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Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Long Term Review: Off-road

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Anuj Mishra

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Introduction

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View

I have been using the new Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 for close to two months and, as exaggerated as it may sound, it has changed my perception of adventure motorcycles. You see, my inclination has always been more towards fully faired sportbikes than any other genre of motorcycles. However, the last few months have changed how I perceive ADVs and the Himalayan 450 has played a major role in that, besides my short stints with incredible machines like the Ducati DesertX and Honda Transalp.

I have been doing quick off-road jaunts on the Himalayan 450 almost every week and my fondness for the bike has grown with each session. Every time, I come back with more praise for it and a wider grin than the last time. It has so many tricks up its sleeves to be an ideal learner’s off-road motorcycle. Let me elaborate on that.

Likes

As big and intimidating as the Himalayan looks for a 450cc motorcycle, it just takes a short spin to realise how accessible it is on the go. And the story is no different off-road. Even at slow speeds through technical trails, the Himalayan 450 doesn’t feel tippy or top-heavy by any stretch. Be it flowing through a trail in the wild or just practising some drills in the parking lot, you become comfortable with the bike in no time. Royal Enfield has nailed it with the weight distribution and centre of gravity of the Himalayan. The scenario is slightly different in bumper-to-bumper traffic at crawling speeds but that’s a story for later.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Left Rear Three Quarter

Another aspect that makes off-roading on the Himalayan a cakewalk is the overall riding triangle and standing-up ergonomics on offer. Despite being 5’11’’ tall, standing up on the Himalayan feels natural and comfortable to me, not just while being upright and cruising lazily but also when I am hunched forward in attack mode. The section where the fuel tank and seat join is quite narrow and it allows me to tightly grab onto the mid-section of the bike. Moreover, I don’t need to bend down too much to reach the wide handlebar and all of it allows me to practice for long, without tiring me out too soon.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View

The star of the show is truly the Showa suspension. Now, being a novice off-road rider and thereby extremely slow through the rough stuff, I don’t even go close to exploiting the true potential of the Himalayan’s suspension. The only times I’ve bottomed it out is while practising jumps to look cool in pictures. The rest of the time, be it braving rocks or undulated dirt tracks, the suspension setup just gobbles up everything so seamlessly, that it feels like the bike is laughing at my skills, or the lack of it.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Left Rear Three Quarter

The combination of the phenomenal suspension and 21-inch front wheel, and the resultant 230mm ground clearance, always seems to have my back. The place where I regularly do my off-road joy rides has a section of big and small rocks. Each time I try to be courageous and run over a big one, the front end just rolls over without a hiccup, making the obstacle seem insignificant. And the faster the speed, the better job the suspension and front wheel do of crushing everything in their way. Plus, the high ground clearance means I don’t remember hitting the underbelly ever.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View

Ever since I’ve had my hands on the Himalayan, I’ve also started sliding the rear under braking. Now, every time I try to do it on other bikes, I realise that it’s much easier and more confidence-inspiring on the Himalayan. Due to its long wheelbase and heft, the Himalayan feels progressive and under control when its rear steps out. And the fact that you can switch off the rear ABS just by clicking the right-side M button twice makes it all the more fun and convenient.

Dislikes

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Engine From Right

In terms of performance, the engine of the new Himalayan is a big departure from its predecessor. The mid-range and top-end acceleration of this bike is really strong and very unlike RE I would say. However, when you ride extremely slow through a technical trail, the lack of low-end grunt acts as a downer. Anywhere under 3,000rpm, it feels like the bike will stall and that means you’ll have to keep slipping the clutch. What acts as a savior here is the lightness of the clutch which allows you to operate it with a single finger.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View

Another grouse for me is the 196kg kerb weight of the bike. The fact that I’ll have a hard time picking it up if I drop it always pulls me back from pushing it off-road and taking it to some treacherous and challenging sections. In this case, not much can be done since the Himalayan has minimal body panels and there’s almost nothing that can be removed while still keeping it legal and safe for the road. It’s about time I practised the bike pick-up technique then.

What’s next?

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View

In the coming weeks, we plan to kit up our Himalayan with the N-Gage Hyper Flow air filter and FuelX Pro plug-in fuel-injection optimiser by PowerTRONIC. These kits should not only improve the overall performance of the engine but also the aforementioned bane we have with its lack of low-end grunt.

Bike Stats

Make: Royal Enfield

Model: Himalayan 450

Odometer: 6,500km

Fuel Efficiency: 26-27kmpl

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

Gallery

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Left Rear Three Quarter
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Left Rear Three Quarter
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Engine From Right
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Right Side View

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