Royal Enfield Himalayan Review

Welcome to the Adventure Motorcycle Traveller Reviews. Here’s a 30,000-mile review of the Royal Enfield Himalayan by round-the-world motorcycle traveller Jack Groves.  

Britonabike Jack Groves Royal Enfield Himalayan

Contents

By Jack Groves

By Jack Groves

British round-the-world motorcycle traveller

Quick info

  • Bike: 2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan 
  • Purchased for: £3,000 (eBay)
  • Miles covered: 31,000+
  • Years owned: since May 31 2019  
  • Engine: Single-cylinder, air-cooled, 411cc, FI
  • Power: 24 bhp
  • Torque: 23.6 ft-lbs
  • Kerb weight: 190kg
  • Seat height: 80cm
  • Tank capacity: 
  • Tyres: 21 and 17
  • Front suspension: Telescopic forks, 41mm, 200mm travel
  • Rear suspension: Monoshock, 180mm travel

Prep

Why this bike?

First off, due to age, I am an A2 licence holder so that restricted my options from the traditional ‘big’ ADV bikes to the mid-capacity segment. Having said that, on the pretty meagre budget I was on from savings and student loan leftovers, anything much bigger with a reasonable mileage would have been unfeasible anyway. I remember heading to London for the massive MCN Bike Show in 2017 and seeing the Himalayan for the first time on the new Royal Enfield stand. It immediately struck a chord with me for its rugged, no-nonsense aesthetic and accessible nature for a relative rookie like me harbouring aspirations to ride around the world. I followed its UK launch the next year with great interest and returned to MCN in research mode, weighing the Himalayan up against the Honda CB500X and the BMW 310GS.

Despite the higher horsepower and clever computers of the other two, for some reason I kept coming back to the Enfield stand. Sitting in the cockpit of the plucky Himalayan as the show was closing down, jerry cans fixed to the front and pannier racks on the back, I visualised myself scrambling along the rocky tracks of the Pamir Highway to a remote camp spot under the stars. I knew in that very moment that I had found my RTW companion.

My final year of university flew by and when I returned to MCN for the third time running in February 2019, I still had no bike for a trip that was supposed to begin just a few months later. No wonder both friends and family thought it was just a pipe dream that would never actually bear fruit! Then, on the evening of Friday 24th May, as I was packing for a military survival course down in Cornwall, I thought I would have a quick look on eBay on the off chance that something was in the vicinity…

Quite incredibly, the first post I saw was for a black Himalayan in Newquay with six thousand miles on the clock for only three grand! Given we would be based just 20 minutes away at a nearby airfield, it was a ridiculous coincidence and a fateful stroke of luck. I went round to view the bike that Sunday and picked it up after the course a week later to drive it the 500km back to my house near London. I arrived after midnight grinning from ear to ear at how much fun the Himalayan was on England’s curvy country backroads. Just over a month later, on July 11th, I left those hallowed shores and the rest, as they say, is history!

Royal Enfield Himalayan Review

Modifications

Nothing major really. I fitted a series of minor parts from a small UK company called Enfield Accessories such as Rotopax jerry can brackets, GPS mount, master cylinder guard etc. Stock Enfield panniers, ventilated seat cover and handguards, meanwhile, came from the excellent CooperB team in Northamptonshire. This setup took me all the way to Bangkok, Thailand where I added a headlight grill, oil cooler guard and side stand foot extender from SRC Moto.

Several thousand miles, one ocean, and five countries later, I find myself in Cusco, Peru where I have been stuck since March because of a certain virus that has been going around. I have used the forced immobilisation to get a few upgrades sent out from the US and UK. 

These include: a NightEye LED headlight, K&N performance air filter, Powerbronze short screen, DiD performance chain, Acerbis handguards, DoubleTake ADV mirrors, upgraded gear lever and a series of extra protective parts from SRC Moto USA. If I ever get back to blighty, my plan is to turn it into a pure dirt scrambler so standby for upgraded suspension, switchable ABS and proper knobblies!

Luggage

Stock Enfield metal panniers on the back, Rotopax fuel and water cans on the front, Kriega US-10 on the tank (which has recently been nicked!), US-20 on the rear rack and, finally, a Givi 40L drybag on the pillion seat which stores all my camping gear.

Travel

Reliability

On the whole, for a three grand bike, it has been excellent. To date, I have had zero issues with the engine, clutch or gearbox which are often the reasons for massive delays waiting for complicated parts to be shipped to the likes of rural Tajikistan on a round-the-world trip! It has always started when I have needed it to, from the scorching deserts of Turkmenistan to the freezing plains of Patagonia, the Himalayan has always been raring to go.

