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Monday, October 24, 2016

Royal Enfield Himlayan - Born Tough

Text & photographs: Bobby Roy

I would be pretty frank here; I am not that big a fan of the brand Royal Enfield. I’ve always thought about them as heavy & slow motorcycles which require a lot of maintenance, something which I do not quite understand. I am someone who needs his motorcycle to be ‘ready to ride’ whenever, wherever I’d want to.

So, when I got a call from Royal Enfield about riding the Himalayan and keeping her for a period of almost 4 weeks or 1 month, I was taken a little aback, but accepted the offer happily. You see, the Himalayan is unlike any other motorcycle that RE has ever created. It looks smashing, undoubtedly, and the 411cc engine, as I discovered, is really nice. Although, the Himalayan looks smashing in the flesh, but I cannot help but put the entire design of the Himalayan as a "bit odd". RE says that it wanted to create an adventure tourer but it really did not want to go where the current segment, at present, is. The Himalayan is simple, to be very frank. Overall, the look really appeals to me, and I need to mention this fact again, that the motorcycle looks a lot better in flesh than in these pictures. There are angles from which the Himalayan looks awkward or disproportionate, agreed, but by and large, it’s a handsome motorcycle that looks like a purpose built tool  rather than the fancy, plastic covered crap that pass for adventure tourers today.

On papers, 24.5bhp might not sound too much, especially given the fact that it has got a ‘big’ 400cc engine, but don’t let the figures fool you. The torque is fantastic, and it makes sure you can putter around town at 40km/hr. in 5th gear. It feels quite cheerful up to 95kmph, just below 5,000rpm in top gear. Vibration starts shortly thereafter in the foot-pegs. Cruising at around 110kmph (5,500rpm, approx in 5th gear) is possible, though opening the throttle to pass traffic at these speeds immediately produces a less than ideal noise as well as quite some vibration through the 'pegs.

The commanding view that you get while on that super comfy saddle of the Himalayan is something that one needs to experience to be able to really appreciate. The front sports a big 21-inch wheel while the rear does with 17. But, the most important question which I got all through these 4 weeks of riding from people all around me is, “kitna deti hai” (What is the fuel efficiency?). Well, for me, it was anywhere between 19 and 26km/litre depending on how I was riding the machine. Frankly, I am fine with such figures.

Yes, there are certain issues which I wasn't too happy about, like the gear-box is one of the worst ‘boxes I’ve ever come across. Shifting from 1st to 2nd is a pain, and I completely believe finding an oasis in the middle of a vast desert would be much easier than finding neutral on the Royal Enfield Himalayan. Also, it has started leaking oil, and that is something which disappointed me BIG time, especially because I’ve had her for hardly 1100kms. When I picked up the bike from RE office, it had 2700kms on the odo. and the day I returned her, I had completed 3950kms. So, I don’t see any reason whatsoever for a brand new machine to start leaking oil. But then again, it’s an RE thing, I guess or atleast that's what I have been told. I reported this matter to RE and they took a look at the leak, and were taken aback looking at the amount of oil that the machine was leaking. They assured me of the fact that THIS machine was leaking oil, and other Himalayans do not leak oil, not this much atleast.

Royal Enfield has pegged the Himalayan as an "adventure tourer". Although, I could not take her out on a long tour during this 1 month, but what I absolutely loved about the machine was the fact that it offers an upright riding position which would be a boon during those long touring days. The Himalayan, incidentally is also the company’s first bike to feature rear monoshock suspension along with the regular 41mm front telescopic forks unit. The latter one is covered with fork gaiters to safeguard the fork seals from dust and other unwanted elements. This bike also gets 300mm disc with 2-piston floating caliper front and 240mm disc, single piston floating caliper rear brakes.

Overall though, I cannot help but be satisfied with the overall experience. Yes, the niggles did irritate me, but when I look at the Himalayan as a package, it brings a smile on my face for sure. I am not sure I can suggest anyone the Himalayan with all my heart, but if you are looking for a motorcycle which is super-comfortable and does what it is pretty much meant to do, then, by all means go with the Himalayan.
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Item Reviewed: Royal Enfield Himlayan - Born Tough Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Bobby Roy
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