2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan Review – First Ride
The Himalayan continues to trailblaze for Royal Enfield
“Capable but not intimidating; that has been the ethos of the Himalayan from the start,” according to Royal Enfield. I think we can all agree, that pretty well sums up the simple, retro adventure bike from the Indian brand. Has the massive overhaul the Himalayan received changed this character? That’s what we set forward to find out, and what better place to do it than its namesake in Northern India.
2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan Review
Royal Enfield has brought itself into the modern age with its latest Himalayan, and the bike is better in nearly every way because of it.
Editor's score: 85.5%
- The new chassis provides excellent feedback and withstands the rigors of adventure
- Just enough tech to keep the luddites at bay
- Fit and finish is miles ahead of what we expected from RE a decade ago
- 10,000 ft might not have been the best place to showcase a new 452 cc engine
- The styling takes a step away from the retro charm of the previous model
- Some bikes during the test experienced electronic gremlins pertaining to ride modes
Motorcycle.com would like to thank Motorcycle Mechanics Institute | MMI for sponsoring this video. Video by Royal Enfield.
Deep orange morning light blasted through the chartered flight’s windows as we made our way from Chandigarh toward Manali, the sun welcoming us to a new day, in a new place. As we flew north, the valleys grew deeper and deeper, turning to bottomless gorges between towering mountains. Descending to the Bhuntar airport, 8,000-foot mountains rise on either side as we prepare to land on a small runway next to the Beas River. During our hour-long drive to Manali, we got a taste of what to expect from Indian traffic: no rules and a get in where you fit in mindset, yet it all seemed to work despite my being sure we were going to be involved in a head-on collision every two minutes.
Making our way closer to Manali revealed another stark reality of the massive power of the Himalayas. Just three months prior, the Beas River had flooded causing utter devastation to the region. The flooded river eroded the shoreline and brought down buildings and bridges while vehicles and homes were swept away. Since the flooding subsided, the riverbed is laden with massive boulders, under which can be found the unrecognizable remains of buses and cars. A somber reminder of the reality of Royal Enfields ominous marketing slogan, “Remember, the mountain has other plans.”
Not long into our test ride, I muttered out loud to myself, “This is an experience I’ll never forget.” The motorcycle melted underneath me and let me experience an entirely new world and culture, never faltering, never stealing the show, but always continuing to move forward. And moving forward is the overarching theme with the Royal Enfield Himalayan since its inception in 2017. For 2024, this motorcycle is previously uncharted territory for RE, and a step into the future for the brand.
The Sherpa. A fitting name for Royal Enfield’s newest power plant. The previous Himalayan’s LS411 engine was the first new engine the company had built since 1955. Now, we’re seeing the trend continue with Himalayan and the Sherpa 452, a much more modern mill. The 452 cc Single is now complete with liquid cooling, DOHC (both firsts for Royal Enfield), and four valves. Bore and stroke are 84 mm by 81.5 mm with a compression ratio bumped up from 9.5 to 11.5:1. At a claimed 39.5 horsepower (at 8,000 rpm), that’s an increase of 45% compared to the last Himalayan we had on the dyno. Torque has also increased by 27%, at a claimed 29 lb-ft (at 5,500 rpm) compared to 21.2 from our last dyno run. A new ride by wire throttle feeds a 42 mm throttle body and also makes way for two different ride modes.
Of course, it’s easy to look at the engine as the star of the show, and some might say it is. It is undeniably a great technological leap for the brand. But from my experience, at 6,000 to 10,000-plus feet of elevation, there were other components that impressed and surprised more with their performance – more on that shortly. In the Himalayas, the engine did provide a sportier experience than the previous mill, ramping up into the torque curve quicker and spinning out nearly 2,000 rpm further. Off-road, the Sherpa kept the Himalayan chugging along effortlessly, though there was a bit of punch missing that, again, was likely caused by the scarcity of oxygen. Reliably making it to your destination is the main goal in this harsh environment though, not peak performance.
If the engine lives up to its claimed power figures, it should place itself at the top of the lightweight adventure segment. This should see the Himalayan’s Sherpa in the company of machines like the KTM 390 Adventure, Suzuki DR650, Honda XR650L, and the Kawasaki KLR 650 – the last of which carries much more weight, while the previous two boast a larger capacity, yet the same performance figures.
By tilting the engine slightly forward, Royal Enfield achieved a more front-biased weight distribution, created ample space for the 4.5-gallon fuel tank, and optimized the airflow for the downdraft air intake located beneath the tank. The semi-dry sump system has also allowed RE to increase ground clearance. Overall, Royal Enfield tells us the new engine is 22 pounds lighter than the previous Himalayan’s.
