The Himalayan was the beginning of Royal Enfield stepping off its usual motorcycle designs and into purpose-built ones and I suppose it is safe to say that they got it right pretty much in their very first attempt. Sure, the first-generation Himalayan had its troubles concerning reliability and quality but then, Royal Enfield listened to its customers pointing out issues and resolved most of them with the introduction of the fuel-injected BS-IV version.
But even so, while long-distance riders were happy, those that indulge in serious off-roading weren’t – for the Himalayan still couldn’t lock its rear wheel. Now though, the BS-VI version is here and yes, you can switch the ABS off for the rear wheel. I rode the Himalayan for a few days and to be honest, we couldn’t take it out on, for example, a jungle trail. But I’ll try to answer the only pressing question on our minds – is this the best Himalayan yet? Well, of course, it is. But how?
I’ve always thought that the Himalayan has a strong personality and it reflects Royal Enfield’s ethos of a minimalistic design approach which all its older models have had. The BS-VI model now has a splash of colour if you pick the Rock Red or the one with some Blue in it but I still prefer the solid colours it previously had (and still has).
One of the two big changes is that the engine has been updated to the upcoming BS-VI emissions standards. The 411cc SOHC fuel-injected single-cylinder engine powers it but now puts out 24.3 bhp at 6500 rpm which is down by about 0.2 hp which doesn’t really qualify to be termed as a power cut. Torque remains the same as before – 32 Nm at 4000-4500 rpm.
The Himalayan has had some complaints about the engine vibrations and while past 3,000 rpm, everything does get jiggly in the rearview mirror. However, the vibrations are now slightly controlled and up till 80-100 km/h, the engine does not feel like it’s under a lot of stress although it does now feel like it has to work harder to get to those speeds. And it’s only when you redline it at about 6,500 rpm and attempt to do the top speed of about 120-125 km/h, it gets rather vibey.
The Himalayan is one of the most comfortable saddles I’ve had the chance to spend time on for long hours. While the long-travel suspension feels boat-ish during city rides, no complaints there whatsoever because as the road gets rough or disappears altogether, the Himalayan takes all the beating without transferring much of the undulations to the rider. This is, of course, assisted by a comfortable riding stance with neutrally placed footpegs and a raised handlebar.
Royal Enfield say that the brakes have been worked upon and it does show. The bite on the rear disc has certainly improved. Although, the overall braking experience feels a bit spongy as it did on the previous-gen Himalayan. This is perhaps an offset that comes from the fact that the new Himalayan is about 5 kg heavier but even so, braking is rather apt for a 200 kg motorcycle.
BS-VI Royal Enfield Himalayan specifications:
Engine – 411cc single-cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC, air-cooled, fuel injection
Power – 24.3 bhp at 6500 rpm
Torque – 32 Nm at 4000-4500 rpm
Front suspension – 41mm Telescopic forks, 200mm travel
Rear suspension – Monoshock, 180mm wheel travel
Ground clearance – 220mm
Seat height – 800mm
Kerb weight – 199 kg
Fuel capacity – 15 litres
Brakes front – 300mm disc
Brakes rear – 240mm disc
Dual-channel ABS (switchable)
Price – Rs 1.86 lakh (ex-showroom)
The ABS can now be switched off at the rear – giving you more control and making your ride safer off the road. But all that really depends on whether you know what you’re doing if you decide to switch it off.
So, because of this, the instrument cluster has had a bit of an update to accommodate the button for the switch. But otherwise is identical to the previous version. Another little trinket that was missing before – a switch for hazard lamps – now finds a place on the right side of the handlebar. Another change I’ve heard good things about is that the side-stand is now shorter and sturdier for them parkings on rough terrain (which the Himalayan tends to see a lot).
This is only a ctrl+R for the Himalayan but the changes do make the bike better in some ways. Even for shelling out about Rs 6,000 more for the BS-VI model, the Himalayan still remains a brilliant value-for-money proposition.
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