The Royal Enfield Himalayan without a doubt had to be a part of the 2021 edition, not because it is one of the highest-selling ADVs in the country, but Himalayan is that motorcycle that introduced our country to the world of affordable adventure bikes. Plus, the Himalayan has the combination of good ground clearance, workable front suspension travel, and an engine that churns out good low-end torque. And knowing that we might drop the motorcycle quite a lot, the Himalayan also benefits from a design that doesn’t destroy or scratch a lot of the cycle parts.
The 2021 gymkhana had a good spread. There were obstacles like the drums and tyres to test out the ground clearance. Then there were obstacles to check how easy it is to jump the motorcycle and see how comfortably it lands. In fact, there was even a hurdle for understanding how a motorcycle glides over a rock garden.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan managed to impress us in every hurdle thrown at it. Firstly, with that good low-end torque, the entire gymkhana was done in first gear. The first gear was adequate for the log that was laid down. Then its easy stand-up ergonomics made a tall guy like me quite comfortable to stand up and ride throughout the course. The presence of 21-inch wheels meant the Himalayan could glide over the artificial potholes along with the rock garden easily. In fact, in the rock garden, the Himalayan felt at home. The mix of large and medium-sized rocks didn’t really bother the Himalayan. And yes, having the right vision does make some difference in clearing this obstacle.
There were plenty of obstacles where I could test the suspension travel of the Himalayan. While the fork tubes did manage to compress fully, the Himalayan didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. In fact, the rebound was smooth and the motorcycle was ready to take on the next obstacle. As the gymkhana was spread across multiple lanes, there were plenty of U-turns that were to be done. That meant the full-lock turns were operational. However, I’ll talk about this in ‘The Garage’.
The Himalayan comes with a dual-channel ABS system where the ABS can be switched off at the rear. So, during the brake test, this Royal Enfield, despite the rear lacking the bite and feel for the road, works pretty well off the road. The 40kmph to a full stop in a short course meant the speed had to be cut quite early. So, with the help of the front brake, the Himalayan could stop at the right spot as needed. And yes, for more drama, it is super easy to lock the rear and get some slides out.
The garage is where I could feel the weight of the Himalayan. We all know how heavy the Himalayan is. In fact, that aspect was one of the few things not a lot of riders liked on the road, especially while commuting every day. But does it really matter in the dirt? Well, the Himalayan with all its weight isn’t as easy to ride as I’d like it to be. But it isn’t a deal-breaker for me.
The combination of great stand-up ergos, short turning radius, and good low-end torque allowed me to complete the tight garage with ease and without losing my balance even once. This, I believe, is a sign of a great thought-out ADV.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi
The verdict is quite simple. The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a great adventure motorcycle to have. Its off-road traits can be managed by a rider who wants to learn the art of enduro riding and also by someone who wants to compete with it at rallies. Its accessible seat height and great stand-up ergonomics meant that the bike caters to a wider audience. But what I liked the most is the bike’s ability to take all the thrashing that comes its way. I can drop the bike. I can jump it. I can slide it. And I could do all of this for countless hours. The Himalayan is that good. I think you should buy the bike in case you want to explore the world of enduro and off-road riding. And if you think the cost of a new bike is a little high, start with a used one. Then there’s always an option to upgrade to a new one.
Photography by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi
Royal Enfield Himalayan Left Front Three Quarter