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.
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.
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.