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  #1  
Old 6 Aug 2016
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Exactly How Purpose Built Is The Royal Enfield Himalayan?



A couple of my friends have ridden their Himalayans in the Himalayas and are essentially confirming what I knew would happen to the Himalayan in the Himalayas. In their infinite wisdom, the folks at Royal Enfield decided to give the Himalayan a carburetor instead of a fuel injection system. That, in my opinion, is a cruel joke on customers paying around 1.8 lakhs for what Royal Enfield refers to as a "purpose built adventure tourer".

The way an internal combustion engine works, air and fuel need to be mixed to an optimal ratio before the spark starts the combustion process in the cylinder of the engine. When you ride at high altitudes the air is thin and the air-fuel mixture becomes lean. The carburetor of a motorcycle is a mechanical part and is not smart enough to understand what's going. It keeps adding the same amount of fuel no matter how much air gets sucked into the cylinder. As a result, combustion isn't optimal and there is a significant loss of power. In extreme cases the engine can even die and refuse to start. The solution is to change the main jet of the carburetor by opening it up. For someone used to fiddling with his or her motorcycle, this will not be an extremely difficult thing to do, assuming they have the necessary jet with them. But for someone who wants to simply ride an allegedly "purpose built" motorcycle in the Himalayas its simply ridiculous to expect them to rejet their carburetor while riding up a high altitude mountain pass all loaded up.

On the other hand, a fuel injection system uses a computer and one or more sensors to figure out whats going on and automatically take corrective measures. To match the thin air at high altitudes the computer injects a lesser amount of fuel to maintain the optimal fuel-air ratio. As a result you see a decrease in power, but not to the extent that you may experience with a carburetor. Thanks to the computer, the engine definitely won't die on you.

I faced this first hand while riding my Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 (running a carburetor) along the high mountain passes of Ladakh. I had to ride in low gear, keep the throttle twisted and ended up wasting a lot of fuel as the combustion was half ass. My engine coughed, spat, farted, shuddered and made all sorts of horrendous sounds as it struggled on. On the other hand, my friend riding a KTM Duke 390 using fuel injection was merrily racing up and down the mountains and didn't experience any significant loss of power.

I'm not sure what exactly Royal Enfield means by "purpose built" when they refer to the Himalayan. If it means taking the motorcycle off-road to ride a trail around your home town, then maybe yes. But the Himalayan is definitely not purpose built for the Himalayas. Seems to me that whoever in Royal Enfield wrote the spec for this motorcycle didn't know that they were going to call it the Himalayan.
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  #2  
Old 6 Aug 2016
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Don't tar all carburettors with the same brush. There's loads (well, a few anyway ) of different technologies at work in the carb world and some of them work ok at altitude. All of my vehicles (car and bikes) with CV carbs for example work ok as high as I've taken them (about 3000m) no whereas some of the simpler needle + jets ones show signs of mixture distress under 1500m.

I agree with what you say about F.I. though. I've had stuff up over 3500m and its been exactly the same as it was at sea level. Those may not be very high altitudes in a Himalayan context but that's about as high as things go in Europe / North America.

Deciding whether the RE Himalayan is fit for purpose probably needs the application of a large dose of cynicism. In this case, observing that it looks like a duck and seems to quack something like a duck it might not be valid to conclude that it actually is a duck.
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  #3  
Old 17 Mar 2017
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Got my doubts

8 months later but this may be advantageous because there has been time for riders to give some feedback on their bikes and certainly some of it from Indians was not good. (Google Himalayan)

In 2015 I rented an Enfield in Delhi to do the Ladahk trip. Asked specifically for an FI bike because of it supposed better capability at 18500' (Khardung La).
Classic is fitted with a BOSCH unit but even at Manali (2000') it was giving poor throttle response. Bike tour mechanics could do nothing with it, because it was electronic control. Guys on Thunderbirds and Bullets (Carbs) did much better at altitude although they probably used a lot of fuel.

Bike was only 2 years old and generally FI units are very reliable, so what is the story with the Classic. Possible that this is a cheapie unit that RE in India have opted to put on their bikes.
There are a lot of Himalayan "viewers" who decry the carb fitted but I'd be sceptical that they've got their FI act together yet.
Apparently the bikes going to Europe are required to have FI but the model being sold in Australia is carbed (with no ABS as in Europe) However for the projected UK price of 6000 pounds, you'd expect it to have these two features.
The Indian domestic price is 1.78 lakhs (about $3500 AUS) so you can't expect it to have any extras. It's $7000 here but still carbed which is counter productive to good sales if they have an FI unit available.

