Since 2016, Royal Enfield has offered adventurous riders an affordable and funky machine to take them into the sticks. The Royal Enfield Himalayan is an ugly duckling, but an endearing one with some real off-road chops. One thing the Himalayan hasn’t been that great at is getting anywhere with gusto. That’s finally changing as Royal Enfield has unveiled the Himalayan 450. The new bike gets fresh looks, chassis improvements across the board, and perhaps most importantly, an all-new engine delivering 39.5 HP, or more than enough ponies to gallop down a highway.
Royal Enfield has been teasing the new Himalayan for months. Rumors about the new motorcycle have also been swirling around for months. Why? The new Himalayan is a pretty huge deal. Back when the original Himalayan was launched in 2016, it was known as the motorcycle that broke in its own promotional videos. Royal Enfield has been steadily improving the motorcycle since then. Over time, it grew from the oddball riders laughed at to the machine I see riders not just riding, but enjoying. Now, the motorcycle is about ready for its biggest and baddest update yet.
Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads
In decades past, Royal Enfields were used for off-roading. The Bullet earned itself a record for winning International Six Days Trial gold medals. When they weren’t winning in the dirt, Bullets found themselves out in the field in military service. Royal Enfield says its brand became known throughout India in 1955 when the military took Bullets into the Himalayas. Since then, the Himalayas have been a sort of Mecca for Indian motorcyclists. Yet, other brands would create dedicated off-roaders while Royal Enfield did not.
In 2010, Royal Enfield CEO Siddhartha Lal took his first adventure in the Himalayas. Lal was taken aback by the scenery, the fresh air, and the stars of the night sky. Flash floods cut the trip short, but Lal learned something new. Lal realized that the best motorcycles for the region weren’t ones that conquered the terrain, but ones that would go with the flow of nature.
Lal felt that the then-current crop of adventure bikes didn’t fit the bill. They were too heavy, too complicated, and too advanced to handle the Himalayas. Bikes that required high-octane fuel were especially inappropriate due to the lack of availability of such fuels. Lal also mentioned that so many of the existing adventure bikes out there were simply too tall for Indians and that if you happened to break one, there was no Indian equivalent of AAA to come and save you.
Thus, Lal kicked off development for his brand’s first-ever purpose-built adventure bike. Pierre Terblanche, formerly of Ducati, led development. A prototype was built in 2014 and by 2016, the Royal Enfield Himalayan finally hit the road. That bike was something different. While Royal Enfield commonly built new bikes using the bones and engines of the Bullet, the Himalayan had a new engine, its own chassis, and more.
As I noted earlier, the Royal Enfield Himalayan had a rocky start when Enfield promoted the motorcycle with a video showing a peg breaking off after the motorcycle landed from a jump. The brand has been improving the bike since then and now, it’s worthy of Enfield’s “Made Like A Gun” slogan. Still, the Himalayan couldn’t shake off the 24.5 HP provided by its 411cc single. A Himalayan got you to highway speeds of around 75 mph, but only just.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
After months of teasing and speculation, Royal Enfield is finally showing off the new Himalayan 450, and it looks like the sort of adventure bike fans have been asking for since 2016.
The headlining upgrade with the new Himalayan 450 is its new Sherpa engine. It’s a 452cc single-cylinder unit rated at 39.5 HP and 29.5 lb-ft of torque. That’s a huge improvement from the old 411cc single’s 24.3 HP and 23.6 lb-ft of torque. More improvements with the engine include dual overhead cams and water-cooling. The old engine was cooled by air plus oil and was of a single overhead cam design. This new engine is a bit tighter and has increased gas flow. Compression is noted to be 11.5:1 compared to 9.5:1 on the old unit. All of this is commanded through a ride-by-wire system.
Connected to that engine is a six-speed manual transmission, giving the rider one more gear over the old Himalayan.
That drivetrain is bolted to a steel tube frame with a body that has that familiar Terblanche-designed look. Royal Enfield says the new Himalayan was developed at its UK headquarters and product strategy and design chief Mark Wells led the project. So much of the new Himalayan shows evolutionary improvements. Up front, you’re getting 43mm inverted forks with 7.87 inches of travel. The old Himalayan had regular 41mm telescopic forks with 7 inches of travel.
Out back is a monoshock with 7.87 inches of travel. The old bike had a monoshock in the rear as well, with a slightly shorter 7 inches of travel. Continuing the theme of incremental improvements, the front brake rotor grew from 300mm to 320mm while the rear rotor grew from 240mm to 270mm. Wheels are the same size with a 21 incher up front and a 17 in the rear, though the rear tire gets slightly wider. Even the fuel tank grew from 4 gallons to 4.5 gallons.
Despite all of these improvements, the Himalayan actually lost weight. The old Himalayan weighed 439 pounds wet while this new one comes in at 432 pounds. Sure, that’s not a huge change, but it’s nice that the bike gets more of everything and didn’t get any heavier. Also notable is the fact that there are two seat options which will allow a total range of adjustment from 31.7 inches to 33.3 inches. The old Himalayan was fixed to a seat height of 31.5 inches.
In terms of technology, ABS carries over from the old bike. You’ll get to monitor your Himalayan 450’s instruments through a 4-inch TFT display. In addition to that, you get LED lighting, a USB port, and selectable ride modes. Like all Royal Enfield products, there will be an expansive catalog of accessories from bash bars and all sorts of guards to storage cases. Tubeless wheels will also be an option.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but like all Royal Enfield products, I’d expect the 2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 to remain pretty affordable. Royal Enfield also hasn’t released an exact release date. The brand has been running a video series teasing the new motorcycle and the final video is set to come out on November 7. We may know the full details then.
So long as the price is right, it sounds like Royal Enfield has a winner here. This is the Himalayan so many riders have fallen in love with, but at least on paper, it’s better in every way. I can’t wait to swing a leg over it.
(Images: Royal Enfield)
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