Tag Archives: royal enfield himalayan

Tested: Kriega OS22 pannier review

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Soft Baggage Comparison • 2020


The new OS22 pannier from Kriega is the mini version of their OS32 I tried on a WR250 a couple of years back. The OS22 has the same proportions up-down, left-right but is 40mm thinner, reducing each bag’s capacity by 10 litres. It also retains the same uabrasion resistant Hypalon casing on a 1000D Cordura shell impreganted with aramid webbing to resist slash and grabs. An alloy block allows you to wrap a cable lock round the bag for added security. Each bag folds out to a formed box shape, costs £215 and weighs a hefty but durable 2.6kg.
The OS22s just happened to be ideal for my Himalayan, destined for a similar trip through the Atlas and on into the deep south of Morocco.


tik • Slim
• Rugged, quality construction
• Easy removal from plate, or just lift out the liners
• Lots of exterior tabs for expandability or securing the bags
• Option to not use platform

cros • Expensive


Most riders don’t seem too bothered, but I like a bike to be as slim as possible and ideally never wider than the bars. Whether splitting city traffic, riding against the wind, squeezing through a hotel door  and not least, teetering along a narrow and gnarly mountain track with a big drop to one side – in all cases excessive width holds you back. Keeping away from the edge of a drop is instinctive and increases the margin of error, but stray too close to a cliff face opposite and you risk snagging over-wide panniers on a rock, losing your balance, over-correcting and taking a dive, just like that viral bike-in-a-boat video of a few years ago (below).


High and fat silencers can force racks to be annoyingly wide (especially when attempting to be needlessly symmetrical from the rear). Soft or hard, add a plain, box-shaped pannier and the bike can be half as wide as it is long, like the F650GS fitted with Enduristan Monsoons (right), or my all time favourite, the GS500 on the left.
On a travel bike, I feel panniers are best when ‘suitcase’ shaped: longer front-to-back than top-to-bottom and no more than a hand’s span wide. This helps centralise the weight but is an unpopular format because, presumably, it interferes with pillion riders. Many aftermarket racks don’t help either, being set too far back for optimal weight centralisation, as mentioned in this old post.

kriega-os32-fit1With Kriega OS panniers, an HDPE plate  or ‘platform’ in Kriegaspeak (left) can be bolted to a rack. You may think it just adds weight and expense. Both true, but a plate is actually a smart way to fit any rack. HDPE (think: kitchen chopping board) is great stuff, too: light, rigid and dead easy to drill or even just poke with a red-hot skewer. The Kriega plate and its adapter clamps have been designed to fit just about any round-tube, 18mm/¾” rack and offer a broad, grippy surface for the hypalon-backed OS bag to cinch up against. Making your own fitting to fatted or  square tubed racks would be easy enough. The Kriega OS bags use a cunning anchor on and strap-up system to make a very secure fitting while enabling easy fitting or removal – a key element when on the long road. Strapping the hypalon-backed bag to the grippy plate surface spreads loads over a broad area too, meaning no failure-prone stress points.


Like the 32s, the OS22s can be hooked on and lashed down to the Kriega HDPE platform or plate (see above). It’s a very solid off-road-proof mounting system which I also found dead easy to use. But this time round, on the Himalayan I chose to use the 22s as plain throwovers, like Adventure Spec’s Magadans, Doing it this way meant that once the bags were lashed down securely to the bike, I found it less hassle to simply remove the waterproof, velcro-rimmed white liner bags to carry stuff indoors when not camping, rather than unrigging the whole bag. As such, a couple of shopping bag handles wouldn’t have gone amiss on the liner bags.
A rack is still needed to constrain any swinging and shuffling. I initially bought an Enfield rack from India but despite being cheap, I sold it unopened once I saw how heavy it was; it’s more suited to alloy cases. All I needed was something to support the bags, so Simon made me what I call C-racks (below) in one-inch tube. They’re only mounted at each end and are unbraced against so could bend in a heavy crash, but I tend not to do that so much these days.


Adjusting the strap length for the throwovers is easily done. A horizontal strap round the bag and rack kept it located and another (yellow) strap from the rear rack stopped the bags sliding forward. There are plenty of attachment points all over the outer bags to refine your strapping set up if not using the platforms, or of course to add additional Kriega bags.


It all worked well for me once I pinned down the strapping arrangement. Access was as simple as undoing or just loosening the two big hook straps then unclipping the side cinch-down clips. I never got to test the bags in prolonged rain, not did I test the rugged hypalon panels by sliding down the road. My load in the bags was about 15kg overall. The RHS pipe-side pannier was hitched high enough to avoid the silencer, but just in case, I had a long jubilee clip to attach some sort of metal heat guard round the pipe, had it been necessary.


