Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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A Look At The Himalayan

Look Date - 24 December 2017

By Ren Withnell

Objective? Me? Nope, not at all. 

Let me see. Long stroke for torque not power. Air/Oil cooled so no water pump, simpler maintenance and less complexity. 411cc single, big enough but not silly or pointless. 21 inch front wheel, that's a proper off road size that is. 5 speed, I mean who really really needs six speeds anyhow? A selection of racks, frames, engine guards and luggage available from the manufacturer. Off road ability with on road manners. Side and centre stand. Engine guard.

Side view of the purposeful but not that pretty Himalayan
Purposeful, not exactly pretty though.

A price tag of 4 grand, 4 and a half if you want some luggage. 

It's like Royal Enfield dipped into my mind and pulled out everything I'd want from a motorcycle. Well - almost everything.

Kerb weight 191kg, that's heavy for a 400 single. 800mm seat height, taller than I'd personally wish for. 15 litres of fuel, ideally I'd like 21 but at least 17. Tubed tyres, yes I know they're easier to fix but I much prefer tubeless. Linkage on the rear suspension - stop this, just stop this, stop!

The rear suspension linage under the swingarm of the Enfield
I swear they fit linkages just to annoy me.

I really really want to like this motorcycle and I really really want it to be a success. If it proves to be a good seller, reliable, capable and endearing to the owners then it will upset the adventure apple cart. At that price if it's a winner then the Japs and the Germans (and perhaps the Chinese) are going to have to pull their bloody fingers out.

The Himalayan didn't start out well though. The first bikes had a lot of issues with broken frames, rust, cracks, electrical gremlins and the like. It was bad enough for initial sales to be pulled while Enfield (hopefully) sorted out the problems. The idea is that quality control has been improved as well as a few designs. Now the bike is back on sale and available from my local dealers. 

As such I've had a look around the machine. 

The thick spokes locate in a cleverly cast hub
There are some nice simple and effective touches.

Looks wise it's definitely "adventure" styled but quite different from the angular sharp lines of my CB500X and other current models. Some might say it looks rather agricultural and home built but for myself this is far from a criticism. I'd say it looks purposeful without unnecessary frills like the blasted fairings on my "adventure" bike. The engine looks huge for a 400 single. I guess we're used to sleek watercooled lines these days.

What seems to be a large and bulky engine fills the frame of the Enfield
The cylinder head looks massive! 

There's nothing at all remarkable. Right way up forks, regular switchgear, standard clocks, bland round mirrors, round headlight and the layout is traditional. So there's nothing for marketers to hype about, probably another good thing. 

A few parts like the regulator rectifier and brake reservoir behind the engine
All the usual parts in all the usual places. If it works don't fix it.

Nathan Millward has just purchased one and I look forward to seeing how he gets along with his. I will watch with interest to see how well it sells and how it is received. I hope it is measured on it's ability, running costs, reliability and riding pleasure and not it's kudos value and the "look at me and how much money I have to waste" marker.

If you've lived with a particular motorcycle for a while we'd love to publish your real world review of your experience. Contact

Reader's Comments

Henrik said :-
You said "reliable", that's not the case, they are known to be anything else than reliable as far as I could tell, the thing is, when they fail, (and they will), people in India knows how to fix them,..

I have considered a guided tour in India, with my wife, plane, and rented Royal Enfields off course,....

