Royal Enfield’s ‘new’ bike

That’s right, a new model from a manufacturer who hasn’t really freshened up its range since Churchill was Prime Minister. Sure they’ve added ‘luxuries’ like rear suspension and fuel injection, but the air cooled singles from ‘Enfield has been nothing but consistent.

Official images and video have emerged today, of a bike they have dubbed the Himalayan, confirming that a 410cc single cylinder ‘ADV bike’ will be added to the range in the near future. Now I say ‘ADV bike’ because if current trends continue ‘Enfield owners will refuse to pigeonhole their bikes and use them for whatever they want.

The Himalayan has been in some form of concept or development for about ten years, but this is the first look we’ve had of it un-disguised and I have to say, I love it. It blends just the right amount of off-road purpose and vintage style that ‘Enfields are known for. Despite the looks, it’s claimed to be a ‘clean-sheet design’.

To add to the Himalayan’s off-road cred, ‘Enfield has enlisted the services of the only Indian to have ever participated in the Dakar, CS Santosh. He doesn’t appear to be taking it easy on the Himalayan in the video above and the relatively basic suspension seems to be doing an admirable job of taking everything an Indian Motocross track can throw at it. On the topic of suspension, the Himalayan appears to have ditched the twin shock rear set-up favoured by the rest of the ‘Enfield range for very 21st century single shock.

Royal Enfield Himalaya

Air on a Royal Enfield. An action not previously recommended.

Sticking with the ‘modern’ theme, the 410cc single cylinder fitted to the Himalaya has even ditched push-rod valve actuation for an overhead cam set-up but has stuck with air/oil cooling, a move that will please the hardcore of the ADV crowd who see radiators as just another thing to go wrong in the middle of nowhere. It’s even gained a 21″ front wheel to gain some stability in the rough stuff.

Enfield’s Chief Engineer has reportedly told journalist that the Himalayan’s new engine has been tuned for low-end torque, but will happily spin to over 7,000rpm while it produces 25 hp and 30nm. He’s also said that it will go 10,000kms before needing an oil change which is a big deal, because old (or new) ‘Enfields aren’t exactly renowned for their reliability.

Now you may read these specs’ and turned up your nose but Royal Enfield’s CEO told the Times of India that “We [Royal Enfield] started with a clean sheet of paper to build a motorcycle that was as comfortable fording a rocky river as it was to crunch hundreds of highway miles; substantial enough to hold its line in high cross winds, and to carry a pillion and lots of luggage…”

Now it might do any of these things fast but if ‘Enfields of old are anything to go off it will be easy to fix with whatever you can put your hands on and will have the charm of old while doing it. As Churchill said, “if you’re going through hell, keep going”. Might as well go there on a new Enfield right?

Royal Enfield Himalaya

A render of the final product by Indian Autos Blog. Interesting to note the racks in front of the fuel tank.

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