The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a budget-conscious, small-displacement adventure-touring motorcycle that not only quietly flies under the radar of the bystanders, but the ADV market alike. Still, this slick-styled, built-in-India machine packs a punch of capability that is worthy of attention, and will get you anywhere that you need to go.
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Powered by an air-cooled, 411cc, single-cylinder powerplant worthy of 21.8 hp and 21 pound-feet of torque on our dyno, the Enfield isn’t the most performance-minded motorcycle on the block. Nor is it meant to be. It’s built to get from point A to B, regardless of the terrain in between. In fact, the little Himalayan-that-could recorded a 17.7-second quarter-mile time at 72 mph and only reaches about 85 mph with a downhill tailwind, if you’re lucky. It’s not in a hurry.
But what it lacks in power, it makes up for in a tractor-like rideability and an overall comfortable ride, and is attractive to less-experienced riders. The Himalayan gently accelerates away from traffic signals without drawing unnecessary attention as it shifts through its five-speed gearbox. Settling into highway speeds in top gear, the Royal Enfield hums along around 5,500 rpm with only minor vibration felt through the controls. That said, extra roll-on power and a sixth gear would be welcomed to keep up with the high pace of California, and also increasing its ability to accelerate out of dangerous situations.
Its well-balanced, agile handling is a highlight too. Easy turn-in and confidence-inspiring feel from its equipped Pirelli MT 60 tires allow the Himalayan to rip backcountry corners and tear freeway on-ramps—dragging footpegs only occasionally. The nonadjustable suspension helps here, providing a good mixture of big-hit damping support and small-bump compliance for maximum comfort. Kudos, Royal Enfield.
If there are any major complaints about the Himalayan, it comes in the form of the motorcycle’s braking capabilities. The single 300mm disc and two-piston caliper up front struggle to bring the motorcycle to a halt, even from its unintimidating speed. At our proving grounds, the Himalayan stopped from 60 to 0 in 175 feet. For reference, that’s roughly 26 percent longer than the rough 130-foot average of motorcycles tested. This causes concern in unexpected or quick stops, and forces a recalibration of required braking distances by the rider. The Himalayan comes standard with ABS, but the system rarely intervenes.
On the open road, the Himalayan is a couch-like ride. The reach to the one-piece, motocross-style handlebar is relatively short, yet slightly high in a seated position, but offers plenty of leverage while standing—signaling Royal Enfield’s off-road intent. Likewise, the narrow seat and plenty of legroom provide comfort, while the non-adjustable windscreen creates a smooth pocket of air for the rider to settle into.
Perched behind the handlebar is a well-positioned dashboard that encompasses vital information. A large speedometer flanks the left side, while an analog tachometer (yes!), fuel gauge and compass are positioned to the rider’s right. The compass is a neat feature that would be welcomed on all ADV machines, but always seems to be slightly improperly calibrated by a few degrees in either direction.
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Regardless of a few complaints, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is a low-cost adventure motorcycle that deserves big attention. How much exactly? The Himalayan is priced at a relatively low $4,749. The cost savings of this Enfield will result in extra gas money for big miles on this small-bore machine. Win, win.
|Engine:||411cc air-cooled single-cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke:||78.0 x 86.0mm|
|Transmission/Final Drive:||5-speed/ chain|
|Measured Horsepower:||21.8 hp @ 6,260 rpm|
|Measured Torque:||21.0 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm|
|Engine Management/Ignition:||Aluminum composite bridge|
|Frame:||Half-duplex split cradle frame|
|Front Suspension:||41mm telescopic fork, non adjustable; 7.9-in. travel|
|Rear Suspension:||Monoshock, non adjustable; 7.1-in. travel|
|Front Brake:||Single two-piston caliper, 300mm disc|
|Rear Brake:||Single piston caliper, 240mm disc|
|Tires, Front/Rear:||Pirelli MT 60 90/90-21 / 120/90-17|
|Seat Height:||31.9 in.|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.0 gal.|
|Claimed / Cycle World Measured Wet Weight:||498 lb. (base model)|