Lomo Crash Bar Bags

Product Image

Forty four litres may not sound enough for a month-long trip involving camping, but the Himalayan benefits from tank racks which are ideal for adding a pair of small bags like the tough, 7-litre PVC Lomos (£40 a pair). In this position they’re easy to access from the saddle, and up to a point protect your knees from an oncoming downpour or chilly wind. They also help give the bike a soft landing when you don’t quite swing your leg high enough while getting on or off.
Access is roll top with clip down sides, like the Kriegas. Two additional horizontal straps fix or pull the bags in, but I didn’t use them.


The combination of Lomo and Kriega gave me a massive capacity of 58 litres and meant no bag was ever jammed packed and I needed no bulky tailpack other than the trusty old Touratech zip pouch I’ve reused over the years from bike to bike. Add the small Giant Loop tank bag and my Himalayan always had room to spare. One drawback with several bags hanging all around the bike means there’s more to empty and take in to a hotel of an evening. But on the road having the load spread evenly across the bike is better for access and weight distribution.

The Kriega and Lomo bags were supplied free for testing.


Himalayan in Morocco: High Atlas

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Has it really only been six days in Morocco? Seems like ages.
A few photos from the ride so far.

Balleria: €83 open-return at the counter.

Nice boat mister.

Gibraltar: Rule Brexannia!

Big advs as far as the eye can see. And a chimney stork.

Pointy bridge – no stork nests on there.

Bell Moto III + Qwik-Strap. Good combo on the non-ballistic Him.

In to the hills.

Windy and 6°C.

Popcorn and peanuts for lunch + a tub of Vache for emergencies.

Anergui – always wanted to visit.

Mule bridge.

Up the Assif to MH18. Easy enough if not too wide.

Follow the river.

Two mules on a bridge.

No way through to Taghia they say. Fair enough.

2900m – highest sealed road in Morocco. Probably.

Ait Bou’ valley.

Overpriced kasbah. You live and learn.

That centre stand needs bending before it gets bent.

Low route to Demnate. Glad to have the grippy Michelin Wilds.

Old Bedford AWD – an Enfield among lorries.

Back in the clouds on the Demnate crossing trying to outrun a forecast downpour.

Never ask a duck for directions.

Himalayan just laps it up.

I appear to have soiled myself.

Young Berber ninja patrol.

Back down to Skoura.

Your classic Moroccan lunch.

Goat in a crate + some seasoning.

Leatherman sugar breaker.

Midday at the oasis. Boots nearly dry now.


Next – a couple of day trips back into the hills, then down to the Sahara for some desert biking.

Adventurising the RE Himalayan

Himalayan Index Page

For what you pay and compared to vaguely similar bikes, Royal Enfield’s 2018 BS4 Himalayan comes very well equipped: centre stand; small tail rack plus tank sideracks; small screen; 15-litre tank giving a 400-km range; a small bashplate plus suspension that need not be instantly written off.
Most of those items won’t need improving, but when did that ever stop anyone? Below, I throw out some ideas to help turn the Himalayan into a functional overlander. As with all my project bikes dating right back to the XT500 of 1982, I like to experiment with new stuff and new ways of doing things, much like Enfield’s Himalayan itself.
It’s all part of the adventure and if nothing else, it’s good for the book.


Wheels & Tyres
Out of the showroom REH’s come shod with Brazilian Pirelli MT60s (right; mine stamped ‘2012’…). The spoked rims are steel: 21 front, 17 on the back. The Pirellis would have been OK for a regular Moroccan ride, but because I’ll be heading into the sands this time, tread becomes a little more critical. Below, some tyres of interestMotoz Tractionator Adventure; Anlas Capra X and Michelin Anakee Wild.


One thing I’ve quickly discovered is that none of the above tyres come in the stock 120/90 17 size. The only similar tyre I know of is Mitas’ E-09 which I tried on the XR400 in Algeria; a great desert tyre. Generally 17s tend to be low profile tyres suited to bigger, more powerful machines, and 18s are for traditional dirt bikes with taller profiles giving more ‘suspension’ or ‘footprint’ at low pressures. The above trio come no smaller than 130/80 17. There’s probably only a few mil in it, but if possible I’d rather not go overboard with a ‘bigger-must-be-better’ rear tyre. Too much tyre will make the Him even more sluggish.
Swingarm space with the stock MT60s (left) shows plenty of room to the sides but about an inch at the front so for a replacement, actual dimensions may matter. The MT60 is 122mm wide and currently 93mm high from the edge of the rim. The swingarm gap will increase a little as the tyre wears and the chain stretches. Ratio-wise, 120 x 90% technically = 108mm tyre height, while 130 x 80% = only 104mm, so a 130 ought to have a lower profile or height. So even a 10mm wider 130/80 17 tyre will easily fit the Himalayan. Interestingly, an Anakee Wild 130/80-17 M/C 65R TL weighs nearly 50% more than a Wild in 120/80-18 M/C 62S TT (5kg). An  Anlas CapraX 130/80 B17 weighs 6.1kg. Motoz don’t know yet.
Fitting an 18-inch rim would greatly expand tyre choice at the slim 120/90-ish end. But with half an inch more radius in the rim, taller 18s could become a squeeze against the front of the swingarm unless a chain link is added to move the wheel back a bit.
An additional incentive to move to an 18 is a chance to replace the stock steel rim with an alloy rim which will be a bit lighter. Suspension and steering, as well as acceleration/braking all react more readily if the unsprung weight red, below – is kept to a minimum.

