ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN INDEX PAGE (latest first)
• Review: 4000 miles in North Africa
• Tubliss Troubles in Western Sahara
• Kriega OS22 panniers reviewed
• Michelin Anakee Wild tyres reviewed
• Out of the desert
• At the edge of the Sahara
• A Good Day in Morocco
• Him in the High Atlas
• Desert Ready; mods and improvements
• First proper ride
• Adventurise it: let’s make a list
• Short UK road test (good for specs)
• BS3 carb model in Ladakh
Royal Enfield Himalayan: that’s bike #61 and my project for 2019. Out of curiosity, I test rode one in 2018 and despite my initial scepticism shared by many, 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 some ag bike elements: over-heavy, basic and with 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 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 with adventurisation since the original 700, reminded me that adapting one into something like 2018’s XSR Scrambler would deliver the same uncertain 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.
Anyway, back 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 (since removed) and heated grips and it was a pretty good deal. With the Him’s trail biking potential, I’ve come up with a route recce in the High Atlas followed by a ride deep into the Western Sahara ahead of my spring 2019 Fly & Ride tour around Easter. 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
I 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. And yet I can think of a couple of BMWs – a brand associated with a long outdated reputation for reliability (right) – which didn’t start off 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-mile-ing 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 initially ridden an unreliable BS3, Noraly left India on a new BS4 with panniers full of spares and 1000s of kms 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 – or just skip to my 4000-mile review.