Himalayan – Should competition be worried?
Modified On Mar 16, 2016 By Team Bikedekho
Royal Enfield (RE) motorcycles were first put to test by the Indian army in 1955. Back then, national highways and well paved passes were non-existent. All that one had to travel on was vast stretches of broken tarmac strewn with gravel and boulders around. But, we are talking about the Indian army who camp away from the bustling city life and sometimes even sparse civilization. The motorcycles were ridden straight off in the Himalayan regions. And that’s been the core reason that has made RE so successful and popular.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s the common man was still attracted to the peppy 2-strokes while the fuel conscious souls chose to go with the 4-stroke revolution. There were still only a few takers for RE motorcycles. The bike was considered a fuel guzzling transporter and the concept of adventure touring was virtually unheard of. However, post 2000 things began to change and motorcycles were looked upon with more passion than mere objects for commuting. RE made several changes to its engines over the years though the structure pretty much remained the same on its Standard and Electra models. The real turnaround happened once they introduced motorcycles like the Thunderbird and aptly called it a comfortable and reliable long distance cruiser. Their marketing campaigns changed the Indian customer’s perspective about the brand and set the sales charts on fire.
The Himalayas has always lured people world over with its untouched beauty that lets one escape and enjoy its beautiful gorges, craggy mountains and barren lands. Ladakh is one such region here that is considered to be the Mecca for bikers alike. Over the last 15 years, motorcyclists from around the country have made a zillion trips to the high passes. The one that has been the preferred choice among Indians is none other than those produced by RE. And that’s rightfully so, given the altitude, the extremely harsh weather and long distances to be covered over bone jarring terrain. All of that along with the ability to carry tools, additional fuel and of course luggage. The RE has done it all with aplomb and the community comprising RE enthusiast is only growing.
RE decided to build an all terrain go anywhere purpose-designed bike. The essence had to bring together the elements of the Himalayas and present an extremely inspiring bike. An honest design philosophy with clean lines that represents its raw, robust, reliable and rugged form. The bike will be for people breathing an adventure spirit and explore the roads less travelled. At the same time, the rider should be comfortable with its urban commuting capabilities. To build a motorcycle that could satisfy the dual intention required RE to go back to their drawing boards about 2 years ago and today they are ready to launch their first adventure touring motorcycle “The Himalayan”.
RE has ensured that they leave nothing to chance when it came to the design and the engine characteristics. There is minimalistic body work that wraps around a brand new chassis housing the new single cylinder, single over head cam (SOHC), Long Stroke 410 engine (LS410 – 4stroke) coupled with a counter- balancer to help reduce vibrations. This is also the first RE to have a mono-shock suspension with linkage. To tackle off-roads the bike has been kittled with longer telescopic suspension travel up-front, a 21’ inch front wheel to aid a better approach angle with a 17’ inch at the rear. The spoke wheels are fitted with dual-purpose tyres. It also sports a fly screen that aims to protect the rider from windblast and a bash plate underneath to protect the engine from the elements. With a seat height of about 800mm, RE is hoping to make most riders feel comfortable perched behind the high and wide handle bar. With a kerb weight of less than 185 Kilograms and a fuel tank capacity of 15 liters, we expect the bike to return a decent fuel efficiency. RE has also ensured that the engine design is such that the service intervals are only around every 10, 000 kms. We feel that is something that will truly appeal to adventure bikers and tourers.
A rugged frame, optimized geometry and suspension, custom made for multi-day explorations, vital accessories like luggage panniers and jerry cans, excellent riding composure, optimized foot peg position makes the Himalayan, RE’s most versatile motorcycle. Which is why RE feels this is the only motorcycle a rider will ever need.
RE will be launching The Himalayan in Mumbai today. We are hoping prices will be just right to draw customers to RE showrooms across India. And if that happens, competition could feel the heat. There is news on the internet that KTM-Bajaj is planning to bring their very successful Duke and RC twins in an adventure format. We already know how capable the Indian siblings are in both naked and faired designs. Given the superb performance from their single cylinder engine and a nimble chassis, the adventure duos are something the Indian biker is waiting for. As for the price, KTM has never disappointed.
All we could say is, adventure and thrill seekers in the country can rejoice. The adventure biking party is heating up. We are hoping competition is listening.