I read on the inter net that the effects of unsprung weight includes the rotational mass of the gyroscoping wheel, plus – at non-rallying speeds – the less critical up-and-down mass the suspension has to control (image below). Additional unsprung weight takes more power to turn that mass, more brakes to slow it and better suspension to control it. This mass can be reduced by considering tyre weight, not just the size, tread and price, going tubeless (eliminating heavy-duty inner tubes), as well as lighter rims, chain, rear sprocket materials; forks/swing arms and braking components. I’ve always thought this is a much overlooked area of weight saving on bikes, where changing a pipe is often used as an excuse to save weight. I remember the alloy front wheel on my XT660Z weighed a ton, partly because of the OTT twin discs when one good disc was all that was needed. Cheap stuff can be heavy, even in alloy.
The image below illustrates how much greater the reaction forces are with heavier wheels. Put another way, it’s why your trainers weigh only 320g. ‘Add lightness’ as the old racing adage goes.


And if I’m messing about with rims it would be a shame not to go tubeless, for all the usual reasons. See the link, but basically it’s: DIY mastic as on my 660 Tenere, Outex tape (~£70, never tried), BARTubeless (~£320, as on the 500X RR) and Tubliss (~£180 a pair; as on my GS500R), or a suitable rim (rare/expensive).
If I go to an 18 I’m thinking of giving the 2nd generation Tubliss (right) another go as it’s an easy and inexpensive fit, but they only come in 21, 19 and 18 inch, not 17. Along with greater tyre choice and lighter alloy, that’s a third reason to convert the rear to an 18 inch rim.

Is this all going a bit far with a humble Himalayan, or making the most of its potential? Will I or the bike notice the difference of a lighter wheelset, once all the other junk is added? Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to get a solid riding impression of the stock bike before setting off.


Load Carrying
One of the REH’s distinctive features are the tank racks which some mistake for tank protectors. They’ll do that too but to me they’re clearly a handy place to lash items or bags. The previous owner had a similar set-up using Kriega drypacks and helpfully wrapped the Royal Enfield badge in string to stop it getting worn away.


Kriega is one way of doing it, so is Lomo who’ve sent me a pair of their PVC roll-top crash bar dry bags to try (£39 pair). At around 6 litres each they look ideally suited to the racks. I plan to mount them semi-permanently and will use Lomo’s same-sized orange ultralight dry bags (£3) to lift everything out easily when lodging. In the US the more boxy, 3L Rigg fender bags (right) look like a neat fit too.

Then, once I zip on my Giant Loop tank bag, most of my daytime needs will be in view and at arm’s reach, meaning what’s behind can be left strapped in place. It may even mean I can do without a daypack on my back, plus the crash bags will keep the wind and rain off my creaking knees.


For the back an Enfield pannier rack is has just turned from India for under 80 quid. Looks like a hefty set up – it weighs over 5kg. You’ll find them sold on ebay, or at twice the price from UK sellers. I’ve not decided what bags I’ll use on the side. At the simplest I can just lash on a couple of rugged PVC dry bags, as I did with the Rally Raid 500X a couple of years back.


And right at the back the narrow tail rack has taken my long-suffering Touratech tail bag – one of my all-time travel luggage favourites.
Having all these bags spread around the bike is handy for access, compartmentalisation and weight distribution but at, quite literally, the end of a day, it does mean more faffing about to get it all indoors when the parking is less than secure.


Comfort: handlebars; screen; saddle
The bike came with Oxford heated grips – luvlay juvlay. My old Barkbuster Storms will also get their nth outing on an AMW project bike, but it looks like they’ll require BTC 06 curved adaptor clamps (right) to get under the brake lines and so on (they didn’t fit).


