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ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN: ADVENTURE AWAITS

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The Royal Enfield is to motorcycles what Rolling Stones is to Rock and Roll, at least in our part of the world. A legendary pioneer that has successfully captured the attention and obsession of generations, there are few other motorcycle monikers that hold a heritage as highly regarded as that of Royal Enfield. Through the years, over 11 decades, Royal Enfield has been riding on its retro-cool image to find its place in the hearts of many motorcyclists in Nepal. The iconic rumble, which mortified some of the less enthusiastic segment, became the sought after noise you wanted emanating from your motorcycle engine. Its image was overshadowed by one of its models and the brand became synonymous with the Bullet name.

Royal Enfield, however, does not cater to the average motorcycle rider. It is unapologetically uninterested in the commuter market segment and RE’s buyers are people who don’t care for things like mileage. It became a signature of the outliers, the passionate ones who ride for leisure and passion.

What goes without saying though, is the fact that Royal Enfield had stuck to what it was good at, which was manufacturing motorcycles that harked back to the retro styling of the yesteryears. And it worked splendidly; apart from the aesthetic appeal RE owners travelled on their machines. The Thunderbird took it a step further, establishing itself as a kilometer muncher. The Continental GT set itself on the tracks of the café racers.

Royal Enfields became a popular choice for those who reveled in the thrills of chasing the horizon. Although it was more comfortable on the tarmac, it didn’t fear tackling roads less travelled. But their lineup of motorcycles didn’t particularly cater to the ones who refused to stop when the tarmac did, until they came out with the Himalayan, their first adventure motorcycle.

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With the Himalayan, Royal Enfield will be getting the attention of newer markets; markets that include people who crave to quench their wanderlust but cannot afford the technically superior adventure bikes that are made for the job. Well, that is what they claim and we put it to the test.

STYLING

The Royal Enfield Himalayan has broken away from its comfort zone in the retro-cool aesthetics. And it looks like they’ve looked to the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max for inspiration. The raw minimalistic approach helps to portray the Himalayan’s no nonsense attitude by finding a balance between decked out adventure motorcycles and bare essential dual sports.

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Function outweighs modern styling but it works well. The saddle is low and its stance suggests its readiness to tackle the dirt. A large tank with a supporting frame, simple round headlight, tall windscreen and beak reflect its adventure motorcycling pedigree. There aren’t many plastic fairings and the Himalayan bares its heart to the world.

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It runs on grippy dual purpose tyres, 21-inch up front and 17-inch in the rear. A simple exhaust fits in well with the rest of the design. The instrument console has analog dials for the fuel gauge, RPM meter and the same type displays the speed. There is also a digital gear indicator, two tripmeters, average speed display, side-stand indicator, clock, temperature gauge and a compass. The LED tail light sits under a large metal grab rail that also doubles up as a mount for a tail bag. The Himalayan does well to give you space to clip on fuel and water jerry cans, or even extra front-mounted panniers, all of which enhance its touring bike appeal.

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

We had a lot of expectations from the Himalayan, and they did their part to rile us up with their promotions. The Himalayan promises the best of both worlds, highway cruising capabilities and the prowess to tackle off road terrain. That sets the bar high, but it was purpose built for exactly that.

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The Himalayan has an all-new, air-cooled, carbureted 410cc single-cylinder UCE engine, an all-new frame, and shares no parts with Royal Enfields that have come before it. It produces a claimed 24.5 hp at 6,500 rpm and 32 Nm. of peak torque at 4,500 rpm. Power is sent through a five-speed transmission. What this translates to is a smooth running engine that delivers linear power through the rev ranges. This made highway cruising a walk in the park.

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The Himalayan is no doubt one of the best handling Royal Enfields, but it might not provide any surge of adrenaline resorting instead to a steady trickle of excitement after every rev. There is a calm subtlety with an underlying prowess that presents itself only when you really need it and open up the throttle lavishly. It is a heavy machine but most of that weight is carried low in the frame, so maneuverability is nimble.

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Because it has a short saddle height it is easily accessible to the average Nepalese population. It has a relaxed seating position with your hands at a neutral level. The footpegs are only slightly rearset which allows you to grip the frame when you are seated. We wouldn’t say it’s timid, but it is definitely reserved for the majority of the time.

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It does cheer up when you release it onto broken roads. The 41mm front forks (offering 200mm travel) up front in conjunction with the monoshock make for a plush ride; and the motorcycle is built to handle anything that comes its way. Once you come across significant offroad patches and where you want to be is standing up on the peg.

VERDICT

Swinging a foot over a mighty motorized beast and heading out on a borderless wanderlust across countries and varying roads is the dream, but it isn’t achievable for many. Adventure bikes have exemplified this dream and we can’t even count the how many times we’ve thought about dropping it all and setting out into the world on an adventure motorcycle that we can’t afford.

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The Royal Enfield Himalayan is the answer to the unattainable and complex adventure motorcycles. It is the only purpose built adventure motorcycle that is available in the market and it ticks the boxes in many aspects. It isn’t afraid to conquer terrains that you wouldn’t attempt on a simple commuter. It isn’t overly aggressive and in the words of Siddhartha Lal, MD and CEO of Royal Enfield it is “purposeful, but not extreme”. But it is a workhorse. It has a whopping 10,000km oil change interval and can be fixed and maintained in the most remote areas or if you have a adequate mechanical knowledge. For the ones who are looking to hit the horizon on two wheels without emptying their bank accounts, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN EXCLUSIVE LOOK & REVIEW 

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