This is the first ever review I am writing about a product simply because I have been loaded with questions from my readers about the credibility of the new Himalayan so I thought I will have my thoughts placed in this very article for everyone to easily my thoughts on this new horse. Well I have ridden the Himalayan earlier extensively during the Royal Enfield Tour of Rajasthan 2016 and the Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey 2017 but both were the BSIII models which had a carburettor. Even my friends who own Himalayan own the BS III version and thus I never really had the chance to ride a BSIV version Himalayan which comes with a Fuel Injection. Since I don’t have a really long ownership experience of the Himalayan be it the BS III version, I cannot comment on the build quality of the bike w.r.t. its parts. I couldn’t really get enough with the fun I had during those two trips where I rode the bike for 8 days continuously each time. The impression Himalayan made on my mind is that it’s a toy you can literally play with and go anywhere with ease compared to any other motorcycle currently in production in India.
I had an opportunity to test the new Himalayan BSIV version during the launch of the Himalayan Sleet model which comes company fitted with metal panniers and a wider Aluminium handlebar. This was the first time I was going to ride the BSIV version and was pretty excited to lay my hands on it. In general, I have always enjoyed riding the Himalayan just because it takes away a lot of effort away from me which includes gear shifting, braking etc. So when I encounter those nonsense speed breakers and the regular potholes and rough patches on the road, I tend to stand on the rock solid foot pegs while going over a speed breaker and simply sail over the rough patch without feeling the jerks at all.
Since the first time I rode the Himalayan in Rajasthan, I became a fan of its Suspension and Chasis. The 200mm travel on the front suspension and the 180mm on the rear monoshock was something which I had really missed in all the motorcycles I rode till date. The Chasis is designed such that the entire frame and the motorcycle balances well. The next lovely thing is the 21” Front wheel which gallops any obstruction on offroads and lands you safe. This added with the strong spoked wheels gives enough confidence to take the motorcycle on any kind of terrain and that proved right during my next ride on the Himalayan from Delhi to Leh. The seating position on the bike is very very comfortable with your shoulders and back not feeling any strain while holding the handlebar for the entire day. For me, it’s the best mid segment adventure tourer available in the country right now.
However, coming to the BSIV version I was expecting some improvements on the motorcycle along with the addition of abs too. However, later I realised ABS is not much of a requirement on a 410cc bike. I have been riding a Thunderbird without ABS for past 4 years and a Standard 350 for the past 9 years without a disc brake forget the ABS and none of the time while riding both the bike (which I still own) have I faced the limitation of braking. Honestly, I feel It’s a mental block. Himalayan being a decent offroader, I feel its better without the ABS as you are required to switch off the ABS while offroading and switchable ABS would have definitely increased the frills and fancies on the motorcycle.
When I was in Jaipur for the Himalayan Sleet launch we were divided into groups of 4 each and every group were given one BSIV Himalayan Sleet and 3 Himalayan regular models. Since there are no technical changes in the sleet, I was ok with riding the regular model most of the time since my main intent was to thoroughly ride the new Himalayan and test it to all its limits. I remember Royal Enfield had paused the sale of Himalayan for few months before launching the new version and I got the exact reasons as to why they did that as soon as I gave the very first throttle on an idle motorcycle. The engine hum was surprisingly smooth and the minute notable clatter present in the earlier version was gone. This engine sounded definitely more refined now. Just when I engaged the gear, the rock hard gear shifts on the earlier versions were gone too. This gave a more respite as in the earlier models I remember I had to rev the bike before shifting gears or else the gears would simply wont budge.