Talking of which, with this ABS model (brake line goes under tank to the pump, not straight down to the wheel) I’m not sure there’s enough slack to get much more than an inch of lift on the bars, which means my 50mm Rox Risers may have to sit this one out (they didn’t). Non-ABS Hims ought not have this problem. As it is the stoop for me isn’t too bad and the general position is of course much better than the XSR. I only tend to stand when I must, but that’s partly because I rarely ride a bike where prolonged standing off road is comfortable. One way to dodge the stoop is to lower my height by removing footpeg rubbers. Wearing very thin socks also helps. Fyi: ABS switch hack.


The screen is better than nothing and has a tiny bit of fore and aft adjustment. It’ll be all that’s needed off-road; less so for a long cross-country ride. You can get those clip-  or bolt-on deflectors like the adjustable MRA Xcreen (below right) which I had on a recent Tiger (we don’t talk about that bike) and which worked well for what it was. Or Hitchcocks Enfield specialists do a taller version, but only by 60cm. Changing a fixed screen is a gamble while others have found chopping it right down greatly reduces buffeting. Much depends on your helmet, height and attitude to discomfort. You’ll never get it right all the time and it’s all part of the biking experience, so unless you know what works for you, by far the best screen is something adjustable like the Xcreen or the Palmer I had on the CB-X.


It doesn’t feel like the seat will sustain my post Xmas mass, sprung or otherwise, for more than an hour or two. Nothing new there.
I’m getting a mesh Cool Cover to test. One good thing with fitted covers like this, as opposed to airbag seat bags, is that you can securely stuff added padding underneath without having to do a reupholstery job. I’ve got an old Aerostich lambs wool seatpad (right) which used alone may have had it’s day, but under the Cool Cover may add a bit more cushioning.
One good thing on the REH is the two-part seat; it makes any foam-hacking job a bit less terminal. On the right: an excerpt of AMH7 – looks like doing a good DIY job gets complicated. Here’s a nice Seat Concepts job from the US.

yss himalayan

I’ve often wondered how much more it costs in time and money to make stock suspension which works out of the crate. There must be no shortage of data and algorithms, so maybe it’s the time in fine tuning an individual model where the costs pile up. We’re so used to regular bikes coming with great engines which can sing and dance in four time zones, but have adequate suspension which presumably is expected to work for most riders at moderate speeds. Crank up the speed or reduce the surface quality and composure soon slips away as suspension travel gets eaten up, as I found on my CB500X and XSR700. But on my BMW XCountry I discovered what decent suspension actually meant: not that obvious on road, but a whole new world of control as dirt turns gnarly. Problem is that’ll be no change from €1000 and trip to Holland, please.


Many reviews say the Himalayan’s suspension is pretty good for what it is, which is all the more surprising when you look at the seemingly spring-bound stock shock on the right. I read it’s not trying to be progressive but a dual rate spring and in fact there is a 2mm gap between the closely set coils.
Currently the only outfits offering shocks are Hyperpro (right; €500) and YSS (above left; made in Thailand). Unusually, both come with rebound damping but the YSS also has adjustable height and was just £270 from Wemoto on special. For that price it’ll be worth a shot and the option of dialling in a bit of extra height will be handy. As it is, the bike tends to sit a little too upright on the sidestand and adding a sandfoot won’t help. And also if I do go for an 18-inch rim where the tyre range is taller, a bit more space will be handy


For the fork YSS also make a kit (above left) costing not much less than the shock. It includes valve emulators (available separately for around £80), something I’ve read of but never tried. For the moment there’s nothing to be lost by starting with some Chinese ebay fork pre-loaders (£10; left; as tried on the XSR). After that I may move up to a firmer K-Tech spring if they’ll make me one. Firmer springs may be enough to bring the front end back up if an 18-inch rear rim is fitted.


I’ll hard wire the trusty Montana in and fit a RAM mount on the bars. I’ll also add a PTO for the Powerlet heated vest and type pump. The claimed 220w alternator output is nothing special, but some wattage has been freed up with dinky LED indicators and there’s a spare LED headlamp which came with the bike. Otherwise I plan to add a switch so the lights aren’t on 24/7. There are times when you don’t want to be seen too easily.
Last but not least, the Trail Tech engine temperature gauge from last year’s XR will get wired on to some very hot part of the Enfield’s engine. With an oil and air-cooled motor, even a low output one like the REH, it’s all the more important know how hot things are getting down in the engine room.

