Model: Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6
Issues or repairs faced: Tyre puncture, one service done
Kilometers ridden: 3,900kms
Ridding duration: Two months
What you are about to read is my winter riding experience. One of the best times to be riding in and around Mumbai. Right from the start let me say the Royal Enfield Himalayan has had a big role in making my winter riding season much better. We got the Himalayan in the end of November and it has been my trusty steed ever since. Let’s first talk about the the bike how it looks and the equipment on it. We received the Himalayan with the Rock Red color scheme. It also got a set of the following accessories – knuckle guards, side panniers and i slightly adjusted the handlebar, mirrors, windscreen and preload to suit myself. What do I think of the Himalayan setup? I have always loved it. The weight has never bothered me. For my height – 5’8, the bikes seat height was perfect. The Himalayan was good when it came to standing on the pegs which are placed neutrally. Infact, every time I get on the Himalayan it feels special and a bike that is so good with its ergonomics. So let the journey begin.
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The Himalayan became my primary bike/vehicle for daily use. To give one perspective, my daily commute from office to home is a approx. 80km roundtrip, which sometimes can be a little bit more depending on the office schedule, tests and shoots performed. The Himalayan to many might seem like a bike one has in his garage as his second or even third touring only machine but with me using it everyday in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai traffic showed me some advantages of a heavy ADV in a big city. The long travel suspension is wonderful to have at your disposal when one does not want to roll off the throttle over continuous speed breakers and potholes. The seating position is comfortable for riding with easy and the windscreen keeps you protected better from the elements than a regular naked or commuter bike(but is it good for touring? Keep reading). The engine is tractable and one has to not worry in traffic about quick overtakes and shooting into gaps.
Overall, I have used the BS4 and BS3 Himalayan in the past with the conclusion being that they can be your only bike. Yes the drawbacks are that the engine can get a bit hot, especially in the middle of the day and you will long for a lighter clutch. Also parking a heavy bike in a spot with a slope pointing the vehicle the wrong way means you will be in for a impromptu cardio session pulling this 200kg bike onto flatter surface. When it comes to mileage the worst I’ve got is 28kmpl in the city which with the size, power and purpose of the bike is understandable. Lastly we will talk about the brakes in general further but before that, a pro tip – at low speeds on a big bike with long travel suspension just use the rear and maneuver yourself. Using the front brake and hitting it hard in bumper to bumper traffic results in just unnecessary brake dive. You want a big machine like this to be the most stable, predictable and balanced it can be around traffic. That said, front brakes on the BS6 Himalayan are massively better than the BS4 model.
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Overall our riding experience in the city for this bike has been better than expected but I would understand if someone got tired of it and relegated his use of this bike to his or her touring bike only.
Touring and off-road
Now we return home, the highway. This is where the Royal Enfield Himalayan is the happiest. Yes, its annoying that there is no sixth gear. I feel while trying to max the bike out on a highway pull, after 110km/h the engine could do with another gear to settle down the revs a bit a cruise at a higher speed. But I can’t blame the gearbox completely. The Himalayan’s LS410 can do with more power definitely. There are flat spots felt through the rev range which can be solved with – ‘more power’ and a retune. I know many want a the 650cc engine shoehorned into the Himalayan but have we explored the full capability of this engine? I think it has got more to give and why should RE abandon this tractable motor for something that will make the Himalayan way more expensive. This bike is happy to cruise between 90km/h to 100km/h which is more than enough on the highways of our country but that extra punch is where it will need to rectify with more power in the future.
We are done talking about engine power. What kind of braking power exists to stop the Himalayan. Decent I should say. Having ridden BS3, BS4 bikes quite a lot, I can say that the BS6 brakes are good. The front especially now give nice bite and feedback. The rear brake can have its ABS disabled and is best used for off-road duties. And coming to off-roading, I have loved the Himalayan. It makes me feel heroic. I’m no Dakar Pro and have to constantly keep correcting my line on a trail or manage not sliding back. On the Himalayan the brake pedal, standing position, seat height, long travel suspension and the low end torque from the 410cc engine have saved my bacon many times. Before you can tip your bike sideways, you are flatfooted. Before you start feeling scared, you are trying to hit the rear brake harder to navigate trail turns. Its inviting you to test yourself. While ground clearance is not a lot, the bike can navigate tough sections and the bash plate can take a few knocks. All in all its good off-road.
The only downside is if you drop this bike on a trail or beach. Wait, remove your helmet and gloves, take a deep breath, drink water, hydrate and then pick it up. Its heavy. Also the switch to deactivate ABS on the rear wheel is a bit iffy but once figured out you’d always love sliding this bike around. If you want to go full enduro, leave the Himalayan and get a lighter bike. With our long term bike, having knuckle guards really helped going through the woods one two occasions and once in the city when a auto-rickshaw reversed into me at a traffic light.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a great bike that I would love to have in my dream garage. I like the fact that Royal Enfield keeps updating the product and with every iteration. Its a bike you would not be afraid of dropping, learning new techniques on and just generally experiment with. The Himalayan was a good commuter and touring machine to me. It was a hoot to ride it on the city and aim for potholes that others avoided and away from the city a bike where I had no problem siting on for 2 hours listing to my favorite podcast while the machine got on with the job of munching highway miles.