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Old 6th June 2016, 00:41   #1
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Default The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

As I type this, I am fully conscious that the moderators may take down this attempt to publish a ‘toureview' of the Himalayan. Not for the inexistence of the term but for the confused objective it appears to carry – This thread is positioned between a travelogue and an ownership review. A lot has already been discussed, and echoed, about Himalayan's capabilities. An attempt to amplify just the same message would sound noisy, likewise, there was negligible merit in adding another vanilla flavored travelogue to the list of well-authored logs about touring in the Leh region.
I will be riding to the Leh region on my Himalayan really soon. This thread is an attempt to capture the beauty of Himalayas while enjoying the experience that Himalayan would offer! In some sense, an owner's certification to the purpose with which Royal Enfield built the Himalayan, through this 2 part series though where:

Part I: is an attempt to share the process of taming the Himalayan and training myself for a tour of the Himalayas. When the plan is to carry a pillion and luggage on such a difficult terrain, that too using a motorcycle that's just beginning to prove its worth, the importance of groundwork can't be undermined. In this section, one may find details on trip planning, choice of gear and luggage, preparatory rides/running-in experience, teething issues, and service experience.

Part II: The Leh tour log and insights into Himalayan’s performance during the tour
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Old 6th June 2016, 00:50   #2
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Default re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Part I:

Looking through the rear view
Why a Himalayan? Just like a lot of readers here, I too have a paradoxical dream of owning a superbike that's heavy on features but light on the pocket. In an attempt to realize this dream, I started test riding some of the entry level ones, coincidently, just a fortnight before the Himalayan was officially launched. While one was better than the other, none that would fit my spec.
Now a few would wonder, what spec did I have in mind? I honestly didn't have one. The search indeed was without a purpose. Through a superb marketing strategy and even better product, Royal Enfield provided one with the Himalayan. The brand, I was all set to ditch by selling off my 2010 AVL Electra.
Through multiple test rides, it resonated well that the underlying need was to procure a capability. A capability that my current stable didn't offer and the Himalayan did at a very reasonable price point.

Connecting the dots The decision was done, as I underwent the booking process, I said to myself that if I am not taking it to the mountains, I am not doing justice to the money being pumped in. Justice prevailed when my better half volunteered to join me for this ride.
As this ride took shape of the ultimate purpose behind buying the Himalayan, during the waiting period, I drew these dots (the plan), thinking to myself that if they did connect for Jobs, they somehow will for me.

The Wait: I waited almost 2 months for the bike to get delivered, some of you would relate to this anxious phase of life. It can be worse than midlife crisis on bad days, on others, one thanks God for the Internet. There are gigabytes of reviews on the Himalayan, I followed almost every published word and every sec of visual available. The sponsored ones read from the catalogue, individual ones were inspiring and were largely based on the reviewer's riding profile. Most seasoned riders found the Himalayan underpowered, some were hoping for better quality materials and finish, there were a few futile cross-category comparisons but all of them reassuring the capability it offers.
Since I mentioned riding profiles,I thought it's important to share my own. While I have spent considerable time behind the wheel – 300K kms, if not more (and No, I don't work as an Ola/Uber driver yet!), when it comes to riding I consider myself a rookie – just have under 50K kms of riding experience; 85% of which of which has been commuting.

My rides: A TVS 50 when I was underage (literally, class III), on a Hero Puch(puke!) at not so legal riding age, I was flirting around on a splendour, Electra; when I was hitched, some Street 750 recently and the Himalayan finally !!!

The Plan: I usually take my vacations towards the end of May, following the same timeframe for this trip would have been nothing less than a gamble. A game where I would have played against the nature (weather in the mountains) & hope (bike delivery timelines, reliability, and run-in). Without contemplating my odds of winning, I decided for the 3rd week of June as the start date. This was of course with the assumption that the bike will get delivered by mid-May, allowing 2 weeks of running-in time before it gets shipped to the starting point of the ride.
The route and considerations: This trip was planned during the waiting period, where I had little appreciation of my partnership with the Himalayan, I opted for a gradual increase in complexity both in terms of distance and elevation. I chose Srinagar- Leh – Manali circuit over the reverse as its more AMS friendly. Typically, the trip planners recommend/budget 2 days for Srinagar – Leh route with a break at Kargil. I budgeted an additional day with an added break at Sonmarg to split the distance/elevation covered in 2 days.

