Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 First Ride Review: Ready for a new adventure – HT Auto

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Legacies can be a powerful tool. It helps keep you grounded and in touch with your roots. For Royal Enfield, its legacy has always been as powerful as the brand itself, something the manufacturer has capitalised on time and again. But back in 2016, Royal Enfield took a bold step of reinventing the wheel for itself. The Himalayan marked the brand’s new approach to motorcycling. An adventure tourer that’s made in India and accessible too, this was a first.
Not as retro as RE’s 350/500 motorcycle, nor as modern as a Japanese cruiser, the Royal Enfield Himalayan was meant for exploration – literally and metaphorically. It’s safe to say that the ADV was quick to find its audience. Now, seven years later, RE has a new legacy to build. The Himalayan is craving for an update and that’s exactly what the brand has done. It’s reimagined the Himalayan into something all-new. It still holds the same utility but this all-new machine gets enhanced capabilities. Can the new Himalayan live up to expectations and exceed some? We rode the bike for over 300 km in its birthplace – the Himalayas – to find out.
Also Read : New Royal Enfield Himalayan prices to be announced on November 24, bookings open

Watch: Royal Enfield Himalayan review: Adventure icon with brand new fashion

New Royal Enfield Himalayan – What’s changed

Out with the old, in with the new, the new Himalayan 450 is all set to replace the Himalayan 411 with a new platform. The design is evolutionary but Royal Enfield says that no part has been carried over from the older model. The motorcycle is built from the ground up and is brand new in every sense. The styling is instantly recognisable and you do feel this iteration has been to the gym in the mountains. Measuring 2,245 mm in length, 852 mm in width and 1,316 mm in height, the new Himalayan, it’s now 55 mm longer and 12 mm wider, but 54 mm shorter than its predecessor. The wheelbase has grown as well at 1,510 mm.
While the proportions have improved, so has the road presence on the new Himalayan. It’s visually much larger, especially with the industrial design replaced by a fancier bulbous fuel tank and slim exhaust. The lines inspired by Dakar motorcycles aren’t hard to miss either and it begs you to question if the brand has any plans to enter the world’s toughest rally. Wishful thinking? Perhaps.
The adventure tourer gets an LED headlamp with a DRL, while the fuel tank guards have been repurposed to hold soft luggage panniers instead of jerry cans. Not to fret because the bike now packs a larger 17-litre fuel tank. The blacked-out, liquid-cooled engine stands out with the exposed twin-spar frame with new railings around the tail section.
The new Himalayan also gets redesigned brake lights with the indicators incorporating the brake lamp as well. A centre taillight has been skipped entirely to make the tail section more off-road friendly, which could be removed if you wish to compete in some off-road competitions. North America will be the only market that will get a centre brake lamp on the new Himalayan, owing to regulation requirements.

New Royal Enfield Himalayan Ergonomics – Comfier than before

The ergonomics have changed on the new Himalayan to make it comfier over long riders. The big change we see is the wider fuel tank that now incorporates the airbox. The inlet is also placed higher allowing for a much better water wading capacity on the motorcycle. The fuel tank itself has moved down allowing for better weight displacement and lower centre of gravity. Compared to the older Himalayan, the new ADV gets far more contoured seating with individual seats for the rider and pillion. The slim section between the fuel tank and the rider’s seat lets you grip the fuel tank more easily, while shorter riders can tip-toe more confidently too.
This writer is 6’2″ in height and the stock seat height of 825 mm worked rather well for me. It can be further increased to 845 mm, while RE will sell you a short 805 mm seat as an accessory too. While the overall seat height has increased over the older Himalayan’s 800 mm, it’s far more manageable this time. The handlebar has also been revised and is slightly closer to the rider. The centre footpegs work rather well and standing on them for a longer period is convenient. Compared to the last Himalayan, the seat is longer and you have more room to find the right posture. While the new Himalayan has lost about 3 kg, it’s still heavy at 196 kg, most of which it felt when you’re trying to park or manoeuvre at slow speeds.
The build quality has seen a notable upgrade. The shut lines and paint finish have significantly improved, while the welds are also neatly done. There’s still room for improvement, especially with quality checks. Our test bike on this shoot had a black rear wheel instead of a gold-finished one, a small yet noteworthy oversight.

