It was the year 2016 when Royal Enfield launched a very distinctive-looking motorcycle, something that was a complete departure from the company’s style of motorcycles. After riding on the success of Classics and Bullets for decades, Royal Enfield introduced adventure riding to its fans for the first time and there has been no looking back since. The Himalayan could be given substantial credit for popularising adventure riding in India. ADVs had been limited to big bike manufacturers which were not affordable for many but the Himalayan was the most affordable ADV in the country for some years.
Fast forward to the year 2021 and the Himalayan now has even more to show for itself than it did in its first generation.
In its MY2021 version, the Himalayan remains identical to the motorcycle we rode over a year ago when it was launched with BS-VI compliance. However, it now features Royal Enfield’s Tripper navigation and improved ergonomics as well.
What all is new?
The 2021 model looks largely the same as the previous one, however, the very subtle changes that have been made do lend it a more premium appeal. Since the instrument cluster was updated to accommodate a screen for the Tripper, the windshield design has been tweaked as well.
It now also has a smoked tint which looks better and does not hinder the view ahead. Plus, the metal rack up front has been redesigned so as to better accommodate taller riders. Over at the rear, the new luggage rack does appear to boast a stronger build. Moreover, the new colour options lend it a more premium look.
The highlight of the several changes on board, of course, is the addition of the Tripper. We first saw and tested the system on the new Royal Enfield Meteor 350. Connecting to a smartphone via Bluetooth is very simple through the Royal Enfield app and the turn-by-turn directions are rather accurate.
The only niggle with the system is that it does not reconnect on its own if you do happen to switch off the ignition and on again, say if you’ve stopped at a traffic signal. The connection has to be re-established manually and that means you must stop somewhere to do so.
Same ol’ Himalayan
Under the new paint job and the added convenience lies the same motorcycle that was launched with the BS-VI compliant engine. So, it is the same 411cc single-cylinder engine that makes about 24 hp and 32 Nm of torque. The motorcycle still promises comfortable cruising speeds of about 90 km/h as even though it is a long-stroke architecture, Royal Enfield have managed to keep vibrations in check.
It will deliver a top speed in excess of 120 km/h, however, vibrations become noticeable beyond 6,000 rpm. It is the mid-range of the rev band which is the strongest, the lower end, say at about 2,000 rpm does not get a lot of punch which could bother some but then, this is also the reason why the Himalayan is so accessible to even new riders.
Engine – 411cc Single Cylinder, 4-stroke, air-cooled, SOHC
Power – 24.3 bhp at 6,500 rpm
Torque – 32 Nm at 4,000-4,500 rpm
Ground clearance – 220 mm
Seat height – 800 mm
Kerb weight – 199 kg
Fuel tank capacity – 15 litres
Tyres – 90/90 -21″ (F)
120/90 – 17″ (R)
Brakes – 300 mm disc, two-piston calliper (F)
240 mm disc, single-piston floating calliper (R)
Dual-channel ABS (switchable)
Suspension – 41 mm Telescopic forks, 200 mm travel (F)
Monoshock with linkage, 180 mm wheel travel (R)
Half-duplex split cradle frame
Price – Rs 2.01 lakh (ex-showroom)
The chassis definitely makes riding and handling the Himalayan easy through city traffic or during off-roading. Plus, the seat height is 800 mm which is one of the lowest for an ADV in India and makes the bike more accessible to more riders.
It is the ease and comfort it delivers for long distances and especially if those distances include bad roads or even no roads. Sitting or standing on the footpegs, the suspension is set up quite right on this bike. Braking, however, still feels a bit squidgy, although the rear brake has been improved over the BS-IV version.
After a day-long outing on and off the road, the Himalayan did develop a few noises that we’ve heard before on the previous version as well. But as someone who is not a champion with off-roading, all I have to say is that the Himalayan makes taking on off-road easy.
Subtle tweaks do make a difference
While the motorcycle is largely the same, Royal Enfield has improved upon comfort with a better seat and convenience as well since it now has onboard navigation. It looks a bit more premium, more on the lines of the Interceptor 650, and is still one of the most comfortable two-wheeled machines on sale today.
The price tag now may not be under the Rs 2 lakh mark anymore but even so, the Himalayan continues to be the second-most affordable ADV in India and considering how much it offers, it remains a great value-for-money package.
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