2019 Project Bike: Enfield Himalayan

ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN INDEX PAGE (latest first):

• Early impressions from Morocco (shortly)
Desert Ready; modifications and improvements
First proper ride
Adventurise it: let’s make a list
Short UK road test (good for specs)
BS3 carb model in Ladakh
Resources
Tips, mods and hacks from Advrider (also links to aftermarket kit)
Well presented Himalayan blog (in French)
Nathan Millward 16k miles review
Noraly Schoenmaker on an RTW
UK FB group (private); North America FB Group

himlabels

him-layaRoyal Enfield Himalayan: that’s bike #61 and my project for 2019. Out of curiosity I test rode one a couple of months back and despite my initial scepticism shared by many, riding was believing and I could see the appeal. It’s a bike in a niche all of its own; a long-stroke, low-saddled plodder; an under-stressed travel mule that ought to chug happily along backroads. It’s said to be pretty good off-road for what it is too, but it sure won’t blaze down the autoroute trailing a series of sonic booms. The Himalayan has elements of ag bike (right): heavy, basic and agbikeswith low power output but above all, unapologetically functional, like my old utilitarian MZs in the 1970s. They say that tanked up, an ABS Himalayan weighs a staggering 194kg. Doing the bathroom scales trick came up with 192kg. Crikey, they weren’t joking.
A similar low output/capacity plodder that’s been on my radar is Honda’s NC range; an auto 750X. It was also a contender for bike #61, but a quick read on advrider, where others have been experimenting since the original 700 came out, reminded me that adapting one into something like 2018’s XSR Scrambler would deliver uncertain worthwhile improvements for the effort involved. For 2019 Honda put a 19-inch wheel on the front of the revised CB500X. Doing the same to the 750X, or offering a more adventurised model (as BMW do) would make a better base project.
himmBack to the Enfield. My example gleams as white as the driven snows of Annapurna. And with less than a thousand miles on the clock it’s nearly as virginal. Add some auxiliary LED lighting and heated grips and it was a pretty good deal.
With the Him’s trail biking potential, I’ve come up with a plan for a route recce in the High Atlas followed by a ride deep into the Western Sahara ahead of my spring Fly & Ride tour around Eastertime. If what I’ve read is true, the REH ought to plod steadily up and down the mountains and across deserts of southern Morocco.

The Elephant in the Himalayas
ganeshaHim-spexI suspect the many people who are curious about the Himalayan have little interest in Enfield’s long-established Bullet-based singles. I’m one of them. Things have probably moved on, but the old-style Bullets carry a stigma of crude manufacturing and poor reliability which cannot be excused by retro-cool looks or the ease of roadside repairs.
The troubled launch of the original BS3 Himalayan a couple of years ago (more here) did nothing to dispel such concerns. Andreli yet I can think of a couple of BMWs – a brand associated with a (long outdated) reputation for reliability (right) – which didn’t go any better. This well known fact doesn’t stop them being best sellers, year after year.
And so, despite entirely trouble-free experiences from high-miling Hims like Noraly Schoenmaker in the video below, it’s still a bit of a leap in the dark on the much-improved export BS4 Himalayan released in 2018. It’s notable that, having ridden an unreliable BS3, Noraly left India on a new BS4 with panniers full of spares and 10,000km later, didn’t use any of them.
The Himalayan is a bike many potential owners want to like but are niggled by the fact that they might only just get what they paid for, before getting crippled by Chinese levels of depreciation. The only way to find out is to buy one and see. Maybe that’s why they call it ‘adventure motorcycling’.
See the Index above for the latest posts.