The $4700 Royal Enfield Himalayan Is a Good Cheap Adventure

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get an enjoyable motorcycle. Bikes like the Honda Super Cub and Yamaha MT-03 may not be fast, but they’re still fun to ride. That’s part of Royal Enfield’s appeal. The Interceptor and Continental GT 650 ape classic-styled bikes like the Triumph Bonneville and Thruxton at an appreciably lower price. And, while the India-based company is developing a Scrambler rival, it’s also applied its budget-conscious approach to adventure bikes. The Royal Enfield Himalayan may be cheap, but that doesn’t make it a poor off-road companion.  

Royal Enfield Himalayan specs and features

2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan
2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan | Royal Enfield

Although it’s technically an adventure bike, the Royal Enfield Himalayan shares some elements with dual sports, Cycle World reports. Namely, its stripped-down design. The Himalayan doesn’t really have complex electronics, such as traction control. However, when you’re crossing the kind of landscapes that could feature in the Paris-Dakar, simplicity is a virtue.

And that’s not to say the Royal Enfield Himalayan is too bare-bones to function on city streets. For one, its 411cc single-cylinder has fuel injection, unlike many dual sports. It may only make about 25 hp and 24 lb-ft, but the Himalayan’s fairly light for an ADV bike. With fuel and oil, it weighs in at 428 pounds.

2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan handlebar details
2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan handlebar details | Motoworks Chicago

Although the Himalayan may not have a lot of fancy technology, it does have all the essentials a rider needs. It has a speedometer, tachometer, LCD display with clock, fuel gauge, and even a compass, The Drive reports. Its disc brakes, GQ reports, are made by Brembo’s Indian sub-division, and the Himalayan does have ABS. The standard windscreen is also adjustable.

And the Royal Enfield isn’t co-opting its adventurous looks. It has 9” of ground clearance, and over 7” of suspension travel, Rider Magazine reports. Also, it comes standard with front and rear luggage racks and aluminum skid plate, Motorcyclist reports. The center stand, Revzilla reports, makes for easier tire and chain maintenance. And the standard upper crash bars add some welcome rider protection.

What’s the Royal Enfield Himalayan like to ride?

The biggest drawback to the Royal Enfield Himalayan is its speed. The bike will do 75 mph and can be ridden on the highway for extended periods. However, you really have to twist the throttle hard and keep it there, to do that. It’s best enjoyed, at least on city streets, up to about 45 mph, Cycle World reports.

In addition, Revzilla reports that larger and heavier riders may find the suspension somewhat under-sprung. And despite its now-standard ABS, the Himalayan’s brakes require a noticeable effort to bring the bike to a stop. But, for newer riders, and off-road riders, that’s actually something of a good thing. Plus, RideApart reports, for the 2020 model year, the Himalayan’s ABS can be switched off, which off-roaders prefer.

Newer and smaller riders will also appreciate the Royal Enfield Himalayan’s fairly compact size. Despite its ground clearance and suspension travel, it’s easy to put your feet on the ground while riding it. The handlebars and riding position make it easy to maneuver, and the windscreen provides appreciable wind protection. Plus, the softer suspension means it handily absorbs pothole impacts. And The Drive reports the single-cylinder is smoother than you’d expect.

Also, there’s the price.

Pricing and competition comparison

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
2020 KTM 390 Adventure | KTM via Instagram

A brand-new 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan starts at $4,749. That’s only about $1200 more than a Honda Grom. It’s also about $1400 cheaper than the KTM 390 Adventure, which has about 1” less ground clearance. Even Jeep’s electric mountain bike is more expensive than the Himalayan.

At that price point, the Himalayan doesn’t have many competitors. Rokon’s Ranger and Trail-Breaker are arguably more capable off-road. But they’re also even slower, and at least $3000 more expensive.

2021 Honda CT125 Hunter Cub
2021 Honda CT125 Hunter Cub | Honda

There’s also the Honda C125 Hunter Cub, which uses the Grom engine. It also comes with disc brakes, ABS, and a skid plate. But as of this writing, it’s not confirmed for the US. Plus, it’s only $900 cheaper.

Arguably, Ural’s motorcycles echo the Royal Enfield Himalayan’s approach the closest. But these sidecar-equipped bikes cost $17.5k at minimum.

2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S
2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S | Suzuki

Want an Off-Road Rally Machine? Try a Vespa Scooter

Finally, while dual sports may be better off-road, they lose some of the Himalayan’s around-town features. You can’t fit a Suzuki DR-Z400S with panniers, for example. Plus, it still has a carbureted engine and costs $2000 more.

There are faster, more capable bikes than the Royal Enfield Himalayan. But the bike you can afford to ride will always be quicker than the bike sitting in the showroom.

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