-Jeypore Bike Riders
It would not be an exaggeration to say that, in the recent past, the Himalayan has been the most awaited motorcycle launch. It has been talked and written about even before it hit the production line. A bit of credit goes to Royal Enfield also, which has done a terrific job of creating a buzz around the Himalayan.
But there are genuine reasons behind this entire buzz. The adventure motorcycling enthusiasts have been asking for purpose built motorcycle for years now. Internationally, this segment of adventure motorcyles has grown tremendously. Almost every major two wheeler manufacturer either has or is working on an Adventure Motorcycle model. This segment has been dominated by the 1000 / 1200 CC Big, Heavy, Powerful and Technology assisted bikes for people who want to travel the world.
But lately, there has been a demand for a smaller, light weight and a simple bike, without compromising on its capabilities. Himalayan would be the first one to fit these criteria pretty well and that has the International market also excited.
As per Siddarth Lal, MD & CEO of Eicher Motorcycles, the idea was to build a specific motorcycle to travel through the Himalayas, thus the name ‘Himalayan’. A motorcycle which would take you across the treacherous terrain not by overpowering it but going with the flow. A motorcycle so simple by design that it could be repaired by the roadside mechanic even in the remotest places. A motorcycle which would feel at home whether you are cruising for hours or crossing a violent water crossing.
But it has not been a rosy ride for the Himalayan if the sales figures are considered. The initial owners have reported a series of problems which has got the prospective buyer worried. Tappet Noise, Hard Clutch and sticky gears have forced Royal Enfield to call for a ‘Proactive Service Update’ a fancy name for a recall.
Himalayan not might be the fastest on the road, not the most powerful, not the nimblest on the sand, not the most technically advanced, not the prettiest of them all. But what it is, is ‘Average’ in all the traits.
Looks: Well it is not the prettiest bike to look at and from some angels it even looks ugly. But, it definitely is a head turner. When it passes by, you are curious to follow through. Its imposing when you see it parked, straightaway your attention is drawn to the functionality and the purpose. Function over Form seems to be the mantra for the Himalayan. The closest that comes to it in terms of looks is probably a purpose built military vehicle. It is the same ‘No Nonsense’ attitude that Himalayan carries.
Ride: On the road it is calm and serene. The windscreen deflects all the wind away from you making your ride stress and noise free. There is no wind drag, no vibrations, no unnecessary clattering sounds. I have previously owned a RE Classic 500, and even after a dozen of modifications (which essentially were on the Himalayan lines) the ride quality was no where close to that of the Himalayan. The front 21 inch tyre, a sturdy suspension means that the potholes and speedbreakers don’t reach you and you sit comfortably while it does the hard work for you.
Handling: It is one of the strong points of Himalayan. Low saddle height and high handlebars ensure that you are in control all the time. The ‘hard pack’ terrain, the rocky kind of which you mostly find in the mountains is absolutely no problem for Himalayan. It always feels in control even to an extent that it tempts you to go fast. But the real surprise was in the loose sand where it performed beyond expectations. The conditions we tested were probably the worst to be on the sand, peak summers meant there was no moisture to bind the sand and it was too loose.
On loose sand, you need a bike which is light enough to sail through the sand. At around 182 kgs, Himalayan is not light, but it manages to get you through without letting you sweat you too much.
Power: Agreed, it is not the most powerful bikes around. It is not the kind which will try to throw you off the saddle the moment you let go the throttle. My Classic 500 and the Duke 390 are much more fun than Himalayan. But it gets the job done, that’s what matters. It was able to cruise at 110kmph with ease on the highway and I felt more comfortable on it than my modified Classic 500 or Duke 390. On sand where even walking was a task it managed to get it out itself whenever stuck. A few more bhps would have made the bike a tad more fun but even now it is not under powered, it will get you through.
In all, it is a great value for money package. One of the best bikes that you can buy for touring you can buy currently in India. It is the most refined Royal Enfield but still lagging as per the normal and accepted industry standards. Deep down it is still an Enfield more than an Adventure Tourer. But rather than buying a ‘True Adventurer’ for atleast 12 Lacs currently, I would buy a Himalayan and invest the rest of the money in traveling across the country.