Royal Enfield have been on a real roll in recent years. Already huge in their native India, the brand has been making inroads internationally too – not least here in the UK where their well priced, classically styled, range have proved big sellers.
And that shouldn’t be such a surprise. Royal Enfield is the oldest existing motorcycle brand in the world. Founded in 1901, it was founded in Redditch and spent over 50 years manufacturing in the Midlands, before closing and being reborn in Madras, now known as Chennai. The company still has strong links with the UK, its products being developed at a global R&D centre in Leicestershire and remaining loyal to the classic ‘Brit bike’ designs of the 1950s and ‘60s.
So the new Himalayan remains true to all that makes Royal Enfield distinctive, and what made the previous model so popular with riders looking for a no fuss, go anywhere motorcycle. It’s a bike designed to cope with the rough terrain in its homeland, no less, and that’s why the Himalayan has found a cult following with adventurers around the world.
At its heart is an all-new engine, the first liquid-cooled motor in Royal Enfield’s 123 year history. Dubbed the ‘Sherpa 450’ by Royal Enfield, it’s a 452cc single cylinder unit with four-valves and twin overhead camshafts. Producing just under 40bhp, its quite a step up from the uber-basic 411cc, 24bhp, motor from the previous generation Himalayan. With 40Nm of torque at 5500rpm, the Himalayan should be nice and tractable on and off the road.
The chassis too is a new design from the ground up, and although the chassis components still look on the basic side, they do appear more sophisticated than those found on the outgoing model. Styling, while still recognisable as a Himalayan, looks a little softer, while the long travel 43mm upside down forks, large brake discs and 21” front wheel give the bike some presence and all the basic ingredients to take on tough terrain. The seat has 20mm of adjustment, going from 825 to 845mm with the standard saddle and 805 to 825mm with the accessory low seat. With a wet weight of 196kg and a relatively narrow saddle, we expect the Himalayan to be reasonably accessible to a wide range of riders. Crash bars are a neat touch for a bike designed to be such a work horse, while overall there are some really big upgrades on this new model – for example ride modes, USB charging port, TFT dash with smartphone integration and built-in navigation. There are also a whole raft of official accessories to go with the bike, covering pretty much all bases including tough aluminium luggage, throwover soft panniers, hand protectors, taller touring screens and a sump guard.
We expect the 450 single to be nice and frugal which, combined with the 17 litre fuel tank, should make this new Himalayan a very practical proposition as a budget adventure bike and all-round hack. There are five colours available at launch, and we’re rather taken with the rather smart black and gold combination shown in the promo pics.
There’s no news on when the 2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan will be on sale in the UK, but we can’t help but feel that it’s going to be another big sales success when it does arrive.