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Royal Enfield Himalayan with panniers: 2000km Touring Review

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Pratheek Kunder

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Introduction

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

I’m going to start this story with a confession. I’m a big fan of the Royal Enfield Himalayan. So much so that, I have made a few of my friends buy it. In fact, I almost bought one too. But decided to wait for something else (more on this later). So yes, the Himalayan is a great bike, especially in the BS6 avatar. It has good city riding habits and incredible off-road traits, and I have spent many days doing this. But could not get a chance to take it on a really long ride. I got an opportunity to do so a few weeks ago and obviously, I took it up.

The Plan

I had one simple plan – figure out how good the new Himalayan is on some of India’s best highways and do all of this with a pillion. It was like a vacation of sorts. But before the actual vacation began, I wanted to first ride to Mangalore. Spend a few days with my parents and then take the coastal route to Goa. Spend a week there and indulge in some seafood.

The Mumbai-Bangalore highway is one of the smoothest highways of the country (not the Mumbai-Kolhapur stretch). It is so good that it allowed me to do a 1,000km car journey in a day; 16-17 hours to be precise. So, it was obvious the Himalayan would also have to go through a similar one-day ride. But it was going to be difficult. I had a pillion and lots of luggage as it was a working week.

The Luggage

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

I wanted a Himalayan to carry all that luggage. So, the good folks at Royal Enfield were kind enough to install a pair of hard panniers. These panniers look supremely tough and that’s because of their aluminium construction. Each of these panniers has a capacity of 26-litres, but knowing me and my capacity to carry luggage, I might over abuse these.

These panniers managed to take our two laptops, chargers, clothes for 7-8 days, small bottles of chain lube and clean, and some other minor things. These panniers are super easy to remove and install. But it does feel heavy to carry when it is fully loaded. Also, it gets a little difficult to close the pannier lid, if you load it to the brim, which I did. Sadly, there was no room for our footwear. So, I got my Dirtsack Max 20 tail bag out, filled it with 3 pairs, and installed it on the top of the pannier as it provides top mounts for strapping down additional luggage. I really loved this feature. And yes, the panniers can be locked using a tiny key, which is easy to misplace. So, have to be extremely careful about that.

The Ride

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

With the kind of plan I had, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to a ride that is usually filled with comfort and less fatigue. For this ride, there were many variables at play. Will the pillion be comfortable? Will the hard panniers take all the weight? Won’t the mounts get loose during this 16 hours journey? For the starting 100km, I was constantly checking with the pillion and also looking at the panniers through the mirrors. I have never ridden a motorcycle with hard panniers. In fact, I always avoid it. But there was no option this time around.

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

We all know the 411cc motor on the Himalayan has some good touring traits. It is known for its good low- and mid-range. The BS6 variant offers good refinement and controlled NVH. It is tractable and most importantly – it can adapt. Now, in my case, with all the extra weight, I felt I was going to overstrain this engine. But luckily, the engine behaved business as usual. Yes, it always took a while to reach the required speed. Yes, the top speed took a beating. But I wasn’t in a hurry anyway. The bike continued to chug along the highway. It obviously took a while to gain momentum, but once it did, the Himalayan felt easy on the highways. Most of the time, I was around 90kmph. I did try to ride at 100kmph, but the bike didn’t feel at home then. I mean it can do that speed, but you will deal with some vibes and worsening NVH.

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

Now coming to the comfort, well, the rider’s seat is really good. There’s lots of space, thanks to the wide side. The cushioning is nice and easy to get used to. Plus, the great seating triangle made things better. But sadly, the pillion seat was too much to handle. The pillion complained of poor comfort in the first few hours of the ride. I feel it was too soft for anyone’s comfort. We ended up taking lots of stops and thus lost some time.

The Himalayan always had a plush ride setup and because I was going to be on the national highway, 95 per cent of the time, I didn’t feel the need to play with the rear preload. So, I kept it in the stock setting. That took care of the extra weight and it did with it well.

The Fuel Efficiency

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

The Himalayan has a tank capacity of 15-litres which is quite decent for a motorcycle in this segment. With all the weight and riding style, the bike churned out fuel efficiency between 27kmpl and 30kmpl. Basically, a riding range of around 380km-400km. I remember taking the bike on a 500km ride and at that time this figure was around 33kmpl, and I was riding solo with no luggage. So, in short, the Himalayan isn’t that bad on the wallet.

The Verdict

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

This trip has cleared a few things for me. The Himalayan can take the additional weight. It can take some hard panniers. It can also take some extra luggage to be mounted on the hard panniers. It can also do a 1,000km trip in a day with all the luggage and a pillion. But, the pillion wouldn’t be too happy about such trips. The seat quality played a major spoilsport there.

The long-stroke motor churns out a good performance. Overtaking isn’t a big problem as such, but it needs to be planned if riding fully loaded. At a cruising speed of 90kmph, the vibrations are under control and that means the fatigue is too. The fuel efficiency too, is acceptable, allowing us to do such trips more often. Plus, the ability to use factory-fitted hard luggage means you don’t have to make unnecessary modifications.

So, will I take the Himalayan out on a long ride? Definitely! With pillion? Maybe not! But whenever I do this again, I would definitely take the hard panniers along. It’s safe, secure, and you don’t have to spend lots of time strapping the bags and mounts. This one is just stress-free.

Gallery

Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Rear Three Quarter
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Rear Three Quarter
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View
Royal Enfield Himalayan Right Side View

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