Automobiles

Review – RE Himalayan

All the anticipation and excitement of the much awaited new motorcycle from Royal Enfield is finally over. The Himalayan was finally launched along with its pricing on 16 March 2016. Matter of few days while most dealers across various cities got hold of their test bikes for potential buyers and other curious bikers both RE lovers and otherwise.

“Of all the bikes, why a Royal Enfield bike?” is a definitive question. Well, this is all new and way different from their other bikes. Wanted a test ride of the bike of course. One weekend, went over to an RE showroom closeby and got to know their only test bike was off duty on account of service. Had to wait through another week. Planned it with a friend for the following weekend and met up at another RE showroom on a Sunday at 4:30pm. Test bike was available and so went ahead with it.

First one-on-one with this bike. Is the bike intimidating? No not really.
The raised handlebars and front head unit set-up and the low seating is a clever deception giving one the big bike feel. Below are some observations noted on the bike and its handling per say. Not complaints or nagging criticism that would clearly come easy for other bikes in the RE stable with the exception of perhaps the Continental GT.

Himalayan

  1. Headlight unit kind of sticks out like a rooster head. Instead, would have preferred the headlight unit integrated with the top mudguard to give a more aggressive look and yet seem like an integrated part with the rest of the bike. Also, the headlight comes with a 12V 60/55 W bulb which doesn’t seem good enough.
  2. Dash/console in front that sits atop the round headlight unit has lots of information to provide. Although it seems a bit too cluttered. The compass isn’t accurate hence irrelevant and non-productive. Instead, a USB charging unit could have been provided to charge phones and/or other electronic devices. Even a cigarette lighter unit like in cars from where in an electronic air pump could be connected to fill in air to flat tyres. On changing gears, the display on board has a time lag in showing the gear changed to.
  3. Fuel tank as seen on various pictures posted on the internet prior to launch , the one thing that bothered me was the curved recess in the fuel tank where the inner thigh is supported. Sitting on the test bike only confirmed my doubts. It’s actually fine, but for someone who’s height is above 5’10” the knees will for sure rub against that edge recessed curve on the fuel tank and that can be painfully annoying as one rides longer distances over uneven surfaces. The fuel tank cap has the word “FUEL” embossed on it. Fuel tank is supposed to hold fuel, not water/alcohol or any other fluid and so the objective of that is unknown. Besides, the engraving will just accumulate dust and dirt making cleaning more cumbersome.
  4. Seats are the split kind – one for the rider and another for pillion, both are very plush and comfortable. No concerns here. Just below the seats on either sides are metal plates with the word Himalayan embossed on it and the name in contrast color running along the length of the bike are neat design elements.
  5. Rear luggage rack that extends after the the pillion seat and above the rear brake lights seems to be good. Load it can carry is still in question. Presuming a capacity of 5kg. Although the provided option of adding on side panniers should hold most of the rider’s luggage.
  6. Rear Brake lights have led lights in a simple design and fitting that is easy on the eye and seemingly easy to replace if the need arises which is a good thing.
  7. Suspension on the rear is pretty good giving a good feel with the added support of the well cushioned seats. Front suspension travel has strong feedback considering the terrain the bike is built to ride on. Added to the 21 inch front and 17 inch rear Ceat Grip tyres that gives enough confidence when riding through difficult terrain.
  8. Engine when fired up with a button, sets into a soft rumble unlike the typical RE Bullet’s loud ‘dud dud dud’ exhaust sound. The bike has no kick start which is odd for a carburettor based engine. Their new LS410 engine developed for this bike still feels unrefined in this current times when there are much smoother and refined engines of similar capacity in non RE bikes on offer today. Added to the fact that it gives just over 24 horsepower as against its weight of about 180 kilograms (which in comparison is close to the weight of Triumph Street Triple 675cc) confirms that the bike is underpowered. Also, when on the move, and on letting go of the throttle, there is a minor exhaust backfire which is weird.
  9. Underbelly on this bike has a crash guard to keep the engine bay safe to a good extent from impact against rocks on the road, however the gap between the front tyre and the edge of the underbelly should have been a bit more like in the case of a dirt bike. For a simple example, compare this to that on the Hero Impulse for reference.
  10. Brakes both at the front and rear are two piston Bybre calliper types and they don’t have sharp bite to it and feels linear so sudden braking and stops aren’t its strong points. Bike doesn’t come with ABS and so the rider would need to handle the bike deftly when one needs to brake abruptly.

The above points are NOT defects but just personal observations or constructive criticisms on the Himalayan which hopefully will be addressed and upgraded after several iterations by the RE team in time.

The Himalayan looks every bit a bike built for purpose and function. A bike that seems to have been taken from the sets of the hollywood movie – Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s basic, it’s spartan with no fancy body metal/plastic/carbon-fibre panels as on full faired sport bikes, that which appeals to most.

The bike rides just fine and gives the confidence that it can take on almost any terrain in its path however it has nothing amazing like what the Duke did and still does. What’s to take note of however is when it has its aluminium luggage boxes on and loaded up, extra fuel tanks up front and with a pillion is where the bike’s mettle will be really tested.

Is the bike good value for money? Yes and No.
For someone having limited budget and/or a first timer who would want to upgrade from a scooter or a 100-150cc bike to a higher cc motorcycle that can be a daily commuter and a tourer when needed, then yes. But if it’s a biker who already has had a taste of similar or higher capacity motorbikes then quite likely this bike will not pick his/her interest unless of course he/she is an ardent RE fan or a biker/collector wanting to add to their bike line-up.

And for goodness sake, stop the usage of ‘adventure tourer’ when it comes to this bike or any other vehicle for that matter. This bike is a capable tourer and what you do with it/experience in your travels is the adventure. The two words together might sound cool or can be marketing lingo and nothing more.

For other references, check the below links
‘First ride review’ by Overdrive, ‘Comparo – Himalayan, Duke 200 and Mojo’ by Overdrive, ‘First ride review’ by NDTV.

Also do check the below Youtube videos:
RE Himalayan, KTM Duke 200 Mahindra Mojo – Comparative review

Overdrive’s review of the Royal Enfield Himalayan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by: Wordpress