The first update for the star that is the Royal Enfield Himalayan includes ABS, EFI and Pirelli tyres. We test the bike with three types of riders. Here's our combined review... Words: Jeff Photography: Heather
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is one of the most popular RE models. It’s a robust, versatile bike for the daily rider, learner, adventure seeker or enthusiast. The addition of EFI and ABS lift the Himalayan up a level, while it remains low on price. Here’s our Himalayan review.
We first tested the Himalayan back in 2017 when it was released here with a media launch mid April. Three years later, the bike has had it’s first update, with six new colours, Pirelli tyres, Bosch ABS and EFI to bring the bike up to Euro4 specification. It has gained around 9kg thanks to the changes, but no extra power or torque, however that weight is barely felt and the updates are welcome.
At the moment you can snare a deal on the Himalayan, with the Explorer Kit for an extra $990. There are also other genuine accessories available for the bike, so customising your own Himalayan is an option now but limited to only a few things that you can see here.
I rode this bike for two weeks and was fairly impressed with it. First of all, that long-stroke single is surprisingly torquey and with the long, tall gears, the Himalayan gets along well. It’s also smooth for a single and the gearbox and final drive ratios are well suited to get the maximum out of the motor.
The Himalayan is powered by the Royal Enfield LS 410 engine, which is 411cc and produces just 24hp@6500rpm and 32Nm@4000rpm. It has a five-speed wide-ratio gearbox, is a SOHC oil/air-cooled unit and aside from the EFI, is about as basic as they come for an engine.
Chassis-wise the Himalayan has a half-duplex split-cradle steel frame running 41mm conventional forks and a linkage type monoshock rear end. The brakes are basic, with a single 300mm rotor at the front with a two-piston ByBre caliper and a 240mm rotor and single-piston caliper at the back. Wheels are 36-spoke steel items, a 21in at the front and a 17in rear, while the tyres are Pirelli MT-60. All-up the bike weighs in at a claimed 191kg ready to roll…
The Himalayan is a cramped ride for me. Sitting on the bike, my knees touch the crash bars and my legs are excessively flexed due to the seat-to-footpeg distance. It’s a tight rider triangle for a taller (187cm) rider. This shocked me somewhat, as the bike is dubbed an ‘Adventure Tourer’ by RE, however, touring for me would be out of the question. We are all different shapes and sizes, however, so what doesn’t work for me might be spot-on for you. My brother, Nick, is taller than me and loved the riding position, so there you go… Phil is shorter at 175cm and found it perfect.
The ‘bars are tall and not too wide, just right. The screen tall enough and the dash well positioned. The tank is narrow, as is the seat, which incidentally feels rock hard, while the side covers bulge out and prevent me from sitting on the bike properly as they press against my legs. Standing on the bike, this is further exaggerated. The side covers need to be redesigned to allow a better ride position.
Firing the bike up, I notice it is a little hard to get it going from dead cold, as the carby version was. There is a choke/fast idle lever but this has little effect. I let the bike idle for a good few minutes before it will accept throttle. Once warm, I head off for a day of testing, with some tarmac and off-road planned including highway, country road, single-track and dirt trail and only one fuel stop required!
Heading through town to run some errands and grab a coffee, I soon realise just how nice this 410 motor is. It’s punching well above on-paper spec, with a nice broad spread of torque and an engaging nature, particularly between 4000 and 5000rpm. The clutch action is light and smooth, fuelling not too bad at all, the gearbox is smooth and the bike is easy to handle around town.
Commuting would be no problem on the bike, with a decent view through the mirrors, easy switchgear and a clear enough dash. The horn is pretty loud, too, as most Royal Enfield horns are!
I head up to the hills for some cornering fun. This is where I’m truly surprised by the Himalayan. This thing is a blast! The MT-60 tyres are great on the tarmac, with surprisingly good feel and feedback for their odd sizes and tread design. The bike loves corner speed and commitment.
Forget the hard braking, the brakes are just adequate anyway but have just the right amount of power and initial bite for the tyres. Cornering the Himalayan is a matter of rolling into turns with a fast entry speed and once the initial turn-in is done, a point where the Himalayan does feel a bit resistant, the bike falls on its side from lean-in to full lean fairly abruptly, yet predictably, then is sits on its side like it is on rails and tracks through the turn, bumps or no bumps… ‘Peg clearance is respectable too.
The engine can be revved but there is little point revving it high. I find 4000 to 5000rpm the most rewarding and progressive. Long, tall, gears mean lazy gear changing is fine. Overall, a rewarding experience in the twisties for what the bike is… take your time, enjoy the ride.
