The Royal Enfield Himalayan stands at a unique location in the adventure travel segment. Designed as a simple, go-anywhere, comfortable touring machine that can be time consuming, the 2021 updates appear to have been made with riders’ feedback and practicality in mind. So, while there are no mechanical changes to the engine, Royal Enfield has given the 2021 Himalayas some extra features to give it a fresh appeal, as well as new colors. And while it’s a bit heavy for gnarly trails, it’s still strong, stable, and will go anywhere you point it. We spent some time with the new RE Himalayan and started to fall for its old world charm.
Also read: 2021 Royal Enfield Himalayan launched at ₹ Lakh 2.01
As mentioned earlier, the updates are mostly cosmetic, including new colors, and focused on adding better ergonomics and comfort. While the overall silhouette and design of the 2021 Himalayas remains the same, there are some subtle changes, including three new colors. At first glance, the Pine Green color of our test bike looks attractive and interesting, but this unique shade soon loses its novelty. I doubt this is my choice of color from a property standpoint.
There is no change in the dimensions, bike parts or the height of the Himalayan seat. It still has 220mm ground clearance, 199kg curb weight, 41mm telescopic front fork with 200mm travel, and a single shock with 180mm travel. A single 300mm front disc, with two-piston floating caliper and a 240mm rear disc with a single-piston caliper, manages the braking functions. The two-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard and ABS can be deactivated on the rear wheel. The capacity of the fuel tank is 15 liters.
Through the Make It Yours feature, either on the website or through the Royal Enfield app, you have the opportunity to customize the new Himalayan with different colors and accessories including hand guards, engine guards, saddlebags and even a different colored seat. These accessories come at an additional cost, but add to the overall appeal and functionality, adding engine and hand lever protection, as well as more luggage carrying capacity.
Also read: Everything you need to know about the 2021 RE Himalayan
Technology and ergonomics
The biggest change from the Himalayas, however, is the addition of the Tripper navigation screen, powered by Google Maps. The Tripper Pod is an additional dial that displays the time or step-by-step navigation, when connected via a smartphone via Bluetooth and the Royal Enfield app. To accommodate the additional Tripper dial, the bottom of the windshield has been widened and it comes in a tinted finish (not too dark for use after sunset) and gets a bit more height than before.
The design of the front rack was changed, apparently because it grazed the knees of some taller riders. (I had never encountered such a problem before, but I am just of average height, just over 5ft 9in). The rear rack has also been redesigned; it now has a lower height, allowing riders and passenger to easily swing one leg, and also comes with a strong metal plate, with a load limited to 7kg. For solo riders, that’s more than enough to pack a saddle bag for a few days of the essentials. Oh, there is another change! The seat has been given a slightly firmer dual-density foam, which should make it more comfortable for spending more time in the Himalayan saddle on a long ride.
Performance and dynamics
Now, Royal Enfield’s latest 350 cc rig, with the new RE Meteor 350, seems to have spoiled us. At idle, the Himalayas don’t ring or feel as refined as the Meteor 350 cc. But on the go, it’s definitely a different story, compared to the BS4 version of the Himalayas. On the 2021 model, there are no mechanical changes compared to the BS6 version introduced a year ago. With just 24.3bhp at 6,500rpm and 32Nm of peak torque at 4,000-4500rpm, the numbers are modest, at least on paper. But in the real world, the characters tell a different story.
The engine feels more or less smooth in the power range and only protests with vibrations above 7,000 rpm. For everyday use, you won’t need to run the engine that high. Between 90 and 110 km / h is the sweet spot in the Himalayas, and it will cruise smoothly all day at these speeds, and go up to over 120 km / h if pushed. But chasing any sort of speed will cause a protest in the form of vibrations. Maybe a lighter rider will see close to 130 km / h, but with my 75 kg bodyweight I almost managed to hit 125 km / h, but the bike really felt happier around the 100 km / h mark.
The 5-speed drivetrain seems adequate, but I missed a 6th overdrive on a few occasions which probably would have made the Himalayas feel a bit more relaxed on the highway. Overall, the midrange has enough meat to cope with traffic, as well as the occasional off-road excursion. Yes, it’s still heavy at 199kg, but the low seat height will be a godsend for off-road beginners, and it stalls rocky terrain like nobody’s business.
For experienced riders looking for a little more off-road excitement, the lack of power becomes evident, as does the hefty weight of 199kg. But despite the weight, the bike is agile and easy to handle. The riding position is also comfortable, whether it’s negotiating city traffic, on the freeway, or tackling certain off-road terrain. What’s a bit of a shock absorber is the feel and bite of the front brake; the front brake lever requires tighter pressure than usual, but it works fine. The ride quality is excellent, and it’s like a big, beefy SUV that gobbles up potholes and rough roads without a whimper.
With the introduction of the Tripper navigation pod, along with small ergonomic and cosmetic changes, Royal Enfield has also revised the prices of the Himalayas. The new prices start at ₹ 2.01 lakh (ex-showroom) for the older colors, as well as the Mirage Silver shade, a difference of around ₹ 10,000. But for Pine Green and Granite Black color options, the price is ₹ 2.09 lakh (old showroom). Yes, you get the Tripper navigation, and even at that price, the Himalayan is very good value for money as a do-it-all bike.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is definitely a good bike, and the more time you spend with it the more you start to enjoy it. Of course, it has its weaknesses, and more horsepower, less weight, better brakes and the like would have done wonders to make it even better. But ultimately what matters is that this is a straightforward motorcycle that will charm you with its simplicity, whether you’re the city commuter, a relaxed highway cruiser, or riding rough trails.
Yes, the Himalayas still have their weaknesses. The instrument console is rather busy; the compass still seems to have a mind of its own, the room temperature gauge was reading 38 degrees Celsius on a pleasant February afternoon when the maximum temperature was around 27 degrees. And as for the Tripper; sometimes it shows the perfect route, and a few times it will make you go absolutely ballistic! On one occasion, when I tried to follow it religiously, it caught me under a flyover instead of over it, and made me sit at a red light for more than three minutes. And unless you’re in a rush to get anywhere, it’ll easily cruise 100 km / h on the highway.
Would I recommend one? I think, certainly, yes! In fact, after returning the test bike, I wanted to spend more time in the saddle with the new Himalayan, just to experience what it feels like over a longer period of time as a daily companion. As an all-rounder, which will cost south of 2.5 lakhs, the Himalayas definitely tick all the right boxes, like a versatile, friendly and charming entry-level ADV!
(Photography: Prashant Chaudhary)
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