The Himalayan is designed and built for a culture, a culture that is not western…but it is sold in western countries. Once you wrap your head around that fact you can be a lot more objective.
It’s more of an adventure or overland motorcycle than a dual sport or enduro, designed to live its life mostly on smoother tracks be them paved or dirt.
India with a population of around 1.4 billion and a large percentage of them are motorcycle owners using the Himalayan (mostly) in a totally different way than a western rider would. Take away the Jeremy Clarkson mindset of “P O W E R !!!” and enjoy it for a culturally designed motorcycle that does exactly what it was designed to do.
The bike is designed so it can go down rough tracks with an 8 ½”/ 215mm ground clearance, Indian riders might need this by necessity, western riders want it as a requirement, so it’s there for both.
Chatting with some Indian friends, they said “the Royal Enfield’s are premium bikes here” although most readers from Western countries look at it as a budget bike.
The steel frame and integrated subframe have areas with some integrated additional structure, making it suitable for a family’s main form of transportation, but also for the adventure rider adding a luggage load onto the included rear rack.
The weight, 427lbs/ 194kg, which really isn’t noticeable as it sounds in the specs, it doesn’t feel top-heavy and rides very well, and stops in quick order with the switchable ABS system.
Power is just 24.5hp from the 411cc motor, to me, the sweet spot for the bike was in the 30-55mph/ 50-90kph range be it either paved or dirt backroads, at these speeds the Himalayan is in its element.
My first ride video is embedded below …
Testing it out at a little faster pace, on the freeway in fifth (top) gear at 55mph getting up to the 70mph speed limit was at a glacial pace, so this would need to be taken into account making overtaking maneuvers if it were fully loaded with luggage, make sure to give yourself enough space.
A few nice additions that some riders will like are a center stand to make changing tires, fixing punctures and oiling the chain easier, and a well thought out dash in analog and digital that shows a full array of information – speed, RPM, air temp, clock, gear indicator, digital compass, fuel gauge and a collection of idiot lights
…and a bash plate ….
… and a small tool kit under the seat, that locks in place with a key, to easily access the battery and electronics …
The design of the bike with its boxy look, bright red tank and included racks front and rear does make people take a second look. Ordinarily, I would expect car drivers to make a positive comment at stoplights when they see something a little different than the big V Twins that usually thunder up and down near where I live.
The usual question, if it’s not completely obvious, “what kind of bike is that?” Not necessary here with ‘Royal Enfield’ emblazoned across the front crash bars that wrap around the tank area and make up additional support for the headlight.
As I got this test/ media bike in the middle of AZ heatwave with temperatures not dropping below 115f/ 46c any day the week I had it, the best I got was a smile and a thumbs-up as they sat in their air-conditioned boxes.
I have a large, more random, following of motorcyclists on Instagram, a number are Indians and possibly look at this bike in a different way so great to get their input and help.
I posed a question on Instagram to see what the response would be, and what information riders are looking for, some of it has been covered above, but not all, here are some questions not already answered. This is what they wanted to know:
What are the upgrades/ changes for 2021?
- Switchable ABS.
- Improved rear brake mechanism for increased control and rider feel.
- Updated sidestand based on rider/owner feedback.
- Three new colorways – Rock Red, Gravel Gray and Lake Blue.
How easy can you break it?
It seems to have a solid build and riding it on rough tracks it feels stable…in a week I didn’t manage to break it, but I tried!
What do you think of the range?
As it only has a 15-liter tank, to take it any significant distance I would follow suit what I have seen other riders doing, adding one or two Rotopax to the front crash bars. For most riders its approximate. MPG is in the 70-80 mile range or 250 miles/ 400km, but don’t put 100% trust in that fual gauge, mine shows 3/4 of a tank left after 150+ miles.
I weigh in at around 250lbs/ 113kg in riding gear, I’m guessing the RE eggheads didn’t design it for someone my size; but saying that the stock suspension felt OK and the bike handled well in all the conditions I rode it in, but keep in mind it was just me on the bike, no luggage.
Can you cruise at lows revs w/o stalling and at high revs in the dirt?
Yes, to both.
It looks good, definitely built to a budget, but for the price, $4999, it’s a very good deal.
How does it feel at highway speed for long distances?
Where I live the freeway speed limit is 65mph, most drivers go closer to 80…I couldn’t keep up so not great in the scenario I tested in!
How’s the suspension for long distance ADVing?
Like any bike you’d load up with luggage it needs the suspension to be sprung correctly, it most likely will need a heavier weight rear spring, and the sag adjusted accordingly.
Does it feel as cheap as it costs?
At less than $5000 USD it really is on the lower end of motorcycles for the US market, there are obvious corners cut, but the bike feels very solid, and a lot of thought went in the design for its purpose.
Will it survive long-term off-road abuse?
I’m going to guess and say, no to this, to me it’s more of a street-based bike that is made to look like an adventure bike, occasional off-road jaunts are what it’s for.
Would you take it RTW?
If that is directed just at me, I would say no because it doesn’t match my sort of riding. If the question is changed a little – could ‘someone’ take it RTW the answer is yes. To prove its long-term use in far of climbs just check out ‘itchy boots’ on YouTube and her interview with Baldy her on ADVrider.
