Everything That's Good And Bad About The Royal Enfield Himalayan – TopSpeed

The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a great bike, but it comes with its fare share of issues
Adventure bikes are all the rage in motorcycling right now. They are also large, heavy, complicated, and expensive for the most part, which puts them out of the reach of many riders. Because of that, there is a movement towards cheaper and simpler adventure bikes. Royal Enfield has capitalized on that momentum with the Himalayan, which may well be the most affordable and simplest option out there.
But does simple and cheap make it a bad bike? Did Royal Enfield skim on the features and build quality? Or is that perception just plain wrong? The answers, as usual, are complicated. The Himalayan does many things very well but may miss just a few steps along the way.
Updated October 2023: Every new motorcycle has growing pains, and the Himalayan is no different. Royal Enfield has heard many of its riders' criticisms and has endeavored to fix as many of them as possible. But in the meantime, we're keeping track of all the latest updates they have made to this popular and successful budget adventure bike.
The retro movement is in full swing. People are buying retro-styled bikes in ever greater numbers. But the retro style is yet to fully translate to adventure bikes. There are a few models out there that aim for that aesthetic. Moto Guzzi V85TT comes to mind, as well as Triumph's tried and true Scrambler line. Royal Enfield has seemingly embraced the vintage mentality throughout their entire lineup. Because the Himalayan is not retro-styled to be cool. That's just how Royal Enfield builds their bikes! They all have an old-school charm, which has a massive appeal, judging by their sales numbers.
The 411cc, single-cylinder engine somehow manages to push out a meager 24.3 horsepower which isn't going to blow away any cobwebs. You'll hit a brick wall at approximately 70 mph, and you may never get to that speed if you encounter a hill. It doesn't seem to matter what gear you are in or what speed you are doing, twisting the throttle only results in more noise and vibration and very little acceleration. The engine is also fussy, which makes long-distance rides tiring. Although the clutch pull is light, it's not as if the gearbox encourages gear changes, either: clunky and filled with false neutrals.
Related: 10 Best Modern Classic Motorcycles Under 1000cc
The bike serves as an excellent canvas for customization, allowing all kinds of riders to tailor it to their specific needs. The adventure market is flooded with a multitude of aftermarket accessories and modifications, from luggage solutions to suspension upgrades. So, having a bike that allows for any of these customizations is a big plus.
This customization flexibility is crucial for adventure riders, for instance, one can outfit the Himalayan to either be a dedicated off-road beast or a long-distance touring motorcycle with the addition of accessories like pannier racks, crash guards, and more. The Himalayan's modular approach welcomes you to make it uniquely yours, a significant advantage for those seeking a tailored riding experience.
While the Himalayan's weight definitely contributes to its stability on road while cruising, it can also be a drawback in certain situations. Weighing in at 438 pounds when fully fueled, it's among the heaviest motorcycles in its class. This bulk can be intimidating, especially for new or less experienced riders riding a sub 500cc adventure motorcycle. Thus, handling the Himalayan in tight spots or maneuvering on technical trails can be challenging due to its mass, in addition, lifting the bike when it topples in challenging terrain can be a physically demanding task. Especially when we know how many times one is prone to toppling over on an adventure bike.
Its specifications might be on the thin side, but the Himalayan has the ability where it matters. The engine may struggle on the highway, but off-road, the 24-pound-feet of torque and simple engineering will plow you across just about any obstacle, within reason. You may not get there quickly, but you'll get there all the same. It also weighs less than its higher-spec competitors, making the likelihood of dropping it far less daunting. And if you do happen to drop it, well, its rugged finish, engine guards, and low cost won't ding you too badly in the wallet.
LED lights are the must-have item now, making the old halogen lights look dim. But that is precisely what the Himalayan is equipped with, so we advise avoiding traveling at night altogether. That is especially true on the highway, where you must be as visible as possible. There are options to upgrade to a full LED headlight, but considering the low-cost objective of the bike, you may instead want to simply replace the bulb with an LED one.
One of Royal Enfield Himalayan's strengths is its well-thought-out ergonomics, designed with the long-haul adventurer in mind. Its comfortable and upright seating position ensures that riders can spend extended hours in the saddle without discomfort. The wide handlebars offer excellent control and leverage, making it easy to handle in various riding conditions.
The spacious and flat seat is a bonus, as it accommodates both the rider and pillion comfortably – this is especially appreciated on extended trips. Then, you can also opt for the "touring seat" from Royal Enfield as an accessory to further enhance your comfort. The foot pegs too are conveniently positioned for standing when tackling rough terrain.
86 in
33 in
