The all-new Himalayan 450 marks a technological leap for the Royal Enfield – Moneycontrol

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When it came to creating the brand’s first bonafide adventure tourer, Royal Enfield followed one overarching directive: democratise adventure touring for the country. And so, the Royal Enfield Himalayan was born. After decades worth of mountain sojourns on the Bullet, the brand most closely associated with the Himalayas finally had a machine that was tailor-made for long-distance touring and off-roading. Flash forward to 2023. Nearly a decade has passed and the Himalayan is the most dominant motorcycling force in the Himalayas. From Ladakh to Manali, every motorcycle renting outlet has Himalayans pouring out of their ramshackle brick-and-mortar confines.
While the Himalayan featuring the LS411 engine got the basics right, its sheen was starting to wear off in the face of more powerful competition. Sure, nothing in the segment was quite as dedicated to off-roading as the Himalayan, but the bike’s sub-optimal power-to-weight ratio, along with its extremely analogue nature, was starting to age. Enter the Himalayan 450: a bike that is empirically superior to its predecessor in every conceivable way.
Gone is the industrial, tool-shed, project-bike look of the original. The Himalayan 450 is a finely moulded machine that truly looks the part. It sits taller than before, with 20 mm of added ground clearance, has taller suspension, a wider (140/80 R17) rear tyre and a variety of colourways, each of which enhance the bike’s visuals in their own way. The tip of the saddle is now narrower, and allows the rider to stand comfortably for longer durations, in order to more effectively manoeuvre the front wheel over obstructions.
Every component here has been altered. Starting with the all-new 450 cc liquid-cooled engine — a first for Royal Enfield — that makes 25 percent more torque (40 Nm) and 65 percent more power (40 hp). The Himalayan 450 features 43 mm inverted Showa forks up front, a monoshock unit at the back, and an electronics package that is unlike anything Royal Enfield has ever made before. In fact, the Himalayan 450 is unlike any motorcycle that Royal Enfield has ever made.
The original Himalayan already held considerable sway over adventure riders, both novice and experienced, due to its bare-bones, fix-it-anywhere and go-anywhere abilities. The new one takes that quality and dials it-up by a factor of 10. Are there quicker competitors? Perhaps. Are they as sophisticated yet indestructible as the Himalayan 450? Doubtful. There’s also an all-new 6-speed gearbox, along with vibration-quelling footpeg mounts, a more compact, upswept exhaust, and you can raise the seat height by another 20 mm. Lest we forget, the Himalayan was Royal Enfield’s first true international success and as such, the new one has been designed to accommodate taller riders, without alienating shorter ones.
With the engine now a stressed member of the chassis, and weighing 10 kg less than the outgoing 411 cc model (which will continue to feature in the Scram 411), Royal Enfield has managed to keep the kerb weight from going above the already high 196 kg mark. A stressed member engine is one that’s used as an active structural element of the chassis to transmit forces and torques, rather than being passively contained by the chassis.
The engine, dubbed the Sherpa 450, gets electronic fuel injection and a ride-by-wire throttle system that makes it more efficient and responsive, while the liquid-cooling helps refine the engine note, while offering more consistent performance across varying temperatures. After the 650 cc, air-cooled, twin-cylinder, the Sherpa 450 marks yet another inflection point in Royal Enfield’s engineering development journey. Rumour has it that RE might even consider entering the Dakar Rally on the back of this engine, thus making it a truly formidable, international motorcycling presence.
Right off the bat, torque kicks-in noticeably quicker. At 3,300 RPM to be specific, where you can access 88 percent of the overall torque. At 5,500 RPM you get access to all of it, which means that on winding roads such as the ones offered in the Himalayas, you needn’t shift beyond third to access peak power. The Himalayan is comfortable cruising in top gear at roughly 70 kph,  which speaks volumes about the flexibility of the gearbox. Still, while climbing up the Himalayas’ daunting elevations, a fair bit of shifting up and down was required to keep the ride zestful. But zestful it was, even at 12,000 feet, where oxygen was pretty thin.
In the stunning mountain range of the Lahaul-Spiti valley, with its sharp hairpins, and rapid ascents, the gearbox does require effort and engagement, but it all pays off in a big way. With the front-end geometry changed, the bike was able to lean into corners with incredibly reassuring eagerness, providing lean-angles thus far unfathomable on a Himalayan.
Although the powertrain has been tweaked to improve on-road acceleration and overtaking abilities, the early delivery of torque has a clear effect on the 450s ability to go through some pretty bumpy terrain. Suspension travel on both front and rear is now 200 mm, a bit more than what the 411 offered. This, combined with the added ground clearance, gives you far greater ability to practically fly over crests and yump the motorcycle to your heart’s content. The bike comes with four riding modes and standard dual-channel ABS, although you can turn that off when using the Performance and Eco modes. The narrow edge of the tank and the saddle made it much easier to stand for long distances.
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Part of the 450’s ability to provide stability on rocky terrain is due to the inverted Showa forks, which despite not offering adjustability, are incredibly well-damped and encourage you to push the bike even more. The 450 comfortably chews-up and spits out troughs, ruts, undulations, and even sleet. It was, after all, conceived in the Himalayas.
As if the new chassis, engine, and improved riding dynamics weren’t enough, Royal Enfield has equipped the Himalayan with a must-have feature for tourers which isn’t available in this segment, or even in motorcycles twice as expensive — a  proper TFT screen featuring a full-view of Google Maps. Royal Enfield has worked with Google for this, and created an all-new  mobile app that, once connected to your motorcycle, can be used to enter your destination and view live navigation while riding.
There’s even a type-c USB charger under the handlebar, with a logo on the screen showing just how much battery life you have. The screen is simple enough to access, and just requires you to long press the square button on the left, which activates the SatNav view. The only downside is that the tachometer is no longer visible when you do that. Short-pressing the same button allows you to switch riding modes, just not on the fly.
Following the unveiling of the electric Himalayan or Him-E at EICMA this year, it’s clear that Royal Enfield has big plans for the Himalayan brand. It may not have won over Royal Enfield purists any more than it did with the previous Himalayan, but instead the company has a much larger global presence because of just how cost-effective and robust the Himalayan has been. The new one is nothing like any Royal Enfield you have ever ridden, and marks a significant leap for the Himalayan brand with its advanced capabilities and genuine off-reading chops.
Is there room for improvement? Certainly. The power-to-weight ratio can be better still, and it would’ve been good to have adjustable front suspension. Also, the absence of tubeless tyres in an ADV bike, would require that you carry your own while touring, and that isn’t likely to sit well with the patrons of both, the brand and of the Himalayas. Hopefully, a tubeless option will be available soon. Still, the 450 has consummately ironed out all the creases ailing the previous bike. It’s fast when you need it to be, comfortable for long-distance touring, and considerably more agile on the tarmac than before. The Royal Enfield Himalayan has finally come of age.
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