Royal Enfield Himalayan: Climb every mountain
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Royal Enfield breaks tradition with the Himalayan
Think of Royal Enfield and images of cafe racers, cruisers and retro street bikes are most likely to flood your mind.
Royal Enfield produced its first motorcycle in 1901 -- and some cynical motorcycle enthusiasts say the bikes haven't changed much since then.
Much like Porsche, Royal Enfield seemed to find a recipe it liked and stuck with it - a classic post-war design with a period correct paint, and a chrome exhaust emerging from a single cylinder engine. But Royal Enfield has broken the mould with the Himalayan.
This LAMS-approved adventure tourer is an all-new model, it's a new design from the ground up with new components all over the bike which is capable of traversing the world's toughest trails.
A half-duplex split cradle frame keeps you centralised on the motorcycle for better feel and handling.
The upright riding position prompted by the frame, 800mm seat height, high handle bars and footpegs makes longer stints aboard comfortable.
The small bubble screen deflects enough airflow around your head at high speeds to keep wind annoyance at bay. The riding position also ensures you can get your leg out easily when the surface gets tricky.
For the first time in Royal Enfield's history, it has a monoshock suspension set-up in the rear for longer wheel travel, and to keep the tyres in contact with the ground.
The 21-inch front tyre provides stable footing over obstacles and enough feedback through the front forks on-road to turn into a corner with confidence, and the 17-inch rear digs in for traction on any terrain.
The Himalayan's instrument cluster sits between an exoskeleton frame behind the handlebars. It's a busy set-up but all the information you need can be read at a glance.
There is an analogue speedo and rev counter with a digital trip meter and gear indicator. However, not so great is the digital compass and temperature gauge, one that read a toasty 24C on a crisp 7am commuter ride.
A high-intensity headlamp on top of the exoskeleton lights up the track ahead on a moonless night, and 220mm of ground clearance should account for any obstacle you miss.
At the heart of the Himalayan is the all-new LS410 engine, a unit with two standout characteristics.
The first is the low-down torque - the 411cc engine delivers 32Nm of torque at 4250rpm from the single cylinder, four-stroke, single overhead cam engine. Perfect for getting off the line in the city, or powering over rocks up hill in the back country.
On the road however, there's never any need to exceed 4500rpm. The torque curve begins at 1000rpm and cradles you all the way to 4000rpm before you shift into another gear and start over again.
When you reach third gear, the single will turn over effortlessly at 60km/h and has no trouble cruising at 100km/h in top gear. In road/trail bike terms, it's just about perfect.
The power delivery is smooth and predictable, making this engine ideal for those new to adventure riding or wanting to return to two wheels.
Second standout is the counter balancer fitted to the crankshaft. For a long-stroke single cylinder engine, vibration is almost non-existent. Sitting at idle, the bike feels composed. The only time I noticed untoward vibration was when rolling off the throttle at highway speed, but that only lasted a few revolutions until the engine gathered itselfagain.
The tank holds 15 litres, providing a range of approximately 450km.
The 300mm front and 240mm rear brake disks do an adequate job of stopping the Himalayan's 191kg mass but I found the suspension gets confused under hard braking on the road.
Mounting points for saddle bags are found on the exoskeleton frame at the front, underneath the seat and the rear cowling.
The newest Royal Enfield enters a highly competitive learner market but offers much more to its riders.
Not so long ago you had to choose between a bike that was fun on the road, or one that was capable on a trail. Now it appears you can have both. The Himalayan is a multi-tasker, handling off-road trail riding just as easily as navigating through a main centre.
Royal Enfield Himalayan
Engine: 411cc single-cylinder
Pro: Legitimate daily rider and weekend explorer
Con: Electronic compass and temperature gauge can't be trusted