Pierre Terblanche and the Royal Enfield Himalayan

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

Conceptual illustration and speculation about Pierre Terblanche's first Indian motorcycle

The rendering above comes courtesy of www.IndianCarsBikes.in which illustrates its ideas for what the upcoming Royal Enfield Himalayan might look like. We think it probably overestimates the amount of suspension travel and windscreen height. The exhaust design also seems unlikely, with low routing that would be damaged in off-road riding and a muffler that is way too small to adequately quiet a biggish Single.

After recently trademarking the name Royal Enfield Himalayan, the rumor mill is running amok with yarns of an Adventure-Touring bike soon to be launched from the Indian OEM. Could this be recent hire, Pierre Terblanche’s first model for Royal Enfield? If so, there’s also talk of new engines from Royal Enfield – a 400cc Single (a more modern, powerful engine than the company’s current 500cc, two-valve, Thumper), as well as a 700cc parallel-Twin.

With all this possible fodder with which to play, Royal Enfield seems to be slow-pitching Terblanche everything he needs to create a model that’ll make the world take notice. We want to thank Nithyanandh K over at www.IndianCarsBikes.in for the artist conception above, but if Terblanche has something to do with the Himalayan model, the design will surely bear recognizable traits of his skill.

A rolling stone is what Pierre Terblanche has been in recent years: Leaving Piaggio in 2011 to join Norton (for a brief six-month period), then on to Confederate in 2013, where he stayed for about 18 months before joining Royal Enfield late last year. Terblanche wasn’t at Norton long enough to really accomplish anything, but his time spent at Confederate produced the X132 Hellcat Speedster.

While working for Piaggio, Terblanche teamed up with Miguel Galluzzi to create this Moto Guzzi V12 Road X prototype.

Terblanche is probably best known for his time with Ducati where he hit a few home runs (Supermono, MH900e, Hypermotard) as well as some controversial foul balls (the first-generation Multistradas, 999/749). Designing the replacement model to Massimo Tamburini’s venerable 916/996/998 was an unenviable task. At the time, I remember reading that Terblanche was confined to certain design elements, such as not using a single-sided swingarm in order to save weight and increase rigidity for competitiveness in World Superbike racing. So, maybe, he’s not completely to blame for the polarization the Triple 9 affected, but I’m pretty sure he owns the design for the original Multistrada, one of the most aesthetically challenged Ducatis ever made.

2014 Royal Enfield Continental GT Review

Regardless of his past foibles, Royal Enfield CEO, Siddhartha Lal, has put his faith in the South African designer saying, “I am very excited that Pierre Terblanche has recently joined our team; he is one of the most prolific industrial designers for motorcycles, and is best known for having created some extraordinary motorcycles as the head of design for Ducati for over a decade.”

In 2006 some said Terblanche’s original Multistrada design was ahead of its time. Well, it’s nine years later, and the 1000DS remains fugly.

With every OEM manufacturing its own version of an A-T bike, you can’t blame Enfield for wanting a tasty slice of the Adventure-Touring pie. So, what kind of motorcycle can we expect from a Terblanche-designed Royal Enfield Himalayan? That largely depends on the engine.

If Enfield is actually constructing a new engine, a high-performance (at least comparatively to its current-yet-antiquated motor) 400cc Single seems like a likely bet. Other rumors suggest a 700cc parallel-Twin (which seems more appropriate for the US market), which would be something unlike RE has built before. The weight and power of a 700cc parallel-Twin will demand much more performance from the motorcycle’s chassis than anything currently in RE’s model lineup. Terblanche, though, is no stranger to explosive performance. Love or hate the 999, it did win three World Superbike championship titles for Ducati.

Terblanche is capable of designing very cool, modern renditions of old-school nostalgia. Considering this, we could see a blending of vintage Royal Enfield and contemporary styling.

Royal Enfield’s biggest struggle may be price. With the Continental GT retailing for $6k, RE will be hard-pressed to bring in a high-performance 400cc bike at a price point commensurate with what the American motorcyclist is willing to pay. If the company goes the 700cc route, well, then, it has to compete in both performance and price with the likes of BMW’s F800GS, Suzuki’s V-Strom 650 and Triumph’s Tiger 800.

However, the timing’s ripe for RE to swing big with a heavy hitter like Terblanche. With Royal Enfield building new manufacturing facilities, and having recently surpassed Harley-Davidson in unit sales last year – and forecasting to better that amount in 2015 – the future’s looking bright for Enfield. Terblanche is just the man to capitalize the situation.

The Hypermotard was Terblanche’s swan song for Ducati. The prototype won Best in Show at EICMA in 2005 and continues in Ducati’s lineup today.
Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

A former Motorcycle.com staffer who has gone on to greener pastures, Tom Roderick still can't get the motorcycle bug out of his system. And honestly, we still miss having him around. Tom is now a regular freelance writer and tester for Motorcycle.com when his schedule allows, and his experience, riding ability, writing talent, and quick wit are still a joy to have – even if we don't get to experience it as much as we used to.

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2 of 8 comments
  • Old MOron Old MOron on Mar 07, 2015

    I keep looking at this thing, and I'll be darned. The more I look at it, the more I like it. It's just a cartoon right now, but to my eye, it looks so much more attractive than, say, the FJ-09. Of course the FJ will run circles around it, but what a good looking bike - er, cartoon.

  • Mark Gardiner Mark Gardiner on Mar 08, 2015

    The 1000DS is only ugly until you spend time on it. One of the most underrated bikes ever!