Despite being controversial, the Himalayan platform is technically extremely promising. Here’s exactly why we think Royal Enfield should launch it in a 650cc guise
For the longest time, Royal Enfield stuck to traditional vintage-looking motorcycles. As the market progressed, they infused a hint of modernity in the form of fuel injection, but that was not enough to cater to the rapidly diversifying motorcycle segment. Royal Enfield motorcycles were often used to explore challenging but picturesque places like Leh, Ladakh and the likes, despite not exactly being known for bullet-proof (pun unintended) build quality.
Later, Royal Enfield realised the potential for adventure touring in the country and launched the Himalayan with a completely new engine and mechanical underpinnings. Its reliability issues notwithstanding, the motorcycle was a brilliant concept which could’ve made it one of the most successful motorcycles in its segment ever.
We think Royal Enfield should launch a bigger, better, more powerful version of the Himalayan, and here’s why:
Retain the no-nonsense design:
The Himalayan has a very spartan design, but at the same time it manages to look reasonably good. Sure, design is highly subjective, but for most adventure touring enthusiasts, form takes precedence over function. The design elements in the Himalayan like the protective grille with jerry can mounting points around the tank, tail luggage rack, and pannier mounting points could be retained in the 650cc version as well. Royal Enfield could offer LED headlamp or at least a projector halogen unit for optimal illumination. We feel the existing Himalayan’s instrumentation is information-rich enough to be even used for the 650cc version. The inclusion of a range indicator would be a welcome enhancement. An accessible seat height would sweeten the deal even further.
Torquey 650cc powerplant:
The all-new 648cc engine used in the Interceptor 650 as well as in the Continental GT 650 is torquey enough to be an ideal heart for the Himalayan 650. The air-cooled motor with oil cooling features a balancer shaft to iron out vibes, and generates 47.6PS of power at 7100rpm and 52Nm at 5250rpm. Royal Enfield engines are known for their healthy torque curve, and we expect this engine to bear the character as well. In the Himalayan, its tractability could be improved by tinkering with the gearing of the 6-speed slip-assisted transmission.
Moreover, since it’s an air-cooled engine with an oil cooler, it is relatively less complex than other adventure tourers in the segment like the Kawasaki Versys 650 and the upcoming Suzuki V-Strom 650. It’s the simple logic of - lesser the complexity, lesser the chance of things going wrong, but more on the reliability part later.
The existing chassis is nicely tuned for off-road antics, and Royal Enfield could employ a heavily modified version of the half-duplex split cradle frame in the Himalayan 650 to accommodate the bigger engine. Compared to the Interceptor / Continental GT 650, the front forks could be fatter 43mm telescopic units offering suitably long travel, same as the current bike’s 180mm. It would be ideal for the rear to use a linked monoshock with an equally generous wheel travel of 200mm.
We expect the 320mm front and the 240mm rear disc from the 650 twins to be used in the Himalayan as well. It would be nice of Royal Enfield to offer switchable dual-channel ABS unit to let the rear wheel slide freely- something which experienced riders would appreciate. The 21-inch front and the 17-inch rear spoke wheel from the current-gen Himalayan would suit the 650cc variant as well.
Competitive pricing and promising quality:
Considering the amount of changes we’ve covered, it is safe to assume that it wouldn’t take much for Royal Enfield to keep the price point just about right. We feel it would command a premium of around Rs 50,000 over the estimated pricing of the Interceptor 650, which stands at around Rs 3.5 lakh ex-showroom. All this only if Royal Enfield actually launches the motorcycle.
The Chennai-based bikemaker has promised to take adequate steps to ensure the quality of its upcoming twins, especially considering the fact that they are going to be global products. And if Royal Enfield plans to launch the bigger Himalayan, we hope its quality standards would be on par with what’s acceptable, and its attractive pricing would have huge market potential in the mid-capacity adventure segment of India.
Images of the current-gen Himalayan are shown for representational purposes only.