The new Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 impresses, surprises, and tempts. It reminds us of the ‘Thar’ transformation. Remember how Mahindra Thar evolved into this modern, better-engineered, immensely likeable and liveable vehicle from a rudimentary 4x4? Well, the new Himalayan has turned out just like that. Compared to the older, slightly crude, past-its-prime, slow-chugging 411, the new one is a revelation. It defines RE’s current engineering prowess, surpassing our expectations.
We mentioned that in our first ride report. But now we have spent another 1300km riding it through sometimes fast, sometimes winding, and sometimes broken down Konkan roads in Maharashtra and Goa. We also put in a couple of hundred kilometres on the Himalayan 450 commuting in peak hour Mumbai traffic. After a week of living with the motorcycle, we have drawn up a list of things we like and don’t, about the new motorcycle. Here are our findings.
Things We Like
Seating ergos are comfy, connected, and feel completely natural. The seat height is accessible. I am 5’ 8”, and I never struggled to get my foot down properly.
The ride quality is outstanding! The long travel suspension is beautifully sprung and damped. This helps crush everything in its path without upsetting the rider. In fact, we rode sitting down through most of the badly broken sections courtesy of the motorcycle’s rear suspension refraining from kicking us in the back.The controls - clutch, throttle, gearshifts, brakes, and even moving the handlebar - feel light. It takes away from the fatigue of riding or moving the bike around. Moreover, it makes the bike feel lighter than it is.
There’s a big improvement in the brakes on the new bike. The feel, bite, and progression for the front brake, in particular, are very well calibrated. It allows for effective trail braking into tighter corners around twisties. Even off-road, one can lean on the brakes more confidently now.
The new digital instrumentation is the Himalayan 450’s party trick. It is like a miniature version of the virtual cockpit in Audis if you will. We believe it will prove to be a big consideration factor for people choosing the H450. It will also be a point of envy for fellow bikers because it makes sticking the phone on the handlebar redundant. Reading the maps via phone mirroring on the pod simplifies things tremendously. If you have an Android phone, you can do even more with music and phone calls. The instrumentation is easy to read, looks new-age, and is a handy unit overall.
The engine’s performance - not just compared to the older Himalayan 411, but also considering the competition at hand - is strong, friendly, and enjoyable. This is especially true for the mid and top-range performance. The power and torque delivery are also delightfully useable and friendly, without ever feeling underwhelming.
Another big surprise for us was the 450’s handling on the tarmac; around both tighter and fast open corners. With the long travel suspension and the 21-inch front wheel, the Himalayan should not turn into corners with such willingness. Yes, one still has to work the handlebar a little harder to make quick direction changes. But, it gave us no reason to complain about the front-end stability or the overall predictability of its responses. The bike doesn't pogo, wallow or feel ungainly no matter the speed or road surface.
Now, it might be tall and relatively heavy, but the Himalayan 450 makes easy work of off-road riding. The 21-inch front wheel, the well-damped suspension and the long wheelbase make it forgiving off-road. It is a good friend to those who are new to off-roading.
Finally, given its wide berth of abilities from transporting the rider in comfort and at speed, to over dusty trails and winding tarmac, even a price tag of Rs 2.69 lakh for the Himalayan 450 seems like good value.
Things We Don't Like
The engine might have strong mid- and top-range performance, but it is vibey as well. Not vibey enough to irritate you, but keep at it beyond 4,000rpm, and it can leave you with buzzing hands after a day-long ride. What’s more, the vibes seem omnipresent, even when you are taking things easy.
Fork flex under braking is apparent on the new Himalayan. The motorcycle is quick. And courtesy of good brakes, one tends to brake later and harder on the 450. But when you do, there's a hint of lateral flex in the forks. It should be fine for experienced riders, but it could also rob newbie riders of their confidence.
The Himalayan now uses ride-by-wire. And it has been tuned to be lazy for the initial few degrees of turn. It might have been done to make the H450 less intimidating. But this unresponsiveness does feel odd. One must, therefore, now work the clutch more in stop-and-go traffic or when taking on a slope.
On paper, the new motorcycle produces 40 horses. But in the real world, these don’t seem like the most alert or raring-to-go 40 horses. Maybe it is the motorcycle’s weight. Maybe it is the tune. Or maybe it is the mechanical losses from the engine to the wheel. Having said that, the H450 is still pretty quick and entertaining. Just not 40bhp entertaining.
It can feel a tad cumbersome at crawling speed when riding in peak-hour traffic given its top-heavy nature. And, one can feel the heat from the engine in slow-moving traffic. So skip the shorts and the chinos when you are aboard the 450.
Lastly, the Himalayan might be stable and forgiving off-road, but it is not the most playful or easy to hoon with on dirt; unless you add speed or lean. That means you either need skill or bravery to look like a hero riding the H450 off-road.
Also, the engine, gearbox, seats, and design are all nice but are more on the acceptable end of the scale than outstanding or noteworthy.
As an upgrade to the Himalayan 411, the new 450 is sensational.
It takes everything that the older bike did well and makes it significantly better. It is quicker, more refined, more comfortable, better engineered and great fun to ride. It also takes away plenty of shortcomings of the older bike.
The new H450 is lighter, it is more capable off-road, it doesn't feel slow or ungainly on the road, and when it comes to stopping, it doesn't just stop, it does so with poise and power. We believe, that if you own a Himalayan, and like what it promised and stood for, you MUST get the new one. The latter now properly fulfils the idea of a Himalayan.
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View