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.
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.
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.
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.