2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan – What’s New?
2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan… What’s new? Since the incredible and it has to be said, unexpected popularity of Ewan Mc Gregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round TV series in 2004 and the subsequent repeat on the BBC in 2008, adventure motorcycling has enjoyed an amazing upward trajectory. Today almost every mainstream manufacturer has at least one adventure capable machine in their line up, all desperate not to miss out on the potential market. Royal Enfield’s first foray into the sector came to the showrooms with the first carbureted Royal Enfield Himalayan rolling off the Chennai production line early in 2016. Priced at just above £4,000 in the UK, this really was adventure motorcycling on the cheap. Yet with quality and build issues on the early versions of the bike, it was clear that a low price was not the only thing that mattered.
For 2020, Royal Enfield unveiled the latest incarnation of the Himalayan, which for the Indian market for the moment, comes complete with switchable ABS, a better side stand and hazard warning lights. Not quite cutting edge tech for most manufacturers, but for a company that has successfully relied on technology from the 1950s, it’s a brave new frontier. With Ride Expeditions using the Royal Enfield Himalayan on both the Himalayan Heights and Hidden Himalayas tours in northern India, it seemed worth looking into how the new bike is put together, and how it’s perfectly suited to our adventures at the top of the world.
So what’s new with the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan?
So at the heart of the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan is a 411cc single overhead camshaft, air-cooled, single cylinder, four-stroke motor. Enfield have been using the same pushrod valve operated motors in their Indian built Bullets since 1957, so the move to a SOHC motor was unprecedented.
With bore and stroke at 78mm by 86mm, the long stroke motor puts out a very modest 23.4 bhp at 6,500 rpm, with the maximum torque coming in between 4,000 and 4,500 rpm. Somewhat bizarrely, the power output on the 2020 bike is slightly less than earlier models, suggesting that meeting emission regulations has robbed power from the 24.8 bhp available in 2018. What certainly can’t help is the engine’s large dimensions, which in comparison to a more modern designed four stroke motor is simply enormous. That said, the service intervals on the RE are going to be a lot wider spaced than a KTM 350 EXC-F!
While the latest and most expensive adventure bikes like the BMW R1250 GS are getting slipper clutches and quick shifters, the Royal Enfield Himalayan just gets a no-frills multi plate clutch and a five-speed gearbox. Ignition is electronic, but don’t expect selectable riding modes and a tuneable ECU!
Although the initial version has a carburettor, thankfully Royal Enfield dropped this in favour of fuel injection a year later and the new model continues this for 2020 – an essential if you are actually taking the bike into the Himalayas – the early models could barely make it up Khardung La without removing the air filter, despite what the marketing video showed.
The bike runs a single exhaust exiting on the right side of the deeply finned cylinder, and a single side mounted end can which is pleasingly smaller than expected. The new bike now runs a catalytic converter that sits in the lump on the downtube of the header pipe.
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While all of Royal Enfield’s model line up prior to the Himalayan had been based on the original Bullet’s frame, for the new adventure bike they turned to Harris Performance, a UK based engineering firm that Royal Enfield had purchased back in 2015. The result is a steel half duplex split cradle frame that wraps over and around the engine. For those who remember the exquisite frame creations that Harris used to produce back in the 80’s and 90’s, the Himalayan’s metalwork is an entirely different and almost agricultural creation, designed to withstand the very worst of Indian roads – and believe us they can be very bad!
For the suspension, the 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan has some rather slim looking 41mm conventional forks up front that deliver a respectable 200 mm of travel, whereas at the back there’s another first for Royal Enfield with a single centrally mounted shock with a linkage mounted to a long swingarm that will allow 180mm movement. There is no adjustment in the forks, but you can alter the preload on the rear shock.
To protect the Himalayan from the rigours of off road riding – or indeed the streets of Mumbai, the bike has an alloy sump guard and bars at the side of the tank that also can hold side bags. The seat is a dual height, two piece affair, and there is a substantial rack to finish it all off at the back, with luggage options from the accessory catalogue.
WHEELS AND BRAKES
While adventure bikes with a more off-road focussed set up tend to have a 21 inch front and 18 inch rear wheel, the Himalayan stops a bit short of this with a 17 inch rear matched to the 21 inch front. Unsurprisingly, the Royal Enfield uses spoked wheels!
Brakes are from Bybre – Brembo’s Indian off-shoot – with a twin pot floating calliper gripping onto a single 300mm floating disc at the front, with a single piston calliper and 240mm disc at the rear. Earlier models had no switch to the ABS system meaning that unless you took out the fuse, it was constantly on, but the 2020 bike has dual channel switchable ABS, so you can at least turn off the rear when required, which is off the tarmac.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
The 2020 Himalayan starts well with the figures, having a respectable 220mm ground clearance and a seat height at a mere 800mm which can certainly help when you are moving around on the rough stuff. What hasn’t helped is the 199kg weight of the machine – 5kg up on the previous model – which for a machine just over 400cc is pretty damn heavy, especially when you consider that figure is somewhat cunningly quoted with a 90% fuel load. Given that the fuel tank holds 15 litres of the finest unleaded, the additional 1.5 litres needed to actually fill the tank would take the bike over the 200 kilo mark. Picking this bike up after a long day is not going to be much fun …
So for 2020, the chaps have gone mad with the paint pots, creating six different options for the marketing people to come up with inspirational names for, but clearly they were not having a particularly inspired day. Never mind – from snow to sleet, gravel to granite – it’s all there to choose from.
PLENTY OF OPTIONS FOR YOU! Images ROYAL ENFIELD
The first bike was designed by the legendary South African designer Pierre Terblanche, ex-Ducati and Moto Guzzi who passed his magic over the Himalayan to give it a certain chunky functionality. And thankfully, Royal Enfield have done nothing to break away from that initial design, keeping the 2020 Himalayan visually almost identical to the first bikes back on 2016. Compared to the sleek lines of Japanese and Italian adventure bikes, it does look a tad basic and old-fashioned, but for many, that’s no bad thing …
IS THE 2020 ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN COMING TO YOU SOON?
So whether you will be able to get hold of the all new 2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan will be very much dependent on where you live. For those in India, the home country of the brand, the bikes should already be in the showrooms and ready for your rupees.
If you are in the UK however, the updated version is, as of March 2020, not scheduled to be imported, so you are going to have to settle for the previous incarnation, that has fuel injection, non-switchable ABS and slightly more power. Oh and all the new colours are available too!
And if you want to see the Royal Himalayan in action, check out our epic videos below!