2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan Preview

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

Adventure bikes are wonderfully versatile for all types of riding, making the ADV class one of the hottest segments in contemporary motorcycling. The best of them retail at north of $15,000 and can soar above $20k. But are those heavyweights really the best ADVs? A simple tip-over off the beaten path might have you wishing you were on a bike that was 100 or more pounds lighter and much less costly to repair.

The all-new Royal Enfield Himalayan might be a viable option for riders short on inseams and bank balances, boasting a 411cc single-cylinder motor, reasonable off-road ability, and an accessible MSRP of just $4,499, thanks to production in India at Enfield’s home base. RE claims the Himalayan scales in at 421 pounds wet.

The Himalayan, says RE, “is purpose-built for adventure, allowing for a purer and more accessible form of adventure touring.”

With a clean, rugged appearance, the Himalayan looks ready for adventure. Shown is the “Snow” colorway, but a “Graphite” version is  also available.

The Himalayan occupies a unique space in the lightweight ADV market, with its 411cc single-cylinder engine out-cubing the 250cc mini-ADVs from Japanese manufacturers, such as Honda’s new CRF250L Rally ($5,899) and Kawasaki’s reborn KLX250 ($5,349) and its recently introduced twin-cylinder Versys-X 300 ($5,399).

The new Enfield also has a larger engine than the 313cc Single in BMW’s G310GS, also built in India (by TVS), but the Himalayan’s motor is built more for durability and driveability than outright performance. Enfield claims a maximum of just 24.5 hp delivered at 6500 rpm, nearly 27% fewer ponies than the Beemer’s 33.5-hp claim at 9500 rpm.

RE calls its single-overhead-cam engine the LS410, with the LS referring to its bore (78mm) and stroke (86mm) ratio being substantially under-square. This will allow the engine to be lugged further down in its powerband, providing accessible grunt at low revs. Peak torque of 23.6 lb-ft is said to arrive between 4000-4500 rpm, comparing favorably to the G310’s claim of 20.7 lb-ft way up at 7500 rpm.

The unit-construction 411cc Single eschews liquid-cooling for stone-ax-reliable cylinder finning for air cooling, augmented by an oil cooler. Nods to modernity include fuel injection, an overhead cam and a counterbalancer.

We’re happy to report the Himalayan is equipped with a counterbalancer to mute objectionable vibration, unlike previous Royal Enfields that vibrate at levels high enough to irritate. Also a first for an Indian-built RE is the inclusion of an oil cooler, which helps the air-cooled mill shed heat.

The adventure-themed Himalayan looks the part, with a rugged appearance penned by noted designer Pierre Terblanche before he left Enfield’s employ. It starts up front with an off-road-desirable 21-inch front wheel/tire combo with the requisite high fender. A reasonably large windscreen (manually adjustable to two positions) is perched above a round headlight. The steel frame was developed in England by Harris Performance, and it provides 9 inches of ground clearance. Front and rear wheel travel is 7.9 and 7.1 inches, respectively. Rubber fork gaitors protect the 41mm fork tubes from rock damage.

Further protection is provided by crash guards that surround the fuel tank and by a robust-looking bash plate for the bottom of the engine. A scooped seat design brings its height down to a reasonably accessible 31.5-inch perch, while a rack behind the passenger seat provides a place to strap down luggage. Braking is provided by a 300mm disc with a twin-piston caliper up front and a single-piston clamper and 240mm rotor out back.

Thin enough for some single-track exploration…

Instrumentation appears to be fairly contemporary, with digital displays for a fuel gauge, gear-position indicator, digital compass and engine temperature gauge joining the usual analog tach and speedo dials. A 4.0-gallon fuel tank is purported to provide 280 miles between fill-ups.

The Himalayan will retail for $4,499 when it hits American dealers in the summer of 2018. We’re looking forward to riding it to find out if Royal Enfield has struck a sweet spot in the marketplace and will become, as RE describes, “an adventure offering for all.”

2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan Specifications

Engine Type411cc Single-cylinder, 4-stroke, air-cooled, SOHC, fuel injection
Bore and Stroke78mm x 86mm
Compression Ratio9.5:1
Rear Wheel Horsepower24.5 bhp @ 6500 rpm
Torque23.6 lb-ft (32 Nm) @ 4250 rpm
ClutchWet, multi-plate
Transmission5-speed constant mesh
Final DriveChain
Front Suspension41mm telescopic fork, 7.9 inches (200mm) travel
Rear SuspensionMonoshock with linkage, 7.1 inches (180mm) travel
Front Brake300mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper
Rear Brake240mm disc, single-piston floating caliper
Front Tire90/90-21
Rear Tire120/90-17
Seat Height31.5 in.
Curb Weight (Claimed)421 pounds (191 kg)
Fuel Capacity4.0 gal.
ColorsSnow or Graphite
Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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2 of 71 comments
  • Alex Bub Alex Bub on Nov 30, 2017

    All interesting comments.I run an MSF dirt bike school and am looking forward to adding one of these to my 18 bike fleet. I'm enjoying adventure bike rides on my current bikes (KTM520 EXC, KTM450 EXC, Suzuki DR650, Yamaha WR250R) plus many Honda CRFs and Yamaha TTRs of all displacements for the schools. For extended adventure rides my favorite is the DR650. Better on the trails over a KLR and comfortable with an aftermarket seat for longer multi-day rides. Plus stone reliable, 21000 miles trouble free.
    The Himalayan price is appealing, the specs look good (torquey vs high HP), frame by Harris who are known for great designs.I'm looking forward to seeing how this fits in with the other adventure bikes.

  • Major tom Major tom on Dec 03, 2017

    Oh my, look maw, real fenders and a center stand too! You remember them don't you?