New Royal Enfield Himalayan – New Tech

The big update is the new tech on the Himalayan 450. The motorcycle now gets a 4-inch TFT digital console, a first for the brand, and this in-house developed unit incorporates a host of features including multiple display layouts, music functionality, turn-by-turn navigation powered by Google Maps, and call and SMS alerts, all of which can be controlled via the Royal Enfield mobile app. Do note that you cast the maps on the digital display using your phone, so a larger data pack would certainly be handy. The Himalayan 450 now comes with Ride-by-Wire, another first for RE, bringing two riding modes – Eco and Performance – while you can also switch off the rear ABS module when going off-road.
The dedicated ‘Mode’ and ‘Home’ buttons on the right and left handlebars respectively make the screen convenient to use. There’s a new joystick as well on the left stock that makes it easy to navigate across the screen. However, we wish it felt more tactile. The anti-glare glass on the TFT screen is certainly helpful and makes it easy to read under bright sunlight. Considering the screen acts as a casting device, it is possible to bring OTA updates in the future. RE is also working to incorporate offline maps, so you can literally take the road less travelled without having to worry about bandwidth issues.

New Royal Enfield Himalayan – Performance

The new Himalayan is based on the newly developed twin-spar frame with a rear subframe and the engine as a stressed member. This is the new Sherpa 450 single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine, a first for RE. You get a forged piston and overall lighter components, along with a high compression ratio of 11.5:1, which brings better cooling and more power. The motor churns out 39.4 bhp at 8,000 rpm and 40 Nm of peak torque at 5,500 rpm. Compared to the older model, that’s a substantial jump of 15 bhp and 8 Nm. The motor is now paired with a 6-speed gearbox and also gets a slip-and-assist clutch.
The one constant complaint we had on the older Himalayan was the lack of power and RE addresses this in the best way possible. The new motor is unlike RE’s traditional engines. It’s quick, immediately responsive and eager to perform. At the lower altitudes, the new Himalayan was in its elements climbing up to triple-digit speeds in no time. There’s a nice rumble from the exhaust that keeps you company once power builds up after 3,000 rpm, right up to 8,750 rpm. Mid-range performance is excellent and there’s little to falter on the bike’s touring ability.

New Royal Enfield Himalayan – Off-road friendly?

The new suspension is highly impressive and a massive upgrade with 43 mm Showa forks at the front and a horizontally-mounted, 7-step adjustable monoshock at the rear. The current setup does flawlessly well for the most part. On the off-road sections, the bike is sublime. We traversed boulders, rocks, and some very bad gravel patches, and the bike seldom lost its composure.
For novice riders, which seems to be RE’s target audience, the 450 makes you feel more confident than you should be with the bike doing most of the work for you. The front is extremely pliant and lets you go flat out letting you stand on the pegs and look as further as possible. We were doing about 70-75 kmph on the gravel sections and the bike remained calm with 200 mm of travel at either end (20 mm more at the rear over the older model) absorbing all undulations.

New Royal Enfield Himalayan – Handling & Braking

This Royal Enfield likes to pounce. It’s more agile than nimble with a 45 mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor. While that improves stability, it does marginally cost handling. The suspension setup, despite the long travel, does not feel spongy and is rather well-balanced. The bike feels composed if not too aggressive around a corner and managing the weight gets rather easy. A slightly lower kerb weight would’ve made it more nimble and far more entertaining to ride as well.
The ride quality is impressive on the tarmac and most undulations do not make it to the rider with the cushioned seat. Braking performance is progressively good but the front brake lever doesn’t have the sharpest in bite. The progressive braking comes in handy on the off-road sections to keep you confident. However, under panic braking, it takes a while before the bike comes to a halt. The rear brake though locks rather quickly than we would’ve liked even with the ABS on.
The Ceat tyres co-developed with Royal Enfield do a decent job on the motorcycle. India will get the tubed tyres first with the tubeless tyres a few months away from launch due to homologation-related delays.

New Royal Enfield Himalayan – Verdict

I’ll admit, I’m very impressed with the new Himalayan more than I thought I would be. I like that it takes the character, ethos and utility from the older model and marries it well with the contemporary parts of the new bike. This bike will appeal to all kinds of riders, whether a newbie wanting to go off-road or an experienced individual looking for just the essentials on a no-frills adventure motorcycle.
The new Himalayan 450 marks the start of a new platform that will spawn more motorcycles in the future. We also know now that the adventure tourer isn’t restricted to an ICE engine but an electrified version is also in the works. It now boils down to the pricing that will decide if this is indeed accessible. The current motorcycle is priced between 2.15 lakh and 2.28 lakh (ex-showroom), and the new version is expected to receive a substantial hike, given the extensive upgrades. With three variants on offer – Base, Pass and Summit, we expect an attractive starting price on the Himalayan 450 to keep things accessible. Go on, take a test ride, it might just urge you to explore something new in you. And that’s the Himalayan’s new legacy.
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