The Royal Enfield Himalayan is not a bike aimed at our market. If you want to cross a continent on bad roads – a ride into the Himalayas perhaps – then it would excel, but on fast UK roads it struggles. If it had the new 650-twin found in the Royal Enfield Interceptor and the associated 46bhp, then it could be a serious mainstream contender, but alas, we don't expect a Royal Enfield Himalayan 650 any time soon.
We first saw the Enfield Himalayan in 2015 and it showed a lot of promise. We then rode it in through the Himalayan mountains in India, but back then it was carburetted and not destined for the UK. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s Euro4 with fuel injection, a cat converter and ABS. So how does it handle things here in Blighty?
Twist the choke (no really...), prod the starter and the gentle thump of the 410cc air-cooled single sends your heart a flutter. Stand back while it warms up and it looks every inch the part – the reinforced steel frame designed by Harris Performance oozes adventure, as does the 21in front.
Even the humble little alloy panniers (£499 extra) fill you with a sense of joy at the adventures to come. Sadly, that joy soon drains away when you hit the road.
Within minutes you’re wringing its neck and the gentle throbbing is replaced by terrifying clattering. On a fast A-road with the throttle twisted to the stop in fifth, I had to watch as the photographer’s van pulled away with ease.
A glance at the speedo showed it had topped out at an indicated 75mph. In its defence it’s vibe free, the screen keeps off the worst of the wind and the Enfield only sips at the petrol, so you can get over 50mpg.
But 24.5bhp simply isn’t enough when you’re dicing with bigger and more powerful vehicles. There are big old gaps between the gears too, so dropping a cog for an overtake doesn’t help.
Royal Enfield Himalayan customs
The Himalayan is a popular bike for those who like to personalise their machines. We saw six customs at Wheels and Waves in June 2019.
Furthermore a number of bikes from Barcelona-based motorcycle clothing retailer Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles created a one-off, Dakar-inspired Royal Enfield Himalayan, which took on the 2019 Scram Africa rally.
The build was amplified by a modified Suzuki RM-Z450 exhaust.
For a little extra pep, the bike received a Powertronic ECU plug-in, with the ancillary components and running gear remaining the same as the original machine. The old single headlight has made way for a squared enduro mask and the screen has been removed.
This has left the Marlboro-coloured tank more exposed for more of a classic enduro feel. What’s more, the standard dual seat unit has been replaced for a single seat design, with the rear now housing a removable luggage rack.
For additional luggage capacity, they have also rather cleverly recycled one of the tank-mounted luggage racks from the original machine and re-mounted it on the left, to the rear of the machine.
Watsonian give the Enfield Himalayan the sidecar treatment
In November 2018 British sidecar firm Watsonian Squire announced a new sidecar outfit in tandem with the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
The firm are using the low-capacity adventure bike as a test mule for their latest 'International' sidecar, which draws inspiration from the firm’s original version launched back in 1938.
After production was halted by the Second World War, the original motorcycle accessory was then not available to the public until 1950, in a year where it was also raced in the International Six Days Trial at Llandrindod Wells, in Wales.
Much like the original International, this has been designed primarily for road use and features a glass fibre body with aluminium panels and mudguard, mounted on a tubular steel frame that has been powder coated for durability using expoxy resin.
Beneath the seat is a large luggage locker for all of your belongings and the 16-inch spoked third wheel – complete with a black powder-coat finish - is mounted on hydraulic suspension and shod with a Bridgestone Trail Wing tyre.
Available in Spring 2019, the unit costs £3995 plus £450 for the fitting kit.