Himalayan Index Page

Quick Spin: Enfield Himalayan

Update: I bought one: Enfield Himalayan Index Page 
Him - 16

In the 1990s, long before retro-looking bikes became a thing, buying and running a locally built Enfield Bullet around the Indian subcontinent caught on with Western tourists. It was a proper adventure all right, tinged with a certain ‘open face and goggles’ romance.
Always sick; never terminal was how one early AMH contributor described running her Bullet around India and back to the UK. It staggered home, but she sure met a lot of roadside mechanics along the way. Jacqui Furneaux is another intrepid Bulletriste, covering over 40,000 miles across the planet. At bike shows visitors literally get a kick out of trying to start her old bike.


Not High
As a travel bike I can very much see the appeal of a low-revving, low consumption, low compression, low priced, low saddled plodder – now more than ever. But you want low maintenance on that list, too. With my desert riding background, reliability, economy, durability (and lately, comfort) have long trounced anything else.
Now, 30 years after taking a clapped-out Bullet up the Khyber became a travel biking niche, we’re told the Indian economy booms and RE are booming with it. It’s India, not China, who’s now the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer. Annually, 17.5m bikes (albeit mostly <125s) are sold there. In the US it’s just half a million, and on the home market RE sell more bikes in a year than all other manufactures can manage across Europe.


Released in 2016, the Himalayan was RE’s first stab at a do-it-all, adventure-styled machine. It wasn’t just yet another restyled spin-off from the Bullet range, but it did retain some of the Bullet’s better DNA, a 411-cc, long-stroke, two-valve single recalling a 1960s BSA thumper.
Unfortunately many found that the Himalayan’s first iteration – the BS3 carb model (reviewed here) paid a little too much homage to the slapdash nadir of the Brit bike industry. A litany of widely reported faults and failures saw production suspended, problems addressed and assembly workers spanked and retrained. In 2018 the BS4 version was released abroad, with some Western export markets (notably not Australia and NZ) getting fuel injection and in Europe, Euro 4-compliant motors come with the now-mandatory ABS.
The near-new bike I tried came from Hartgate in Mitcham. They’ve been around since before I started riding in the mid-70s, but these days sell only Chinese and Taiwanese 125s and scooters, plus Benellis and with a special part of their showroom designated for Enfields.

What they say
Royal Enfield’s most versatile motorcycle, able to take riders almost everywhere they want to go – on road or off-road. The only motorcycle you will ever need. The Himalayan combines outstanding versatility and all-day comfort for all rides. Long-travel suspension, natural upright riding position, a durable and torquey engine all add up to a comfortable ride for you, whether it’s on the highway, city streets, or remote mountain roads. The Himalayan is fit to be your only motorcycle.

In a line
Give it a look; it’s much better than you might expect.

• Feels easy to ride and manoeuvre, despite the 194-kg kerb weight
• Low seat height (800mm; 31.5″)
• Indian build quality looks solid
• Efi motor starts and fuels smoothly
• Great price
• Pirelli MT60 tyres (as opposed to some obscure brand)
• Suspension surprisingly firm
• Can’t verify economy yet, but 15-L tank should be good for 400km.
• Love the tank bars as supplementary baggage racks
• Comes with slim tail rack and centre stand

• Soft seat foam (for my weight)
• Feels like a tall first gear (for off-road)
• LCD display hard to read
• Screen a bit small (for my height)
• Front end felt a bit heavy (it is)
• 3000-miles valve checks
• Front brake lacks bite
• A bit cramped for me at 6’1″
• Low, 220-watt alternator output

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Him - 20

Pulling away from Hartgate’s, the seat was nice and low but felt way too soft. I could see it being agony in an hour or two, but I’ve had that on BMWs costing twice as much. At 6’1″ I was also a bit cramped between the stepped seat which angled me forward a little, and my knees are just an inch from the tank rack bars. Removing peg rubbers might provide more leg room and I’d have turned the bars back a tad. The gear change lever also felt too short for my size-11 Blunnies, but I soon adapted. The clutch was light, the gears clicked reassuringly and fuelling felt glitch-free. It’s an effortless bike to ride, with the power of a Jap 250 single or a Chinese Mash 400.

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It may only have the 24-hp of a 2nd-gen CRF250L, but on paper it puts out nearby 50% more torque at just 4250rpm, 2500rpm lower than the Honda. Riding along the flat A24 towards Box Hill in 40- and a brief 60mph limit, I can’t say I noticed the torque, but the bike never felt under-powered or noticeably vibey.
Pulling away from lights, I did find myself consciously slipping the clutch to get over the tall first gear – or maybe to avoid stalling an unfamiliar bike. While you don’t want to sacrifice too much of the modest 82-mph top speed, for off-roading I’d consider dropping a tooth to 14T on the front.

