Royal Enfield Himalayan: The Himalayan Revolution!
It’s been raining since the previous night and so the water is staying on the road. I am on a twisty Himalayan back-road astride a totally new bike, the helmet visor cracked open a shade to keep it from misting over, and find myself swishing through the turns at a pace I would call ‘brisk’ for such conditions. The wet tarmac demands caution but then as long as the bike feels composed and stable, I am game. I’m riding the all new Royal Enfield Himalayan and boy! Does it feel all new? This doesn’t feel like any of the Enfields I have ever ridden before. This one feels modern, taut, responsive and functional.
Edit: The Royal Enfield Himalayan has been launched at INR 1.55 Lakh ex-showroom Mumbai!
All right, let’s be a bit systematic in reviewing the bike and not jump the gun straight to conclusions. When I rode the Royal Enfield Continental GT almost 2 years ago in Goa, the chassis, its handling and brakes were revelations, being very unlike any previous product from the company. The GT was an indicator that Royal Enfield was looking beyond mere tradition. Probably believing in what a very wise man once said – tradition is a guide, not a prison. The company was changing its line of thought towards making their machines more ‘modern’ in the sense of being better handlers and well put together. The Himalayan, in my opinion, takes that theme through a proverbial leap across years and comes as a pretty pleasant surprise.
Design – Form from Function
The Himalayan looks the part it portends to play. The purposeful and functional design is actually what results naturally when one stays true to the projected needs the machine is to fulfil. Royal Enfield set out to make a bike that would make a traveller out of a commuter. And they do seem to have managed to produce the right tool for that. I have personally always seen beauty in function in motorcycles than in form and so am not really qualified to comment on the design aesthetics. But the overall look of the bike, with those wide handlebars, the exo-skeleton around the tank, the many purposeful bits and pieces that you keep discovering as you keep looking, the narrow windscreen all add to the newness as much as they do to function. But what comes across most strongly is the all-pervading sense of purpose in the design. The long travel suspension, both front and rear, when coupled with the high ground clearance speaks volumes about the ‘take anywhere’ nature of the bike. The engine looks tucked in well and good amount of thought seems to have been given to mass centralization there. And it shows when you flick the tall bike into switchbacks and it responds with alacrity. The seat, fuel tank, bars and the rear grab-rail all are discrete elements but also have a smooth blending between them. And the spoked wheels just add to the whole charm.
At 411cc, this single piston 2-valve OHC engine seems full of promise, more in terms of torque than outright power. Though with a stroke just 6 mm more than the bore, one cannot really call it a long stroke and the numbers thus appear to take away some sheen from the torquey expectations. But ride the bike and torque is what you actually find flowing through the throttle. Smooth and a seemingly endless flow of torque. No, nothing outlandishly dramatic there – just so very ‘functional’. I seem to be using that word just a bit too much here but that’s how the whole scheme of things is. Breathing through 2 valves and a CV carb, the engine has surprisingly good throttle response when you keep in mind that it has the Enfield moniker stamped on it. Twist that throttle as quickly as you can with the bike in neutral and you just cannot bog down that engine. It responds and gathers revs smartly. The apparently anaemic 24.5 Bhp does not seem all that anaemic when on the roll. But this bike is unabashedly about riding the torque curve. Those unusually tall gear ratios (you can do 40+ in first and 70+ in second gear!) show the confidence Enfield has placed on the engines’ torque delivery. With a primary counter-balancer spinning inside, the vibrations have mostly been taken care of, creeping in only at above 5.5k rpm. But then this bike is about riding between 2000-4500 rpm. The tall gear ratios allow you to do a whole lot within that rpm range.
The ‘Himalayan’ ride
The Himalayan looks tall and at first sight is kind of intimidating to those vertically challenged amongst us. The spec sheet though gives hope when one realizes that the saddle height is a tad lower than that of the KTM Duke. The ‘tall’ look is accentuated by the narrow proportions and the bike looks lean from all angles. Swing a leg over the saddle and you feel at home almost immediately. The bike has just the self-start option – no kicking it alive even if you want to. As of now the engine did start pretty effortlessly but I do have my reservations of the utility of the kick starter as a backup when the bike has been parked overnight at Sarchu in end-September minus 10 deg C weather. A very cold engine draws loads of amperes from the battery which is hard pressed delivering the electricity in very cold conditions. The concoction would not allow more than a couple of attempts – the engine doesn’t fire you’d better pushing it alive. I love kick starters. Anyways, thumb that starter and the engine fires to life with a thrumble. No it doesn’t sound at all like a Bullet or any of its kith and kin. It sounds like a – a modern 400cc single! Our cold morning start needed a minute of choke usage and then the engine settled to a steady idle. The clutch feels somewhat heavy to use but surprisingly it was not a tiring thing to use on a long 8 hour ride day in the hills.
