Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 review: A new mountain G.O.A.T – The Financial Express

Born in the Himalayas for the Himalayas and that’s why the name ‘Himalayan’. When Royal Enfield first introduced the Himalayan back in 2016, the company itself might not have imagined such grand success for its first adventure tourer. A bike which could have been a revolution of sorts in our country and yet it somehow felt half baked. 
Over the years, plenty of updates had to be made to the Himalayan to make it more livable for the riders. Despite having plenty of niggles throughout its lifespan, the OG Himalayan became a cult and an instant favourite for adventure seekers. Now in 2023, RE has stepped up its game by introducing this all-new Himalayan, claiming to be a better version of its predecessor. Is it really though? And in what ways? Let us find out in this detailed first ride review.
Whenever one thinks of the Himalayan, it inevitably makes them think of a robust, utilitarian, and ‘go anywhere’ motorcycle. The new Himalayan 450 retains all of these elements and adds a hint of sophistication to it, making it feel and look much more modern than it ever used to. Enfield is calling this an all-new bike and there’s a good reason for that. Essentially every component down to the last nut and bolt in this bike is completely new.
Multiple small changes have made a significant impact to the design of this new Himalayan. Starting with this new fuel tank which is more rounded and muscular than before, lending it a beefy stance. Also, the front gets a new beak and an LED headlight from Enfield’s 650 lineup. Rear fender is shorter and it gets a new stubbier exhaust muffler. Other visual changes include redesigned side panels, new split seats with different contouring and shape, and a new reshaped rear luggage rack.
Gone is the old 411cc, air/oil-cooled engine and in comes a brand new 452cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor. This new power mill churns out around 40 horses and 40 Nm of peak torque. Moreover, this engine now comes mated to a smoother and slick 6-speed gearbox via a slip and assist clutch.
After riding it for more than 350 km, I can firmly say that this new 452cc motor is a lot more spirited than the archaic 411cc unit. Another distinct feature of this motor is that it likes to be revved out as peak power is achieved at 8,000 rpm which is quite close to the red line. However, I must point out that I felt the initial punch missing lower down the rev range in this new motor despite RE’s claim of 90 percent of the peak torque accessible within the 3000 rpm mark.
Another interesting point to note is that at an elevation of 10,000 ft and above, we could access only around 28 horses of peak power. It will be interesting to see the level of performance when we get the bike back home in the plains for a proper test ride. Nevertheless, this engine is super refined and definitely more peppy and eager than the old unit.
Another ace in the hole is the equipment on offer with this new Himalayan. It will not be wrong to say that it is by far the most modern Enfield to come out from the bikemaker’s Oragadam facility in Tamil Nadu. Not just LED headlights and a USB charger, the new  Himalayan is the first Royal Enfield to get a fully-digital instrument console with a TFT dash. This circular 4-inch panel houses a plethora of functionalities including smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth, music playback, and the biggest of them all is an in-built navigation powered by Google Maps.
Other novelties include ride by wire with two ride modes– Performance and Eco, and switchable rear ABS. Sadly, there is no traction control on offer as expected earlier. It is hard to believe that an Enfield is keeping up with competition in the features department. Besides the standard features, Royal Enfield is offering plenty of accessories to go with the new Himalayan although most of them are still undergoing homologation process and may not be available at the time of launch later this month.
But it does not end with just the features, even the hardware witnesses a significant upgrade over its predecessor. A suspension setup from Showa comprising 43mm upside down front forks, and a rear mono-shock, and braking hardware featuring larger 320mm front and 270mm rear rotors. That said, the biggest and most significant hardware upgrade are the tubeless tyres wrapped around these very traditional spoked wheels, a rarity for bikes in this segment, but more on this comes later.
However, the most impressive aspect regarding the new Himalayan has to be its ride and handling. Being an adventure tourer, it manages to shine on both fronts–on-road and off-road; and hence it won’t be wrong to describe it as an amphibian on wheels.
Starting with the touring part, the new Himalayan is a far improved motorcycle when it comes to on road dynamics. A larger wheelbase of 1510mm lends more stability to the bike while the Showa suspension offers a perfect balancing act of a plush riding experience without feeling lofty on undulations. Highlighting this fact is a 20mm increased travel at the rear, that makes it more forgiving on broken patches.
With a new twin-spar frame in place, Enfield has managed to shave off 3 kilos from the kerb weight of the previous Himalayan. This isn’t a huge deal but the big impact has been made in its weight distribution which RE claims to be more proportionate this time but didn’t share exact figures. Nevertheless, this does make a difference as the new Himalayan is far easier and eager to lean over in the corners.
Speaking of corners, these new dual-purpose rubbers from CEAT specifically designed for the Himalayan 450 offer ample cornering clearance and never during my ride I felt out of control on tarmac. But that’s just half of it. These tyres are now tubeless which ticks the convenience box that the older Himalayan just couldn’t offer. However, there are still questions about availability of these units at the time of launch since homologation is still under process.
Watch Video: Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Review
When it comes to the adventure part, the same tyres offered ample grip on loose surfaces that inspired enough confidence in a relatively less experienced rider in off-road conditions like me. The off-roading section further proved how well RE has managed to damp the new suspension setup where it feels far more forgiving than the older bike.
Given the nature of this bike, Enfield has sensibly opted for a progressive braking setup which is useful in off-road conditions. However, a bit more feel at the front brake lever would have been more welcome, but that’s just me nit picking. The brakes do work well in conjunction with the switchable rear ABS that allows you to lock the rear up and have some fun while trail bashing.
Making a better version of the Himalayan would have been a Herculean task for Royal Enfield. Not because the original bike was perfect, which it clearly wasn’t, but because despite being imperfect, the Himalayan 411 was a gem of a motorcycle both for touring and off-road.
Thankfully, RE has managed to retain the Himalayan DNA yet adding some new flavours to it. While we still need to take a long and thorough off-road test, in our limited time we found the bike definitely more forgiving than the outgoing model. And on the road the new Himalayan 452 is a breeze and way better than the previous model. Be it performance or handling. After a complete day of riding it will surely leave a wide grin across your face.
While shooting this review, prices of the new Himalayan have not been revealed. So pricing will hold the key. It still very much remains a purpose-built motorcycle and not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re into adventure touring or would want your first ADV, this Himalayan is definitely a choice you need to consider and take a test ride.
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