Enablers: While waiting for the Himalayan to get delivered, I managed to procure a host of utilities that would help me sustain this tour:
Gear:
  • Besides the Joe Rocket gear that’s performing well for last 4-5 years, I took advantage of the RE discount season that coincided with my prep term. I was able to procure reasonable quality riding gear (with winter lining) at mouth-watering prices.
  • I did buy additional gear like sleeping bags, fleece gloves, masks etc from Aliexpress.
  • For long distance riding comfort, I chose the rideonair cushion over the gel seats

Luggage: From my conversations with the dealer(s) and reports in different forums, it was apparent that Himalayan accessories will not be available prior to my travel dates (and it's turning out to be true) therefore I had to look elsewhere.
This probably was the trickiest part, waiting for the bike to get delivered, then start looking for luggage would mean no time to test the equipment during practice rides. The contrary approach could mean fit, stability, and pillion comfort challenges. I turned to the internet for help and I came up with the following criteria for shortlisting luggage:
  • Compatibility with Upswept exhaust.
  • Tailbag width to match with stock carrier width.
  • Storage capacity, Volume per rupee spent.
Without a surprise, Rynox gear was the best fit in the above criteria. Before the bike was delivered, I ordered for:
  • Hawk tailbag – Viaterra claw mini was a big contender however lost on space by a few litres.
  • Nomad Saddlebags – Undoubtedly the best in terms of volume, fit and strength.
  • Optimus tankbags – Magnets left a few marks on the tank, am not too happy.
Other utilities from Aliexpress:
  • 5L Jerrycan with frame mounts to carry fuel.
  • A sturdy Phone Holder (white) – that's serving really well.
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Old 6th June 2016, 01:07   #3
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Default re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

The spookiest of all, Friday the 13th of May, turned out to be my lucky day, my snowhite got delivered as promised by the dealer (Kings Auto in Pune). Some visuals and observations before I take you through the 1700 kms of relationship with my Himalayan

Unique: It's a serious and a bold attempt by RE to create India's first ADV/Dual sport motorcycle. Styling (to me) is a good blend of the vintage Royal Enfield 7" round headlight theme fused with modern ADV/Dual sport elements. This unconventional cocktail turns heads and how, Himalayan gets more attention than many superbikes (Owners would relate to this).

The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview-img_8468e_opt.jpg
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Old 6th June 2016, 01:13   #4
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Default re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Good:
  • Excellent riding ergos.
  • Comfortable pillion seating.
  • Minimalistic, simple design; Proportions are well managed, it looks much bigger in the flesh. Weight is hidden which helps in maneuvers.
  • It doesn't churn as many horses as the other cycles in the same price range do, however, if the purpose is to explore terrains that the others can't the comparison anyway is invalid. Even otherwise, it is powered enough to glide on most terrains.
  • Torque is served when it's needed.
  • Well-placed fundamentals: Handling, suspensions and braking - A rookie like me could manage corners, bad roads well with ~30 kgs of luggage and a pillion. With luggage on, pillion weight actually helps with handling.
  • Horn, a lot of us have complained about it. It is annoying, yes! and that's the good part because it gets the job done.

The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview-img_8464_opt.jpg

PS: Some of you may have noticed these additional bars flowing along with side frame lines of the bike, that’s a saddlebag/pannier rack fabricated for safely carrying luggage, and it was designed to look natural with the motorcycle's design.
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Old 6th June 2016, 01:18   #5
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Default re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Bad:
  • Welding joints
  • Bittersweet Service experience: I already carry some baggage from Electra (under warranty) days and I thought I was prepared for this but this recent one with the Himalayan was too much to digest (details to follow).
  • Unavailability of accessories and spares.
  • Gear shifts 1-0-2: Hard and vague. 2nd gear has relatively lower tolerance to dropping speeds. It forces a downshift below 25 kmph.
  • Fuel Tank: it isn't waterproof nor leak proof (details to follow).
  • Out of sync fuel indicators – digital indicator and knob positions could get misleading. Once, the digital indicator was in the red zone (It had done 82 kms in the ‘F' trip), the knob was pointing to reserve and I added fuel worth 100 bucks while changing the knob position to normal. After about 40 kms of ride, the digital indicator touched empty and it started losing combustion. I had every reason to believe that I was out of fuel. Once it came to a complete halt, I switched the knob back to reserve – It fired up! There was no level change in the digital indicator.
  • Oil cooler position: Oil cooler is prone to damages for its position, it needs protection. My motorcycle had a few fins damaged (minor) upon delivery. It was same for most other bikes, I saw later at the service station
  • Brake oil reservoir (rear): It is placed too close to the engine and can potentially impact braking once the engine heats up (Assumption basis my street 750 experience, though both motorcycles are in different leagues with different operating temperatures).

