Early this year, we were able to get our hands on a dirt-loving adventure bike from one of India’s largest motorcycle manufacturers, the Royal Enfield Himalayan. Over the course of a few months, we were able to clock in a few thousand kilometers on the bike through a variety of terrain: commuting along with hellish city traffic, traversing the wide and open highways, getting dirty on mountain trails, and a whole lot more.
Over this time, we’ve realized that there is much to be said about the Royal Enfield Himalayan. Does it make a good highway bike? Is it easy to commute through Metro Manila traffic? Will it make a good off-road adventurer? If you’re curious to find out our answers to these questions, you might want to stick around. Let’s take a dive into what it’s like owning this fun-loving adventure bike that was built for no roads.
To start off, the Royal Enfield Himalayan packs great value for the price. Everything your hands touch – the handlebar and grips, handlebar switches, ignition switch, and gas tank cap feel very solid and do without any unnecessary play. The headlight, turn signals, and tail light are all very functional, and are bright enough for most conditions, with the exception of a pitch-black environment without streetlights. Then again, it could be argued that most motorcycles would need accessory lights for such environments anyway.
The bike’s fit and finish are admittedly rough around the edges, but not to a fault. While the meticulous rider may find certain imperfections from the overall design, these details contribute to the bike’s rough adventurer aesthetic, ready to be used and abused on any given terrain. The same can be said about this thumper’s engine vibrations. The sizable bar-end weights aid greatly in reducing the vibrations through the bars, however, vibrations can definitely be felt on the handlebar and pegs when going around the town or cruising down the highway. Riders in search of the robotic smoothness of an inline-four or a properly tuned two-cylinder may find these vibrations annoying, and yet we’ve somehow fallen in love with the riding experience created by the vibrations. It makes the rider feel as though you’re chugging along with a bonafide large displacement dual-sport, which it certainly is.
The Himalayan falls nowhere short when it comes to the ergonomics package. The low-slung seat, relaxed footpeg positions, and elevated handlebars all provide a very relaxed and upright seating position for long hours on the road. There is also adequate space for a pillion rider, allowing for comfortable journeys with a companion. On top of this, the rider’s footpegs have rubber inserts that can be removed in just a few minutes, and the seat is fairly comfortable for a few good hours on the road. The handlebar position is high enough to be usable for off-roading which may require standing up, though taller riders may feel a little more comfortable with handlebar risers.
The Himalayan under our care journeyed through a variety of on-road conditions. For a few weeks, the bike served as a daily rider from Quezon City to Bonifacio Global City through the hellish rush hour traffic of C5 and EDSA. Needless to say, it took a bit of effort to muscle the bike around at the start, but after a few days on the road, it was almost as easy to take around as a dual-sport. The wide handlebars and the 191 kg of metal under the body make tight lane filtering a bit of a challenge, however, the narrow design of the body, easy clutch operation, and the gentle throttle response allowed for smooth sailing through the sea of cars.
On the highway, the Himalayan can happily cruise along. The bike’s 411cc engine displacement means the Himalayan is fully legal for highway cruises around Metro Manila. It also produces 24.5 horsepower and 32 nm of torque and sends power to the ground through a 5-speed manual transmission. That being said, the Himalayan is happiest on the highway at around 90 km/h, with enough power to execute much-needed overtakes. At over 100 km/h, the Himalayan cruises at around 5,000 rpm, and struggles to produce enough power to maintain three-digit speeds. On top of this, the bike sends quite a bit of vibration through the handlebar and footpegs at faster speeds, which can be tiring over long stretches of highway. However, if you’re not looking to blast through the highways and are happy to cruise within the bike’s design limits, highway rides will be nothing short of enjoyable.
On provincial roads, the Himalayan shines the brightest. The plush suspension feel, 21-inch front wheel, and adequate amount of power creates a pleasant riding experience through provincial highways and roads. While the Himalayan’s power figures may not sound like much to some, usable power kicks in at around 2,500 rpm and makes overtaking a piece of cake for the Himalayan on these types of roads. The suspension and wheel size lets the bike chug along comfortably through pothole-ridden city roads. On top of all that, the Himalayan establishes a strong presence with its scale and takes the attention of pedestrians and motorists which has admittedly saved us from a few unwanted scenarios along these roads.
Built for no roads, the Himalayan is a natural when it comes to off-road terrain, and is definitely happiest on double-track trails and fire roads. The 21-inch front wheel, wire-spoked rims, and 8.6 in of ground clearance means that riders can take the Himalayan through a variety of terrain. 7.9 inches of suspension travel from the forks, and 7.1 inches of travel from the rear link suspension means that the Himalayan will happily charge at any obstacle on the trail, and will easily handle light jumps too.
Over the past few months, we’ve taken our Himalayan through bumpy and rocky trails, steep and technical inclines, soft and muddy terrain, and single-track trails– and the Himalayan took it all like a champ. The combination of the ergonomics and off-road features made this adventurer an easy and enjoyable bike to take off the beaten path. We would not recommend taking the Himalayan through tight and technical paths built for trail bikes, as the bike’s size and weight may be a challenge to manage through trail bike territory. On most other light trails and fire roads though, the Himalayan can eat up dirt like a champ.
Through slow and technical terrain, the bike keeps itself upright thanks to the gyroscopic forces created by the large wheels and the low center of gravity. On faster sections and steep inclines, the adequate amount of torque allowed for stable and reliable power delivery which helped us get through trail sections steadily and safely. We were honestly surprised to see just how capable this bike was off-road, and the aftertaste of a joyful weekend on the trail had us craving for another ride out with the Himalayan.
Maintenance and Service
The Himalayan is a relatively easy motorcycle to maintain. The bare-bones nature of the bike means there are fewer parts to break and maintain. After traversing through a multitude of roads and trails, and racking up a few thousand kilometers on the odometer, we were impressed to find that the only maintenance tasks we needed were the regular oil changes and a chain slack adjustment once or twice. On top of this, maintenance was relatively inexpensive for a big highway-legal bike, and this makes it easy to justify taking the Himalayan out for another adventure tour.
At the end of this journey, we have nothing but praises for the Royal Enfield Himalayan. Starting at just P299,000, the Himalayan packs a serious punch for the price and makes a strong case for the rider looking for a true adventure bike experience. The Himalayan is up for any job, whether it’s commuting through the city, touring the highways, or blasting through mountain trails. The bike’s weight, power, and ergonomics also make it a very enjoyable motorcycle for new and experienced riders alike. The Royal Enfield Himalayan was truly built to do it all, road or no road. If you’re looking for a true adventure bike experience on a bike that can stand the test of time and abuse, it would honestly be difficult to recommend a better bike at this price.