Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

12 March 2016, 06:28 PM Pratheek Kunder

What is it?

This is the Himalayan – the first adventure motorcycle ever built by an Indian company and that’s Royal Enfield. It’s being launched at a time when anyone and everyone in our country who has a bike now aspires to go on an adventure. Sadly, till now there hasn't been a single affordable motorcycle to take on the bad and broken roads. Built from ground up, the Himalayan, from Royal Enfield, has been made to attract this growing breed of young Indian buyers to the iconic brand. 

How does it ride?

Like every other adventure rider would like it to be – brilliant. The Himalayan is a no nonsense motorcycle and easily takes on all the roads that comes its way. I rode the motorcycle in Shimla and regions around and not for a single time, the Himalayan showed any signs of trouble. The chassis is good and responsive and clearly shows that it means serious business. Swing your leg over and suddenly you’ll feel at home. When in main stand, the Himalayan looks daunting, but once you’re on it, the 800mm seat height is quite friendly for all sized riders. The wide handle bar and upright riding position is very comfortable, however, the fuel tank gets a small recess which might make you feel that it’s useless, but it does offer good grip while you’re standing and riding. 

Royal Enfield Himalayan

Royal Enfield Himalayan

  • Displacement411 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)24.3 bhp
  • Kerb Weight199 kg
  • ;

Ex-showroom, Mumbai


The best part of this motorcycle is the kerb weight which stands at 182kgs. This has made the Himalayan pretty practical for Indian use as it’s quite flickable, usable and not very tough to pick it up, in case you’ve a fall, which usually happens while adventure riding. The suspension setup of the bike is not as plush as you would expect, but it takes on the bad roads pretty comfortably. The 21-inch front wheel and the 17-inch at the rear are the perfect choice for this bike. And the CEAT tyres that’s been used on these wheels, perform really well and offer plenty of grip. The seat is relaxed but being a narrow one, you won’t have enough space to move. 

Coming to the most important aspect of the bike, the engine. The Himalayan gets a new 411cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine that gives you 24.5bhp and 32Nm of power to play with. Surprisingly, this engine isn’t a vibey one at all, unlike the other Royal Enfields. This was achieved through the use of rubber mounts and counter balancer. The engine isn’t as smooth as the Japanese but for an RE, it is incredible. Hardly any vibrations were noticed on the handlebar, footpegs or the tank. In terms of performance, I liked the low and the mid-range punch. Most of my hill climbs took place in second gear and I was pretty comfortable with it, so was the bike. But a little more power, say, 4bhp-6bhp more, the Himalayan would’ve been an amazing bike. I didn’t get a chance to use the fifth gear a lot due to lack of good straights in Shimla but a detailed road test of the Himalayan will give us the answer. This five-speed gearbox, however, wasn’t as smooth as expected and loses few points there. The 300mm disc at the front and 240mm disc at the rear performs really well, but just like the other bikes, locks up the rear wheel in slush. 

Anything else I should know?

The Himalayan uses a minimalistic design approach and I like that. This has resulted in less use of body components, which directly helped in keeping the weight in check. But Royal Enfield has still managed to get that rugged tough stance out of this bike, thanks to the 200mm front suspension travel and the exposed chassis. 

The instrument cluster on the Himalayan is new and is loaded with features. Things like speedometer and tachometer are quite normal. But what’s not normal is the availability of a compass. And obviously, the ambient temperature gauge and average speed indicator is new and quite useful. During most of my ride, the ambient temperature was between 7 degrees and 12 degrees. There’s a small windscreen and hazard lamp too. The overall quality and feel of the switch gear is appreciable, so is the paint quality. 

You should also note that Royal Enfield will offer a couple of accessories including hard case panniers and a jerry can with the Himalayan. However, that’s not a part of the on-road price and you would have to buy it separately. 

Why should I buy one?

Because you want an adventure bike, which is affordable and right now, there’s nothing in the Indian market. The Royal Enfield Himalayan offers plenty of adventure and will surely become your best friend on long tours. It’ll take to you places where you always wanted to go, without thinking twice. And it being on the lighter side, it’s quite easy to live with. And just like me, you’re just tired of waiting for other affordable adventure bikes to come to the Indian market. 

Where does it fit in?

For the price at which the Himalayan is going to be launched (we expect between Rs 1.6 lakh to Rs 1.8 lakh), there isn’t any real competitor in the Indian market. In fact, there won’t be any for at least a couple of months. But because this question is very important, I’ll go with the Mahindra Mojo. Really? That bike? Well, yes, because you can still tour on it comfortably but taking it to the Himalayan slush could be a bad idea.


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