That is not to say that I have got off scot-free, however, no one ever does, regardless of bike! After an incident in Kyrgyzstan where I went into the back of some moron who was driving with broken brake lights, the frame was clearly weakened at the headstock. 

A few thousand kilometres of dirt and road riding later, and I find myself four thousand metres up on a freezing morning in Tibet. I clearly remember hitting a fairly sizeable bump in the road and immediately feeling a radical change in feedback from the front forks. After pulling over to check I hadn’t bust the inner tube, I rode gingerly for a further twenty kilometres before glancing down and, to my astonishment, noticing a finger sized crack in the frame that very nearly severed the headstock. 

Fortunately, the Himalayan has two such joints so it would not have been completely game over even if it had gone all the way through. I rode the rest of that 400+ km day at 30kph on a bike that effectively had a half broken neck! After convincing a mechanic in our remote Tibetan village stop to have a crack at patching it up, I nursed the bike a further 600km to the Nepalese border before the world’s ugliest weld unsurprisingly gave way again. I spent the evening brainstorming solutions, including crossing the border to Enfield’s Kathmandu dealership for repairs, thus foregoing the rest of China and the considerable money I had already spent on guide costs! Finally, and quite reluctantly, I accepted the help of a team of locals to manually lift the 200kg+ steed in the dead of night onto the back of a truck bound for the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Once there, we found someone to do a proper repair job, including welding on a series of metal bracing brackets.

Around the same time, the genuinely impressive team at Enfield communicated to me that, given this was the first such problem ever encountered on a BS4 model, if I made my way to either Hanoi in Vietnam or Chiang Mai in Thailand, they would cover all necessary servicing and repairs. A month later, I pulled into Enfield Chiang Mai and, true to their word, they replaced the frame and several other parts such as the chain and filters completely free of charge. Since then, I have had no major issues at all.

Servicing

Clearly, on a RTW trip, you do not have the luxury of sticking exactly to handbook service intervals. There will be continental sized gaps in your dealer support network. Having said that, I managed to get an oil and filter change in fairly often. Dubrovnik in Croatia was my first stop, followed by Enfield Istanbul, then Tbilisi in Georgia, Osh in Kyrgyzstan, Lhasa in Tibet, Enfield Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand, Enfield Perth and Sydney in Australia, Enfield Bariloche and Tucuman in Argentina and, most recently, a local mechanic in Cusco, Peru. The Himalayan runs on 15W50 4-stroke oil which is pretty easy to source so long as you bring some spare filters, inner tubes and cables, you’ll make it round the world without too much hassle!

Royal Enfield Himalayan Review

Maintenance and parts

Is it easy to get spare parts on the road? Short answer: YES – apart from China. One of the great things about the Himalayan is the lack of fairings and bodywork that normally cover up the working parts of a motorcycle. It is a simple, no-nonsense machine that simply keeps on going. A two-wheeled Land Rover Defender if you will. Any mechanic in the world can sit down next to a Himalayan and see exactly what he/she is dealing with. That’s if you even need a mechanic – all the basic maintenance functions are super easy to do yourself.

Long distance comfort

I am bang on six foot and regularly do 400+km days without any issues. Clearly, everyone has different comfort expectations and tolerances so it is very subjective but, on the whole, it is a comfortable bike on and off road. Perhaps the only exception to this would be long stretches of flat, windy roads such as in China, Australia or Argentina where you would love another cylinder and less vibrations! If you are looking for a Europe motorway tourer then look elsewhere (although who the hell wants to motorway tour!?), but if you are looking for a plucky machine that is a riot off-road and is perfectly at home on winding B-roads, this is the bike.

Royal Enfield Himalayan Review

Good and Bad

What's good?

Smooth clutch and excellent gearbox. Torque in the right places for those tricky steep dirt sections on loose terrain. Weight and seat height give you the confidence and ability to throw it around a bit off-road. Fuel consumption is excellent and I regularly hit 400km/250m of range on a single tank. Value for money is without parallel. Parts are cheap and extremely easy to source whilst servicing costs are low. Always gets more looks and interest than the generic ADV bikes that everyone has seen before.

What's not?

24bph is a right laugh if dirt-laning all day but the lack of power from the single cylinder becomes more noticeable during long hours on straight roads. In addition, whilst the overall build quality is vastly improved from the Enfields of old due to the input from UK-based Harris Performance, some of the components still lag behind that of their better known (and significantly more expensive) rivals.

Improvements?