Guess I just stick to Norway, and our local Indian restaurant, our preferred

Plenty of adventure near by ;-)
24/12/2017 12:12:44 UTC
Henrik said :-
And this bike ,.. no ,.. not ever ,.. but I also like it somehow :-)
24/12/2017 12:14:33 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I fear you may be right, they may not be reliable. But I hope to be proven wrong. The people I have talked with about riding in India tell me it's a very scary experience.
24/12/2017 04:52:40 UTC
Daf said :-
I'm in exactly the same boat as you, Ren. I so much want to like this motorcycle as the _idea_ of the Himalayan is just what suits both of us. But I fear that Enfield may have let the execution down a bit in terms of quality control. I also wonder if it shouldn't have been a 500 twin. In a year or so, I'm going to have to make the choice between this and one of the new Honda CB500s - which I know aren't new any more! What I opt to buy will depend hugely on how I see other peoples experience with the Himalayan
26/12/2017 11:04:06 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I think 400 single is fine, there'll be no issues keeping up with traffic and plenty of grunt. Vibes might be noticeable, a twin is smoother. Hmmmmm.
28/12/2017 07:32:11 UTC
Bob said :-
Enfield have already said that they're going to be fitting the new 650 twin engine into the Himalayan next year.
I'm still waiting for a test ride on the 410 Himalayan, it does interest me as a bike but it's a shame it's so heavy (but then it's no heavier than the 300 Versys).
28/12/2017 10:33:31 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I suspect the problem with weight is money. My 500 ain't no lightweight and for a "Jap" (Honda but built in Thailand) it's relatively cheap.
28/12/2017 11:48:51 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I'm not sure that I'd consider spokes which bend as they leave the hub a "nice simple and effective touch" although that may be the photo.

181 Kg is far too heavy for a bike which would be used on green lanes etc. And why on earth two front mudguards?

If I was looking for a new bike (which I never do as I have better things to do with my money) I'd rather have one of the Chinese 400cc bikes which seem to be improving rapidly.
28/12/2017 11:49:24 UTC
Chris Rees said :-
''Look at me, and how much money i have to waste'' Yes, good comment, The 'theme' here in the U.K it appears is all about 'image', as in ''Look at me...Look what i have. '' The irony is though that the vast majority of the new bikes 'sold' more especially since 2015, (cars too) are not 'bought' any more, instead they are 'hired' or 'leased' for three years via P.C.P, which is a great 'wheeze' or 'brainwave' via the banks/financial institutions...I refer to it as P.D.P (permanent debt plan!!). After the three years is up...(subject to various mileage restrictions etc), the agreement holder (as opposed to buyer), gives the vehicle back,walks home,and buys a bike they can actually afford, or stumps up a hefty sum to pay off the balance on the P.C.P, and thus 'buys' said bike, (the vast majority of whom do not have the 'funds' to do so in any case!!)...or the third option to take out another new bike...and do it all again. (ideal scenario and 'win, win' for the banks!)Thus the customer is always in debt! Brilliant!! This also (as a side benefit for the government)gives a (false) illusion that U.K citizens must be 'very well off,' and thus the economy must be 'booming', as opposed to reality, in which its mired in debt,(both government and households),and the actual 'economy' is one of 'fuel poverty', £'pound shops' and boarded up shops/business premises, 'food banks.' and' minimum wage' jobs, which are the 'norm' in the U.K. Its a crazy world eh!.
28/12/2017 10:56:17 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Good points. I never cease to be amazed how daft people can be (but given some election / referendum results in the last year or two maybe I need to reset my amazement levels.....)

If I was looking for that style of bike I'd probably go for the Mash 400 - available for around £4,000 - but more realistically the 250 Sinnis in the link.

I accept it doesn't have the bling but add a set of throwovers and a tank bag and for well under £1,800 you're set for a life of adventure......
29/12/2017 10:45:19 UTC
Borsuk said :-
I had a good look and a sit on the Mash earlier this year. Really liked it until I took it off the side stand and got it upright with some help from the assistant and realised my poor short legs can't touch the ground at all on it. The seat height is within my physical range but the side covers just below the seat bulge quite a lot and force my legs outwards too much for them to touch the ground.
Already have a Chinese clone which sits outside the house in all weathers for 2 to 3 months at a time then starts 1st time after 5 mins prep when I go to use it, so I am not really worried about the quality of the better Chinese bikes around. Been better behaved than some cars I have had over the years. Had a brand new XR2 years ago where 3 of the spark plugs failed within 24 hours. Nothing like being beaten of the lights by a Sinclair C5.
29/12/2017 11:44:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ian - the advantage of the hub is (allegedly) that the spokes don't have the old 90 degree bend that hubs used to have. This relieves some of the stress at that point. But yeah ideally the spoke would be dead straight.