The 5 speed gear box engages the bottom gear with a firm clunk (new bike syndrome?). The fun begins now. Roll the throttle and get moving. The tall gear ratios become immediately apparent as you are not pressured by the bike to upshift soon. Upshift at 25 kmph and the engine has just revved a little above 3000 rpm. The rest of the ratios are close but tall since the first one is tall. Of course those wanting quicker acceleration off the block can go in for a larger rear sprocket. The bike feels stable from a bare crawl onwards and the excellent leverage provided by those almost 3 foot wide handlebars makes directional control easy. As does the 21 inch front wheel. Engine braking is around to help when going downhill and riding the Himalayan is mostly about the throttle if you’re prone to smooth even if quick riding. The second and the third gears are where you live, while riding in the hills. It was wet and the back roads twisty so I couldn’t ride beyond 80 kmph (and that too only for a short burst). But neither was stability an issue nor did the engine seem to be anywhere near losing breath at that speed. I do need to ride it in the plains to really assess the Himalayan’s all-round touring capability.
Braking, Handling and Suspension
Brakes are good – loads of feel and good bite what with that largish disc up front and the steel braided hoses all round. Progressive and carrying good bite, I found myself using even the front brake quite frequently even on those wet and slushy roads. The rear brake is all easily modulated and serves its purpose well. Handling is this bike’s forte and it was impressive. Riding the twisties on the Himalayan was as simple as pointing it in the right direction and rolling open that throttle. The bike can be placed with inch perfect precision. The rigid frame and chassis (a big shout out goes to Harris from UK) did not reveal any tendency to flex on our day out with the bike in the hills. Yet to know how it will behave at elevated highway speeds though I do not expect any nasty surprises there too. The long travel suspension up front (200 mm) and the monoshock rear with multi-link suspension (180 mm wheel travel) makes short work of any irregularities the road throws at the bike. Comfort levels are high but more importantly the ruts and potholes don’t affect directional stability of the bike. It tracks true through the bumps and ruts, even when cranked over in a turn. Ground clearance is a high 220 mm and weight 182 kg dry.
Again the weather and road conditions didn’t allow me to try panic braking at its extreme. But whatever hard braking I attempted to test, both the brakes and the suspension, there was a controlled amount of fork dive, not a collapse of softness that doesn’t really allow quick weight transfer to the contact patch and so could lead the rider into trouble. The bike is easy to flick into and out of turns though not in the league of street-fighters like the two Dukes. The virtually non-existent frame flex means no tendency to weave when flicked through switchbacks. The overall lean proportions of the bike make even a 120 section rear tyre seem narrow! The spoked wheels look good and apparently do their part in improving the ride quality of the bike. The front forks (41mm down-tubes) look robust in build and the thoughtfully provided rubber boots will go a long way in prolonging the life of those oil seals. The solid front mudguard bracket also doubles up as a fork brace. The lower mud guard though seems too close to the tyre and for an adventure tourer, will tend to jam the front wheel when riding through slush, mud or even snow. Ideally it needs to be dispensed with all together and replaced with a high placed mudguard like those in off-road machines.
