A 10K (or K-not?) review
Built for all roads, built for no roads...but is it built for everyone? No!
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is best described as an adventure tourer. Many people think that this is an off-roading motorcycle, true, it is also an off-roading motorcycle! But, it's an amalgamation of an off-roading motorcycle and a highway cruiser. I’ll put it like this, the front portion is an off-roader and the rear is a cruiser. Powered by a single cylinder 411cc engine, it literally stands to the tagline given to it - made for all roads, made for no roads. You can take it on an off road track, you can take it on the highways, the Himalayan performs effortlessly on both. The front shock absorber is long enough to give you a smooth ride and the 21 inch front tyre just adds to it. The riding experience is tension free because of the dual channel ABS which makes you confident to take up any surprises thrown at you. Launched in 2016 with the carburetor version which was the BS3, the bike has come a long way with consistent modifications over the years with a refined engine and few parts here and there. - BS4 and at present the BS6 (2021).
Honestly speaking, there was no choosing or picking up a bike or doing multiple test rides to zero down on a particular motorcycle in my case. I just fell in love with this bike at the first sight and after that things just fell into places. You can check my life story here in case you want to know what happened. Once it lured me with “it’s looks” and “voice”, I started to practically convince myself to look at the positives or how “things fell into places for me”. First and foremost that any person would understand as soon as they stand near the Himalayan is that this is a very tall motorcycle. I am 6’1, so this motorcycle was perfect for me to ride, I don’t have to bend my back and can ride comfortably in an upright position. I love travelling and I know for sure that I can’t travel long distances in one stretch at any given time if I am on a sports bike. That aggressive stance, thin seats and hard shock absorber would give me a stiff and sore body, I did not want to pay for that. With the stock parts, you can ride comfortably for approximately 100-150 KMs without a break (according to me). Do a few modifications and you can add 100 more Kilometers to it. A tall, comfortable, 15L tank adventure tourer was good enough for me. The fact that Royal Enfield has many service centers spread across India and few abroad as well, so my journey would never stop if I come across an issue with my motorcycle. But all said and done, I just fell in love with the Himalayan the day I laid my eyes on her, so I made her mine.
This is my third year riding this motorcycle ( Royal Enfield Himalayan BS4 2019) and my experience so far has been absolutely delightful. Within a few hours of the delivery I took my motorcycle for a long ride, rode from Bengaluru (Karnataka) to Palakkad (Kerala) and with the excitement I had, I was enjoying every meter that I covered. The open highways, the sun rising behind the hills, the fog, the trees, the rivers, the birds, everything was just blissful for me. Since you are supposed to ride the bike below the speed of 70 KMPH, the journey was long, but I didn’t realise the time was passing by. This is certainly not a city bike as the engine heats up real fast in the traffic, especially in a city like Bengaluru which is infamous for it’s traffic. This is a bike for long journeys, for exploring, for wandering, this bike will take you to the unknowns, to get lost. What I have understood till now is that if you could do a little bit of modification according to your comfort and choice, it would be a joyride for you. I would say that this was ₹2.3 lakhs well spent for me.
Only my exhaust is left to change, rest every part ( main parts) have been replaced till now. Till now I have faced the following issues. I have made a detailed article on the same and you can find it here.
Engine Tappet sound
Fuel tank pressure problem
Cone set problem
Rusted and damaged ABS module
Damaged ABS sensor
Instrument cluster’s fogging issue
Damaged rear suspension
In Spite of all the critical issues, all the hard times I have had, I have never cursed my motorcycle. I genuinely respect and love this motorcycle. When I am riding back home after spending days in the SC, the joy that it brings just erases the hard times and the money spent on the repairs. You need to feel it to understand what I am saying.
To make my journey more comfortable and safer, I had to add a few parts to the it, The modifications on my motorcycle were done when the need arouse. I did not simply get the modifications done as soon as I got the motorcycle. You can get a detailed article about this here,
Mobile mount - It is more comfortable to ride so that you can just glance at it for reference.
Hazard light - The issue is that the Himalayan’s headlight is not that powerful to see through thick fog or at night to get the opposite traffic’s attention.
Brake rear cylinder guard - To avoid getting damaged due to the heel’s placement near it.
LED bulb indicators - The stock indicators are not very powerful.
Headlight grill - Just a precaution for the headlight while doing off-roading.
Handlebar - For an upright riding position for long rides and comfortable off-roading.