The purpose of the 2 front mudguards will be homologation. Actually I think it's very clever. On nearly all surfaces a close fitting mudguard is the best option to keep crud where it should be. This close fitting mudguard is also long - something we have complained about in the past with most modern bikes. If you find yourself on thick claggy mud the close fitting gaurd can be removed and the upper guard will work as it does on most crossers.

Yeah it's heavy. But how many properly light off-roaders will also carry lots of luggage?

Chris - yeah I know a lot of people who have a lot of "nice" things but if they were to cash in on that day they'd be worth next to nothing.

PCP has it's place for a specific type of purchaser. If you ride 4,000 miles a year on nice pleasant days, have zero interest in tinkering and altering your bike, like to pose with modern machinery and have £X per month spare then it's fine. And believe me there are a LOT of leisure motorcyclists who simply want a nice clean new bike to ride when the weather is agreeable. Think of it as a monthly rent rather than motorcycle ownership.

Ian - that Sinnis is a lovely thing isn't it! For the price hell's teeth you could make it "adventure" styled and still have change for a nice trip. Under 900 miles so there ain't gonna be much wrong.

Borsuk - Yeah the Chinese bike have come a long way and I daresay the better brands are close if not up to the same standard as the established marques. The only thing I have found with Sharon's Keeway is parts availability is not up to scratch. Sharon ordered a new brake lever for the RKS and there's none in the UK so it'll be a good few weeks before it arrives.

Cheers folks.

29/12/2017 12:25:30 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I think the tall seats are a fashion statement. When you look at the clearance above the rear tyre on virtually all "adventure" bikes it's far and away above what is needed for the actual suspension travel.

The tall seats were one reason I left the V-Strom 650 and its replacement Honda SLR650 as, nice bikes though they were, it was getting increasingly difficult to get my leg over them (silence at the back there) due to decreasing flexibility in my joints.

I can see me going for something like a Mash 400 (not the "adventure" model) or Sinnis 250 at some time in the future. I did have a test ride on the Mash roadster about 3 years ago and the only thing that put me off was the probable precipitous depreciation. But now low mileage used examples seem to be coming on the market. So I can save enough to maintain my claret habit......
29/12/2017 12:26:34 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I used to think you HAD to have a high seat height if you want long travel suspension. Then you see a proper "trials" bike, the sort of thing Dougie Lampkin rides and then you realise tain't necessarily so. Of course an "adventure" bike needs a battery and an airbox and an ABS unit and luggage space but still - come on!
29/12/2017 12:45:29 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"Ian - the advantage of the hub is (allegedly) that the spokes don't have the old 90 degree bend that hubs used to have. This relieves some of the stress at that point. But yeah ideally the spoke would be dead straight."

My 1956 Matchless 500 had straight spokes and they seemed to manage to do that without any bending - see below. If you think about it, spokes are in tension so any bend will tend to straighten out as load is applied.

29/12/2017 02:48:30 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I fully accept I'm clutching at straws here but I wonder if those small bends have a purpose.

We know the Indians are not stupid, quite the opposite. I figure it must cost more to bend every spoke just so for every wheel. I wonder if the bend allows the spokes to flex in just the right manner.
30/12/2017 07:25:20 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I think it's more likely that the holes drilled in the hub aren't quite at the right angle. From the photo it looks as though the holes are the same angle in both directions which doesn't feel right.

It would be interesting to see the dimples in the rim and check whether they look correct.

I agree they're not stupid in the slightest. However, like most companies, Enfield are interested almost solely in making a profit. It may be that drilling like that saves on setup time as I guess the hub could be drilled and countersunk in one direction then merely flipped over for the other.

