Clifton Shipway—who runs a school for underprivileged kids in Banbasa in Uttarakhand, and also holds curated motorcycle tours in the mountains—swears by the Royal Enfield Himalayan. “I’ve ridden it over 50,000 km, and it possibly is the best motorcycle in its segment in the world,” he says.
To verify his claim, I took the new Himalayan (launched last month) on a rather grueling ride—from Delhi to Gangotri and back, covering a total distance of more than 1,200 km over just three days.
Instead of writing about its design and specifications and so on, let me write where the Himalayan impressed me, and in which all areas it needs improvement.
Its 411cc engine (24.3bhp, 32Nm) is just right for a motorcycle this size and weight (199 kg). It isn’t too heavy, and isn’t too underpowered, even though it isn’t really fast either. The initial acceleration (0-60 km/h) is effortless, but slow and gradual. However, it’s the 40-100 km/h acceleration, even in fourth gear, where the Himalayan appears to come in its element, be it a straight highway or a winding uphill road.
It’s a tall motorcycle, so straddling it may not be a cup of tea for everybody. But once on it and riding, it’s like a toy—handling the Himalayan is a piece of cake, for anybody, of any height and weight.
The seat on the new model appears more firm—more like a touring seat (I actually rode non-stop for about 300 km without getting tired). The new windscreen design appears to help keep the wind off the rider.
For this long ride I secured my bag with bungee ropes on the rear seat. Unlike the Interceptor 650, on the Himalayan there are enough points to secure the bungee hooks. The new rear carrier—it comes with an additional plate that makes it easier to secure luggage—ensures you can place longer bags on the rear seat (in case you are riding alone). Also, the rear carrier’s height has been marginally reduced, making it easier to mount the motorcycle.
On this entire ride (mostly constant 80 km/h in the plains and 60 km/h in the hills), the Himalayan returned me an overall fuel economy of 42 km/litre. In fully urban stop-and-go traffic, this may reduce.
The new Himalayan gets the much-needed navigation app (Tripper), but during twilight or low-light conditions, the bright white light of the trip computer as well as of the Tripper tends to dazzle the rider’s eyes; I couldn’t find a way to reduce the intensity of that light (the Night Mode either automatically switches on, or you have to use the Royal Enfield app). In fact, in pitch dark conditions, at times it appears so bright that it can be dangerous riding the Himalayan. Probably the Himalayan’s trip meter needs a light-intensity button. Also, the Royal Enfield app eat the phone battery too fast (that’s the same for the Meteor).
Overall, even though the Himalayan comes across as a machine that one can take to the Himalayas or to the corner grocery store with equal ease, there are a couple of things that can be improved on this motorcycle—beginning with the light intensity of the trip meter.
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