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Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Royal Enfield Himalayan - Ride Review

Royal Enfield is one Indian manufacturer who's going through a renaissance so to speak off late. As a manufacturer, it's doing anything and everything to break the cliche and that's a good thing, because, firstly it shows one's character as a motorcycle manufacturer, because by breaking the cliche you are taking a risk of a failure, but then you are not afraid to do so, and secondly, it shows that as a manufacturer you are thinking about what the end users expect, and not what you expect from an end user. Royal Enfield has it's own cult following here in India and is worshiped amongst the masses as the "Bult" God. For many, their idea of first big bike is a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 a.k.a the Bult (and now maybe the 500 Classic and the TBTS), and for generations, the name Royal Enfield has been synonymous with the Bullet range, and understandably, it's a "Himalayan" task to come out of that comfort zone, try to fix something that's not broken, and evolve and come out with something that challenges the established notions - Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2016 Royal Enfield Himalayan did just that, standing tall.


Engine - Air cooled, four stroke, Single Cylinder, SOHC with Oil Cooling
Capacity - 411 cc
Bore x Stroke - 78 x 86 mm
Compresion Ratio - 9.5:1
Induction - Carburettor with Throttle Position Sensor
Ignition - Electric
Clutch - Wet, Multi-plate
Max Power - 24.5 hp @ 6500 rpm
Max Torque - 32 Nm @ 4000 - 4500 rpm
Transmission / Drive - 5 Speed  /  Chain drive

The engine of the Himalayan is the first department where Royal Enfield makes it's departure from norms and makes it's statement loud and clear. Royal Enfield literally went back to the drawing board and wiped it clear of the Push-Rod design architecture and then started laying the basic foundation of an engine, that is more focused to the job at hands and that is SOHC (Single OverHead Camshaft). The result - an engine that is much much smoother than anything from RE's stable, is more responsive to throttle inputs (thanks to the Throttle Position Sensor) and is a ton of fun to ride. It's a clear departure of thought process, as to how a RE engine should respond and feel. Long story short, the engine feels contemporary - and that is a big statement in itself.

The torque kicks in as low as around 1400 rpms and from there it's a blast wave of torque that throttles you through till around 4500 rpms. I have read certain comments where folks thought that 24.5 bhp is way too less, specially for highways, but trust me, for the kind of motorcycle the Himalayan is, and the kind of torque it serves you, the grin on your face while riding it, wouldn't let you complain or even let you think that this motorcycle is under-powered or something - No It's Not, it's Definitely Not.

The gear box is butter smooth and the cogs slot in very progressively. The clutch is a bit on the harder side, but that's again a getting used to aspect rather than being an outright issue. The default setting of the clutch accentuation is a bit delayed, and I would have definitely liked it to be a bit more on the quicker side.

But how does the Himalayan sound? Well, nothing like any Royal Enfield that we have heard and has a very throaty and likable exhaust note. The all new exhaust canister for the Himalayan looks very contemporary, and does it's job amazingly well on the aural department. 

I would have liked it to be a bit more well put together, because there were some freckles and spots even on the brand new motorcycle, but that's just me saying about it.

Ride and Handling

Frame - Half Duplex, Split Cradle frame
Front Suspension - 41 mm telescopic fork, 200 mm wheel travel
Rear Suspension - Monoshock with linkage
Front Brakes - Bybre 300 mm Single Disc with 2 piston floating calliper
Rear Brakes - Bybre 240 mm Single Disc with 1 pinston floating calliper
Front Tyre - 90/90 21
Rear Tyre - 120/90 17
Dimension - Length : 2190 mm; Width : 840 mm; Height : 1360 mm
Wheelbase - 1465 mm
Ground Clearance : 220 mm
Seat Height - 800 mm
Kerb Weight - 182 kg
Fuel Capacity - 15 litres

The Himalayan has to live up to it's name, and that means, it is expected to be formidable, it is expected to be unabashed, take any kind of abuse and still continue with a kind of poise that nothing has flown under it's rubber till date, and the Himalayan doesn't disappoint even an atom of our expectations. Be it tarmac, pothole, gravel or mud, the Himalayan makes it's presence declared with authority. The chunky Dual Purpose Ceat rubber ensures that the Himalayan has ample traction available on the tap, and then some more.