The extra cost of bending the spokes would be minimal.
30/12/2017 10:47:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
That might also be quite true. I looked at a few Chinese 125s today with spoked wheels and although they're smaller they have the same setup. There's a reason... we're just not quite sure what.
30/12/2017 04:03:20 UTC
Rod said :-
I have just looked at a Royal Enfield forum, and it seems that the bike is supplied with loosely fitting spokes, which are tightened at the first service. I can not think of a reason for this?
30/12/2017 07:04:35 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I can't believe they let people ride off with slack spokes. I can believe that a tension check is included in the first service as newly fitted spokes can settle down depending on how they're fitted.
01/01/2018 10:52:19 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm hoping someone is making a sarcastic observation! Imagine setting off on your brand new bike with the wheels wobbling beneath you - terrifying. Yeah I can understand a tension check at the first service but not deliberately letting the bike go with them loose.
02/01/2018 10:21:39 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Perhaps Rod could point us to the Enfield forum he mentions?
03/01/2018 10:40:40 UTC
Rod said :-
Ian, I have been looking for the forum but can not find it at the moment.
It was a guy having a moan about all the problems he had experienced with the Enfield, and being supplied from new with loose spokes was one of his problems, which they tried to rectify at the first service. I do not believe that Royal Enfield intentionally supplied the bike with loose spokes, but there were a few Enfield owners which had had this problem.
I just posted the comment to stir up some debate!, but I will continue looking for the forum.

03/01/2018 09:22:19 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I have to say that Enfield makes my kind of bike, but I've always been put off by the appalling reputation for quality control they have. I keep waiting for positive long-term reviews of their newer models, but sadly nothing seems to have changed.
04/01/2018 05:22:38 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
You know you can get old cars like Jags or Capris that have been re-engineered. They fix all the issues like bushes and wiring etc.

Imagine if you took the time to do the same with an Enfield.

Otherwise get the bike and properly fix anything that crops up. But then... just buy a Jap bike?
04/01/2018 11:01:54 UTC
Rod said :-
Found the forum with the Enfield problems. Look at the post from Himansh.

It looks like the Royal Enfield has poor build quality!
06/01/2018 08:40:40 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Thanks Rod. Interesting to read views from its home country.

TBH, Royal Enfield (fondly known as Royal Oilfield) were never in the top flight of British bikes although the trials model in the early 1950s was highly regarded. But this was partly due to being the first trials bike with swinging fork rear suspension (received wisdom at the time was that a rigid frame was necessary) and also having some superb riders such as Johnny Brittain.

I rode a 350 Redditch-built Bullet in pre-65 trials for several years. Obviously well past its best being 40 years or so old, but the appalling Albion gearbox, leak-prone semi-wet-sump arrangement, poorly designed top end etc etc did not endear it to me. It did have good points - a well designed primary chaincase being one - but all in all not an inspiring ride.

I accept that the Himalayan shares nothing but the Enfield name with my Bullet but feel that maybe some of the same philosophies apply.

As an aside, some years ago a friend of mine who was an expert Norton Commando tuner dismantled his brother's Indian Bullet to investigate poor gearchanging. He showed me some of the machining on the gearbox internals which was of shocking quality. Again, some time ago.

07/01/2018 11:31:53 UTC
Rod said :-
Ian, I used to look every week at a 250cc Enfield in a local shop widow, and would dream of owning it. I was 15 at the time, but when I was 16 I realised that I would be saving forever to buy the Enfield and bought a second hand BSA C15. The BSA was a good bike, so it looks like I had a lucky escape!
07/01/2018 08:19:08 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Want a nice light bike? How about this? 85 Kg...........

Maybe not suitable for the RTW trip (although a set of throwovers and you're set) but it looks like a hoot.
16/01/2018 12:16:52 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
It does seem to go quite well......
16/01/2018 12:24:15 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cool bike! It looks rather like a Chinese CG125 engine despite being 230cc. I would be concerned regarding the tank range but that front folding luggage rack is giving me (more stupid) ideas.
16/01/2018 02:55:43 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Ooh, and look! You can get pannier frames for it - and they seem to be designed specifically for boxes of wine!