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The front end felt oddly sluggish (maybe the tyre was soft, or you can feel those 194kgs?) and I was surprised to learn the rims are steel. To be expected on Bullets, but I didn’t think modern bikes use steel wheels any more. Minimising unsprung weight has a big effect on efficiency, acceleration and suspension. But then cheek-distorting acceleration isn’t really a Himalayan’s USP and perhaps the wheels’ flywheel effect helps maintain momentum once up to speed.

As had been widely reported, despite a steel braided line the front brake lacks bite (perhaps the ABS dulls response) while the rear may have a little too much, but up to a point the non-switchable (but probably disable-able) ABS ought to iron out ham-fisted braking. It didn’t engage in a bit of a panic when a car pulled out across a dual carriageway. Not had one of those in a while…

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Both for road riding and when manoeuvring it in the woodland mud for photos, I find it hard to believe it really weighs 194 kilos wet (it does). That weight is clearly set low which, along with the low seat, will make a big difference in control and confidence on rough terrain, as well as picking it up when the terrain gets the better of you. And yet you still get a reasonable 220mm (8.5″) of ground clearance which makes the Himalayan a rare and much sought-after thing: a functional trail bike for shorter legged riders who don’t want to have to settle for a TW200. I stood up on the pegs and – with the usual risers added under the narrow-ish bars – would find gripping the slim bike sustainable on the trail.

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The dash’s lit section usefully shows time of day; ambient temperature, then gear position, odo and trip metre (and average speed), plus ‘side stand down’. But apart from the gear position it’s too small and messy to easily read at a glance. Chances are, familiarity will improve reading skills.


To the right below the small rev counter (red-lined at 6500rpm) is the digital compass. It’s a gimmicky nod to the bike’s adventurous intent, but as many users have found, most of the time it’s way off. If ‘CA HO’ flash up, recalibrate the compass by pushing the bike in a circle four times while patting your head. It may have to be done fairly regularly so I’d sooner rely on the sun or of course, a GPS compass, if orientation is that important.
Talking of plugging in accessories, the Himalayan’s claimed 220w alternator output is  not so impressive when you need heated grips and a heated vest approaching the north face of Kanchenjunga. Fitting a switch to the always-on headlights may help, as well as fitting LED lighting.

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The fit and finish looked pretty good, but only time will tell how it all holds up. Zinc paint brushed over rusty headers looks clumsy. Welds (left) are robotic and if some of that near-200-kilo heft is in the subframe, that’s right where you want it for load-carrying duties off road.
By the book you need to dealer adjust  the valves every 3000 miles (only two and they’re easy screw and locknut jobs) to keep the two-year warranty running. Unless they’re made from the final remnants of 1970s monkey metal, it’s hard to think a low-revving bike like this needs the tappets done twice as frequently as recommended oil changes, but valves clearances tend to tighten not increase. Some say its a way of subsidising the low purchase price.
Unusually for an efi bike, there’s a cold-start lever on the left bar, and the air-an-oil cooled engine comes with a big oil cooler. Some say the ambient air temp sensor under the seat could do with repositioning to give a truer reading away from the warmed up engine, but one thing I’d definitely add is an engine temp sensor, like the Trail Tech one off my WR250R, right.


Himalayan alternatives
For the money, spec and intended use, very little comes close to the Himalayan’s simple, agricultural charm. Comparing it with the BMW 310GS (right; also Indian built), Versys 300, Suzuki 250 V-Strom or Honda CRF250L misses the Himalayan’s distinctive niche. Riders aren’t buying Hims solely by its displacement category, and to its credit the Himalayan isn’t a repurposed high-revving road bike motor slotted in an adv-styled bike. It was planned from the ground up ‘fit to be your only motorcycle.’ 


I’d say its low-seat and low rpm characteristics have more in common with Honda’s unfashionable but quietly popular NC twins, Yamaha’s stillborn SR400 (left; dropped in 2017) or your Chinese-made Mash 400s and the like.
It’s closest true competitor is the now seemingly discontinued Mash 400 Adventure (right) / WK Trail 400, which used a 400cc Chinese Shineray engine based on the old Honda XBR500. You may find new, end-of-line Mash Advs in the UK for the same price as a Himalayan. The frames on these Chinese mini Advs are different from the many twin-shock road models, but the motor’s the same.

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All of an hour spent on the Himalayan pretty much matched what I’d read and seen, but not what I thought. Cynically, I assumed testers where being a bit soft on the old-style thumper, but after the ride I warmed to the concept too.