The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview-img_8456_opt.jpg

Ugly:
Engine sound (noise). Not that I am promoting unsafe riding but try riding it without the helmet - It sounds horrible as if something's breaking inside and whatever it is, may fall apart if accelerated hard.
Also, when ambient noise is low, at cruising speeds in any gear, engine noise throws more decibels than the exhaust. Must I remind that this product is coming from the same company that I thought knew sound engineering well, it has produced thumping motorcycles for generations.
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Old 6th June 2016, 01:29   #6
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Default re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Taming and Training: A few days back I posted this in a different thread

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motorb...ml#post3973480 (The Royal Enfield Himalayan Test-Ride Thread)

With my riding background, I certainly wasn't hoping to ride 120 kms in a few hours of ownership. I didn't even realize that I managed all of these 120 kms, all in one go in one evening. I told myself, maybe it's the initial euphoria that would settle down in no time. I used to be active in the weekend breakfast riding groups till about 2011 after which I would have hardly done rides beyond 100 kms. I went with the flow and before I could realize, in less than a week's time (with no actual riding time budgeted for weekdays) my Himalayan was ready for its first service (500 kms done). As the Odo was moving, I was shredding apprehensions about this partnership, riding Himalayan was easier and exciting than I thought it would be.
After the first service, it was time to get focused, time to train, trail the hills. It was also time for me to try loading the luggage and for my wife to try the pillion seat. The first ride to the Tamhini Ghat (80 kms from Pune), was eventful. Because Sun God wasn't as impressed with my Himalayan, he didn't lower the temperature down. We couldn't leave the city before 6pm, when we did, we were stuck in traffic. It took us over 90 minutes to leave the city. I was too conscious of the added weight on the bike, even though I could have sped up to 80 kph (as per the owner's manual), for the most part, I kept it under 60.

The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview-27159235132_f2c45d0f89_o_opt.jpg

The approach road to Tamhini wasn't well laid, every now and then, the Hawk tail bag would droop on sides, forcing us to stop and adjust it. On one such occasion, when I thought it was too much effort to use the main stand, I ended up dropping the bike – I learnt 2 things as an outcome:
  • It is a HEAVY bike
  • Fuel leak from the tank cap area

Thankfully, there were no damages and we continued our journey to the ghats. Himalayan’s headlight has a decent throw for normal conditions, however visibility was a challenge during turns, cut off would tilt diagonally with the frame and the lag between the frame and the handlebar made it impossible for me to see beyond the turn. To add to the woes, high beam throw was adjusted too high, eventually, I learnt that the flasher allows both low and high beams to glow simultaneously. That evening with 7 hours of riding time, we could only manage 170 kms.
Next morning, while the odo read 760 and our faces read worry! The ride was tiresome, slow and painful at the least – raising questions about the feasibility of the whole plan. As we recovered from the hangover, so did our confidence. The very next day, without realization, we managed another 110 kms in an evening.

The subsequent week, with a little more planning we managed a ride to Ratnagiri (total of 700 kms) including two ghats (Bhor/Mahad and Amba). It was a pleasure ride, I was more confident steering the Himalayan through the ghats, corners came easy and so did the distance. We managed to counter weather/heat induced challenges by taking adequate and timely breaks.

The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview-27271144281_5b78265c5a_o_opt.jpg

Upon return, the ODO read just over 1700 and it was time to ship the bike to Jammu, starting point of the ride.

Well, the dots have connected so far, let's hope the rest of them do as well!

PS: Will share details of service experience and fabricated rack soon
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Old 6th June 2016, 08:56   #7
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Default re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Congratulations on the Himalayan mate! Don't worry too much, that takes the fun out of the main purpose of motorcycling. I find most of your issues related more to the gear and your own getting used to riding than the hardware. I will be travelling to Leh soon and also on the new Himalayan that has reached the dealership. After riding heavy bikes like the Harley Softail and Sportsters in the last few years, I found the Himalayan a piece of cake and most issues of engine noise, heat and clunky gearing non-existent after the noise, heat and gearing on the Harleys. Leaking fuel though needs immediate attention and should not be there at any cost. Though the Himalayan isn't over-engineered like the Harleys, it is a sufficient package for the price and purpose it serves.

