000k on the clock.
    The KTM 390 Duke smashes this bike on every aspect … with the exception on the travel of the front forks and the clearance.
    But ask a KTM 390 Duke owner if he has ever bottomed out his forks or scraped the underside of his chassis.
    I would pay a little more for the Duke and get ABS as standard and a better bike all-around.
    I am waiting for the 2016 KTM 690 (R) Duke to arrive at the Bajaj factory in Pune … then we will talk about what and adventure tourer for under INR 10 Lalh can do 😉

  • Akhil Kalsh

    Yes, the initial ownership reviews haven’t been too rosy.

  • Shashank Naidu

    The Himalayan ownership reviews are filled with complaints about each and everything breaking and coming apart, right from bolts, caps, cheap-grade visor, lights, heavy gears.. yuck. I’d better buy two 1-lac bikes instead of buying a life long curse of self-consolation

  • Ganesa Venkkat

    I too did a small 2 KM test ride today (Himalayan Of course) and I found few issues.
    The
    gear and clutch shift becomes hard after long usage. The back break
    skid (Might be i drove it for the first time) twice as the pickup power
    is high. But if you are tall you can manage to rest your legs and
    balance. The bike noise is not too noticeable like the bullet or
    classic. But
    sounds like metal sometimes.
    Riding control in city traffic is
    awesome. Bike looks damn sexy (Wow) if you are average build and 5’10 in
    height. The controls and console looks awesome.
    Overall i would rate the bike with 6 out of 10.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Agreed.

  • Anant Pandey

    A bigger than 33mm carb on a low revving 411cc engine would fix what in the mountains again??? Hahaha. Bhai, you should stick to writing non technical stuff, they are more fun!

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Maybe I should.

  • Kanaga Deepan N

    Really a very Nice review…

  • Dhiraj

    Hey that’s some awesome review man! Hope you’re flattered enough now to help with my confusion. I’m thinking about getting the fastest and something something RE yet, the Continental GT(red is yumm!!), but now I’m in two err three minds to either go with that or this Himalayan dude or any other bike except for Duke(because my ugly neighbor has it and I hate him!) below 2.5 lakhs that could be the most awesome use of my (really)hard earned money.

    Don’t just ignore me man, I know you must be a busy guy surrounded by number of sexy women, but for helping a needy soul, God will bless you with more of them sexy women(or whatever you prefer).

    Help!!!!

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Continental GT is well known to be one of the worst bikes ever produced in the history of time. It’s unreliable, uncomfortable, and ugly, unless you go with the single seater version in which case it’s unusable.

      Go for the Himalayan, it’s perfect for what you’re looking for. Be ready for bad service and lack of spares though.

      • Enfield Monk

        Exactly, I don’t know why they fuck they created that stupid machine and called it GT. Plus did so much marketing for it. If really interested in RE, TB or Himalayan is safe bet.

      • Adrian Brandon Rynjah

        Hey @akhilkalsh:disqus I’ve rode a Bullet 500 and a Himalayan and on paper the Himalayan is taller and heavier than the Bullet however in my opinion the bullet feels heavier than the himalayan, Is it because the weight of the himalayan is balance or something? can u help me out here?

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Himalayan weighs 10 kgs lesser than the 500. Also, the weight of the Himalayan is lower down as compared to the 500.

    • Kanaga Deepan N

      Go for ThunderBird 350 / 500.. I am using one and love it…

    • Enfield Monk

      My suggestion would be to wait for some time. They are bringing out new TB models in 350/500 with more refined specs and features. Else go for Himalayan

    • Shashank Naidu

      The splendor classic is a much better bike than Gontinental gt 😛

      • Akhil Kalsh

        You said it.

  • Srikanth Rachoori

    Thumbs up for the review. Yeah, same thoughts. But buying that would cross my mind only if the power is bumped up to atleast 35 bhp. Else, no point.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I doubt that’ll happen, but should be fun if it does.

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  • vishal ramachandran

    I have some questions! can i take it for long rides(500-1000 kms highways)..
    Does it has the power of ktm duke 200(not in figures)..?
    Its an Adventure tourer right. so which one would be beter for long rides(highway), Thundebird or Himalayan!?
    please answer me asap.. im wanna choose one of them.. 😀
    nb- if you dont know about touring, just ignore the questions.!