We rode the bike throughout Jaipur city and in the outskirts for an approximate distance of 150-200 kms which included riding on city roads, highways, offroads, hillroads, bad roads, good roads and no roads and just like the very genetics of a Himalayan, the Chasis and Suspension gave a very awe inspiring experience. I will explain the performance of the bike with respect to every element step by step below:-
Engine:- The Engine sounded much smoother with less clatter. There was some grunt in the carb version and some old school guys prefer it just for the heck of that feeling but believe me, you don’t need that grunt for performance. So the grunt is gone for good and the smoothness in the engine is very notable. The noise from the engine is very normal since it’s a long stroke torque producing engine. Torque engines are meant to make noise and vibrate but with the new version, RE has managed to dismiss a lot of vibrations, say atleast by 50-70%. If you complain about a torquey engine to be vibrating, never ever think of riding a Harley. Be it BSIII and BSIV version, I never really felt the engine to be heating a lot because I have ridden the KTM Duke 390 and the heating it gives in the city traffic can make you feel your legs turning into barbecued flesh. I rode the bike at 130-135 kmph and also on terrible offroads during the entire day and everytime it performed optimally without lowering my confidence. The power is just enough to traverse through any kind of motorable terrain.
Suspension:- As I mentioned earlier, the suspension are one of its kind and perhaps the only bike with such a long suspension travel. The earlier bike which had such huge travel was the Hero Impulse which was 150cc and not in production anymore. The monoshocks in the rear give a lot of confidence while cornering and manoeuvring on and offroad. Basically speaking, the suspension is something which every Adventure tourer should have to take on terrains.
Throttle Response:- The ride within city is peppy and quick. The pickup in the bike is sufficient to cut through city traffic and the agility of the bike because of its well-designed Chasis plays a lot of role. On the Highway I touched 100kmph within no time and I actually had to look at the speedo and believe that I am at 3 digits speed. There is enough torque and pull till the 3rd gear, however, on the 4th and 5th gear the bike pulls in slow but that’s how tourers should be. To describe it aptly, the throttle response in the first 3 gears are sufficient for city traffic, pickup on highway for reaching the speed of 60-80 and riding offroads. The last 2 gears are for cruising on long highways with the throttle kept steady to let you enjoy the ride.
Fuel Injection over Carburetor:- Well we all know that technology has made things refined and this particular object called Fuel Injection does exactly the same. A carburettor is a mechanical or manual mode of fuel supply to the engine from the fuel tank whereas the fuel injection is a programmed mode of fuel supply to the engine which enables uniform supply of fuel. The fuel injection has done wonders on the Himalayan with regards to fuel efficiency. I remember ripping the BSIII versions at 120-130 continuously for longer periods and ended up getting a fuel economy of 20kmpl and with normal regular riding it gave a max of 25kmpl but the BSIV version returned me a fuel economy of 32-33 on the Jaipur roads which included all kinds of road.
Final Conclusion on Himalayan
My final take on the motorcycle is, no matter what anyone says, Himalayan is the only bike in India with the capabilities it has. This makes it unique and special. The three things I would look in my next bike is Ground Clearance, Suspension travel and spoked rims with a power upgrade too. The only reason why I didn’t go for a Himalayan is because I ride a Thunderbird 500 whose power, torque and power to weight ration is slightly more than the Himalayan but saying that a Himalayan can easily outdo a Thunderbird any given day due to its other features. The need for higher power and torque is simply because I go on long tours of 1000s of kms and cruising on the same National Highways becomes monotonous. I need a faster bike that can cruise at 140-150 with absolute ease. And thus for me, the current Himalayan would be either underpowered or without any upgrade but the day RE comes up with a beefed up upgraded Himalayan in terms of power which can atleast give 45 odd horses, my money will be on it eyes closed.
Go to the nearest outlet and test ride the Himalayan thoroughly. If you feel the power upgrade and other capabilities it has is sufficient from your current motorcycle, go for it eyes closed. Make sure you have a good vehicle to test ride and not an ill maintained motorcycle.
Himalayan is a bike for a tourer who wants to take it to any terrain comfortably. Its not a complete offroader that you will try to make it perform like a dirt bike or an endure bike. It’s a soft roader which means ability to tour as well as offroad. A test ride on the Himalayan will clear your doubts for sure. I rest my case.