Ride Safe and fully geared. And wishing you many years of riding pleasure with the mountain goat.

Cheers...

Last edited by dkaile : 6th June 2016 at 08:58.
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Old 7th June 2016, 00:14   #8
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Beautiful and concise. I was waiting for an exact picture with the RYNOX saddlebag mounted. I have a question regarding this particular saddle bag, as I have the exact same one. Fully loading it, does the bag droop and/or touch the exhaust? Will a pillion be able to sit on the bike with this RYNOX saddle bag fully loaded? Secondly the horn, my test drive experience was nothing short of fun, but the horn purely reminded me of the good ol' Road Runner, going meep meep. just my personal thought though.

Cheers!
VJ
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Old 7th June 2016, 00:19   #9
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Thanks for the review. Loved it.

Reading it caused a dull ache in my heart but thankfully I still love my old faithful Thunderbird a little too much to let her go.
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Old 7th June 2016, 03:49   #10
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Excellent. Waiting for the next part of the toureview. I find himalyan to be a really handsome looking bike and it could not be more minimalist and the name, Himalyan is just genius.
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Old 7th June 2016, 08:23   #11
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Excellent writeup. I am waiting for my Himalayan as well. Eagerly waiting for further update on your travels. All the best.
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Old 7th June 2016, 09:24   #12
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Quote:
Originally Posted by VijayAnand1 View Post
Beautiful and concise. I was waiting for an exact picture with the RYNOX saddlebag mounted. I have a question regarding this particular saddle bag, as I have the exact same one. Fully loading it, does the bag droop and/or touch the exhaust? Will a pillion be able to sit on the bike with this RYNOX saddle bag fully loaded?
Thanks Vijay, very valid questions!

So the bad news is, the bag sits like an inch above the exhaust when fully loaded (8-10 kgs weight). Which may or may not be a problem, however, I couldn't dare the risk of frying the bag to test the scenario. Instead, I placed my bets on this stunt and got the rack created.

The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview-26537539633_a4d47b2d7b_h_opt.jpg

The rack pushes the bag out by a few inches and acts as a supporter (helps especially during turns). I am not sure if the picture below provides an appreciation of the proportions but what you see is the worst case scenario. There's no overlap with the exhaust and the horizontal clearance at the nearest point is more than an inch.

The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview-26649720414_da7882cc87_k__1465265381_80531_opt.jpg

Pillion comfort isn't impacted due to the saddlebags/rack, especially when mounted with the front strap sitting right in the middle of the pillion seat and the rear through the carrier. With a tailbag mounted and left leg on the footrest, swinging the right leg to get on the motorcycle becomes difficult for the pillion.

Last edited by bblost : 7th June 2016 at 11:53. Reason: fixed quote tag.
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Old 7th June 2016, 11:17   #13
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Congratulations for your new found love! The pictures are superb and I really appreciate the honest disclosures in your writing. I myself have done 3 on road and off road test rides and got the opportunity to explore the capabilities and features of the bike. With that experience, I can assure you and anyone thinking of buying the Himalayan that it definitely is what Royal Enfield claims it to be - at least on the plains. I shall eagerly wait for the Ladakh episode of your story since I haven't got a chance to test it at high altitudes, neither have I come across any end user feedback about its performance at high altitudes.

Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old 7th June 2016, 13:08   #14
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

I haven't had any problems thus far connecting the ‘toureview' dots. I'm pretty sure that at the end of the Leh tour, I would have a magnificent virtual tour of the Himalayan in the Himalayas. Something that's on my wishlist too, though on a slightly under powered yet immensely adored machine- The Thunderbird 350.
Good luck on this journey. Ride Safe. And the first thing you need to do when you return is log in here and continue the story. Waiting eagerly.
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Old 7th June 2016, 18:07   #15
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Default Re: The Royal Enfield Himalayan Toureview

Congratulations dear Rajiv. Your narrative of the initial Himalayan experience is spot on and thanks for this unbiased review. Unbiased reviews like this makes our forum trustworthy. Can you please verify the brand of the odometer console? Thunderbird has a pricol console which has many issues and has been discussed about in other threads. Major issue being the erratic fuel gauge.

Wishing you a happy and safe ride. Awaiting your review of the Himalayan from The Himalayas.
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