Words by - Jatin Chibber
2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6 - Introduction
In India, there are very limited options for affordable ADVs because they have a limited fan base. However, the craze of budget-friendly off-road machines is growing among young and experienced riders alike. Right now, there are only two options of affordable ADVs in the market - the first is the Hero Xpulse 200 and the second is the Royal Enfield Himalayan. The KTM Adventure 390 is definitely a capable motorcycle but its expensive price tag discounts it as an option to many.
The Royal Enfield Himalayan was first introduced in our market back in 2016. With a grunty 410cc engine and an affordable price tag, it quickly gained popularity among enthusiasts. For 2020, Royal Enfield has made subtle cosmetic and mechanical tweaks to the motorcycle. I got a chance to test the new motorcycle over multiple days and here’s our extensive first ride review of the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6.
2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6- Looks & Styling
Starting with its looks, the design of the new 2020 model is almost identical to that of the BS4 version. To make the off-roader look more exciting, Royal Enfield has introduced new colour options, which definitely make it look more exciting. We rode the test unit which was finished in Gravel Grey. Upfront, the bike gets conventional round halogen headlamps, which offer a good throw while riding at night. The plastic windshield right above is large enough to save you from wind blast but is still not adjustable. Suspension duties are taken care of by telescopic front forks and an adjustable mono-shock at the back.
It gets a 15-litre fuel tank which is large enough to make your long trips hassle-free and is well sculpted for off-road use as well. The seats are well cushioned and one can easily do long trips with a pillion, without many rest breaks. At the side, the 2020 Himalayan adds nifty looking graphics, which enhance the premium touch. While the headlights get halogen bulbs, you get LED taillights at the rear. Like the outgoing version, the BS6 Himalayan continues to feature an extended luggage carrier, a handy addition to keep luggage secure.
Moving towards the front, the switchgear remains a tad basic. The side mirrors still feel flimsy and don’t hold up well against high-speed wind blasts. The instrument cluster of the motorcycle remains identical but definitely offers a lot of features. The Himalayan employs a semi-digital unit, with an analogue speedometer to the right and a small digital display on the left. The digital unit provides information like time, temperature, service warning, odometer, gear position, average fuel economy and temperature. On the right side of the instrument panel, you get an analogue tachometer and a fuel gauge with a digital compass. The instrument panel is also where you find the button to turn the ABS on or off. Overall, the bike still has its charm intact and is capable of turning heads even after 5 years of production. Moreover, the addition of new colour shades definitely make it look distinctive over its previous version.
Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6- Engine & Performance
The major update to the new 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan is the upgrade to a BS6-compliant powertrain. The 411cc, single-cylinder engine is capable of producing 24.3bhp of peak power at 6,500 rpm and 32 Nm of twisting force at 4,500 rpm. The motor comes mated to a 5-speed gearbox. Power is now down by 0.2bhp, while torque remains the same at 35 Nm.
However, thanks to updates, the motorcycle now feels more refined and a tad less vibration-free. Royal Enfield’s efforts to control NVH levels has worked well, albeit with a sacrifice in power . In its BS4 iteration, vibrations coming from the footpegs, handlebars and seat post were pretty harsh post 3,000rpm. In the BS6 version, they have been controlled up to 70 to 80 kmph. The power delivery of the engine is as linear as the BS4 model. The initial punch is pretty strong, while the mid-range is equally exciting. However, keeping the throttle pinned all the way to higher rpms makes the engine feel short-breathed and quite strained. Thanks to the dallops of torque on offer, it also functions as a good highway cruiser.
Though one can easily do triple-digit speeds, sustaining those becomes a task due to vibrations and a stressed engine at higher RPMs. It can reach speeds up to 150km, though that does take a bit of persistence on your part. Overall, the 2020 RE Himalayan is apt for those looking to buy a bike to go on adventure trips, which can double as a city commuter but also offer up a value-for-money option.
Royal Enfield Himalayan- Ride & Handling
In terms of riding dynamics, the new Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6 is quite effortless to ride. Not just that, it is also a comfortable motorcycle for tourings and city commutes. It gets upright handlebars which do not stress your arms out while riding it in the city and on long highway commutes. Moreover, the handlebars are not that wide, helping you to easily manoeuvre the bike in bumper-to-bumper traffic or through fast winding roads leading to err…. The Himalayas. Compared to the previous BS4 model, the weight of the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan has increased by 5 kgs and now tips the scale at a hefty 200 kgs. While two passengers and their luggage can make it a tricky bike to handle for inexperienced riders, the seat height is pretty accessible. Even for riders standing around 5.5-feet tall, the Himalayan does not pose any issue.
The suspension system comprises telescopic forks at the front and an adjustable mono-shock setup at the back. The suspension is tuned pretty well to counter bad terrains and is a testament to the extensive testing RE had done on these types of terrains during its development process. Even in city conditions, it will really impress you with its capability to effortlessly absorb bumps from deep potholes and large speed breakers. Braking duties are done by disc brakes at the front and rear and for added safety, comes mated to a switchable dual-channel ABS system. Upfront, it gets a 300 mm disc and a 240 mm disc at the rear. The brakes of the motorcycle could have been better as they offer delayed feedback under hard braking.
The Himalayan rides on 21-inch and 17-inch spoked wheels at the front and rear, respectively. The wheels are wrapped in dual-purpose tyres by CEAT, which offer an adequate amount of grip on and off-road. The ride and handling part of the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan is largely sorted thanks to a light and well-balanced chassis. However, its heavy kerb weight works as its achilles heel on tarma and off-road conditions.
Royal Enfield Himalayan BS6 - Verdict
The new 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan is offered in three different trim levels - Standard, Sleet & Gravel Grey and Dual Tone. The only difference between these three trims is the colour schemes they come with. The standard variant is priced at INR 1.91 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Sleet & Gravel Grey variant costs INR 1.94 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and the top-spec Dual-Tone version carries a price tag of INR 1.95 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
The 2020 RE Himalayan looks good, comes loaded with convenience features like switchable ABS, digital compass and a hazard light switch; it is also powered by a grunty motor which has been revised to be a more refined and environmental-friendly unit. Overall, the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan is a good pick for those who are planning to explore India on two wheels and head back to office straight after without any alterations to their mode of transport. All of it with pocket-friendly prices and a vast expanse of after-sales service centres as bonuses.