Averaging about 80,000 units every month, Royal Enfield is no longer a maker of niche motorcycles. Its streamlining of the product line up has further made it easier for the buyer to choose exactly what they want. But no RE-made product has its intent as clearly laid out as that of the Himalayan. The latest iteration, priced at ₹2.69 lakh onwards, aims to be the Royal Enfield that takes you anywhere your heart wishes to go. And if that happens to be a mountain range in the extreme north of the country with a familiar name, well, you are in for a treat.
Its job is to take over from the first-generation Himalayan, which was launched in the middle of last decade. A year later, in 2017, little did anyone know, Royal Enfield had already begun working on the new one. This long stint of R&D has resulted in a product that’s bound to take motorcycling to new heights. And one doesn’t need to be too tall to climb aboard, with a height-adjustable seat being standard fitment. Its new 452 cc oversquare engine — very fittingly called Sherpa 450 — makes 39.47 bhp and 4.07 kgm of peak torque. Good enough to scale the Himalayas, it’s going to be equally potent elsewhere too. Considering we were told that rarified air up in the mountains would effectively mean 30 per cent less power than say at sea level, it’d be interesting to see the Himalayan take on the more mundane commutes back home.
Because in the Himalayas, it straight up shines, emanating the kind of brilliance that you’d expect from a world-class bike. The previous-generation motorcycle, although in no way a bad product, didn’t do much for me. This one, though, is different. And objectively, too, considering it has not a lot in common with the old one. A similar overall design perhaps; the name, yes; an air of confidence around it, absolutely.
On the tarmac, it feels pretty much at home pootling along at 60 km/h in fifth — or even at times in sixth. The tractability comes as a surprise, especially since this isn’t a conventional long-stroke engine that Royal Enfields come with. The balance it offers is quite surprising on the flowing mountain tarmac, because that’s not the Himalayan territory one would think. But as it turns out, it pretty much is. Off the road, it continues to display its immense potential, like the older bike but quite differently. On narrow, rocky paths, it would ride effortlessly at about 40 km/h, almost cosseting the one aboard, without losing composure. Its longer wheelbase adds to the stability and the narrow chassis means one doesn’t struggle to hold the motorcycle between the legs.
A mix of roads and driving conditions, impeccable vistas, and tackling all that is a motorcycle which unashamedly shows that it belongs here. It can definitely do with better tyres, though. And while not one to talk about connectivity features, especially on a motorcycle that has so many other things to write about and enjoy, I must say that although it is a brilliant idea to have navigation directions displayed on the TFT screen, it would benefit if RE had the provision to route Internet direction with the help of an e-SIM rather than depending on the phone.
Maybe that’s not as relevant here, because, for the most part, the Himalayan does what it says on the tin. Its sweet spot lies somewhere around the 70 km/h mark, especially for the suspension. The engine, on the other hand, is equipped to handle a keener twist of the wrist — especially beyond 4,000 rpm. Having said that a ride like this is more of a display of the Himalayan’s capabilities and less of a test — it shows what the motorcycle can do — but how brilliantly would it do everyday stuff is something I’d come to in the near future.
It’s shown how versatile it is as a modern motorcycle, but at the same time, it’s unlike anything else that Royal Enfield sells at the moment. Its positioning hasn’t ever been clearer and despite the market having been populated, in comparison to when the first-generation Himalayan was brought out, dethroning this will be a tall order.
© Motoring World