I don't think that making bikes is something India does very well, and their overseas selling experience has been very patchy. The Himalayan is 45kgs heavier than a comparable Japanese 400 and is only 20kw. Not a good result from people who have spent a lot of time 'developing' this new model.

Anyway I've got a Himalayan booked for an Indian ride in August so I'll find out what it's like.
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  #4  
Old 20 Mar 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deelip View Post
In their infinite wisdom, the folks at Royal Enfield decided to give the Himalayan a carburetor instead of a fuel injection system. That, in my opinion, is a cruel joke on customers paying around 1.8 lakhs for what Royal Enfield refers to as a "purpose built adventure tourer".

.
When you add the poor fuel system to the 'Royal Enfield bits falling off the bike for no reason' dilemma it all becomes quite a conundrum.
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  #5  
Old 18 Apr 2017
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My Royal Enfield Himalayan experience..

Hello =) I am Oso and I have just come back after 5 months and around 11000 km on the Himalayan, around Himalaya and then down to Goa through Deli/Rajastan/Maharastra, and I have to say that the bike which I bought in Vashist in Kullu valley (and which was the first one to be reg on proper plates there..) is a bike with some good potential and the general building quality is far better than the Bullets I have used earlier years.

The gearshift is really "clunky",the electrics are good until the first service and thereafter worse and worse after each time a R-E mechanic gets his hands on it, since the training on the Himalayan in the different service stations is very bad or non existent, which means that your bike will miss parts/have broken parts or just having many things hanging after each visit to the Official R-E Service centers..

But..if you know a bit of mechanics and have the patience and determination to deal with unknowing staff, it can still be a good ride... The riding position is more adventure-orientated than any other R-E and therefore also the control of the bike, maybe most of all in the Himalayas and f.ex.Spiti valley or the road to Udarpur, where the word road is a very stretchable term.. and after 40 - 50 km on gravel the size of a fist or more, the Himalayan is a far better option than the bullet!

Also in the desert it performs quite well as long as you let out a bit of air from the tires.. My bike took some proper beating in the mountain and survived quite well I must say, the rear tire blanks out quite quick and is quite a bit more expensive than other standard tires on the Indian market, and you MUST carry at least one spare tube to both front and back since the dimensions are new and therefore also more or less non-existent on the many tire wallas through India..

I got myself a larger jet for the carb in the mountain and that helped a bit, but on 4-5000 meter height, it is a one person bike at best.. I have a friend in Germany that in this moment are working on a new more powerful cylinder etc for solving some of these issues..

And yeah, the electrics...The Himalayan is the Indian Adventure bike...with NO KICK START...so you would think the set up would reflect this, but it does not..so when the mechanics are servicing your bike it is quite the norm that the bike come out with some cables hanging loose, since this was not such a issue on earlier R-E models, but on this one it is !

I started my trip from Naggar in Kullu valley direction Goa on the 6.th of nov 2016..which was the day the money transformed in to toiletpaper at best, and when the electrics stopped working 100 km outside of Delhi, I discovered that you can actually drive the Himalayan with flat battery for at least 700 km without problem as long as it is daylight and you don't stop the engine unless you have people around that can help pushstarting the bike or a rather steep hill around...

I made the trip with increasing tension, and I must admit that my relief was great when a friend (that works with R_E and speaks hindi..!) bought it from me in Goa.. so to sum it up.. The Himalayan is a fine ride as long as you don't have any major issues, and if you want one, get a repair manual so you can get to know the bike since the mechanics dont...

Oso

Last edited by Tim Cullis; 18 Apr 2017 at 19:35. Reason: great report—added paragraph breaks to enhance readability
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  #6  
Old 18 Apr 2017
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Good to know your experiences on the Himalayan . I have one from the initial batches and must say the experience has been somewhat similar to what you have written here.
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  #7  
Old 21 Apr 2017
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Big question is why bother?

There are many reliable brands available offering much better performance and "bang for the buck".

Add to that the reliability issues of an RE, and it really doesn't make any sense.

Yes, I have ridden them and frankly they are primitive, and overpriced.

The REs offer the reliability, performance, handling and braking of a 1940s British bike - there is simply no comparison with the options available today (or even over the past 50 years) from other manufacturers.

To each his own I guess.
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  #8  
Old 21 Apr 2017
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Originally Posted by farqhuar View Post
Big question is why bother?

There are many reliable brands available offering much better performance and "bang for the buck".

