TALKING ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN WITH SHAWN DSOUZAPosted On: May 20, 2016 By : AutoLife Team
The Royal Enfield Tour of Nepal 2016 team was recently in the capital as a part of their annual tour of Nepal. The RE Tour of Nepal is an adventurous motorcycle ride for Royal Enfield owners which originates in Lucknow, India and crosses the border into Nepal. Apart from the usual participation of Classics and Thunderbirds, the convoy this time had two brand new Royal Enfield Himalayans too. Thanks to the good folks at Sacred Summits Pvt. Ltd, we were lucky enough to see the Royal Enfield Himalayan in flesh in a meet and greet with Shawn DSouza who was heading the Tour of Nepal 2016 ride.
Tell us more about yourself and how you got into biking and touring.
SD: I come from Mangalore (Karnataka), South India and I started touring since when I got my first Enfield. My first big trip was to Goa for the Rider Mania and I have been in the brotherhood ever since. I even work in Royal Enfield India. Currently I am working towards the Royal Enfield tour of Nepal 2016. It’s been fabulous till now.
Is this your first time in Nepal?
SD: Yes this is my first time. I came here two weeks ago to check and manage things for the Royal Enfield Tour of Nepal 2016. There is an abundance and a variety of roads here in Nepal, it’s splendid. When we came from Bhairawa to Pokhara we came across every type of road there is from straight highways to twists and corners. It was a lot of fun. The next 3-4 days we spent travelling in off roads up to Muktinath, Jomsom was amazing. It’s a sort of road challenge that even Ladakh had not been able to offer us.Tell us about the Himalayan and how it has performed?
SD: The bikes that we are riding are the first Himalayans to see the roads of Nepal. You can bank a lot more on the Himalayan than your older Enfields. The performance is better, the engine is more refined and it’s relatively more comfortable. The suspension travel has increased more than double and that is heaven on rough roads. The Himalayan was in its element on the road from Tatopani to Kalopani that stretched to Muktinath. The path has very sharp inclines with a lot of rocks and stones along the way. It’s a challenge to get there on any bike.
There were people having spills on other bikes, and we encountered a few too but it didn’t take long to get back up and rolling. It gave space for a lot of error, the 21 inch tire in the front can get through anything and you will rarely feel the hit on the handle bar; it is soft and nice. It is forgiving and you don’t have to be the best rider in the world to tackle challenging terrain.
This is a purpose built bike. It is not only for highways or off roads, it will take you anywhere. The design has a lot of thought put into it. Unlike most motorcycles built to tackle off road paths, this handles really well on the tarmac too. Be it water crossings, gravel or stone paths, the Himalayan will munch through pretty much anything.
The air intake has been put just below the seat level so you can take it to the same water level. It feels light even in the city and it feels amazing to ride it. It might look intimidating and hard to handle but it isn’t.
What according to you is the best part of the bike?
SD: Clearly it is the suspension; it’s just heaven. I have eight bikes from different manufacturers at home but I have never sat on a bike this comfortable. None of the suspensions of any of the bikes I own compare to it. The suspension travel is 180 mm and the front is 200 mm and that is massive. The damping effect is very nice; if you have a long travel suspension the bikes keep bouncing but this one does not do that. Despite the high ground clearance, it is at home in the corners. If you want to sling it through the dirt get it to a corner really fast put your leg out and then just gun it. It just inspires confidence. The suspension and the way the bike is flawless.
Do you think the Himalayan can be a game changer in the off road scene?
SD: Yes, both in the Indian and Nepalese Market. Every touring enthusiast has been eagerly awaiting this bike for ages. People are apprehensive about riding heavy bikes. And if it falls, things might break; if that happens you will be shelling out a minimum of Rs. 50-Rs. 60 k and waiting 3 months for the parts to arrive. But this is a bare naked model and it is built to be tough. The bike won’t put you down; either financially or mechanically. That’s the best part of this motorcycle.
How has the overall reception been for the motorcycle in Nepal?
SD: The reception has been wonderfully positive. To be honest, I did not think that so many people would recognize the motorcycle. Every time we stopped for a tea-break or anything we did not have to introduce the bike, almost everyone recognized it and I was overwhelmed with that. It seemed like people were waiting for this motorcycle since ages! It is fantastic! I think it will sell like hotcakes after the launch. I think it will be better accepted in Nepal than in India because the daily commute roads are pretty much off road terrain.