Today I test rode the Royal Enfield Himalayan in Chennai. Didn’t ride it for long. Just a couple of rounds around the block. But I inspected it long enough to determine if Royal Enfield has truly built something special or merely put lipstick on a pig.
This is not a full blown review. Just my first impressions. Let’s start with the good.
+ Nice suspension
+ Comfortable seat
+ Good riding position when seated
+ Great dual sport tyres
+ Acceptable level of vibrations at city speeds
+ Nice exhaust note. It’s not the typical Royal Enfield “doob doob” sound. But it’s not a typical KTM Duke “Trrrr” flutter sound either. It sits nicely somewhere in between. Cruising at low speeds should be fun.
+ Absolute shit build quality and finish. Some of the welds weren’t even ground. I’m told manufacturing robots were used to build the Himalayan. If that’s true then I’m pretty sure robots were blindfolded. Bolts were already coming off. One of the bolts fastening the side panel was missing, leading the panel to rattle.
+ Underpowered. I tried a 0 to 60 kmph and it felt nowhere close to my Duke 390. Zipping through traffic is not going to feel like fun. I don’t need to ride this fast on a highway to know what it will feel like. I already have a pretty good idea. Cruising won’t be fun either.
+ Very sticky gear shift. I’m pretty sure this is a problem with the bike I rode. There is no way all Himalayans can come with such a bad gear shifter. But the bike I rode was just 260 km old. Which doesn’t speak too well about its drive train.
+ Pathetic riding position while standing on the foot pegs. The foot pegs are pushed back a little and I have no idea why. I squatted for a good two minutes by the side of the road, looking at the chassis, trying to figure out why Royal Enfield had to push the foot pegs behind. When I stood on the foot pegs to ride over potholes I found my body lurching forward almost getting ready to fly over the handlebar. With my knees bent a little hugging the tank, I wasn’t comfortable at all riding on the foot pegs. I’m six feet tall and I think the situation won’t be very different for shorter people. Although their torso will be closer down to the handlebar their hands will be shorter as well and they will find themselves leaning forward like I did. The Duke is horrible to ride while standing on the foot pegs, mainly because the pegs are pushed way behind. It makes sense for the Duke as its a pocket rocket street bike. But the Himalayan is an adventure bike and you are supposed to ride it comfortably while standing on the foot pegs.
I’m completely baffled as to how the folks in the media actually “reviewing” the Himalayan are raving about it. The bike looks like a prototype of something that still needs to be properly styled. Build quality and finish is typical Royal Enfield level – pathetic. The engine lacks character. I just don’t see myself having fun with this bike like I do with my “adventurized” Duke 390.
Sorry, this isn’t what I was expecting from Royal Enfield. The Indian adventure motorcycling market deserves something better. I’m hoping KTM will launch the 390 adventure in 2017. They are reworking their Duke and RC engine and platform. I have a feeling they will add an Adventure variant to the 2017 lineup.