Why the Upcoming Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Could Be The Best Entry-Level ADV (And Why It Just Won't) – TopSpeed

Can the Himalayan 450 do what the 411 couldn’t?
It’s safe to say that Royal Enfield has had a successful time in the United States thus far. The brand reported double its predicted sales last fiscal year and early doubts have proven to be wrong. And that is mainly down to the company’s latest releases in the country like the 650 twins.
But the Himalayan has never been too far behind in the pecking order. It has actually been quite a loved little motorcycle across the globe. And with the new 450cc Himalayan on the horizon, it could very well go on to become the entry-level adventure motorcycle in the market. But holding that possibility hostage are a few doubts and concerns that may gift the motorcycle a rather unpleasant fate.
Related: Everything That’s Good And Bad About The Royal Enfield Himalayan
It has been 5 years since the 411 Himalayan come to the USA. After all these years, the folks at Roal Enfield are still yet to make any significant technological changes to the motorcycle. Yes, a Google Maps-powered tripper navigation has recently been added, but most of the other ‘changes’ have largely been cosmetic.
With the introduction of the newer 450, we are looking at a fully digital TFT display, multiple ride modes and almost certainly, a ride-by-wire setup. This would enable it to compete with the KTMs and the entry-level Kawasaki from toe to toe.
If the truth be told, who would mind a lighter Himalayan? Perhaps, that has been the foremost scrutiny the motorcycle has had to face ever since it was launched. At 439 lbs of curb weight, it is way too heavy for an adventure motorcycle. While there are some hush-hush rumors that the newer Himalayan will be lighter, how much Royal Enfield can shed off remains to be seen.
In comparison, the KTM 390 is around 330 lbs. How Royal Enfield plan to match that, or even come close to is hard to imagine, especially when a bigger, more powerful engine is to be housed. Unless the bike manages to weigh around the 400 lbs mark, it’s too heavy an ADV for us.
It took time, but it is almost certain that we will be finally getting a liquid-cooled engine from Royal Enfield. Not only will it help to keep the engine far cooler than the current generation, but it will also be a far more powerful setup. Thanks to a host of spy shots all the way in India, we could get our eyes on the apparent 450cc single-cylinder mill. It seems to be blacked out on multiple test mules, but it does seem roughly the same size as the current 411 – meaning it shouldn’t be heavier. On the plus, the number estimations are said to be around 40 horses of peak power and 33 lb-ft of torque. This seems like a considerable update in power figures, which should make the Himalayan 450 a more sensible adventure touring option.
Related: The Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Aims To Shake Up The Adventure Bike Segment
There was a big hue and cry about the quality issues on the initial batches of Himalayans back in its home country, India. The company did eventually end up resolving those issues, but it did create a sour taste around their quality standards in the market. Unfortunately for Royal Enfield, the same conception still does prevail.
However, the newer releases by the brand like the Super Meteor and the 650 twins have had a positive turnaround. If the Indian brand can manage to meet the quality standards, there is no denying that it will help in the sales of the bike. If not, this might very well tarnish Enfield’s glowing reputation here in America and will just basically undo all of the work they have put in recent times.
The one thing that the Indian brand has nailed with all its offerings is the pricing. Currently, the Himalayan retails at $5,449 in the country. Its two closest competitors – the KTM 390 Adventure and Versys X 300 retail at $7,399 and $5,899 respectively. Even after the significant upgrades, we expect the Himalayan 450 to come in at around $6,500 which would mean it would still undercut its closest rival, the KTM 390. As for the mini Versys or even the BMW G 310 GS, the bigger Himalayan 450 will just simply not be considered in the same segment anymore.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan does have some pretty good low and mid-range torque. It has, however, always struggled to be fast, topping out at a mere 87 mph mark on the speedo. That means you end up spending more time on the saddle of the bike on the highway to cover the same distance. Not to mention, the engine has always felt stressed in the higher rev range. If Enfield has to make good on Himalayan’s early anticipation, they have to match it with a capable, faster and more powerful bike than the current one. What the rumored 450c engine is capable of, only time will tell…
The one thing that we dearly wish the engineers over at Enfield do not mingle with, is the 21-inch front and 17-inch rear tire setup. It’s just that good. While the CEAT rubber that come with the current model isn't anything to boast about, a change there might be a whole lot more welcome. But when it comes to the rim sizes, very few can complain about it.
Most true-blue adventure motorcycles have the same 21-inch front wheel as that is what helps such motorcycles tackle the most challenging of terrain with ease. We don’t think RE will tamper with the spokes as well, but one thing we are truly hoping for is a switch to the more convenient (and lighter) tubeless setup.
Related: Top 10 Things That Make Us Love Royal Enfield Himalayan
It is quoted that there are well around 150 Royal Enfield dealers in the whole of the country. It is expected that the brand will add to that number by the end of this year. But what has been limited is the aftermarket service of their bikes. What helps their cause is that almost all their offerings are pretty simple at their core and do not require a top of line technicians – you can basically pull the entire bike apart and put it back together with a basic toolkit. But with the introduction of an all-new platform with the Himalayan 450, it is tough to predict how the after sales will be for this motorcycle.
The most crucial of all upgrades in the 450 will be the hardware. Spy shots reveal an upgrade in the suspension setup of the bike with the introduction of upside-down forks from Showa. Expect this and the rear mono-shock to offer adjustability. The same USD setup is seen on the new Super Meteor cruiser and initial impressions are promising.
Add to that a 320 mm front and 300 mm rear disc setup, updated all-LED lights, dual ABS (mostly standard as switchable), traction control and a slipper clutch to improve the ride quality. There are whispers of a new switchgear as well, one that may be borrowed from the Super Meteor too. But remember to take all this with a pinch of salt.
First things first – the Himalayan is a rather easy-going bike to ride. It handles okay and doesn’t ask for much in return. But sadly, it isn’t a hardcore adventure motorcycle as the company claims. Yes, it does have a few attributes that put it to the task like the 21-inch front wheel and the 8.6-inch ground clearance. But its heft and the shortage of power just do not help its cause. This means while it has fantastic ergonomics for the road, it doesn’t have the power for it, and while it has the hardware for off-road, it is too heavy for it.

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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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