Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 long-term review update two | Joseph heads off-road and enters a rally

Having covered almost 4000 miles up and down the country on the Royal Enfield Himalayan 450, I can confirm that it is actually a surprisingly good touring machine. It offers all-day comfort and sufficient power to cruise safely at motorway speeds.

However, to truly qualify as an adventure bike, I wanted to see if it could also handle some light off‑road action.

As an adrenaline junkie who typically gets his thrills from B‑road blasts and trackdays, I wondered if I could experience the same wide‑eyed euphoria from tackling trails on the Himalayan 450.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 off-road jump

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I’m a novice off-road rider and was nervous about taking the bike off the tarmac for the first time, but the Himalayan handled it with ease. The low power output is easy to control, and the standing riding position feels natural and comfortable. The suspension does a good job of effectively absorbing bumps, and that off‑road‑friendly 21-inch front wheel helps it to glide over rough terrain.

Then, just as I was beginning to build my confidence, I encountered a more challenging muddy and heavily rutted section – and I quickly found the limits of both myself and the bike. The standard Ceat Gripp dual-sport tyres clogged up instantly, my feet started to slip off the rubber pegs, and I was really struggling to control the bike effectively, forcing me to turn back.

Despite this initial setback, my debut off-road experience had already got me hooked on trail riding, and I wanted to develop both myself and the bike further.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 splashing through puddle off-road

My first change was swapping the OE tyres for something more purposeful, in the form of Michelin Anakee Wilds, which promised better grip in muddy sections. Then I removed the rubber dampers from the pegs, leaving just the grippy bear-claw metal base. Yes, it will mean more vibes on-road, but it’s worth it for the increased control when the going gets dirty.

At 5ft 8in, I’ve found it tricky to flat-foot on the Himalayan at a standstill with its 825mm seat height. So, to give me more confidence on and off-road, I’ve removed the riser blocks from under the seat, lowering it by 20mm. The result is a better connection to the ground when feet-down, and I feel more comfortable off-road without affecting ground clearance.

Wanting to challenge myself further, I entered the Himalayan Marches navigation rally starting near Shrewsbury, which involved plenty of off-road terrain.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 tyre

The rally began with an on-road section, on which it took me a little time to adapt to the new feel of the Anakee Wilds. The blocky tread pattern obviously hinders the bike’s road handling, but once I’d acclimatised to the change in feel and adapted to the knobbly tyres’ handling characteristics, I started to appreciate their merits.

And as soon as I headed off‑road, I instantly felt more grip everywhere, even on more technical trails. The lowered seat height allowed me to plant my feet firmly on terra firma (or ‘softa’) when needed, and I felt much more connected to the bike with the exposed metal pegs.

The Himalayan performed effortlessly all day, which helped deliver a real boost in my off‑road riding confidence. Despite the fatigue from a long day in the saddle, I only had one minor fall, which came after a water crossing.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 off-road test

But the Himalayan’s crash protection absorbed the topple without so much as a scratch. The only thing I wished I had installed was handguards, as the exposed lever did get bent. However, aside from this lapse in talent, the entire day was filled with excitement and fun – all facilitated by the Himmy’s versatile skill set.

So, with a few quick modifications, the Himalayan can be transformed from effortless mile-muncher to a capable off-road machine, even for a novice. Its solid foundations make it a great tool for developing your off-road riding skills and embarking on true adventures.