First Ride: RE Himalayan Fi BS4
From day one, Royal Enfield's first venture in to the adventure tourer segment has been quite eventful. From rave reviews at the time of it's launch to receiving flack for quality issues over the course of time, the RE Himalayan has seen it all. But now, the company has attempted to get its unique adventure-prepped motorcycle back on the path to righteousness with this new BS4 compliant model.
In terms of its design, the Himalayan retains its bare-bone, rugged blueprint with the new, visible changes being the sort only a trained eye will see. While the informative instrumentation panel remains unchanged, there's the headlight unit that's now an AHO affair, then there's a little metal guard around the oil cooler and a new saree guard design.
The Himalayan continues to be powered by the same short-stroke 411cc single-pot motor and though the engine section may look unchanged, the gone is the carburetor and in place is a fuel injection unit which helps the bike adhere to BS4 emission standards. While power figures remain the same, with the Himalayan producing 24.5bhp and 32Nm, it's the way it delivers power that's different with this new bike. Low-end power delivery has received a small boost thanks to the FI unit. Acceleration isn't as rough as before with the now bike pulling away from low speeds much cleaner and faster. It's true, the engine feels more refined at low revs than before but the engine noise and vibrations kicks in a little over 4000rpm. The five-speed gearbox sees some improvement in the form of slicker shifts but sadly we still hit a couple of false neutrals on the test run. Working the bike up to 100kph, which is at around 5000rpm in fifth, feels a lot quicker than before. With its relaxed ergo and high kerb weight (an added 9kg over the older bike) the Himalayan still not the most confidence instilling two-wheeler to chuck into a corner at speed. But the 21-inch front wheel with knobby treads, the wide bars and tall stance still fall right into place in situations that include little or absolutely no paved surfaces at all.
Apart from the engine, much of this new Himalayan model remains the same as before, which can be seen as a good and a not so good thing. Good in the sense, it's still a very comfortable bike to ride long-distance on the road, and more than cable off it. Not so good in the sense, there are still bits like the flimsy plastic that makes up the tail section which is prone to breaking off if you have some fun off-road and there's even that weak weld (still not argon) where the silencer and chassis meet just under the pillion footrest which has been prone to breaking off in the past. Dropping anchor solely using the 300mm disc up front still isn't very effective (still no ABS). On the brighter side, the narrow oil tubes from the older model have been broadened to help the engine cope with hot climates better.
All said and done, the Himalayan is still a very capable character with an attractive pricetag and little or no competition in its segment. Which works in its favor. As is the case most Royal Enfield motorcycles out here, all you can do is hope to get your hands on a trouble free bike.
1-cyl, 411cc, fuel-injection, 24.5bhp, 32Nm, 5M, 191kg; Fuel tank\: 15-litres
Still far from faultless, but still capable and desirable nonetheless