Looking at the graphs provided during our tech presentation, the torque curves look similar to the previous engine’s, albeit with higher output. As the two rev out though, the new Sherpa engine creates a delta of 65% as it revs to its 8,750 rpm redline. The LS411 motor would have signed off long ago. With all of these upgrades, the experience should be drastically different from the LS411, which wasn’t exactly the case. We look forward to testing one at sea level when they’re available Stateside – which is said to be around Summer 2024.
Mated to that modern engine is a modern transmission with a slip and assist clutch as well as, one, two, three, four, five, six! Six gears! And they snick to and fro quite nicely, which is good because with any engine of this size, particularly on US roads, the gearbox will get a constant rowing. At the lever, the cable clutch pull is nice and light.
“Built for all roads. Built for no roads.”
The chassis was the most impressive upgrade to the Himalayan that stood out during our strafing through the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Immediately once out on the roads of Manali, the Himalayan’s agility was a welcome attribute as a foreigner in a new country. We passed and dodged cars, buses, animals, and each other, which made the lithe handling of the new Himalayan more than appreciated – particularly when I was rubbing elbows with a vehicle 120-times bigger than me, inches away from needing to jump a ditch to make a pass. It really is a perfect machine for it. Almost like it was imbued with what it needed to survive such a place. Suddenly, I was using that horn like a local and tuned in to the controlled chaos that is Indian traffic – and of course Manali is nothing compared to the larger cities – it’s just the sheer drops one needs to worry about.
The steel twin spar frame is stiffened up with the engine as a stressed member and has a bolt-on subframe. Showa provides the suspension components this time around with an inverted cartridge-style 43 mm Separate Function fork and a rising-rate link-type shock. Both ends offer nearly eight inches of travel. The 59.4-inch wheelbase, 26.5º of rake, and five inches of trail keep the new Himalayan stable throughout the ride.
Really, the suspension was the biggest surprise while testing the ’24 Himalayan. The Showa suspenders do an excellent job of keeping the ride compliant and both ends feel much better than before, though I think the shock could use some extra rebound damping to slow things down. Off-road, over small and slightly bigger jumps, the Himalayan held itself up impressively, only bottoming if I made a poor choice in landing – which, again surprisingly, only happened a couple of times. I did adjust the shock’s ramp-style preload from the third position to the fifth (out of seven total), which helped to balance the bike out a bit better.
The Himalayan has the same 21/17-inch wheel combo and front tire size (90/90-21) though the rear gets a bit wider with a 140/80-17. CEAT Gripp road-biased tires are your first line of defense against the terra and manage to provide pretty great grip on not so great road surfaces. Despite our test steeds being the “Summit,” or top trim levels, they were fitted with tube-type spoked wheels. We were told during our presentation however, the Summit models (Hanle Black and Kamet White) will come with cross-spoked tubeless wheels – more on trims in a bit.
The axial-mount two-piston Bybre caliper and single 320 mm disk do a much better job than the previous binders of getting the 432-pound (claimed with 90% fuel/oil) bike slowed down and the single-piston/270 mm rotor rear combo was easy to modulate. We’re not talking ground-breaking here, but the previous setup was not great. The two ride modes, performance and eco, are also supplemented with two versions of each that disable ABS to the rear wheel. Front ABS proved to intervene a bit more than I would prefer off-road, but it’s manageable.
Ergonomically, the bike felt perfectly neutral whether sitting or standing. The seat height has gone up about an inch, but is adjustable in two positions (32.4 - 33.3 in.). For those concerned, there is an accessory low height that brings the seat almost back to that of the 2023 model at 31.7 inches in its lowest setting. When standing, the bike’s waist feels slim between the knees with room to move around off-road. Thankfully, the rubber inserts found in the footpegs can be removed with an allen wrench found in the bike’s tool kit because, like they always are, they’re slicker than snail snot when wet.
Tripper & tech
Royal Enfield is sticking with the Tripper branding from its previous optional navigation module, but it denotes the Himalayan’s entire round, four-inch TFT display. This is one place where Royal Enfield sets the Himalayan apart from any other motorcycle. The built-in Bluetooth module uses a Google-derived navigation engine. There are a couple of screen layouts to choose from and one drops all of the pertinent information to the bottom and shows what you would see in Google maps over the top three quarters of the screen. In order to use this feature, you must use RE’s app, but with Google functionality, it works quite well. The only caveat is that your phone’s screen cannot turn off… kind of an issue as it will drain the phone’s battery life in under half a day – at least it did during our experience on the press ride. That said, there is a USB-C outlet available next to the dash.
