Many auto enthusiastic and forums have already published their reviews on Himalayan, so why I am writing about Himalayan here when I am none of those people out there.
I writing here because I have owned and ridden following bikes and I know my words will definitely help somebody to chose the right bike:
- Royal Enfield STD 350 CI engine to its limits in Saddle Sore 1600 km (more details here) and many more rides.
- KTM Duke 200 and 390 for couple of months and 4000+ km
- Royal Enfield Bullet 500 for last 3 month and 2500 km.
I do not have much technical knowledge apart from keeping my vehicles in excellent running condition. I know basic part names however can’t comment on compression ratio etc 😛 So expect very simplified user level report on Himalayan.
I am riding my current Royal Enfield Bullet 500 from Jan 2016 and so far have covered 2500 km. I was waiting for Himalayan however the launch date was not confirmed so went ahead and purchased the bullet 500.
On Friday 18th March Himalayan officially launched in Platinum Auto, Hadpsar Pune. As it is located near my office I dropped off at dealership without delay. The intention was to get at least a view of bike however to my surprise the SA offer me test ride. We had a spin of around 5 km and following are initials thoughts.
Please note that I am comparing my ownership of couple of bikes with Himalayan.
Looks:- If we hide the Royal Enfield logo on Himalayan I bet that you will not able to find out that the bike is manufactured by Royal Enfield. It looks very much like big shot adventure bike. Black powder coated protection brackets on fuel tank, console and rear luggage carrier cum supporter holds well and adds to adventure look. The accessories were not yet available however have seen couple of pictures floating on internet and it looks perfect on Himalayan.
Seats and riding position:- Raised front with 21″wheel and rear with mono suspension gives very aggressive look to Himalayan, person with height less than 6 ft will think twice to sit on it however once you are on it you will feel like at home. I am 5 ft 9 inch and I managed it very well with in 5 minutes and was not interested to get down at least for minimum 100 km. So looks like RE have though about it very well.
Sales adviser was riding as pillion so I though it is going to be one bad test ride as having pillion in city traffic on raised rear bike is hell of situation. However there was no problem at all, seats are made very specious and comfortably soft for rider and pillion. I am comparing Himalayan with Duke 200 and 390 here.
Riding position is bit different compared to other RE models and you have to spend sometime to get used to it. It needs to lean forward a bit to grab the handle, foot pegs are moved bit back and the position is similar to Duke. Foot pegs are small and typical RE owner will struggle to find while starting from stand still position. I found that the console position could have been bit lowered, but not sure may be this is the first adventure bike I am riding however I found it is bit distracting the view as I do not normally look at console while riding. Switches are from other RE models.
Engine and Gear Box: I was not able to see the engine in detailed as it was dark already however I found that it is fitted nicely in frame. I do not understand the figures displayed in specification and I use my logic to check if the bike fits in my criteria or not. My bullet 500 is rocket and I was bit disappointed when I started Himalayan from parking. For couple of minutes I was struggling to get the momentum however after sometime I started liking this new engine not sure why but it is pulling very well in all gears and I never felt that it is under power. It is very smooth and responsive and totally different than current UCE engine. The low end torque is awesome which was keeping bike moving with pillion. The power to weight ratio is managed well and you can flick bike easily in traffic, very similarly to Duke. Gear throw is short compared to Bullet 500, first and second are bit hard but as it was brand new bike I think it will get smooth after some km. Typical RE process to run in all parts :D. Clutch is light which is good sing for those who are going to use this bike for daily commute.
Electronics:- As usual RE have delivered a bare bone bike without much electronic gadgets. Himalayan is lucky to have at least fuel gauge and tachometer. As I am coming from Duke I badly feel the need of good console for Royal Enfield.
Alloys:-I have used RE with spoke wheels and Duke with alloys in long rides. Our Indian roads are unpredictable so better to have old rough and tough technology. I will prefer a punctured bike any day on a broken alloy bike. Tubeless Tyre provides advantages however it comes with big disadvantage of breaking alloys and if that happens in high speed… :(. Himalayan is specially designed for off-road trails so steel rims gives confidence to put it on any road or no road. I tested Himalayan bit with pot holes on my daily road and it was nice experience compared to my Duke 390 and Bullet 500 as well. Remember that the front wheel is 21″ which take bad road very well.
EFI: Himalayan is designed for remote off-road trails and long travel, so better to compromise on 1/2 BHP which comes from EFI over reliable carburetor. I know that carborator will need some tuning depend on altitude but that is simple job compared to failed EFI in Ladkha. RE have already faced lots of issues with current EFI system which runs on Classic and TBs. I went for Bullet 500 particularly for carburetor as I have seen couple of friends towed their Bullets because of failed EFI. Remember that we have to fill very bad quality fuel in Ladkha and other similar areas.
ABS: Duke 390 was my first ABS bike and it give confidence to ride and break hard in situations. However I have used lots of other non ABS bikes as well and its really depend on rider. I would be more than happy to buy a Himalayan with ABS.
Conclusion: Over all I feel that Himalayan is going to be hit this season, riders are already rushing to the showrooms. Its just a week after launch and waiting period already went to 3 months.
There are two class of bikers who are targeted for Himalayan:
- Those who purchase bullet and go through the pain full process of modifying it for off-road by reducing weight, changing the front suspension etc. (I am/was in process for my Bullet 500)
- Those who are still searching for Hero Impulse and Karizma engine. 🙂
If I look back at my demands from bike, it will go like this. I sold Duke 200 as there were couple of electronic and heating issues which ASC was not able to sort out. Then I moved to 390 because I was in love with dynamics of Duke, riding position etc. so thought of adding more power and ABS to it however failed badly again as 390 is worst for daily drive to office in city traffic. Addition to that radiator fan failed in just three months and again the heating issue started. But 390 was king on long rides and I still miss it. I can’t keep bike idle in parking , so I sold 390 with minimum loss and settled on Bullet 500 as I there was not an option which satisfies both needs, daily commute and long rides.
Now Himalayan satisfies my all demands as below:
- Nicely build frame
- Best riding position
- Small but capable oil cooled engine
- flick able in city traffic.
- Good for long rides (from other reviews yet to test by miself)
So am I going to buy Himalayan…?
No. Not now I will wait and watch its performance for next year or so and if it proves to be best of both world then there will be Himalayan in white color in my parking. Till the time lets enjoy Bullet meri jaan…
Royal Enfield dealers are organizing lots of off road events to promote the Himalayan so stay tuned to nearest dealer and enjoy the bike at its home ground.
Thank you for reading…