Also use it for lugging tree trunks out of the forest etc.....
16/01/2018 03:16:09 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Oh My LORD! It's even got a trailer!!!

Trailer for towing wood with a motorcycle
16/01/2018 03:32:35 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
So what are you waiting for?

Bidding is at just over £1,000 - fly out to Naples and ride it home........
16/01/2018 03:54:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm just booking me ticket now...
16/01/2018 04:55:46 UTC
Bob said :-
It looks like a Rieju Tango.
I loved my KLX250 at 131KG, I tend to think that people who don't own light bikes have just never ridden one and so they don't realise what they're missing.
18/01/2018 09:53:34 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Hi Bob.

It's actually very different but that Rieju looks quite good except for the ridiculously high seat.

The Borile is much lighter, has an alloy frame etc and seems to be quite well specified (eg 40mm Marzocchi forks).

But I don't think they were made for long and I can't see any UK distributors.

But still available at auction!
18/01/2018 10:34:50 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Had a sit on a Himalayan the other week there and was actually surprised when my feet could touch the ground with an empty tank. Stick in some fuel and a top box with my minimum kit in it and I will probably be able to nearly flat foot it. I might fit on a BMW 310 GS but I think that's the only adventure bikes I can probably ride. I would need stilts for a 1200 GS

10/07/2018 12:49:27 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Some of the GS1200's are so tall I fear the riders are at risk of altitude sickness.

What style of bike are you fancying as and when you complete your test Borsuk? You've mentioned 2 adventure style bikes here, is that your thinking? Personally I could see you on a Ducati Panigale...
10/07/2018 08:04:43 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Thinking of a relaxed classic style road bike for UK and an offroad / onroad type for Spain. Probably an adventure style bike, most likely the BMW 310 GS or Himalayan. I want something that is ok on the main roads and can handle being offroad and has a decent ground clearance and a decent tank size in case I decide to ride over the Sierra Nevada's by track.
Don't want a pure offroader, although very light most are very tall so no use to short arse me and some have ridiculously small tanks. Don't fancy a scrambler as most of them are cosmetic and wouldn't survive going over the local tracks.
The only Ducati I fancy is their rotovator, my local Ironmonger sells them.

My kind of Ducati
11/07/2018 03:39:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I did not know Ducati made agricultural equipment! I know Lamborghini make tractors so maybe it's an Italian thing.

Nathan Millward has 9,000 miles on his Himalayan now and he's perfectly happy with his.
12/07/2018 07:46:19 UTC
NigelS said :-
Royal Enfield has a big problem with quality, not only with the Himalayan on which production was suspended for 6 months in the summer of 2017 whilst 'quality issues' were dealt with (delaying the launch in the UK) but also on the long running Bullet 500 EFI and the Continental GT535. On the latter model at the Ace Cafe to Brighton launch in October 2013 motor cycle journalists were reporting that they experienced severe vibration - but only on some machines which is worrying as that shows lack of consistency in the machining of the crank and an absence of any quality checking. I have owned two Bullet 500 EFI's and two Continental GT 535's in the last four years. My first Bullet was built in 2011 when production was at about 100,000 units per annum. Over the next 6 years production went up to 1/2 million units . . . . no company this side of the moon can recruit and train staff at the rate required to ramp up production to such levels and maintain quality. I can expand further - if you want a good laugh then have a look at this link
17/09/2018 01:59:02 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Having read the link.

MotoGB. Based just about 2 miles from my house. Also the same "group" KJM owns every main dealer in this area save for Honda who apparently won't have anything to do with them. You cannot buy a Kawasaki, Yammy or Suzuki around here without funding MotoGB. Of course you can't buy a Keeway, Benelli, Enfield or quite a few other marques anywhere in the UK without MotoGB as they are the UK importers.
17/09/2018 05:47:01 UTC

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