Aside from navigation, trip info, and ride modes, there isn’t too much information to navigate through on the Tripper display (once your phone is connected, you’ll also have notifications from that). You will need to be stopped in order to switch ride modes, although you’ll probably just find yourself switching between Performance with or without ABS. As a motorcycle playing in this displacement range, Eco is hardly worth being an option. In all, it’s an easy system to navigate compared to plenty of others. LED lighting is also now found throughout.
You’ve got options
If there is one thing Royal Enfield has delivered on more than any other manufacturer as of late it’s color options, and judging by the praise found in every comments section for it around the furthest reaches of the internet, it would seem the motorcycling public is here for it.
The 2024 Himalayan gets five color options which are tied to “trim” levels. We have the Base trim which is offered in Kaza Brown, the Pass trim offering up Slate Poppy Blue and Slate Himalayan Salt, and the Summit models available in Kamet White and Hanle Black.
In addition to the welcome spread of color options, Royal Enfield also has a stacked catalog of Genuine Motorcycle Accessories to choose from. We got to take a look at two different “kits” that can be purchased and they look pretty thorough, spanning everything from protection and luggage components, to ergos and styling – all of which can also be had à la carte.
Here’s where I must voice my opinion about the new styling, so please feel free to breeze past this subjectivity if you’re a fan of the new Himalayan’s appearance. I’m not a fan. I feel this new design loses what I once referred to as “Indiana Jones-esque” styling. While I’m 100% on-board with all of the upgraded performance, and while there are similarities to the previous model’s styling, the Himalayan just looks like a very bland standard bike to me with some decent color options. Why I mention this here though is because the “Rally Kit” includes a really nice seat and tail section that do a good job of transforming the look of the Himalayan toward something I would deem more interesting. Rant over.
Riding a motorcycle in the country where it was conceived is always an eye opening experience. You get to sample the machine in the environment it was built to withstand. Whether a motorcycle is meant to be an international model or not, as with humans, nature plays a role in its development as well as nurture.
The new Himalayan’s updated performance has made for a machine that offers a better riding experience in every way. And when you can rely on your motorcycle to give you a great riding experience, it allows you to be in tune with what you’re experiencing as a whole more thoroughly. Interestingly enough, coming from the BMW R 1300 GS press introduction directly to the Himalayan’s, both motorcycles offer a similar experience compared to their predecessors: simply put, they both offer an easier riding experience.
At the end of the day
Royal Enfield have put a lot of time and development into this new motorcycle. Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director of Royal Enfield, rode with us during our first day in the mountains and mentioned that the new Himalayan’s design had been signed off on in 2018. Of course, COVID ate into this but it’s been a long time in development. We also had the chance to see concept designs and prototypes that the team built and tested through those years. In terms of the time invested previously, and the village of people and infrastructure Royal Enfield brought out to support this event, it’s clear this is a significant product for the company.
It is, of course, not lost on me that while the 2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan is a massive leap from its predecessor, it’s now simply playing in the same realm as other lightweight adventure machines from other major manufacturers. The Himalayan’s original role as a basic, retro adventure bike available at a low price point is what I believe helped the machine sell more than 200,000 units since its inception. The new design aesthetic is undeniably more modern and the machine is massively better performing in every way, but will Royal Enfield be able to keep the price competitive? Pricing has been announced in the UK and Europe starting at £5,750 and €5,900.00, respectively. That’s a price increase of 701 quid in the UK and 913 euros in Spain, for example. A straight conversion puts us between $6,500 and $7,300. We won’t know US pricing for certain until the Summer of 2024, but will the price increase from 2023’s $5,449 MSRP impact RE’s sales? We’ll just have to wait to find out.
2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan Specifications
Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, DOHC, 4-valves
Bore x Stroke
84.0 mm x 81.5 mm
39.5 hp at 8,000 rpm (claimed)
29.5 lb-ft. at 5,500 rpm (claimed)
EFI, 42 mm throttle body, ride-by-wire system
Wet multiplate, slip & assist
Steel, twin spar tubular frame
Showa 43mm inverted cartridge-style separate function fork; 7.9 inches of travel
Showa linkage type rising-rate monoshock, with adjustable preload; 7.9 inches of travel
Hydraulic disc brake, two-piston caliper, 320 mm ventilated disc
Hydraulic disc brake, single-piston caliper, 270 mm ventilated disc
Dual-channel ABS, switchable
12V, 8 Ah
LED headlight, integrated turn and tail lamp, all LED
Ride modes, USB-C charging port
4-inch round TFT display with phone connectivity, full map navigation (powered by Google Maps), media controls
Rake / Trail
26.5° / 5.0 inches
Standard Seat: 32.5 inches, adjustable to 33.3 inches
Low Seat: 31.7 inches, adjustable to 32.5 inches
432 pounds (claimed)
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Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.
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