The Front Suspension with 200 mm wheel travel and the 21" front wheel makes the entire ride experience sublime and challenges the rider to push through the preconceived notions of riding limits and challenges. While riding I was able to easily stand up on the pegs and steer the motorcycles over dividers and pot holes with absolute ease, as if the motorcycle was designed to stand and ride rather than sit and ride. Talking about seat, let's pay a couple of seconds of homage to every motorcycle seat that any Indian motorcycle manufacturer has ever plonked on their motorcycles, because here too, Himalayan makes an equally Himalayan stride, and sets new benchmark in "bum" comfort. That seat is just perfect and is so comfortable that if the motorcycle had a power socket, I could have typed this entire review seating on the bike rather on my chair.

The Half Duplex, Split Cradle frame of the Himalayan provides the right mix of stiffness around the front and rear sub-frame and flex around the mid-frame in order to ensure that the handling is as confidence inspiring as it can get to attack any terrain imaginable. Remember it's a terrain capturing and mile munching tool and is not for corner carving (though I know there would be blokes would do a knee touch down on this too), so, please don't try doing that. The combination of 220 mm Ground Clearance and 800 mm seat height saw my both feet firmly on the ground, with my height at 5'10", and still hand ample clearance to move over any and every undulation under it. 

The standard skid plate under the engine is a welcome addition to the motorcycle and goes to show the detailed thought process gone behind making this motorcycle.

One of the biggest pleasure on this motorcycle apart from engine are the brakes. Damn these Steel braided ByBre Brakes are like hand of God and provide amazing feedback and braking performance. They stop the bike on a dime and are easily the best brakes provided by any Indian manufacturer. Even after continuous hard braking, there was no sign of fading and I was able to brake as late as I wanted to and the confidence grew to stratospheric limits in no time. However I must say that having ABS would have been an excellent addition and I really hope that RE is contemplating about an ABS version of this motorcycle at least in a future upgrade to the motorcycle.

Equipment and Quality

The build quality of the Himalayan is very good and it's a very solidly made motorcycle. To my eye, it has one of the best looking console on any Indian motorcycle for that matter.

The switch gear quality felt good, but not premium and that's okay because overall they are well put together. Small attention to details like the bar ends is a nice touch.

The high round headlamp looks good (though we were not able to check it's luminosity) and along with the front wind screen the combination looks purposeful and well put.

The quality of the seat and the seat cover is just superb. However we feel that for places like Gurgaon, it would be a dust magnet and it would be difficult to keep it clean.

The Himalayan comes standard with pannier mounts front and rear (the front ones are primary for holding additional fluid containers if one needs to carry), but the panniers themselves are accessories rather than being standard fitments.

Don't go by the frugal looks, because once you are astride the Himalayan, you won't let it go that easy, and it would grow upon you and keep on growing upon you as you concur terrain after terrain.

Ownership Add-ons

Though as standard the Himalayan is a complete package, but from an ownership stand point, we would suggest a few add-ons -

1) Adjustable Levers as the standard reach of the levers on the motorcycle might not fit every palm
2) A USB electrical unit for doing the charging duties for Mobile and GPS systems
3) A Mobile and GPS holder
4) Secondary Lighting system because there's never enough illumination on tap in this part of the world.

Final Verdict

It took a long time coming since we saw the first teaser for the Himalayan and boy are we elated when it has finally arrived. I can understand that the Himalayan project team at Royal Enfield had their jobs cut out because it's not easy to challenge the established norms and prove the challenge worthy and it takes a lot of nerves to field for a completely new platform when you are not sure how it would turn out to be, but Royal Enfield has shown us that if a manufacturer is seriously listening to the end user and has the will to support them, then making wonders happen is for reality rather than being for coffee table discussions. The Himalayan has arrived and has made it's statement loud and clear that it's not to be taken lightly and it's a tool that has some serious prowess under it's belt. India has never seen such a rounded product being Made in India and at INR 1.72 On-Road Gurgaon, it's a Lot of Motorcycle for that price.

Text and Review By : Sajal
Images By : Sajal and Sohib

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  1. Awesome review, very helpful. I was trying to figure out how this bike is going to be. Sajal has provided enough details to understand this bird.

    Thanks for the hard work Sajal

  2. Rode her too...quite a revelation

    1. Yup, she's is quite a revelation actually... honestly took me by surprise!!

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Item Reviewed: 2016 Royal Enfield Himalayan - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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