Test riding the Royal Enfield Himalayan
It makes a certain amount of courage to break convention. So, what does a company over 100 years old do when it realises that it has an opportunity to give the world something completely new and yet unattempted? Adventure bikes have to be big, heavy and have a massive ground clearance with the provision to pack days of luggage. And that's what Royal Enfield has demonstrated with its all-new motorcycle.
The styling of the Himalayan is a clear case of function over form. Pics/ Aditya Dhiwar and Royal Enfield
A new chassis, new suspension, all-new engine, and totally revised ergonomics mark the Himalayan apart from anything else in the stable, or even in the market.
The half-duplex split cradle frame supports luggage racks from the outset, incorporating pannier and mount provisions, and, even at the front, allows jerry-cans to be mounted for when fuel is scarce; supplementing the 15-litre tank.The front wheel hub is a simplistic lightweight no-nonsense design. At the rear is a 17” wheel with 120/70 rubber and a 240-mm disc brake with a single-piston calliper that is placed with the company’s first ever monoshock suspension. The link-type unit allows for 180-mm travel and is tuned for an excellent ride off-road, while being just as capable on it. The ground clearance is a useful 220 mm. Even with those specs, however, the seat height of 800 mm makes it a comfortable bike for tall and not-so-tall riders, without seeming as intimidating as the bigger adventure bikes already on sale.
The LS410 is a brand new engine and the first from Royal Enfield to have an overhead cam
Furthermore, additional features make it to the console. Apart from the analogue speedo, a small rev-counter and the usual tell-tales, there’s even a compass, with the digital display incorporating two trip meters, one reserve trip meter and an odometer. You also get hazard lights. The kick-starter too has been done away with, and the Himalayan gets an electric start. This was because the team was of the opinion that the electric starter is, today, being used increasingly and eliminating the kick would also save some weight.
Getting to the next important bit: the new engine. The 411-cc OHC carburetted single makes 24.5 PS and a very usable 32 Nm of torque, most of which is available from 2,500 RPM. That makes for good tractability and linear delivery. This is the first time in the history of the company that an overhead cam has been used. Factor in the counter-balancer shaft and the refinement level is on another plane.
The five-speed gearbox also has relatively shorter gearing and second gear can pull you from 0 to 50 km/h effortlessly. The engine pulls very cleanly and revs up slightly quicker and much higher than what erstwhile Royal Enfield owners are used to.
The Him-alayas were the perfect setting to experience the new Himalayan. After we got going, the handling was the first pleasant surprise. Just stand on the pegs, keep the throttle constant and let the bike do its thing. It can deal with rain, slush, ice and, of course, tarmac, with ease, as we soon found out.
White slippery tarmac carpet notwithstanding, the bike simply dug in and carried on, uphill and downhill. The overall balance of the bike really shone. The consumption, even at that altitude, was nothing to be ashamed about for the LS410. Almost 110 km later, the fuel gauge read about 70 per cent. The 15-litre tank will offer a range of 350-400 km on a good day. Not complaining. Finally, the price. At R1.71 lakh (OTR, Pune), the Himalayan makes sense.
Engine Type: 411 cc, single cylinder, air cooled with oil cooler, SOHC
Max power: 24.5 PS
@ 6,500 rpm
Max Torque: 32 Nm
@ 4,000-4,500 rpm
Price: Rs 1.70 lakh, on-road, Pune