Would it be a good bike for a newer rider looking to ride a larger percentage of pavement than dirt?
Yes, it rides and handles well, it doesn’t feel its weight on non-paved tracks, it doesn’t have too much power to get an inexperienced rider into trouble.
Ergonomics for tall riders?
I’m 6’1”/ 1.85m and it feels tight sitting, a mix of sportbike/ MX position right up against the tank when seated, but standing it feels good because the pegs are in a low position, so it feels comfortable, surprisingly I wouldn’t need to add any sort of risers to the handlebars.
Tubeless or tubed wheels?
It has inner tubes.
How about for shorter riders?
I asked a friend who is 5’1”/ 1.55m tall to sit on it, she could touch both feet on the ground, just the tips of her toes…add some luggage weight and there is a possibility of being close to flat-footing it.
Two up for long-distance riding with panniers full of gear?
Just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should. I think it would be really pushing it to its limits, both power output 24.5hp, and GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight with Rider/s, and in this case luggage) The limit that its designed for is 805lbs/ 365kg, remember that the Himalayan weighs 427lbs/ 194kg so that means what’s left for two riders and luggage is maxed out at 378lbs/ 171kg.
The last question is a good one – What would you ‘rtwPaul’ do to make it RTW ready?
To answer this, it really is a way to look at the negatives of the bike and if they can be overcome, and there is a list, not an expensive or extensive one, but a list all the same, and the reasons why. I won’t, add increased power output because it basically is what it is and the Himalayan will never be a Dakar race bike.
• Pegs too small – I ride on the balls of my feet a lot and found the pegs to be narrow and the outer section of the peg only reached the middle of my foot.
• Shifter seems very close, I have size 11 feet and it would need spacing further forward
• Seat – for my size and weight, it is a medieval torture device, just like most stock seats it looks good, but after 20 minutes I was uncomfortable. It positions you in one spot as it’s a staggered seat there is no room to move forwards or backward, a little creative upholstery is required if the aftermarket hasn’t resolved this issue already
• Center stand footpad is in the wrong place – this is minor but it struck me as strange, when you need to put the most pressure on the center stand pad it is not flat under your foot and even in riding boots, I could feel it was wrong. I personally would cut it off, do a little grinding, and position it correctly by rotating it forward and maybe making a little bigger for ease of use.
• Headlight is total junk – No pulling punches on this one, IT IS BAD, it just doesn’t project well, upgrade definitely required
Some of these things could be corrected at the factory easily but not by the rider, they are very minor, but some riders might get frustrated by them.
• Temp gauge (ambient) seems way inaccurate, not sure where the pickup for the reading is but on my test bike at times it was off by 15-25f degrees or more.
• Speedo is off by at least 10%…but is this done for safety?
• Clunky transmission on occasion – sometimes pulling away, and false neutrals on more than a few occasions made me cringe
For more information, the full press release is below …
Royal Enfield, the global leader in the middleweight motorcycle segment, today announced the launch of the 2021 Himalayan with new features adding to the already impressive legacy of the 411cc adventure motorcycle. Since its introduction in 2016, the Himalayan has earned the respect and admiration of discerning motorcyclists and aspiring adventure riders.
Starting September 1, 2020 and running through September 30, 2020 interested consumers will be able to reserve a 2021 Himalayan at www.RoyalEnfieldNA.com. Quantities are limited and are only available through the website. Once reserved, consumers will receive a unique buyer’s code to be presented at participating Royal Enfield dealers within seven days of receipt to confirm the reservation.
The 2021 Himalayan retains the original versatility and durability of the motorcycle, with added features to improve the riding experience. New for 2021 is a switchable antilock braking system (ABS) providing riders with more control when navigating challenging off-road conditions. The new Himalayan also features a revamped rear brake mechanism that improves brake engagement and rider feel for decreased stopping distances. Additional features in response to customer feedback also include an improved side-stand design and hazard light switch in case of road or trail side emergencies.
The new Royal Enfield Himalayan will be available in three new colorways, Lake Blue and Rock Red, and Gravel Gray, adding to the existing portfolio of Snow White, Granite Black and Sleet. The motorcycle comes with a three-year warranty and will be available across all Royal Enfield dealerships in North America starting at $4,999.
“The Himalayan continues to be one of the best-selling units in North America,” said Krishnan Ramaswamy, interim Business Head and President of Royal Enfield Americas. “The affordability, versatility and capability of the Himalayan has established it as a must- have adventure bike and with these updates, it’s better than ever before. Simplicity and a great riding experience are the center of who Royal Enfield is as a brand, and we’re pleased that the Himalayan continues to deliver that experience to riders across the globe. It’s not only an approachable bike for the young and entry level rider but also a good dual-purpose addition to the stable of an experienced biker.”
Himalayan includes a wide variety of Genuine Motorcycle Accessories as well, allowing riders the freedom to customize the Himalayan according to their pursuits. To see the full lineup of accessories and apparel,
The Himalayan, which was launched primarily for the Indian markets, has become one of the best adventure touring motorcycles in its segment globally. It has paved the path for more accessible forms of adventure touring and the new Himalayan will further strengthen this underserved category.
The perfect motorcycle companion for adventure touring and exploration has just gotten even better.