On the open highway, sitting on 110km/h, the Himalayan doesn’t do it easy, but with only 24-ponies that is to be expected. I found the bike was not always willing or able to pull fifth gear up the hilly sections of motorway but at times dropping back to fourth caused the bike to rev beyond the meaty range.
Comfort on the highway is an issue for me. The seat is rock hard and agony after just an hour… add in the cramped position and I find myself unable to do more than one-hour stints on the bike. Protection from the screen is not too bad, vibes a little irritating at times. All-up though, I’d stick to less open roads and shorter trips on the Himalayan, although I’d be keen to try the Touring seat option and play around with the ergonomics a bit. For me, the bike is more a commuter with a weekend adventure advantage than an outright tourer. A great little robust daily rider with good carrying capacity…
Off-road riding on the Himalayan is a positive experience when riding within the limits of the bike. After the fun on the tarmac I turn left off the road and head bush. The run is a long one, around 38km off road to the historic town of St Albans and back, so 80km of dirt. I don’t touch tyre pressures. I just head off into the hills to see how the bike handles going straight from tarmac to dirt.
The Himalayan is smooth and easy on the flowing dirt road but on standard road pressures the MT-60 tyres are not finding grip at all and a few monumental slides have me pulling up and dropping the pressures by 10psi each end. This makes a big difference but I’m still not confident in the front tyre.
The suspension is soaking up most of the irregularities. The front is particularly good, while at the back, 180mm of travel is still fairly limiting and bigger bumps bottom the back-end out with a whack. Stability is good though and the engine is tractable and enjoyable.
I head off the road and take on fire trails and a bit of single track for a few hours of play time. This is where the Himalayan is great, the single-cylinder engine thumping along and tooling around the tracks in first and second gear has the bike in its element.
It’s amazing where the Himalayan will go, as I’m on tracks I normally take on a real dirt bike. The advantage also is, due to the size of the bike, there are plenty of places I get into that I could never get to on a full sized Adventure bike. It’s also easy to pick the Himalayan up off the ground.
Arriving at St Albans, I take a shady spot under a tree and eat my packed lunch and have a cold drink. I’ve done the route plenty of times but that run was relaxed and enjoyable, as really there is no choice on a bike with 24hp. What I appreciate the most about the bike is the engine firstly and the 21in front wheel secondly. I’m not all tired, as I would be on a faster bike, and I’m ready to enjoy the same run back to the tarmac and the 40km ride home through the countryside after that.
At this price point, I can see why the Himalayan is so popular. It’s a very basic bike, which is the charm of it. It doesn’t do anything particularly strongly but it also doesn’t do anything badly. The Himalayan is a true all-rounder that will suit the rider who is learning adventure riding or exploring off-road and needs a capable road bike for daily duties. It won’t suit experienced riders, not with such a low power figure, unless the rider is after a bike to just putt around on in no particular rush…
As for finish and quality, looking over the bike, it isn’t as well finished as my 650 Interceptor, so I would expect some ageing after a year or so depending on how you treat the bike. And the headlight is really weak. But nothing went wrong while we had it and three of us put the bike through a hard time. It’s a tough little rig… that’s for sure.
Second Opinion – Phil Gollan, age 68, riding 50-years
As an older rider I was looking for a bike that could be put in a trailer and towed behind a motorhome on an around Australia adventure. I wanted a bike that could tackle almost any terrain short of the real rough stuff… I’ve been riding for 50-years, road and off road including racing VMX but I am just after a basic bike to take on our travels with us, and the Himalayan looks the goods on paper and price.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan suits the job, although the suspension could be a little better. The seat height for me at 175cm tall and not real long in the legs is just right. I can put both feet flat on the ground. The switchgear, footpegs and seat are all very comfortable and well positioned.
On forest roads the motor has enough power and torque for enjoyable sight seeing and on twisty tarmac roads the bike handles surprisingly well.
I enjoyed my time on the Royal Enfield Himalayan and at about $7690 ride away brand new it seems like just the bike for an older person like me to have a lot of fun on! – Phil
Second Opinion – Nick Ware, age 23, riding 11-years
Jeff handed the Himalayan over pre COVID-19, so I put it to good use commuting to Uni for a while, plus did a few good off-road trips on the bike, which I really enjoyed.
A mixture of relatively cheap fun, comfort, wicked styling and pure simplicity makes the Himalayan a perfect choice for those looking to dip their toes into the dual-sport adventure scene. While no-one really expected a strong competitor in the dual-sport alley, Royal Enfield have provided what seems to be a solid piece of basic fun machinery for a fraction of the price of other competitors.