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People will say ‘Just a bit more power and it would be perfect’ and my experience with similar-hp 250s, loaded up at modest altitude can leave nothing in reserve at 50mph. Sure, you’re still moving forward, but on busier roads and steeper hills, that speed can make you feel vulnerable which induces fatigue over a long day. But out in the slower-paced AM Zone the Himalayan ought to slip right in. The added capacity over a typical Jap 250 only delivers more torque and less revviness which will certainly help on rough trails. Elsewhere, the hefty weight and low power may leave you struggling in headwinds and on long climbs.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia but I’ve had bikes like this in mind for years. Something like my old Triumph T140V or XT500. My GS500R project or more recently, XSR Scrambler were attempts to realise it, but despite weighing less than RE’s claim, the XSR sure didn’t feel lighter.
The Himalayan is the first mid-sized thumper that could fit the bill as a long-range travel bike, much more than the variously badged Shineray 400cc equivalents mentioned above and of course, much more than the CRF450L. By now there’s enough Himalayan chat and know-how online, much of it in India.
Setting off for a long trip what would this bike actually need? Handguards, a bigger screen, a rack for panniers (£500 fitted; right). The upswept pipe might hamper an ideal pannier position low down (here’s one solution) but the  nifty tank racks mean less bulk at the back.
People looking for the ideal light weight, low-displacement travel bike are comparing it with BMW’s 310GS, but only because they’ve come out around the same time and are also Indian made. Knowing the 310 quite well now, as a travel bike I’d sooner get a Himalayan.

Jan 2019: I bought one and rode it to the Sahara.

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Royal Enfield Himalayan tested in the Himalaya

My Enfield Himalayan Index Page

Dave King

“Our single biggest insight in all these years of riding has been that the best motorcycle for the Himalayas is not one that tries to dominate its landscape, but one that is able to go with its flow. … ​With its purpose-built ground-up design, the Himalayan is a simple and capable go-anywhere motorcycle that will redefine adventure touring…”
Siddhartha Lal, CEO, Royal Enfield

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The climb ahead of us resembled something I’ve encountered many times trail riding in Wales or Devon; a steep, rocky ascent of loose stones with mud, water and a thought-provoking drop to one side. The difference here was that the drop to my left was at least 1000′ straight down to a distant river, and the tyres on our bikes didn’t look like they could grip their way out of a wet paper bag. Despite that, the Enfields bounded up the slope like a Himalayan oryx, quite an achievement considering that some in our tour party had little off-road riding experience.

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The new Himalayan is the first completely new bike from Indian Royal Enfield company. The well-known Bullet and its many derivatives can trace their ancestry back to the original British-built thumper from the 1950s. Danielle and I have done several Bullet tours in Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Nepal. It’s a fantastic bike but when the terrain gets really rough and the riding technical, the lack of ground clearance and poor ergonomics on the pegs expose its limitations.

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In contrast the Himalayan has been designed to be ridden sitting or standing. It has much better ground clearance of 8.6” (220mm) but a modest seat height of just 31.5″ (800mm); which potentially opens the bike out to many less tall riders. It was also designed to be comfortable on the road over long distances, handle  the twisties (lots of these in the Himalayas) and have a fuel range of over 250 miles from the 14-litre tank, (sounds like at least 70mpg). If this sounds like an adventure bike as opposed to another adventure-styled bike, then you’d be right. What it’s not really suited to is cruising all day at European motorway speeds, but then India isn’t known for this sort of riding. In India in 2017 it sells for 155,000 INR, or under £1900. When it arrives, UK efi Euro 4 prices are quoted at £3999. Below, a 2018 US review of the efi model.

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The look is a bit 1980s, recalling the Suzuki DR400 or DR600, although the headlight and instrument cluster are mounted on the frame, not the forks. There’s an element of BMW F650GS Dakar in there too.
For me the greatest impression was one of practicality and quality, from the solid paint finish to the alluringly cryptic HIMALAYAN logos on the tank, mudguards and side panels, as well as the large LED tail light. It comes in appropriately mountainous Granite or Snow (black or white to you and me) and looks purposeful in either.

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The engine is a long-stroke 411-cc air and oil-cooled lump with a balancer shaft. The word ‘lump’ being appropriate, as the crankcases appear to be off a much larger bike; maybe they intend to produce a large capacity version in the future?
Peak horsepower is claimed to be 24.5 bhp, about the same as the 2017 Honda CRF250L, but there’s 50% more torque, and crucially it’s all delivered at much lower revs.

Coming off my 70-bhp KTM 690R (left) and a R1200GS, I didn’t find the lack of power a problem. The bottom-end torque and smooth power delivery made that modest power very usable. The only glitch with the engine was a flat spot around 4000rpm, most noticeable at altitude (we rode up to 16,000ft/4870m on this trip). You soon learn to ride round it and I suspect a good engine tuner could sort the carburetted version we rode. The fuel-injected version to be sold both in India and globally is bound to  be better in this respect.
On the left of the front down-tube is a good-sized oil cooler, and there’s an all-stainless exhaust with a nicely shaped, cat-free silencer. I imagine the UK version will need a bulky cat. At the other end is a well-sealed airbox with a high air intake and a large, cylindrical dry-element filter.
Top speed is claimed to be 134kph or about 84mph, but the nature of the terrain we rode meant the most I saw was just under 100kph. It’s a long old way down.
Some riders thought the 5-speed gearbox was a little stiff, but on our bikes the clutch cable had been routed around the outside of the aftermarket crash bars causing a bit of cable drag.

