Royal Enfield Himalayan And The Glimpses Of A Faster Future
Royal Enfield Himalayan And The Glimpses Of A Faster Future

The second-gen ADV excels in most departments, shows promise in a few, and raises a rather interesting question: why doesn't Royal Enfield make faster, sportier motorcycles? 

Zooming down a nearly deserted highway on the second-gen Royal Enfield Himalayan, I finally understand what "the mountains are calling" means. But just as I start belting out my best rendition of "Born to be Wild," I hit a traffic jam. Suddenly, my adventurous high plummets faster than a lead balloon. It's almost metaphorical, reflecting my month-long journey with the new Himalayan. 

Anticipation inevitably leads to expectations. Ever since the second-gen Himalayan was announced, those expectations peaked so high, that it would be really challenging for the new-gen model to climb it. Royal Enfield had a mountain to climb; perhaps that’s why they named the variants—Base, Pass, and Summit.  


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The first step they took was to move from the Himalayan’s box-y design to a more rounded one. The problem is, the distinctive boxy look of the first-gen Himalayan made it instantly recognizable, even from a distance. On the new-gen, though, I doubt the feeling would be the same. I’ve seen the Himalayan go from a blurry spy shot to having it for testing, yet I still can't decide if I like its design. It's imposing, sure. Is it good-looking? I don’t know. 

Credit where it's due, the new Himalayan feels substantial when you climb on top of it. The construction, fit and finish, and even the Hanley black paint scheme on the review unit make you feel like you own a big bike. This feeling is further accentuated when you get going. I am 5’11 and I had to tip-toe the motorcycle, which can be annoying in slow-moving traffic. On the highway though, it feels commanding, relaxed, and at home. 

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Royal Enfield calls its new 450cc single the Sherpa, a nod to the elite mountaineers of the Tibetan ethnic group. The Sherpa 450 feels modern, sounds modern (quick idle), and runs like a modern engine; there is no thump here. It's worth noting that this is possibly the only 400cc engine solely manufactured by an Indian company, and it shows. 

Indian conditions require a flexible motor—something that can navigate crawling traffic without much hassle and also rev up for highway rides. The Sherpa manages both tasks, though not with elegance. It lacks the frantic high-revving pull of the KTM 390 Duke and the smooth torque of the Triumph Speed 400. Instead, it falls somewhere in between on the spectrum, and that’s quite an achievement. The only potential annoyance could be the engine's buzziness, but hey, it's something you can get used to 


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But the real showstopper isn't the engine—it's the chassis. The brand-new steel twin-spar frame is like the ultimate multitasker, delivering stability on the move while still being nimble, making the 21-inch front feel like a 19-inch one. Brakes, too, in proper ADV fashion are non-bitey, linear, progressive and predictable. My only complaint here would be the spoked rims, which really shouldn’t be a thing on a premium motorcycle in 2024. Yes, Royal Enfield has promised to bring the tubeless spoke wheels on our shores, although, the timeline on it is still unclear. 

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Perched atop the new Himalayan, it's hard to spot any major flaws. Sure, there are some shortcomings, but they're all manageable, and some might not even be noticeable to most riders.  If the ADV segment consisting of the Yezdi Adventure, BMW G 310 GS, were a sprint race, riding the second-gen Himalayan would make you feel like you're leading the pack. But as you ride ahead, you start to wonder: Why isn't Royal Enfield building faster, sportier motorcycles? They have got the engine, they've got the chassis and even the Indian market is warming up in the 400cc space. But until the Chennai-based bike maker musters up some appetite for risk and take that leap of faith, we are not complaining if they keep making the right strides which the Himalayan is an apt example of.  


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