53 in
Seat Height
31.5 in
58 in
Half-Duplex Split Cradle Frame
Front Suspension
Telescopic, 41 mm Forks/ 7.9 in
Rear Suspension
Monoshock with Linkage/ 7.1 in
Front Tire
90/90 – 21”
Rear Tire
120/90 – 17”
Front Brake
300 mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper
Rear Brake
240 mm disc, single-piston floating caliper
Dual Channel, Switchable to Single Channel – Rear Wheel ABS Control Deactivation
Rust is a problem, and a check over of all nuts and bolts every week is recommended to avoid losing parts regularly along the way. If you notice any rust forming, you must immediately get the problem area fixed and repainted with the proper primer and paint. Another spot to worry about is cracks in the frame in early models, although RE claims these problems have been solved. These can easily be welded back to a safe strength if caught early enough. Otherwise, it will need to be stripped down and worked on to make it safe to ride.
You don't want a hugely complex piece of engineering underneath you when you're in the middle of nowhere. You also don't want something that will let you down every five miles. The Royal Enfield Himalayan's engine is simple and rugged. It could be worked on by anyone with even a modicum of mechanical knowledge. Of course, you'd rather not break down anywhere, even in your garage, but it's reassuring to know that, with a few simple tools, you could fix pretty much anything, and on a low budget which makes it even better.
A single disc front and rear might not be unusual in this price category, but brakes on bikes like the KTM 390 Adventure have decent stopping power and a good feel at the lever. The single front 300mm disc and two-piston caliper on the Himalayan are simply not enough, with very little initial bite and nothing in the way of a progressive feel. And let's not even talk about the 240mm disc and single-piston caliper at the rear. It should be marked with a large red flag saying 'for emergencies only' and, even then, probably best forgotten about. Many owners have also complained about the poor performance of the master cylinder, which is an easy swap, but again negates the lower cost reason for buying the Himalayan. The only saving grace is having a dual, switchable ABS system.
The Himalayan is certainly not perfect, but it is already immeasurably better than when it first appeared, and this is extremely important. The longer it is on sale, the more flaws and issues are flagged, and the longer Royal Enfield will keep fixing and improving things. It has its quirks, but if you are open to accepting these, it makes the experience all the more exciting and, if you master those quirks, more rewarding. Why would you not look at the Himalayan if you're not in a hurry and a premium badge is unimportant?
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is built down to a price, and that means not very much in the way of equipment: no upside-down forks, tubeless tires, slipper/assist clutch, digital dash (don't even think about TFT!), riding modes, ride-by-wire throttle, traction control, smartphone pairing, and so on. The latest models do have a very basic turn-by-turn navigation 'screen.' Yet, with all that basic simplicity, the cockpit still looks too busy. Perhaps larger dual clocks would fix the issue. On the plus side, all of that analog tech means an easy fix, and you're good to go!
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is inexpensive – $5,449 versus the KTM 390 Adventure, which will run you $7,399. And, unlike the KTM, it is more affordable to maintain. Service intervals are 6,000 miles for oil and 3,000 for valve clearances. However, given the simplicity, you could do this by the campfire halfway through your trip. It will sip at fuel, and, should you bend something, all you have to do is bend it back into shape: that's the beauty of building a bike out of steel tubing and not cast alloy.
All it took was a part flying off the Himalayan in the official Royal Enfield promo video during its initial release for the internet to immediately start questioning its quality. Not very high marks, at least for earlier Himalayan models, although it does have to be said that Royal Enfield has reacted quickly to recurrent problems to fix them. Overall build quality was very poor at first, so if you buy used (2019, 2020, and 2021 models), bear this in mind. Even with 2022 and 2023 models, the paint and overall finish of metal and plastic parts leave much to be desired. But the cherry on the proverbial bad press cake is the brand-new brake recall. That one is something an owner should definitely reach out to a local Royal Enfield dealership for.
One issue riders had with the early models of the Royal Enfield Himalayan was the lack of ABS braking systems. Thankfully RE listened to its consumers and added it into the newer models starting in 2019, but they also thought outside the box. The engineers understood that the bike would be used for the most part off-road, where ABS might not be the best type of braking system for such a light bike. So, they made it possible for the rider to disable the rear ABS system by simply pushing the ABS button up for five seconds. Piece of cake!
Sources: J.D. Power And Royal Enfield

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Utkarsh has over a decade of experience traveling and documenting his adventures through photographs and films.
He has a YouTube channel where he shows his motorcycle adventures through India. On days when he is not writing about motorcycles, he’s riding one.







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