A question posed at the technical briefing by Royal Enfield was whether the Himalayan has been tested extensively on city roads. Pat came the reply from the Himalayan project lead saying, of course, it has been tested on city roads but putting those pictures or videos just wouldn't look good for an adventure tourer. Yeah, the folks at Royal Enfield clearly believe that the Himalayan is purpose built for an adventure and nothing else.
(Riding the Royal Enfield Himalayan around Shimla)
The weather gods around the hills of Shimla did conspire well to make our test ride quite a tough yet memorable one. The morning sun gave way quickly for rain, snow, icy winds but the Himalayan didn't look too unnerved by it all. From the looks of it, the Himalayan gets a simple, unintimidating design that can be a bit misleading. Once you sit in the saddle, you realise the bike is quite rugged and well built despite its lean looks weighing just over 180 kilos. Adding to the ruggedness is how good the grips and the switchgear feel along with an easy to read instrument cluster that even includes a compass.
Also Read: Royal Enfield Himalayan Launched; Prices Start at ₹ 1.55 Lakh
(Good power lower in the rev range on the Royal Enfield Himalayan)
We found the front windscreen quite effective in our ride through the heavy winds/rains and the thigh grips on the uniquely designed fuel tank aided the comfort. We do wish the large front headlamp got a DRL like the circular one on the Thunderbird although the taillamps do get LED treatment. The low seat height ensures both feet can be planted only on the ground easily and the seat itself provides good comfort although it looks slim. Built as an adventure tourer, the Himalayan allows for extra luggage to be mounted with ease.
Our 140 kilometre route around the hills of Shimla was a mix of smooth yet slippery tarmac, dirt roads and some off-road terrain. No real open roads to open up the all new 411 cc engine completely but a test of how smooth and capable it is in the hilly sections. Start the engine and the carbureted motor puts out a relatively strong exhaust note with the occasional 'thump' to hear (RE fans won't be disappointed). The low-end torque is impressive and handy as you navigate dirt roads at low speeds or climb sharp steep ascents.
Given the harsh weather and road conditions, the handling on the Himalayan was going to be crucial. The new chassis allows for good balance and stability and the 21 inch front and 17 inch rear tyres added to the confidence both on and off-road. We did find the front disc brakes quite progressive and quite handy in the hilly road descents. Also impressive is the telescopic front and rear monoshock tackling the dirt and off-road terrain with ease, enjoying itself really.
(Royal Enfield Himalayan - India's First Adventure Tourer)
Now who according to Royal Enfield is the target customers for the Himalayan? These are bikers who want to progress from 100cc/150 cc motorcycles to a motorcycle that will suit their long distance riding needs without being unintimidating.. So expect pricing to very attractive on the Himalayan when the bike is official launched on March 16. Having experienced the motorcycle in extreme conditions, we can easily say the Himalayan is a solid adventure tourer that's built not to dominate the Himalayas but be comfortable in its surroundings.