Unsurprisingly, I would love to see Enfield release an upgraded Himalayan based on the massively successful 650 Twin platform. Double the horsepower and improve the quality in some minor areas as well as releasing it with a full catalogue of tasty aftermarket parts: chain, filters, suspension, luggage etc. Keep the cost a few grand below their competitors and I reckon they would dominate the mid-weight ADV segment. From the sounds of it, there are a lot of projects in the pipeline and, with new factories recently opening in Argentina and Thailand, exciting times most certainly lie ahead!

Verdict

In my opinion, a new Royal Enfield Himalayan is the best value round-the-world capable motorcycle on the market today. You don’t even have to take my slightly biased word for it – simply look at how the big brands are reacting to this hugely popular mid-weight upstart with their own models. They are realising that a lot of people out there have neither the money, the need, nor the desire to own a half-ton house on two wheels. Making adventure accessible to more people is perhaps the Himalayan’s most important legacy, even more than the complete revitalisation of the Enfield brand. Long may it continue.

Britonabike Jack Groves

About the author

Jack Groves

Jack is a 22-year-old Brit riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan around the world and hoping to break the world record for being the youngest person to do so. His trip has taken him through Europe, Central and Southeast Asia and Australia before flying on to South America where he’s now stuck due to Coronavirus. 

Follow his awesome adventures on Instagram: Britonabike

Read more about his trip (and how he caught Covid) here: Trapped by Coronavirus

Royal Enfield Himalayan Review

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8 thoughts on “Royal Enfield Himalayan Review”

  1. Hi ,my bro’s just bought a Himalayan and I’m gonna give it go over weekend, both of us are Harley/cruiser riders me 70 and him not far behind !with time on our hands ( no were gonna find some time )😎.enjoyed this review very much and found it really helpful on which bike to choose as we both stated our biker lives aged early teens off roading BSA and others , Looking foward to reading more, kind regards Pete.

    Reply
    • Hi Pete, thanks for your comment!
      That’s brilliant, congrats to your brother for buying one! Be interesting to know what you both think of it especially as you come from a Harley/cruiser background… what made you switch?
      It’s a great bike for what it is. I rode one on the press launch in India for two weeks when it first came out years ago and was pretty impressed with how easy to ride it was. It’s so manageable but with enough tractable power to be really fun when you need it to be. Sure, it’s not going to win any races and won’t blow your socks off, but it’s not designed to and in a way that makes it even more fun because you can really get on that throttle and get the most out of it.
      Glad you enjoyed the review and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the bike!
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
      • I’m not switching from our Harleys ,wife and I both love riding them and will continue while able to cope with weight 🤣😂 she rides a sporty n I ride dyna.I just been looking for an adventure bike also to get back to my British designed bike background (ignoring all the oh well RE isnt made here ,no is Harley made in USA anymore nonsense ) So I’ve been looking at BMW , Yamaha etc midweights some thing around /under 200kg even bought a 2016 sportster to convert to on/offroad but still to heavey ! If you drop it you’ve gotta be able to pick it up 😃 so yes Himalayan is prob cheapest but after looking and now trying my bro’s E4 and looking at what you get for your cash ,its a great clean no frills build things like braided lines always a good sign ,I’m impressed by how smooth it rides very responsive at steering end ,haven’t been off road yet as it’s my bro’s and hes only had it a week ! The only downside is seat ht as my wife a keen biker is o ly 5ft 4″, and cant get her feet on ground and loves the bike but miffed it may not work for her (Any ideas on lowering )? So lm off in week to most likely buy myself a Himalayan 😍, I’ll let you know how I get on .

        Reply
        • Hi Pete,
          Ah that’s interesting! Great that you’re going to have both a cruiser AND an adventure bike! 😀
          Haha yeah that’s right, if you drop it you’ve got to get it back up again! Very true.
          Yeah, I agree, no frills, easy peasy to ride, light and no fuss. Makes for a great adventure and travel bike.
          There must be a common way of lowering the Himalayan, and i’d assume there are lowering link kits out there for it – and dropping the front forks at the same time. I’ve not lowered one before but i’m sure the dealership you’ll get it from will have some ideas.
          Looking forward to hearing how you get on,
          Cheers!
          Andy

          Reply
  2. Nice write up. I’m mainly a dirt bike guy and I’ve been messing around with the idea of building a DRZ400 into a light adventure bike, but the Himalayan looks better every time I read about it. Thinking I might scrap the DRZ idea and just go with the Himalayan.

    Reply
    • Hi Ken, thanks for your comment, glad you liked the review!
      Interesting idea on the DRZ – have you checked out Heather’s Suzuki DRZ400S Review on our site? Heather covered 40,000 miles of travel on hers and has some really good info on what it’s like as an adventure bike. Might help with your decision making.
      Either way, let us know what you choose and how you get on!
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply

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