    • Akhil Kalsh

      You can take it for highway rides, but it won’t be too fun. Sweet spot for this is something around 100-110 kmph, and on really long routes that can become tiring/boring.

      No it doesn’t have the power, or at least the feel of power that Duke 200 has. Part of it is the rev limit, the other part is the weight.

      Himalayan hands down. TB is far too unreliable for long rides.

      • vishal ramachandran

        what wait.. they said its an adventure TOURER.. :O and you’re saying the oposite! :O

        • Akhil Kalsh

          It’s much more adventure than tourer. It’s much more comfortable off-road than it’s on the highway.

  • erik karlsen

    RE Himalaya are ridiculous underpowered, this engine size should with no problems produce 35- 40 HP, shame on RE for this development

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Can’t deny that, but I don’t mind an underpowered engine as long as its reliable.

    • vishal ramachandran

      Cruisers/street’s doesnt has the power that of sports bike. They have higher torque than bhp. and it makes you so relaxed while riding. chek out other cruiser brand like HD , Triumph.. 😀 and please dont compare RE with other sports brands. 😀

  • Anish

    Good Review man…. This is the most usable review I have found on the net.. Especially about the top speed… Will you agree the bike will hit 120kmph without vibration? Talking about the Negatives am old school so i dnt mind the Spoke wheels, Time to learn how to fix a puncture out of nowhere, I think as riders we should learn all those small dirty fixation where we can fix things on our own rather than looking for a puncture man…

    My concern is the ABS and the fit and finish even though it looks good in real rather than in pics…. This is a kickass bike in many ways… Will I buy it now? Hell Yes

    • Akhil Kalsh

      120 without vibration, yes, but that’s coming from a 390 guy who’s kinda used to vibrations.

      I don’t like doing anything on my own 😀

      Fit and finish is strictly not bad, there are many rough edges, and overall build quality can certainly be improved.

      I won’t buy it, yet.

      • Anish

        Thanks Man…. Will buy and improve the quality lol :p

  • Pallavi Rathore

    Nice post, This post will really help me but before going to buy any bike I search on web and I found lots of sites finally I clicked to revaalo which give some good info about bikes.

  • Motostories .In

    Good review man

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Thanks!

  • Arnold Seva

    Lack of Tubeless tyres & FI is one of my biggest gripes too on Himalayan. Seriously – why not the option of alloy wheels?

    Ridden the Himalayan yesterday and just loved it for all the positive things you mentioned. I took it to a section of road which has some small rocks protruding from the ground and the Himalayan just glided over them as though it was nothing – impressive, very very impressive !!

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I know man. Alloy transplant on a spoked wheel isn’t a straightforward process. Hopefully they’ll come out with a different version.

      • twizy

        Can you pour in some more info on the feasibility of changing spoked wheels to alloys specifically for Himalayan ?

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Will not be easy, because the hub and the disc brake will need to fit. Some people claim you can seal the spoked rim from the inside using a special kinda tape, but I’ve never seen it work on any bike cheaper than 10 lacs.

          • twizy

            Sure,, thanks bro.

        • Enfield Monk

          There is a Harley style Alloy in market made for TB and Himalayan type bikes (mostly for hubs & disc brake style). Check it out

  • Avinash Tiwari

    Akhil any comments on the knobby CEAT (Gripp) tyres’ grip on the tarmac. I remember the Hero Impulse too had the same ones and they had petulant way of misbehaving on the road.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      These are not bad, I was never able to break traction on road. It goes without saying that this thing is not designed for cornering 🙂 I don’t see major issues from the tires.

  • Dr Kanishq

    Amazing review! RE has taken baby steps towards the positive side of the time, and I don’t know whether to applaud this or laugh my ass about it. This company will sell rocks stamped with RE and people will buy them standing in queue! Such a potential wasted with poor build qualiy and shitty aftersales service.

    But making the Himalayan looks like a grandpa trying to use a laptop. They want to be modern, but they’re so senile with their old nostalgia brotherhood ridermania stuff (like the grandpa comfortable with the calculator) , they just can’t help going old school wherever they can. Carb engine, no ABS, the famous “long stroke single” and that same old aluminium engine case of the same skeleton from 1960’s.

    Himalayan is a commendable step, but people are going to get emotional about it and become hardcore bikers the next day they get the bike delivered. And that’s where it pains. A lot.