Seat, ergonomics and functional bits
The rider seat is comfortable, at least for the better part of the day I spent on the saddle. It did seem a little soft to me but then that can be addressed to on a personal basis. I say that because I weigh substantially more than the Average Joe. Seating is upright and the ergos spot on for long days on the saddle. The narrow windscreen up front did induce some buffeting around my helmet at speeds above 70 kmph though I couldn’t hold those speeds for long anyways. The screen does vibrate at certain rpm’s and needs to be stiffened up. The kick stand as well as the centre stand are solid and well placed. The frame provided for luggage mounting is again robust in look and feel with clean welded joints. The almost universal use of Allen bolts all across the bikes will make for a smaller tool kit and easier assembly/disassembly of accessories. The hard case aluminium panniers put up as an example were of good quality though mounting them is a game of dexterity with Allen keys and patience. The front extra fuel tanks have a quick release though which makes removing and putting them back on an easy task. The instrument console is not just a looker but also pretty functional. The MFD below the speedo has trip meters, average speed display, gear position, a clock, outside air temperature etc. No there’s no Distance to Empty reading because this is a carburetted engine and so there’s really no way one can reliably measure the amount of fuel consumed and relate it to the average speed. The compass remains a mystery to me but it sure looks good and so for the time being good enough for me.
The switch gear is good quality as are the round retro RVM’s. The round headlight has a good spread but illumination intensity is not really up to the mark. With a 170 W alternator spinning away inside, there should be enough power either for higher wattage halogens or maybe a switch to high intensity LED’s. The tail lamp and trafficators are bright enough. The horn once again is a wimp. Makes you feel like someone begging for attention and not asking for it. Fuel consumption is claimed to be in the 30s which would mean a 400 km + range from the 14.5 litre tank.
In all fairness there cannot be a real verdict without the price being known. For that we need to wait till the coming 16th of March. But technically and as a machine, the Himalayan holds a lot of promise for its prospective owner. The entire machine has been well put together and with the rider and his needs at the forefront. It is solid, right up there in specifications (if you can unbias yourself from seeing 24.5 Bhp as ‘measly’) and a pleasure to ride. Royal Enfield has a sure winner on their hands if they can get the pricing right. This is one bike that will not just encourage touring on motorcycles but also redefine it in terms of benchmark specs that a touring rider can expect from his motorcycle.
Royal Enfield Himalayan Review: Technical Specifications
Type Single cylinder, air-cooled, 4 stroke, SOHC
Bore x Stroke 78 mm x 86 mm
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Maximum Power 24.5 BHP (18.02 KW) @ 6500 RPM
Maximum Torque 32 NM @ 4000 – 4500 RPM
Ignition system TCI, multi-curve
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox 5 speed constant mesh
Lubrication Wet sump
Fuel supply Carburettor with throttle position sensor
Engine start Electric
Chassis and Suspension
Type Half-duplex split cradle frame
Front suspension Telescopic, 41 mm forks, 200 mm travel
Rear suspension Monoshock with linkage, 180 mm wheel travel
Wheelbase 1465 mm
Ground clearance 220 mm
Length 2190 mm
Width 840 mm
Seat height 800 mm
Height 1360 mm (flyscreen top)
Kerb weight 182 kgs
Fuel capacity 15+/- 0.5 lts
Brakes and Tyres
Front tyre 90/90 – 21″
Rear tyre 120/90 – 17″
Front brakes 300 mm disc, 2-piston floating caliper
Rear brakes 240 mm disc, single piston floating caliper
Electrical system 12 volt – DC
Battery 12 volt, 8 AH VRLA
Head lamp 12V H4 60 / 55 W
Tail lamp LED
KTM RC 250 Review!
Austrian manufacturer KTM, has been running quite the successful partnership with homegrown for Bajaj for a few years now. The 200 and 390 twins have seen considerable success in both the domestic and international market as well. KTM has been riding high on the success of the bikes being produced at the Chakan plant, so much so that the once tiny niche manufacturer is now running neck and neck with the European giant BMW Motorrad in terms of sales volume! Did that inspire BMW to partner TVS for a similar production arrangement? Maybe!
Most developed markets unlike India have a graded licensing system, which allows riders to get a licence to ride vehicles of specified power and capacity. This has resulted in most manufacturers tailoring their small capacity bikes to fit these licensing requirements. KTM was losing out in this regard, as the competition all had a 250cc single for this segment, while KTM had the RC 200, which was smaller and the RC 390, which didn’t meet the licence requirements. So the Austrian manufacturer came out with the RC 250 for these markets, designed to cater specifically to this group of licence holders.
It is manufactured in India, but it isn’t sold here. And it is unlikely it will either. We already have the RC 200 and the RC 390, we have no license restrictions and therefore even an 18 year old with zero experience can buy a 200bhp fire breathing superbike. A RC390 is surely not a problem.
