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Royal Enfield HIMALAYAN | Test Ride | Initial impressions

by on April 11, 2016
 

Bike tested – Royal Enfield Himalayan
Price OTR Delhi – ₹1,73,800

After a long period of waiting with anticipation, finally, last week I got a call from Royal Enfield showroom to take out their all new Himalayan for a spin. I picked up the key of my Classic 500, took along Harpreet to see what the fuss is all about with this new adventure tourer.

For those who don’t know, The Royal Enfield Himalayan was banned and not available for sale in Delhi immediately after its launch as the bike didn’t meet the Bharat Stage IV emission norms. Here why:

Beginning 1st April 2016, the Delhi Government decided to not allow the sale of new two-wheelers which do not comply with Bharat Stage IV emission norms. The Royal Enfield Himalayan, being only BS-III compliant, failed to meet those requirements. Royal Enfield said that this decision came in at the last minute and them, and several other manufacturers who are facing the same issue, were working with the authorities to reach a conclusion….Read more

Royal Enfield Himalayan 2016 Royal collection

Old school BS III line up. Time to upgrade?

Finally after much of a fiasco as stated above, The Transport department of New Delhi has taken away the ban that prohibited the registration of new BS-3 complaint two-wheelers in the capital city. This decision has made the path clear of bikes like the newly launched Royal Enfield Himalayan, Bajaj V and Suzuki Access to be registered in that capital.

Royal Enfield has got time till April 1st 2017 to get the emission norms under BS-4 complaint.

The much-awaited adventure tourer from Royal Enfield, Himalayan was launched in Delhi with an ex-showroom price of INR 1.55 Lakh. It is powered by the 411cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine that is capable of producing 24.5 PS power and 32Nm of torque mated to a 5-speed gearbox.

I have made a nice infographic to depict the machine’s prowess:

Royal Enfield Himalayan 2016 Specifications Infographic Test ride

Royal Enfield Himalayan

Upon reaching the showroom, we noticed a waiting rush for the Himalayan’s test ride. Looks like RE is hyping the bike for all right reasons as I could see biking enthusiasts discussing the nits and grits of this machine. We were asked to fill the customary form(s) for the test ride and submit our driving license(s) while the test bike was being ridden by prospective customers before us. We waited in the showroom where there was the Snow white Himalayan basking in its full glory.

We utilized our time and observed the physical characteristics of the bike. In about 5 minutes of time, we got a call from the executives at RE showroom for the test ride as the bike had arrived. I will break down my test ride experience in the key sections below:

Styling:

The new Himalayan looks all rugged and macho, which perfectly compliments their advertising campaign. It is quite minimalistic and follows a lean build, unlike its other siblings. The whole setup is just a head lamp, fenders, fuel tank and wheels enclosing that brand new 411 cc engine.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 2016 front left view

All macho.

Does it have the old school retro-charm like other REs? Nope. But the fact that form follows function with the simple, yet the clean design of Himalayan ultimately appeals to me. It’s a bike that you just want to mount and ride to the mountains as soon as you set eyes on it.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 2016 information cluster console

Overflowing cluster controls.

The instrument cluster is populated with the plethora of information and options. It can be overwhelming at first sight, especially as a person like me is used to the Classic 500’s simple round analog speedo with an odometer. You get two trip meters with average speed, a clock, digital compass, thermometer, gear indicator, on the go mileage calculator. There’s also a button to turn on the hazard lights but it’s a small button on the cluster that isn’t effortless to access.

Being a touring bike primarily, you do get an option to add in additional Panniers, Jerry cans, Black exhaust canister with silver heat shields, Crash guard, and matte black finish Handlebar. The additional Panniers have the capacity of 35 Kgs each, whereas those Jerry cans to carry the extra fuel have the capacity of 5 Liters each. One can get these add-ons by paying extra charges.

Engine and performance:

As soon as I hopped on the Himalayan and gave the electric start a gentle push, the new 411 cc mill came to life with an RE-esque grunt. But that’s where the similarity finishes.

Himlayan doesn’t feel like a (typical) Royal Enfield.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 2016 411 cc engine

The all new 411 SOHC mill.

The current generation mill feels very refined. If compared to my Classic 500 with the UCE engine, this new one has negligible vibrations. In fact, while riding the bike I did not feel any undue vibrations when I pulled the bike to 120 Kmph effortlessly. It is probably the inclusion of OHC setup on the engine which is responsible for the smooth performance.

The torque felt more linear and distributed evenly to all rev range when compared to the 500cc UCE engine of Classic 500, the low capacity 411 cc engine of Himalayan feels more refined and powerful. The single lever gearbox was a little notchy between the first and second gear and I also experienced quite a few false neutrals through the day, particularly when shifting between first and second gears. Second gear onwards the gearbox shifts well and even responds to clutchless upshifts without much complaint.

You can feel the extra work done by the Royal Enfield engineers on this forefront.

Many of you will be wondering how the engine sounds. Well, check the video below for yourself, this was the thump with the stock exhaust:

4K video, play and pause to let it buffer for best experience or download the 1080p render here.

It’s a bassy but smoother, subdued version of the typical Royal Enfield thump and the upswept exhaust makes some lovely pinging noises on a closed throttle. I’m sure there will be plenty of aftermarket exhausts for those who like to pump it up to tractor like, ear-drum assaulting levels of noise but I think the stock bike sounds nice enough if you are a true cruiser enthusiast.

Ride quality:

The first thing I noted post mounting the bike was the upright seating and the straight handlebar. It gives you the ultimate command and control over the bike. The Himalayan chassis displays plenty of confidence while maneuvering the bike through Urban traffic.

It feels a bit firm through small bumps but gives good feedback of what’s happening on the big 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels. Larger potholes and craters are absorbed nicely as well.

Overall, it was a comfortable and plush ride.

I really loved the back-support from the single curvy seat. It felt less tiring when comparing directly to my 500cc beast. Though I didn’t get a chance to push the bike to a true off-road landscape, the good ground clearance and somewhat stiff suspension but more effective for the rough terrain will make sure of an unhurried and unstressed ride.

Verdict:

Well, it’s a new bike, and I really mean it. The new Himalayan is a different lever experience and NOT at all a typical Royal Enfield bike. Those who are hardcore fans of the trademark DUG DUG feel of a “Bullet” may not be able to relate themselves with this new tourer.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 2016 logo 2

HIMALAYAN

Himalayan, although not flawless has innovated, to prove Royal Enfield has got the adventure format gripped as it’s personal domain. This is the only adventure bike in India today, on which you need only to pack your panniers, hop on and head off on your own private adventure, in any weather, over any road, or even no road.

The Himalayan is a commendable effort by Royal Enfield, a moment of pride and one of the best touring motorcycles to have come out of India to date.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 2016 keys

Are you game?

What do you think about the new Royal Enfield Himalayan? Did you have a chance to ride it? or have you booked it already?
Let us know in the comment section below.

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