Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 long-term test update one | A mountain to climb for Videographer, Joseph

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The original air-cooled Himalayan exceeded all expectations with its laid-back demeanour and charm. The new 450 promises to retain those positives while delivering a less compromised performance. Yet for all its skeletal functionality, it still weighs in at nearly 200kg.

I’m a huge admirer of the sturdy appearance of the new 450, although it would have been good if they’d used some lighter materials to cut that 197kg kerb weight. Sure it’s a 2kg improvement over the previous 411, despite the addition of water-cooling, with all the performance enhancements that brings, but it means manoeuvring the bike at a standstill lacks the ease I’d hoped for, accentuated by the 820mm seat height, which leaves me (at 5ft 8in) on tiptoes when paddling around.  

As I worked up a sweat manoeuvring the bike out of the garage for my first ride, I couldn’t help but wonder if disappointment was looming around the first corner. Transitioning from sportsbikes (I own a Kawasaki ZXR400), I feared that sacrificing razor-sharp handling for the comfort and convenience of an adventure bike wouldn’t be a happy trade.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 cornering on the road

Fortunately, the grin plastered on my face during that initial ride told a very different story. I was amazed by how, at speed, the Himmy hugs every curve with precision. The substantial weight had seemingly disappeared, and handling is far better than I could’ve imagined. The improved Showa suspension ensures consistent support and comfort throughout the ride, too.

Even the massive 21in front wheel delivers swift and nimble steering, despite being hindered by the suboptimal choice of standard tyres. And that bigger (still A2 compliant) ‘Sherpa’ 452 engine delivers ample drive from low revs, powering you forward no matter where the tacho needle is sitting. 

So far, the Himmy is outperforming against expectation. It’s got all the obvious traits of an adventure bike: providing a cosy haven for covering big distances with a relaxed riding posture, impressive TFT map display and economical engine. Yet I hadn’t anticipated just how enjoyable those miles would be. So far, so good for my baby elephant.