The KTM RC 250 will directly compete with the likes of the Honda CBR 250R and the Kawasaki Ninja 250SL. Even though this bike will not be sold in India, the interest in this motorcycle is palpable. Therefore we take the opportunity to bring to you a review of the KTM RC 250 by our good friends at BikesRepublic.com
KTM RC 250 Review
It goes without saying that KTM bikes, especially its small capacity and locally assembled (CKD) models, have become extremely popular on our soil. However, there was just one problem for many Malaysians: you technically needed a B-Full class license to own the desirable two in the range, which is the 390 Duke and its RC 390 sibling.
With both sharing the same 373cc single-cylinder engine, its capacity above 250cc meant that B2 class license holders were limited to just the 200 Duke or RC 200 that shared a ’tiny’ 199cc single-cylinder unit. Needless to say, the 200 series were no match against the onslaught of 250cc single-cylinder machines made by the rivalling Japanese brigade.
Thankfully, that situation changed drastically not too long ago when KTM Malaysia officially introduced the RC 250 and 250 Duke models. As far as many B2 license holders were concerned, their arrival finally gave them the chance to own and ride a proper European quarter-litre bike that not only looked good, but also promised better performance over its Japanese segment rivals.
We recently spent a week test-riding the sport-bodied KTM RC 250 and here’s what we managed to garner out of it.
At first glance, the KTM RC 250 looks just like its RC 200 and RC 390 siblings, which isn’t a bad thing entirely. All the good parts from the other two remains unchanged in the RC 250, especially that distinctively modern and sharp styling language. Matching that are the equally impressive details such as the LED DRLs up front that complement the twin projector headlamps, plus the cool LED tail light unit at the rear as well. In short, this is one good-looking bike in the eyes of its target buyers – novice riders.
Eagle-eyed readers would already notice our test unit’s rich array of optional items from the KTM PowerParts catalogue. Highlights here besides the race graphics donned on the fairings include a pair of adjustable clutch and brake levers made of CNC-machined aluminium, followed by the wavy brake disc up front, as well as the larger sprocket and the colour-matched X-ring chain set. All of these were not bad to say the least, enhancing the bike’s basic outlooks further.
Also retained here from the RC 200 and RC 390 are the riding ergonomics and sitting position. Having tested the RC 390 previously, things felt the same in the hot seat of the RC 250. This being a sport-bodied bike with clip-on handles, swept back foot pegs and a tall seat height of 820mm, you will need to beef up with upper body muscles to don the typical sportbike crouch when riding the RC 250 up to speeds. (Read our previous special twin-test of the KTM RC 390 and 390 Duke here)
In our weeklong stint, we managed to put the KTM RC 250 through its paces across highways, twisty back roads and the urban traffic condition. Predictably, this bike showed its disadvantages almost immediately when tasked for the urban commute.
Besides the sport riding position, the tall seat sees shorter riders tiring out quicker from having to tip toe on the bike at stops, not to mention this bike’s harder setup dialled into the WP suspension primed all-round, making you dread the sight of potholes and road imperfections. As far as city riding goes, this is still best left for any of the Duke naked bikes as their upright riding position and standard ergonomics makes said task a lot easier.
For the RC 250, it actually shines better when taken for blasts through highways and twisty backroads, feeling truly at home in the latter. With its dry weight of just 147kg and adequate ground clearance of 178.5mm, the KTM RC 250 is a natural born lean, mean, orange cornering machine, making this highly chuck-able bike a perfect platform to master your knee-down techniques. It really lives up to the Austrian brand’s motto of “Ready>>To>>Race” straight out of the box.
What adds to this bike’s high agility besides the grippy Pirelli Rosso II tyres is that wavy front brake disc option. Swapping from the stock 300mm disc to the larger 320mm wavy disc unit is a sound move as it matches well with the quad-piston caliper primed up front. As a result, both stopping power and braking abilities felt noticeably better too.
Rounding off the braking suite is a standard-equipped Bosch two-channel ABS system. The suite does feel a tad spongy with its lever pull, but the catalogue’s adjustable CNC-machined aluminium levers allows you to combat this easily too. Nevertheless, the presence of ABS also feeds a greater sense of security and safety as it offers better control under braking.