    Not exactly the adventure bike and not exactly a tourer, I think the perfect consumer class for this bike is NOT for the frustrated corporate pot beer bellied 30-40 years olds, who are this day’s “Riders” (Bangalore my ass!) but the wealthy farmers in the villages.

    They will ride shorter distances. Through off and no roads. And roads with craters. Much less looking after for the bike, at least the oil change. Panniers for luggage. Set for farmin’ ! And the bonus you get is Royal Enfield branding, which still is a headturner in the villages, because let’s accept it, RE’s are almost the pulsars of the insecure members of the public.

    Just saying 😀

    • Akhil Kalsh

      LOL, that’s a distinct possibility 🙂

  • Digvijay Singh

    Using Spokes has its own valid reasons.
    Even in the worst ditchs/bumps you will only manage to bend a spoked rim. It might be difficult to ride but you can still manage to ride / drag it to somewhere it can be repaired. In case of a puncture…God help you. But still you can drag your bike to the puncturewalla, probably with a torn tube.

    The Alloys are designed for performance. They are kept lightweight in order to keep the handling of the bike nimble. But this compromises there strength. If you hit a ditch hard with your alloy chances are either the rim will bend or it will break. Most of the times it will be a bent rim. But if the rims breaks, than the only option is to load the bike on to a truck/trailer and change the rim. This might be far more inconvenient than a punctured tyre.
    Had a similar incident with the Ducati Scrambler. Hit a bump at 50 kmph and the rim gave away.
    So personally I am OK to drag the bike to the nearest puncturewalla than to take chances of a broken rim.

    P.S. You might be surprised to know that the Indian manufactured alloy rims are of same weight as spoked rims.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I once bent both my rims, but that’s once in 46000 kms. I’ve had some 5 punctures till date. I still think it’s a better idea to be prepared for punctures rather than rim bending/breakge, better to be prepared for the usual than the extraordinarily unusual.

      The other problem with tube tires is this, when they do puncture, it’s very easy to loose control over the bike, since the air goes out quick. On a tubeless, it’s a much slower process, much more bearable and safe.

      • Xander

        There’s a small marketing logic behind that. You have 5 punctures, people wont make a fuss about it because everyone gets a puncture at sometime. But when an alloy cracks, that goes viral immediately and suddenly pics load up on facebook (KTM story). Manufacturers don’t want that publicity.

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Silly logic, but logic nonetheless.

  • rishabh kaushik

    Thanks for the review..

    BTW, flexibility of spoke wheels under high impacts and ease of repairing makes them ideal for off-road machines…Hence the usage in motocross events.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Understood, but that comes with disadvantages too. Imagine you are in the middle of nowhere and get a puncture on a spoked wheel. You gotta take out the whole shazam, fix the puncture, and then get on with it. With a tubeless tire, you just keep filling air and ride, if you don’t have the puncture repair kit handy.

      Spokes certainly have advantages, especially off-road, but alloys are better over a wider variety of terrain.

      • shreyash malani

        I guess one of the major reasons will be cost then weight.. If you really want to use alloys you’ll have to use forged alloys and not the cast ones. Forged alloys will also cause increase in weight and not just the cost…
        Plus to add to it spokes improve shock absorbing ability of the bike.
        Regarding tubed tires on spokes there are many aftermarket accessories which you can use to mount tubeless tires on spoked wheels.. While I agree these are not 100% full proof.. But then you always have the option to add a tube in worst case scenario.

  • Rahool

    How is the suspension compared to duke 390?

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Lol, Duke has no suspension man! On a scale from 1-10, Duke is at 0 and Himalayan is at 9. Only thing that has better suspension than this is probably a proper enduro machine.

  • Charles

    Nice review no abs no efi I like that so if any problems come in the middle of nowhere we can fix it spoke wheels r good for offroading pucher is a part of a ride it not a end of ride this is a bike for real man’s who want to get lost so kids and boys stay back and wait for some another motobikes

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I’m a boy, and I want maximum pleasure with minimum risk.

      • Charles

        Then stay back and wait for some another bike boy

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Yes uncle.

          • Charles

            Thank u boy

    • Shahnawaz Karim

      There is no real manliness to frantic suffering

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  • Nice review…. U have expressed the same concerns I have with an RE….I am happy they came out with something like this…. and one gud thing that s goin to happen s we bikers are going to get more similar choices from others manufacturer….

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Yep, hopefully!

  • Nayan Popatia

    Any update on the cost of panniers or saddles ??

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Not yet.

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