Dust is being kicked up in the worldwide motorcycle industry as Royal Enfield continues to make noise with its adventure motorcycle, the Himalayan. This new model will ride onto the worldwide stage next week as Royal Enfield most likely launches it’s Himalayan for European markets at the 2016 EICMA motorcycle show, taking place in Milan, Italy November 10th through 13th.
In March 2016 Clutch and Chrome reported Royal Enfield has kept an eye on bringing the Himalayan to the United States, hoping an interested public would encourage this move sooner than later. Selling the Himalayan in European markets could be considered a first step to bringing it ‘across the pond’.
There are a few reasons why this relatively new motorcycle is starting to turn the heads of bikers who live outside of India, and a quick look at how it came about explains some of those. For those unfamiliar with Royal Enfield, Clutch and Chrome covers its rich 115 year history and the interesting ride the company has taken this year expanding its dealership network in the United States in our article ‘How Royal Enfield Plans To Rule The Motorcycle World’.
Quite frankly, to understand what the company builds is to appreciate the change of gear Royal Enfield has made with its Himalayan.
While Royal Enfield has continued to modernize and develop its legendary line of motorcycles with iconic names of Bullet, Thunderbird and Continental GT, the new adventure motorcycle is the first to be designed from the ground up by the manufacturer in its modern form.
For this first, Royal Enfield built a motorcycle that could be ridden through the most desolate regions of India, was powered by a new engine and in a stroke of marketing genius, invoked grand images. Using the Himalayan mountain range as a backdrop, Royal Enfield chose not only one of the last untamed regions on Earth but also an area known to riders in India. Bringing together 60 years of Himalayan riding experiences in a completely ground-up design, and powered by a new LS 410 engine, the Royal Enfield Himalayan promises ‘a purer and more accessible motorcycle’ for adventure touring in India.
‘In fact, it’s extremely capable off-road capabilities make it adept for riding though potholed urban jungles as it does for treacherous mountain trails,’ Royal Enfield stated in its press release in February 2016.
As far as selling the Himalayan worldwide, if a motorcycle boasts it can cross one of the world’s most famous and brutal mountain ranges, many riders will consider their local roads and imagined road trips easily conquered.
"You had me at Himalayas," is what Royal Enfield wants to hear from adventure riders.
Built on a rugged duplex split cradle frame designed and developed by Harris Performance, the Himalayan is stable and agile in equal parts. A strong mono shock rear suspension with linkage allows for longer travel and delivers a smoother ride experience regardless of terrain. The Himalayan’s nearly nine inch ground clearance ensures it clears obstacles such as those found in its namesake region. An optimal wheel size combination allows for better control while riding over rocks and ruts.
As mentioned, the Himalayan is powered by a completely new and evolved overhead camshaft engine platform that forms the base for its new long stroke LS 410 engine. The 411 cc engine produces 24.5 BHP (18.02 KW) @ 6500 RPM and 32 Nm of torque @ 4000 - 4500 RPM. Featuring a 5-speed transmission the powerhouse enjoys a counter-balancer which has effectively removed almost all the vibrations. This makes for smooth riding in higher gears at lower speeds, making it easy to climb hills, or to maneuver through traffic. It also delivers enough power to comfortably ride America’s roads to their highest legal speeds without vibrations.
Modern design and materials of the engine translate to increased efficiency and low maintenance, with the engine can go 10,000 kilometers, 6,200 miles, between oil changes.
Luggage mounting points for hard panniers, soft luggage and jerry cans are integral to the motorcycle‘s design, allowing to the Himalayan’s capacity to increase to the needs of the adventure. A simple instrument cluster keeps track of speed, direction, ambient temperature, travel time, service intervals and multiple trip distances. Dual purpose tires, a lower mass-balance and ergonomic design between the foot pegs, handlebar and seat promise a comfortable and accessible ride.
At the time of writing, the Himalayan is only available in India where Royal Enfield and its factories are located. With the country being one of the larger motorcycle populations, it could hardly be considered a soft or limited release. This year saw the motorcycle ride a rough trail of public opinion with Royal Enfield issuing a ‘proactive service update’ in June to rectify issues based on customer feedback.
Resolving concerns around high engine noise, the rocker unit in the engine, a hard gearshift as well as the Himalayan’s main stand coming in contact with the motorcycle’s chain, it could be said the model was tested and tweaked by Indian riders. Aside from the fact India doesn’t have an equivalent of the automotive recall system seen in the United States with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), India refused to call the service update a recall.
The trail taken to these updates doesn't seem to have dampened the enthusiasm of reviewers opinions of the Himalayan. Being called a ‘simple, affordable adventure tourer’ and ‘easily the most purposeful looking motorcycle to ever come out of India’ the enduro offering from Royal Enfield appears to ride nicely into two popular and growing segments, adventure motorcycles and affordable fun.
For those that may’ve missed the latest eye-popping trend, the number of riders who want to leave the asphalt behind for unpaved adventures is growing. But riders drawn to this style of motorcycle face what could be considered a notable entrance fee. Offering plenty of bells, whistles and technology many adventure motorcycles are priced accordingly, leaving new owners with a powerful and in some cases, intimidating entry to the rough roads of off-road.
Taking advantage of the other popular trend, affordable motorcycles, Royal Enfield throws the figures of $4,000 to $5,000 as the price point for its own adventure model, making the Himalayan’s simplicity an attractive feature in both cost as well as usability. Most important to many, it also makes the off-road dreams of city-bound riders achievable.
With the appearance at the 2016 EICMA motorcycle show not an official roll-out for the European market at this point, how soon the Himalayan will ride stateside is speculation at best. Certainly Royal Enfield will need to add some features expected by American riders, whether wanting rugged journeys or not with Electronic Fuel Ignition (EFI) being the most obvious. But the company has continued to enjoy successful sales with its next motorcycle goal firmly being the United States market, leading to the assumption of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the Himalayan roars across the American back roads.