Perhaps the only let down here is the RC 250’s liquid-cooled 249cc single-cylinder engine sitting underneath those stylish fairings. The mill is essentially a downsized version of the 390 series’ 373cc unit, which KTM developed specifically for markets with laws that favoured the quarter-litre capacity.
Yes, it healthily develops 31hp @ 9,000rpm and peak torque of 24Nm at 7,250rpm, but the delivery is somewhat subdued compared against some of its Japanese peers. We also need not mention that embarrassing puttering soundtrack of this single-cylinder’s exhaust note. Nevertheless, we reckon the Akrapovič exhaust system available in the KTM PowerParts menu will resolve this easily, provided you don’t mind the extra cost of course.
Unlike the 390 series’ larger mill, the RC 250’s 249cc unit lacked that big punch of torque in the low rev-ranges. Furthermore, peak power comes only in the top-end of the rev-band, which is rather typical of a single-cylinder unit. Thankfully, the larger sprocket from the KTM PowerParts range means sustaining high-speeds is made easier, making said component worthy of consideration.
Despite these minor setbacks, this quarter-litre single-cylinder is remarkably easy to exploit and master. It not only trumps the smaller RC 200’s 199cc unit with greater power and torque figures, the six-speed transmission paired with it also boasts a PASC anti-hopping mechanical slipper clutch – a feature absent in the entry-level RC 200. No doubt, the clutch-less up- and down-shift capability made this RC 250 feel right at home when conquering twisty back roads, and we reckon it would feel the same during a trackday too.
Adding to that, especially for novices, is that neat digital instrument display panel. Equipped across the range, the screen is easy to read even with just a quick glance. KTM cleverly placed the rev-counter bar to run across the top of the screen, followed by the large speedometer in the middle, not forgetting the all-important gear indicator just to the left of that – a feature many of the RC 250’s rivals still lack. The icing here is the shift light placed at the top that blinks rapidly as you approach the mill’s 11,000rpm red-line.
While it may lack a little in the power delivery department, the KTM RC 250’s mighty impressive list of standard features sees it eclipsing the bulk of its Japanese rivals. Match that with its highly nimble handling abilities and an affordable basic selling price tag of RM18,888* sans options, the KTM RC 250 is hard to resist for many eager newbies.
For us though, the RC 250’s minor drawbacks carry little consequences simply because of that magical ‘250cc’ figure. This means you don’t need to spend more money on upgrading to a B-Full license whilst the RC 250’s price tag sees you saving more than RM8,000 from the RC 390’s steeper RM27,500* price tag.
The only question left is how much one is willing to spend on the wide variety of parts and accessories available in the KTM PowerParts catalogue.
Text & Photos: Thoriq Azmi/ BikesRepublic.com
Bajaj V15 – Torque of the Town
Remember the visuals of India’s first and much celebrated aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, flashing on your TV and computer screens in the last week of January this year? A brief intro of the INS Vikrant was followed by the painful images of her getting scraped. And before you could finish cursing the authorities for not taking care of our 1971 war hero, there came a reassuring message as to how Bajaj had acquired the metal from the dismantled Vikrant, melted it and was using this metal to make a new motorcycle – giving new life to a legend or making it immortal! What a masterpiece of a marketing strategy! And what better time to unleash it than the Republic Day! I so badly wanted to own one of that mystery motorcycles even before it was born! The mystery motorcycle was ultimately unveiled by Bajaj just before the Auto Expo 2016. This turned out to be a 150cc motorcycle with which Bajaj wanted to target the creamy layer of commuter segment (the commuters who would want a ‘little more’ than just commuting from home to work and vice versa). The bike was christened V15 and got people talking about it due to its rather unusual appearance, which doesn’t fit anywhere in our usual classification of motorcycles. It is a bit of commuter and a bit of café racer and a bit of cruiser as well! We got to ride the V15 in Pune yesterday and here’s our take on it.
