It’s a Himalayan. We’re talking about the name that Royal Enfield has trademarked in Europe, giving hints on what to expect from the new on-off roader the company has been rumored to be working on. Well, we can now confirm that the company has indeed started work on such a machine. The name Himalayan means that the Indian company wants to evoke the image of something very rugged and tough, much like the mighty Himalayas. It’s also a romantic name that immediately reminds us of the youngest motorcycle ranges in the world, the Himalayas. And romanticism is what sells motorcycles, at least Royal Enfields as there are machines much more capable than your average Bullet, at the same kind of money. Now, let’s get down to business.
Our rendering of the Royal Enfield Himalayan adventure tourer is a mix of insider inputs, imagination and wishful thinking
ICB has unearthed details about the Himalayan and we have even managed to put together these inputs into an speculative rendering. This rendering shows the path that Royal Enfield may soon tread on to expand its market in a big way. The company also plans to use the new bike to cater to traditional Enfield owners who are now slowly moving away from the brand. The Indian market is seeing an explosion of very capable and affordable bikes that are used to commute on the weekdays and tour on the weekends. This has been the brand’s traditional market for at least the last two decades. Feeling the heat, the company wants to be the new cool once again, and what’s cooler than the new Royal Enfield Himalayan adventure motorcycle?
From the render we have put together, a few things stand out. The Himalayan will still be a very Royal Enfield bike at heart. It will attract the young and adventurous but will also please the retro bike seekers with its styling. The design of the bike would be a combination of form and function. Think of it as the Triumph Tiger meeting a Royal Enfield Classic. Retaining the traditional RE design traits while achieving the stance of an adventure tourer would give Himalayan the right kind of retro look and feel. The company plans to use its extensive touring experience to build a bike that will take it all. The Indian marque runs tours to places where most other bikes seldom go. With the premise that “If a bike can survive road conditions across India, it can survive anything.”, the company will give the Himalayan specific inputs.
The expected inputs are a long travel suspension, a tough frame that can take some beating off the road, tyres in a size that have a wide range of upgrade options, a long wide seat that can carry two adults, mounting points for pannier boxes, powerful headlamps, a tall ground clearance, a large fuel tank for a good touring range, multiple trip meters, an upright riding position to offer maximum comfort over long distances, a fairing that keeps the wind blast away from the rider’s chest and head, and an exhaust that is high enough not to scrape itself silly on every other corner. These changes can be made on the current Royal Enfields also. But the company will not take the beaten path. It has plans to engineer a completely new platform around the Himalayan brand name, a platform that will form its new range of tourers.
RE has its eyes set of global mid-displacement motorcycle market leadership (image: RE Continental GT)
The new platform means that the engine used on the bike will also be a new unit. History has shown us that the bike maker likes to start off its major new technological changes on smaller engines first. This happened with the improved Cast Irons, the AVLs and the UCEs. The new engine for the Himalayan will also be a unit construction engine. There’s no looking back there. Our sources tell us that the company might settle on the new powerplant displacing in the vicinity of 380cc for the tourer. This engine will retain the low end torque that Royal Enfields are famous for but will also have higher outputs that will handle the stresses and needs of touring. Will it come with more technology that makes it as modern as the Triumph Bonnevilles or the KTMs?
We don’t know presently, but a tech infusion will be a mighty good thing as we’ve seen with the UCEs. Royal Enfield is a company that manages to find the right mix between retro and modernity. This is what the philosophy behind the UCE was and the bike maker pulled it off by retaining the low end torque that traditionalists swore by in addition to adding reliability and consistent performance that brought a new set of buyers towards the brand. The company is expected to take inspiration from this philosophy for the Himalayan’s new engine as well. Also, the company will not stop with the new 380cc engine. A larger displacement engine (within 600cc) is also under development. So the Himalayan 380 may be followed by the Himalayan 570 or even 600.
Why is Royal Enfield doing all this? It’s bikes are selling well alright. The company just outsold Harley Davidson. But Sid Lal is a big picture man.
Take a look around you. On any given weekend, the roads outside every major city in India are teeming with bikers trying to escape the humdrum city life for the outdoors, and for the freedom the open road offers. Like it or not, most of the crowd heading out on two wheels will be on Royal Enfield’s various motorcycles. But there’s a switch happening.
The Himalayan adventure motorcycle will lure more touring enthusiasts towards the brand (Image of the Thunderbird 500 is used for representative purpose only)
The KTM Duke 390s have seen many Bulleteers convert, especially the younger ones. The Harley Davidsons are drawing in their own crowds too . Triumph’s Bonneville range is also bringing in the numbers with nostalgia and reliability doing the trick. So, how does Royal Enfield keep avid tourers under its umbrella?
The answer to this lies in the Himalayan experiment, both literally and figuratively. The company pioneered biking as a lifestyle in India and it does not want to get run over by new upstarts. The intent is there with the Royal Enfield Himalayan range. Will the execution follow? We sure hope so. The once-British brand that’s now firmly Indian didn’t see the 100cc revolution coming in the 1980s and 90s, and that almost cost it its solvency. This time around, it seems much better prepared. We like it!