Starting with the design and styling, there’s certainly nothing to complain about. The Himalayan is a very cool looking bike. We were lucky enough to get a hold of the black. Enfield did a nice job of bringing the bike back to its bare essentials. The badges are tidy, the Himalayan emblems are subtle yet nicely done while the cargo/protective bars wrapping the bike just gave off a real barebones, aggressive yet analogue feel.
The bike looks like it is ready to tackle the dirt, mud and trails. You aren’t worried about a scratch or scuff. If anything, a few marks would only add to the barebones character. It wants to hit the dirt and it’s asking to be thrashed!
The 411cc air-cooled engine is a little disappointing on the road. For such a large motor it has a surprising lack of power. Torque-wise, there is certainly enough to get by on the trails but out on the open road I was really hoping for a bit more. The air-cooled motor is a little worrying for me on the slower trails but I didn’t experience any overheating issues even on the hottest of days.
Being a five-speed box also, there isn’t much to say about cruising speeds. Up above 110km/h it really feels like the engine is giving absolutely everything it has, it’s loud too! Exhaust-wise, I was stoked. The bike sounds mean, especially on the slower trails. A low note that feels like you are on a big 450 enduro machine.
First gear is very low and obviously set for the slowest of obstacles encountered on those really tight trails. It comes in handy, especially with the torquey motor. It doesn’t quite have that tractor feeling through the mud and bog but it is very close. Second is a little further away from first and I personally would have liked a slightly closer set. Riding the trails in second is a little more difficult than I would have liked, needing some clutch work. Third through to fifth is as expected. Keeping on the gas you can keep the bike rolling pretty well despite the measly 24hp.
The suspension set-up is obviously tailored further towards the beginner adventure market. It works really well for me being a heavier rider at around 95kg. On the road, it still feels fairly nimble and agile. It really surprised me with the overwhelming feeling of stability and safety. It is nice to have that feeling, especially on the dirt. Hitting a couple of the trails a little faster I did manage to bottom it out a few more times than I was hoping for, but I may have pushed it a little further and harder than Royal Enfield had designed or planned for.
In terms of stopping power, the front brakes really don’t cut it for me. The bike is heavy and I am too. It just isn’t enough for the faster dirt riding. The rear, however, has a nice feel and works nicely chucking it in on the dirt. The ABS is effective and really went insane when I rode hard on the dirt, it would be good to have the option to disable it for off road use. On the road, the ABS is a fantastic asset.
Knowing you can chuck it over and head off onto the dirt tracks just gives a nice sense of freedom. While it’s not the most capable off-roader, nor the fastest on the road, it’s a nice in-between for someone looking for something outside the norm of dual-sports. I’ve heard many argue that you can grab a used DRZ or WR for the same price…
But what if you just want the smell and feel of a new bike and a more road-going commuter/tourer? What if you just want a bike that looks wicked, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and has the capacity to let you enjoy the dirt and tar. If that sounds like you, I think the Himalayan will suit your needs nicely. I had a ball on it…
Overall, a simplistic bike – not aiming to crash the market, not aiming to destroy all others in its path. It’s for the rider looking for fun – plain and simple. The bike puts a smile on your face – Nick Ware.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan
Price: $7,490 On-Road
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometre, 24/7 roadside assist
Colours: Rock Red, Lake Blue, Gravel Grey, Granite, Snow, Sleet
Claimed power: 18kW[24hp]@6500rpm
Claimed torque: 32Nm@4000rpm
Wet weight: 191kg
Fuel capacity: 15L
Engine: ‘LS 410’ 411cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke, SOHC, EFI
Gearbox: Five-speed, constant mesh
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Chassis: Half-duplex split cradle frame
Suspension: 41mm telescopic forks, 200mm travel, monoshock with linkage, 180mm travel
Brakes: Single front 300mm rotor, two-piston caliper, single 240mm rear rotor, single-piston caliper, ABS standard.
Wheels & Tyres: Steel rims, 36 spoke wheels, Pirelli MT-60 tyres, 90/90 – 21in, 120/90 – 17in
Seat height: 800mm
Overall height: 1360mm
Overall width: 840mm
Overall length: 2190mm
Instruments: Analogue speedo/tachometer, digital display and compass
2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan
The 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan will get you to work, get you to the shops, take you on a blast through the tarmac twisties and on a bush exploration. It’s a true workhorse that has all bases covered. But how good is it for longer trips or touring? Here’s our review…