As we said, the Bajaj V15 is a rather unusual looking creature. You find it hard to understand its form and categorize it as a café racer or a simple commuter, but it does manage to stimulate your senses. It manages to capture your attention for a lot longer than you would otherwise give to a commuter motorcycle. And after you are done trying to understand it, there are certain elements in the V15 which force you to appreciate the thought process behind its design – be it the muscular tank, the generous amount of chrome, the neatly designed instrument console, the trendy rear with LED tail lamp, that 3-dimensional ‘V’ logo on the tank, or that ‘made with INS Vikrant steel’ logo unit inscribed on the chrome fuel tank cap. It has a road presence that would be enviable for any motorcycle slotted into the commuter segment. While we were riding it in Pune and out near the villages, we got so many curious questions from both young and old who stopped us and enquired about the bike. At one point, I was riding behind an army truck for some time near Baner and the soldiers sitting in it had their eyes constantly glued to the bike. I so wanted to stop them and tell them the ‘war machine’ background of the V15 and see their reactions! I am sure a few would’ve been instantly interested in buying it just because of its INS Vikrant story.
A rear seat cowl comes bundled with the standard accessory set of the V15, which is rather easy to put on the bike. All you need to do is to slide it in and tighten two screws with the help of the tiny Allen key integrated in the key of the bike itself. The fat tyres on the 18-inch wheel at the front and a 16-incher at the rear enhance its cruiser appeal.
A special mention here needs to be given to the exhaust note of the bike, which plays a big role in the overall imagery of the bike. Bajaj has spent quite a bit of time to fine tune the aural note from the V15’s exhaust and as a result we have an exhaust note which feels meaty and bassy.
The plastic quality on the switchgear was acceptable. The overall fit and finish & the paint quality of the V15 is just top notch.
But there are things in the V15 that looked a bit overkill. The headlamp assembly in particular looked out of proportion when seen from certain angles. Also you badly miss the engine kill switch on it. Essential goodies like trip meter and a tachometer have also been given a miss on the V15.
The Bajaj V15 comes fitted with an all-new 149.5 cc power plant that makes 12 bhp at 7500 RPM and 13 Nm of torque at just 5500 RPM. The 12 odd horses that V15 produces doesn’t sound like a lot when you compare it with other 150 cc machines that are there in the market. With these horses, it manages to reach around 80 kmph mark before it starts losing its breath and sounding harsh. But Bajaj says, this motorcycle is intentionally made to not go really fast! They say that if you want to judge it, judge it from the amount of torque it produces and how easily and early it comes. And evidently, the V15 has ample amount of low and mid range torque that makes it such a pleasure to ride within the city. Frequent overtakes were a breeze without having to shift down. The bike is capable of managing mild city traffic in fourth gear with occasional downshifts to third gear, most of the time. Oh, by the way, the V15 is fitted with a 5-speed, all-up-pattern gearbox that is not really the best we’ve seen from Bajaj. The gearbox did not provide satisfactory or reassuring feedback and we found it particularly tough to downshift when stationary. The clutch had a late bite point as well and the bike wouldn’t move an inch until the clutch was fully released – It was a minor adjustment issue but an extremely irritating one. Otherwise, the engine felt really smooth and the power delivery was linear as long as you don’t try riding it beyond the 75-80 kmph mark. You could also feel some vibrations in the bike beyond this point.
Photo Courtesy: Preetam Bora
Photo Courtesy: Preetam Bora
The low seat height, wide handlebars and footpeg position give it a very distinctive commuterish stance. The seat was comfy and offered generous amount of saddle space to the rider as well as the pillion. The handling of the V15 is neutral and you are warned not to treat it as a corner craver, but it is not as lazy as a cruiser either and you can manage to cut through city traffic rather effortlessly. The skeleton of the V15 is made up of a new double cradle chassis that is mounted on conventional gas charged shock absorbers at the rear and telescopic suspension at the front. This setup, though on the stiffer side, manages to neutralize most of the potholes and speed breakers thrown at it with utter ease. It feels stable and planted at straight line high speeds and manages to hold the line into corners as well if ridden sensibly.
The brakes (a 240 mm disc at the front and a 130 mm drum at the rear) felt adequate for the kind of velocity this bike can attain.
Bajaj V15 Review: Spec Comparo
Bajaj V15 Vs. Other 150-160 cc in the market. Click to enlarge the image!
This spec comparison sheet was provided to us by Bajaj. It clearly gives us an indication as to where Bajaj wants to position the V15!