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The frame is a conventional steel-tube cradle designed by Harris Performance (who Enfield bought out in 2015) and finished in satin black. The rear end is monoshock and perhaps the only unconventional feature are the subframes either side of the tank which support the headlight and instruments. Each includes a series of threaded mounts to attach extra tanks, luggage carriers or an aftermarket fairing.

The aluminium bash plate looks a bit flimsy, but proved to be up to the job as the clearance was generous. Surprisingly, hand guards are not standard, though our rental bikes did have poorly fitted aftermarket crash bars which clanged over bigger bumps. I cured this by jamming a wooden wedge into the mounting assembly. You also get sturdy centre- and side-stands which tuck out of the way.

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Wheels and tyres
Wheels are 21” front and a 120/90 section 17” at the rear on black alloy rims shod with Indian Ceat Gripp XL trail tyres which resemble Dunlop Trailmaxs. On rocks, gravel and dry mud, they worked well enough if pressures were dropped to 20 psi.
On muddy ruts and wet grass you just have to take it easy or you’ll end up as on the right, but they’re helped by the gentle power delivery; it’s almost like having traction control. The Himalayan does not, of course, have traction control, ABS (in India at least), power modes, suspension modes or any a la modes, but manages fine without them.

Suspension and brakes
Initially the forks (180mm) felt very softly sprung; far more trail bike than my hard-charging 690 enduro. However, the springing and damping were well matched making riding over rocks very easy; the bike always went where it was pointed. There’s no adjustment on the 200-mm-travel rear shock except preload. The brakes look like Brembo copies with braided, stainless brake lines. At the speeds attained they worked for me.

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If the bike were mine, I’d fit one-inch bar risers, but then I am 6’ 1” and fit risers to all my dirt bikes. The 31.5-inch seat is low for an off roader which makes standing up a bit more of an effort, but was comfortable enough for all-day riding. Before the trip Dan (5’ 6”)  had some concerns that the 182-kilo Himalayan would be too tall and heavy but she easily got both feet on the ground and loved the bike too.
The bike is fitted with a small screen to help reduce the wind pressure at speed (or at least the speeds we reached on this trip). Dan removed hers to improve visibility on dirt roads. It can make a real difference to confidence.

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The analogue instruments have enough of the information and features you’d expect of a modern bike, plus a couple you wouldn’t: oil temperature and an electronic compass. I love the latter idea; in a country where fitted GPS is rare, it helps affirm you’re heading in the right direction.

Luggage attachment
Besides the tank frames the bike also comes with a small rear rack and several points to attach pannier frames. Some people complained the upswept exhaust made mounting luggage more difficult than on a Bullet, but if they stall in a river at least it won’t fill with water.

Compared to most modern bikes the Himalayan is basic, but everything appears readily accessible with a comprehensive tool kit sits under the lockable back seat. According to the service interval, the 2.6 litres of oil needs changing every 6000 miles or 10,000km.

I’ve ridden all sorts of bikes in all sorts of places and am convinced Royal Enfield have done something special with the Himalayan. There’ve been a few teething troubles, as you’d expect for a new design from any manufacturer, but Royal Enfield have been responsive and you’d hope by the time we get the Himalayan in the UK, these will have been sorted.

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The suitability of the bike for India and specifically the Himalayas is undeniable, but would it be suitable elsewhere?
After a month and a few thousand kilometres in India, I’ve no doubt that given a set of better tyres it would be able to tackle the majority of the UK trails I regularly ride. At over 180 kilos it is significantly heavier than other trail bikes of this capacity, even a KTM 690R or BMW XChallenge, but the low seat combined with the soft suspension and progressive power delivery make it very easy to ride.
Would I enter it in an enduro? Only if I felt like winding people up. Would I ride the Trans-Am Trail on it? Absolutely. Round the World? Maybe, once I assessed long-distance, all-day road comfort and reliability. Is it fun? Yes!

• General off-road rideability
• Ergonomics
• Functional looks
• Luggage attachment points
• Compass
• Flat spot at altitude (carb model)
• Lack of top-end power (but yet to test above 60 mph)
• Lack of hand guards
• Wretched aftermarket crash bars
• Will cost twice as much in the UK