Friday, March 9, 2018

A closer look at the Royal Enfield Himalayan

Big barn doors slid open in Texas this week, unveiling the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
It comes in Granite, left, and Snow, right.
UPDATE: Royal Enfield North America released this list of accessories for the new Himalayan:

Waterproof Travel Bag (black) — Protects cargo in foul conditions. Air release valve to shrink after packing. $99.95 MSRP

Large Engine Guard (black) — Adds protection. Made from 22mm steel tube. Black powder coat finish. $99.95 MSRP

Each box has about a cubic foot capacity.
Aluminum Pannier Kit (shown) — 26-liter carrying capacity per box. Made from 2mm aluminum plate. Includes mounting rails and lockable lids. $729.95 MSRP

Aluminum Handlebar with Cross Brace — Steel crossbar adds strength while dampening vibration. $99.95 MSRP

Aluminum Handlebar End Weight Kit — Helps minimize vibration felt through handlebars. Machined from aluminum alloy with a brushed anodized finish. $49.95 MSRP.

(Royal Enfield says its Genuine Motorcycle Accessories team at the company’s UK Tech Center is  integrated into the vehicle development process. Himalayan accessories were designed for function, comfort, utility and price point, the company said.)

Pradeep Mathew, project leader for the new Royal Enfield Himalayan, took time to show me some of the features of Royal Enfield's new adventure motorcycle at the North American launch this week in Midlothian, Texas.

Disclosure: Royal Enfield provided transportation, accommodation, food, entertainment and keepsakes to me at this product launch. The following opinions are my own.

A young veteran of almost 13 years at Royal Enfield, Pradeep is a structural engineer with a master's in product design. He also served as technical chassis lead for the Royal Enfield Continental GT and the Thunderbird (the cruiser-style Royal Enfield sold in India).

I asked him about the Himalayan's LS410 motor, the new overhead camshaft single that appears so far only in the Himalayan.

Cut-away of the Himalayan's LS (for long stroke) 410 motor.
He told me that consideration was given to using an existing motor but, about 2012, it was decided a whole new platform was needed to provide the experience Royal Enfield wanted to offer. Why a new motor? His answer surprised me:

"Additional peace of mind for the consumer," he said. Specifically, the LS410 offers 10,000-kilometer service intervals (about 6,000 miles).

The motor's long stroke was chosen not just because it is historically characteristic of Royal Enfield motors. It improves the riding experience, and smoothness in traffic, Pradeep said.

It was the Himalayan's seating that again and again came up in the conversation with Pradeep. The point was to allow the average Asian man or woman to put his or her feet flat on the ground. The Himalayan's seat height is 31 1/2 inches.

The team didn't think so much in numbers, as of a typical person members referred to simply as "that guy," who had to be comfortable.

The press pack takes off on a ride to evaluate the Himalayan.
These riders didn't loaf along; I struggled to even keep them in sight.
Pradeep said the motivation, once again, was peace of mind, found in the ability to put your foot down, whether in traffic, or off road.

In traffic, in India, the rider faces many stops and tight maneuvers that require putting a foot down, said.

The team also had to consider that an off-road the rider would want to stand on the pegs as well as on the ground. They drew their plans for the motorcycle around an imaginary "ergonomic triangle" between the handlebars, the seat and the foot pegs.

The "design proposition" for the Himalayan, illustrated by a
word cloud shown during the presentation of the new motorcycle.
Other considerations Pradeep summed up in words such as "functional," "honest," "there to serve a purpose."

Walking me over to the Himalayan, Pradeep noted that the framework that holds the "Royal Enfield" branding on the side of the motorcycle isn't there just to hold the nameplate.

It's functional, with mounting points for luggage.

Seeing photos I had assumed the distinctive front framework was decorative.
It's not. A solid part of the frame, it can carry luggage.
It also carries the headlight, instrument panel and flyscreen. That surprised me: it's a  feature for off-road riding, meant to keep unsprung weight off the front wheel, but as a street rider it was new to me.

The Himalayan's look is "industrial" for sure. But there are niceties. Pradeep pointed out that from front to rear the bike is painted above the line of the frame; below that it is black, establishing a strong horizontal line, at least on the white bike.

I applauded the presence of the center stand, one of my favorite features of Royal Enfield motorcycles, and tried lifting the bike onto the stand. It lifted fairly easily. But it's not there just for convenience, Pradeep said.

The frame carries the headlight, instruments and screen
so the front suspension doesn't have to. Initially this
surprised me but I quickly got used to it.
"If you are alone, and you get a flat tire, the center stand makes it easier to remove the wheel," he said. I hadn't considered that a center stand could turn out to be a critical part on an adventure motorcycle.

What about that other Royal Enfield fixture, the kick start lever? The LS410 doesn't have one. Pradeep said that a capacitor system allows the motor to be bump started, even if the battery has been stolen.

He also said that the electric starter has been improved to the point that it is considered absolutely reliable — not always a certainty on older Royal Enfields.

Here are the Royal Enfield Himalayan specifications:

Engine 411cc Air-cooled 4-Stroke SOHC
Bore X Stroke 78mm X 86mm
Compression ratio 9.5 : 1
Maximum power 24.5 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Maximum torque 23.6 ft/lbs @ 4,000-4,500 rpm
Gearbox 5-speed
 Fuel supply Electronic fuel injection
Engine start Electric
Chassis Half-duplex split cradle frame
Front suspension 200mm travel
Rear suspension 180mm travel monoshock
Wheelbase 58 in
Ground clearance 8.6 in
Length 86 in
Width 33 in
Seat height 31.5 in
Height 53 in (Flyscreen top)
Curb weight 421 lbs
Fuel capacity 4 gal
Front tire 21 in
Rear tire 17 in
Front brake 300mm disc
Rear brake 240mm disc


  1. I want to know more about the word “pure” in their design brief. Interesting!

  2. Short for "Pure Motorcycling." Contains the thought that motorcycles got too big, too fast, too scary, too heavy and too expensive to the point they took all the fun out of just enjoying the ride. I buy into this.

  3. Mr. Pradeep looks to be taken seriously by at least one other motorcycle manufacturer: Moto Guzzi. Take a look at the Moto Guzzi Concept V85 machine; very similar lines and ergonomics. You can bet that by the time M/G ever gets that bike to market it will cost substantially more than a Himalayan. And being a geezer, just the thought of a Moto-Guzzi anywhere but a highway makes me cringe.


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