Add to that the reliability issues of an RE, and it really doesn't make any sense.

Yes, I have ridden them and frankly they are primitive, and overpriced.

The REs offer the reliability, performance, handling and braking of a 1940s British bike - there is simply no comparison with the options available today (or even over the past 50 years) from other manufacturers.

To each his own I guess.
In countries where the options aren't available and where the buck value in the "bang for buck" includes 140% duties and taxes over the cost of vehicle people need to bother. Not as straight forward as it sounds.
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  #9  
Old 22 Apr 2017
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Originally Posted by abhijith.rao View Post
In countries where the options aren't available and where the buck value in the "bang for buck" includes 140% duties and taxes over the cost of vehicle people need to bother. Not as straight forward as it sounds.
I'm not even sure that is the case in India Abhi.

I have recently returned from 3 weeks riding around Sri Lanka (not India, I know, but I have traversed India east to west on a motorbike many years ago) fully loaded with my wife and our luggage.

In Sri Lanka my wife and I rented a Hero Honda Dio - in my view a much more capable bike for Sri Lankan road conditions (which are not dissimilar to India).

The bike took us up the steepest hills - both on and off road - and despite being around 7 years old, did not require any maintenance or repair. I had no problems with slow and stubborn RE gear changes. It was easy to manoeuvre and nimble in city traffic conditions filtering with ease around buses, taxis, tuktuks, tractors, trucks and other multiwheeled vehicles (despite the screams of horror from my wife when we squeezed in at the last moment ;-)). It cruised smoothly and economically (averaging 50km/litre) at 60kmh (which is the practical speed on most highways) and was small and nimble enough to ride around the bumps and depressions when choosing offroad routes (i.e. walking tracks).

.... and finally, to the best of my knowledge, a Dio sells brand new at under RS50,000 in India, which is less than a third of the price of a Himalaya.

Now I know this is not a fair apples to apples comparison but the reality is that one can do so much more than one thinks with a small scooter like the Dio - they are so much more fun to ride, but in India, as in the west, there sadly seems to be this obsession with the belief that bigger is better, and more "manly".

I recently went through the same process when doing a circumnavigation of the main Indonesian islands in late 2015 (started off on a Kawasaki trail bike only to swap it after 2 weeks for a Honda scooter for the remaing 7 weeks of my travels - the scooter was a far, far better solution to riding (on and off) Indonesian road conditions (which are remarkably similar to India, with the exception that there are many, many more steep hills (volcanoes) to ascend/descend). However, being in my sixties I threw away my "man card" many years ago and feel no need to prove my masculinity by struggling with equipment thayt is ill suited to the local conditions.

Sorry, sorry, I know this is a long rant, so time to end it now.

However, this is "the pub" and I look forward to hearing the reverse side of my argument (emotional vs sensible :-)) from other contributors.
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Last edited by farqhuar; 22 Apr 2017 at 10:24.
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  #10  
Old 22 Apr 2017
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Originally Posted by farqhuar View Post
Now I know this is not a fair apples to apples comparison but the reality is that one can do so much more than one thinks with a small scooter like the Dio - they are so much more fun to ride, but in India, as in the west, there sadly seems to be this obsession with the belief that bigger is better, and more "manly".
Ah, did not realize that you were speaking about scooters. Thought that you were speaking about motorcycles of a similar segment. My wife rides a Honda Aviator scooter (same platform as the Dio) and and I totally agree with what you've said in the reliability and smoothness department. I steal it for chores regularly.
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Old 26 Apr 2017
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Looks like another case of "bang a label on it and see who buys it"

"Adventure" , "Himalaya" , "sport" , "Professional"...


BLAAAAAAH BLAAAH BLAAAAHHHH


Royal Enfields are poorly made budget half-arsed SH*TE !! They ride far worse than a 30 year old Jap bike and cost ten times as much.

If you enjoy the novelty and like the ride then why not buy one and enjoy it...

But if you're looking for a practical, reliable travel bike that will last ten years then you really need to look elsewhere.


A few gimmicks and a new badge won't change that..
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  #12  
Old 2 May 2017
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How was it? looking forward for more info about this im bit confused and curious.
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  #13  
Old 2 May 2017
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I just bought an Enfield. Not a Himalaya, but i can say the posts above include some out of date internet warrior guff. The brakes on the UCE will get the ABS cycling. 28 HP gets you to 70 mph and it's currently doing between 80 and 90 mpg. It has hydraulic valves so no adjustment required. The FI seems more refined than the Guzzi V7 I had. It starts on the kicker from cold.

