Royal Enfield would be 'foolish not to' consider more 450-powered models says design chief

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 on the stand at Eicma 2023
Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 on the stand at Eicma 2023

Royal Enfield’s Chief of Design has hinted that we could see more models arriving using the firm’s latest 452cc single-cylinder engine, revealed in the second generation Himalayan adventure bike for 2024.

“Today is all about the Himalayan 450 but it would be foolish of us not to think about what else this engine… [could feature in],” Enfield’s Mark Wells told MCN at the November 2023 Eicma trade show in Milan. “It’s a fantastic engine, it really is.

“We were probably ready last year. We did a big management immersion ride up to the Himalayas last year, which was epic,” he continued. “We were pretty much ready to go, but there were a few things that we wanted to fine-tune, so we put off the launch and we said, ‘we’re going to do it right, it needs to be important.’

Royal Enfield design chief Mark Wells

“When we launched the first Himalayan, we did have some early problems and we were adamant that we don’t want that to happen again, so we’ve put in a huge amount of time and effort testing this new model.”

Producing a claimed 40bhp and featuring liquid cooling for the first time in Enfield’s 122-year history, it’s a motor that started development around 2016-17 and marks a step change for the company so often associated with gentle air-cooled singles.

“It’s genuinely class-leading, and I don’t think there’s an engine anywhere in the class that’s doing what this does,” Wells added. “We’ve talked about the torque, but that low down torque – the way it picks up – is so nice.”

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 ridden off road

The performance traits of the new motor also make it a competitor to Triumph’s incoming £4995 Speed 400, and £5595 Scrambler 400 X nakeds, which produce a claimed 39.5bhp from their Bajaj Auto-built 398cc single-cylinder motors, also produced in India.

While the new Himalayan is slightly more expensive – starting at £5750 – another model sharing the platform could well be a naked Scram. This is borne out by the fact that the first generation Himalayan 411 spawned an upright Scram 411 of its own – ditching the front 21in rim for a 19-incher to form an easy-going, semi-retro upright.

Such a model would go toe-to-toe with Triumph, but it’s also not unreasonable to imagine we could see a smaller ‘Tiger 400’ adventurer unveiled by the Hinckley firm, too.

Royal Enfield at Eicma 2023

“If you wanted a bike to ride around the world on, I genuinely think this is the best bike to do it on, bar none. Period,” the RE designer continued. “Irrespective of price point, I think this [Himalayan] is the best bike because it’s rideable, it’s usable, it’s accessible, you can ride it every day, and it encourages you to do things that you wouldn’t try to do on a bigger bike.” 

Despite singing its praises, he did also admit that his team were conscious of putting off fans of the ‘traditional’ Royal Enfield recipe whilst modernising the platform.  

He said: “For example, we had a lot of debate about the TFT dash and whether we should move away from analogue. We talk about analogue all the time and that was something we really considered. 

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 ridden on the road

“When you look at the TFT… there’s no naff animations of clouds scrolling across or cog wheels turning, or any of that nonsense. There’s nothing that’s not necessary,” he added. “We took everything that made the original Himalayan good.  

“On the original bike, everybody loved the ground access. They loved the manoeuvrability, they loved the weight, the tractability, and the way it would just tractor on through, and we made sure this bike has all of that – we just made every aspect of it better.”