With all the modifications that I had done my motorcycle till now, I love it even more. I will tell as to why I love this motorcycle so much.
Comfort - With the long front suspension and large tyre, this motorcycle is an absolute sofa on the highways. Now that I have installed a new handlebar according to my taste, the riding part has been very comfortable for me. I can now easily do about 200 KMs in one stretch without a break. The seat though is comfortable and much better than the other adventure motorcycles (of this range) available in the Indian market, I think adding some more cushion like a foam padding would be next on my modification list. Again, with the stock seat, you can easily do about 200 KMs in one go.
It's an ADV - This motorcycle is truly an adventure motorcycle in all aspects. I have taken it to the hills, I have ridden it through flooded roads, on the beach, everywhere! It performs effortlessly in all the conditions. hence sticking to it's tagline - Made for all roads, made for no roads.
Tall - One glance at this motorcycle and you'll know that this is a tall motorcycle. I'm 6'1, so I had to get a motorcycle that would suit me and is comfortable, hence- this!
Performance - When it comes to performance, this motorcycle is an absolute treat. It won't let you down and you get this confidence as well once you sit on it. This confidence makes you explore the motorcycle more by throwing various challenges to it and it will excel on any terrain. To increase the performance (if you are not happy with it), there are a number of performance enhancing parts available in the market which are just one google search away.
My crush - I did have the love at first sight story with this motorcycle and till this day my feelings for this motorcycle has not changed (and I don't think it would ever change also). It is just a beautiful motorcycle to own.
Easy to maneuver - Taking it to the city and especially filtering through the traffic on this motorcycle is an absolute bliss. Filtering is butter smooth, so on the highways imagine how it would perform. This motorcycle has a wheelbase of roughly 1.5 m, which is just perfect!
Though this motorcycle is the motorcycle for me, but everything cannot be roses. There are a few things about it that does not make me happy all the time (excluding the issues I have mentioned before).
The finishing - If you will closely inspect the frame of the motorcycle, you can very well see the welded areas. These are so prominent that you cannot miss them when you are admiring or looking at this motorcycle. The motorcycle is made in a factory and not made by hand, I'm very sure that they could have easily resolved this.
Seat - After doing more than 10,000 KMs now, the seat has almost become hard and flat. The cushioning effect goes off after some time. But this can be taken care of if you go to any seat modification shops or even purchase the touring seat from the Royal Enfield store.
Side stand length - The side stand of the Himalayan BS4 is longer than the BS6 version. This kind of makes it difficult to park the motorcycle on an inclined plane. I think they had rectified this issue in the new BS6 version though.
The side frame touches my knee when I am riding the motorcycle. It's not an uncomfortable feeling but, would have been better if this was not happening. Especially if you get hit from the front, your knees are going to take the impact directly. Again, like the side stand issue of the BS4, they have rectified this in the new BS6 version as well.
The stock headlight is not a powerful headlight. At this time and age, when most of the automobile makers are shifting their headlights to LED lights, I have no clue why Royal Enfield is not doing so. But, again, you can find various kinds of LED lights in the market.
Side panel fitting - The side panels on both the sides (air intake and the battery side) is a bad fit. There are gaps when the panels are fixed, making it easier for the water to seep in. Every time I take the motorcycle for a wash, I ask them to be careful with these two sides. I have mentioned about the rusted ABS module. Though the service center staff were unable to explain it to me how the particular module, which is securely placed away from the tyres and direct contact with anything was rusted. I strongly believe that this was because of the side panel gap problem.
Cone set problem - This is a reoccurring issue which Royal Enfield should do something about ASAP. As of now the service center guys are asked to grease the stem every time a motorcycle comes for servicing. A long term solution should be found so that the rider has a smooth riding throughout. I have heard about this Japanese company which makes good quality ball bearings and performs well, I think I should give that a try. Once installed, I shall update and give a review on it.
With so many problems and issues that I have faced till now, you must be wondering as to why I still have this motorcycle. Well, I just simply love it with all my heart, I have accepted all it's flaws and I have no problems with it. I have been in love with this motorcycle since day 1 of it's launch, so even today, every time I look at it, I still get the same butterflies in my stomach that I had on that day. Because I love this motorcycle so much, I don't even get the feeling of changing it or upgrading it, this is just perfect for me. One thing is for sure on my side, this motorcycle is here to stay.