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Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse: Comparison Review

30 May 2016, 02:37 AM Vikrant Singh


Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

This isn’t our typical BikeWale comparison test wherein we go into the nitty-gritty of design, appeal, technology, riding pleasure, pricing or value even, to come to a conclusion on which is a better product. How can it be; the Hero Impulse isn’t even in production anymore. Plus, there’s absolutely no parity or pricing or performance between the Hero and the Himalayan.

This then is an answer to the question many like me have been seeking: Is the Royal Enfield Himalayan worth buying for those who are only just getting into riding bikes off-road? Or, is it better to buy a used Hero Impulse (since you can’t buy a brand new one anymore) to thrash around dusty roads, over rocky river beds or even to jump mud mounds?

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

To find out, we borrowed a Himalayan, which retails at Rs 1.78 lakh, from RE, and found ourselves a used Impulse in reasonably good nick for Rs 32,000. Then we headed to an off-roading trail not too far away from the city of Mumbai. It was hot, sweltering and totally worth it. Here’s what happened…

The road trip

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

Okay. We did say we were looking at an off-roading option, but given most of us just end up having one motorcycle for all means and purposes, it was important to see how the two matched up even on the road. And straight off, there’s hardly any comparison.

Royal Enfield Himalayan

Royal Enfield Himalayan

  • Displacement411 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported30 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)24.3 bhp
  • Kerb Weight199 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 2,14,504

The Royal Enfield Himalayan with its 411cc, near 25bhp, single cylinder, oil cooled engine is the faster, more ride-able, and likeable of the two. It is easier to overtake with; it doesn’t die out with luggage and pillion on board; and even though you might be out for just a 100km haul, just looking at the Himalayan, the world will always assume you are on a globe trotting adventure. The Impulse has its pluses too – even after so many kilometres it is still the smoother, quieter, and of course, more fuel efficient of the two.

But, no, I wouldn’t buy a used Impulse for touring.

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

The off-road trail

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

I would, however, most definitely get one for going on an off-road trail, like now.

But, I begin with the Himalayan. It might seem like a tall bike, but its low seat height makes it easy to mount and handle. The seating is upright and it is also easy to stand up and ride. But it is heavy. And that fuel tank didn’t allow me to slide as far forward as I would have liked.

The start of our off road trail, meanwhile, was simple – gravel, a flat surface and fast open corners. The Himalayan felt right at home here. It has a feelsome and responsive front end, the bike feels light and neutral around corners and there was enough grunt to pull me out of sticky situations. And it felt better still as we began our climb up the mountain trail.

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

The route was now littered with large rocks and avoiding them would have meant slowing down a tad too much. So I didn’t. And the Himalayan just took it all in its stride. That large 21-inch wheel, the long travel front suspension and the hardy nature of these cycle parts meant, nothing upset the bike; it held its line, rolled over rocks like they were pebbles and rarely lost grip. And whenever it did, an open throttle was enough to set things right. Plus, because there’s abundance of torque going to the rear wheel, the joy of sliding a bike at corner exits on dirt is available by the plentiful on the Himalayan.

The Hero Impulse is a different experience. If the Himalayan pushes its way through a challenge using brute force, the Impulse is happier dancing through it all. It is nimbler, more malleable and definitely better setup to handle the ‘no-road’ scene. It is lighter too and that off the road is a huge plus. But, it just doesn’t have enough grunt. Every time I lost the front, I had to kick it up because no matter how much throttle I fed it, the Impulse just didn’t have enough torque to pull me through. And as a result, it’s not as joyous to slide on exits as the Himalayan either.

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

After hours of getting baked under the sun getting through photography, it was now time to head back downhill. I was back on the Himalayan, and even before we could get to the first corner, I had a problem. The brakes on the Himalayan just don’t work off road. The front is dull and wooden and the rear offers so little in terms of feel and modulation, I was locking it up at the slightest of pressure of the brake pedal. Automatically, I didn’t have the confidence to push it hard coming downhill. The only option then was to stay on the gas and brake the rear simultaneously to prevent rear wheel lock up.

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

The Impulse though was brilliant downhill. It’s light and easier to turn and the brake feel and progression is so much better. It doesn’t have great bite either – plus, the rear is a drum setup – but, it works, and it works as intended, allowing the rider more confidence to have fun.

Used or new is the question

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

I know this has been a very long drawn answer to a question that could have been answered simply by calling out the bike’s name – a used Impulse or the brand new Himalayan? But, we have the answer now, and unfortunately, it’s not a simple one.

I already own a used Impulse. But, I wouldn’t trade it in for the Himalayan. I wouldn’t even add the Himalayan to my collection. And here’s why. One, I still am in phase 1 of off-roading on bikes and the Himalayan requires at least skill level 2 to actually have fun with it. Second, I rarely tour on my own motorcycles, so the Himalayan will end up being another tool to learn off-roading with. And at almost Rs 2 lakh, that’s a bit too much to pay.

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

However, if you are serious about off-roading and are equally into touring, the Impulse just wouldn’t work for you. Neither would the Mojos, the CBR250Rs, the AS200s and the Karizmas of the world. The only bike that marries good off-roading ability with the aptitude for touring is the Royal Enfield Himalayan.

I hope that answered your question, ‘cause it most certainly answered mine.

Click here to read our Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Mahindra Mojo: Comparison test

Click here to read our Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride Review

Royal Enfield Himalayan vs Hero Impulse

Pictures by Kapil Angane


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