Royal Enfield Himalayan: Yeti on wheels

Himalayan is capable of going 10,000 km without an oil change. Pic: Afsar Baig
Known for their rugged appeal and off-road capability, Royal Enfield motorcycles have been popular among those who always wanted to distinguish themselves from the little ones. These bikers were drawn to these thumping two-wheelers more because of their imposing size and more-than-ordinary riding capabilities. The Royal Enfield motorcycles have traversed vast distances, not just across the plains of India but also some of the highest motorable roads of the country, to prove their prowess. Khardung La, a mountain pass located in the Ladakh region at a height of 17,582 feet, is witness to the Royal Enfield’s almost mythical reputation as a dependable motorcycle.

The company has offered customers a variety of motorcycles — from retro cruisers like the Bullet to timeless icons like the Classic series. In more recent times, it has also brought in more contemporary motorcycles like the Thunderbird and Continental GT. While the GT gets Enfield’s biggest engine (535 cc) currently on offer, the other motorcycles are available with the trusted 350 cc and 500 cc engines. With tonnes of data culled out from those endless touring experiences, the company decided to build a motorcycle just for the mountains — the Royal Enfield Himalayan.

Royal Enfield did not just envision an adventure touring motorcycle — it has poured its heart and soul into this bike. It began building this bike from the ground up and ended up with a brand new engine. It calls it the LS-410. This new engine has a fuel capacity of 411 cubic centimetres and is powered by a single cylinder with an overhead cam. The engine is also air cooled and has been designed to deliver high torque and usable power at lower rotations per minute. It produces 24.5bhp at 6500rpm and 32Nm of peak torque from 4000-4500rpm.

The motor, however, feels unlike the kind in any of the previous Enfield motorcycles. The technology and refinement that has gone into this bike is evident from the way it behaves. While most Enfield lovers adore the bike for its thump, this new motor is more about performance and agility. The bike feels nimble and eager to accelerate. What the rider gets is a smooth ride even on higher gears at lower speeds, making it surprisingly easy to traverse the varied terrain of the Himalayas. The fuel delivery system currently on the bike is a carburetted one, while a fuel injected system could have enhanced performance further.

The LS-410 engine has been designed using some of the most modern technology and materials available that cater to increased efficiency and low maintenance costs. The Himalayan is capable of going 10,000 km without an oil change. The bike also comes with a counter balance that minimises engine vibrations making this a very welcome change from the previous Enfield engines that have dominated the market so far.

Royal Enfield tested and designed the Himalayan over a span of two years. It finally chose to build it on a rugged, half-duplex, split cradle frame. The Himalayan also features a mono shock rear suspension with linkage that allows for a longer suspension travel, delivering a smoother ride performance irrespective of the terrain. The suspension set up on the bike is on the stiffer side but is perfect for off-road conditions. The front telescopic fork suspension is capable of 200mm of travel, while the rear monoshock can handle 180mm of travel — more than adequate to take on the roughest of terrain in the mountains. The Himalayan’s 220mm ground clearance also ensures it gobbles up hurdles, be it the rocky riverbeds of the mountains or potholes in the urban jungles.

 

Ride and handling of the Himalayan can take you by surprise. Pic: Afsar Baig
Royal Enfield has brought in a whole new level of engineering standard with this bike. The fit and finish, build quality and ergonomics, all seem to have been thoroughly thought out. Touring utility has also inherently been built into the Himalayan. The bike features a 15-litre fuel tank that returns a range of almost 450 km. The bike also gets luggage mounting points for hard panniers, soft luggage and jerry cans. A simple instrument cluster keeps track of speed, direction, ambient temperature, travel time, service intervals and multiple trip distances.

The ride and handling of the Himalayan can take you by surprise. While most Enfield riders will not associate their bikes with the word agile, the Himalayan has defined it. Leaning at corners or making tight u-turns on narrow dirt roads seems like a breeze. The bike comes with 90/90 R21 front and 120/90 R17 rear dual purpose tyres that grip the road well and are also decent on other surfaces . The overall design of the front section of the bike aims to reduce weight. The company has even factored in a new light-weight hub in a bid to make this bike as nimble as possible. Rider comfort has been factored in with the bike providing an ergonomical sync between the foot pegs, the handlebar and seat height. So, riders get an upright seating posture and don’t tire easily. The seat height has been set at 800mm with a lower mass balance to ensure your feet are planted to the ground giving you complete control of the bike. I covered almost 200 km in the Himalayas and found the bike to be one of the most comfortable adventure touring motorcycles currently on offer in the country.

The braking setup is progressive and is facilitated by a 300mm disc in the front and a 240mm disc in the rear. The front disc has been borrowed from another Enfield motorcycle but has been fine-tuned for the Himalayan. The brakes are well suited for off-road conditions, but while on tarmac, having the option of an anti-lock braking system would have been welcome.

The Himalayan is being offered in two colour schemes: granite and snow. Royal Enfield has also introduced meticulously designed, purpose-built protective riding gear that caters to the long-range tourer travelling to unpredictable places, terrains and climates. I found the gear immensely useful. It protected me from the elements during the road tests, keeping me safe from snow, hail, rain and sub-zero temperatures.

For me the bike marks a new age of engineering for Royal Enfield and has definitely set the standard for off-road capability in its class.  

A Yeti on two wheels? Of course.

ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN

Engine: 411cc, air cooled, single cylinder, carburetor

Torque:  32Nm@4000-4500 rpm

Power: 24.5bhp@6500 rpm

Fuel tank capacity: 15 litres

Price: Rs 1,55,545

(Ex-showroom)

Joshua David Luther is special correspondent, Motown India; www.motownindia.com

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