I had a 2004 Bullet and it was a different bike. That was an Iron barrel 5 speed not a C5. You may as well claim all Hondas are rubbish because you had a Plastic Maggot back in the day.

I think the Himalaya has used the Indian buyers for development work, but all manufacturers do that.

Andy
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  #14  
Old 1 Oct 2017
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First hand Himalayan experience

Hi
It's really disappointing to read so many negative reviews about a bike by people who have not even ridden it and are purely judging it by some preconceived ideas or an image problem gained from much older Enfields.

I have spent the last 8 months riding 20,000 kms across all of India and Nepal on a RE Himalayan so let me put the record strait from some genuine first hand experience!

I bought the bike second hand, 6 months old and 4000 kms done. Judging from the service history it already had some early warranty issues when I bought it, but in the first week I rode over 1000 kms to Rajasthan. It was as though this was the bikes first real outing and good to blow out the cobwebs and get the engine running. No oil leaks or consumption. Fuel economy around 22 kms per litre or 330 kms per tank. Max speed 125 kmph on the flat straight highway roads in the desert. But realistically average travel speed more like 40 kmph given the roads, traffic, chaos and stop / start nature of India's roads....

I read about the problems of the clutch plate assembly and magneto coil burning out and heard these should be replaced under warranty by RE. I got this done free of charge by RE in Pune at about 8000kms before any problems developed. The gear shift changes with new clutch plate were much less sticky than the original. I travelled a total of 5000 kms down the west coast of India without any problems whatsoever.

In Kerala I headed up into the Western Ghats, altitude over 2000 meters. There was some occasional backfiring or popping from an excessively rich fuel mix in the stock carburettor. Aside from that, no problems and the bike started first go each and every time. Many days riding were 10 hours covering 350 kms which in Indiia is a lot. No overheating or loss of oil.

Before heading up into the high altitude of the Himalayas I changed the carburettor jets to a smaller more efficient jet. Slight loss of acceleration pick up but a much better fuel economy in the mountains. In addition I put a new spark plug in which gave me improved economy of 25 kms per litre.

At 5000 m above sea level crossing the Khardung La and other high passes in Ladakh, the bike still had a great response under full throttle, with no spluttering or loss of power due to lack of oxygen. Much better than the REBullets and Classic500's struggling up the hill even at 4500 meters.
Rough roads, snow, ice, potholes, water... not a problem.
Great suspension on this bike , and despite many days rough riding not a problem. Nubra Valley, Zanskar Valley, back roads of Kashmir...ie extremely rough and not to be taken lightly....not a single problem! Perhaps this bike was made for the mountains after all!

Leaving India and into Nepal at the onset of the Monsoon....1200 kms Manali to Pokhara in 3 days, 10 hours riding per day in torrential rain, flooding roads and manic riding conditions.... Not a problem whatsoever , but that is not to say I was not carrying out any preventative checks... Regular Chain lube and tensioning, wd40 on brake and gear levers, a change of brake pads and clutch cable at 18,000 kms , before they became problems wearing out on the road. ( although must say the brake pads are pretty quick to wear down)

And great to meet a few other Himalayan owners along the way. It seems the problems with this bike are with people who don't actually ride it, because of all the folks I met out there in the mountains, none of them had experienced mechanical issues with their bikes. They all love its handling!

Onwards to Sikkim and Assam, a little bit of a splutter one morning and the engine cut out under power. Started again ok, but under throttle died instantly . Fuel Starvation? Yep, opened up the carburettor and found some glunky dirty fuel gunge had blocked the jets. Nice easy fix and clean out in less than 40 minutes.

So, now almost 20,000 kms ridden and that was my only serious issue... Wow, not bad for a bike so many people claim to be poorly built. Regular oil filter services at 5, 12, 20k kms .... And always kept it under a cover out of the rain. No electrical issues, no engine issues, no frame issues....And let's face it , for a bike that sells for only US$3000 new , that's pretty good value for money.

Look after it and it will look after you, ignore the crap written by people who have never even sat on one let alone ridden one across an entire country.
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Old 1 Oct 2017
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Thanks for your long and details post about your travels in different parts of India. If you read my initial post, you will see that you have merely confirmed whatever I've said. The fact that you needed to mess with the carburetor at different altitudes goes to show that the Himalayan is not purpose built for the Himalayas or any high altitude riding. A purpose build motorcycle would have an EFI which would take care of the change in altitude.
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