The late, latest review of the Himalayan ! :)

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(*update- pls be aware of a plethora of niggling quality issues in typical RE style)

Ok, so I finally got to take the Himalayan out on a niceish spin of 600 odd kms, courtesy a friend lending me his bike. And overall I continue to hold the view that this is a good value for money tourer. Definitely worth considering for its simplicity and how satisfactorily it gets the job done. Since much has been said of the bike (with and without the Shimla effect ;), here are just some layman observations I noted down :

Love

  • I love the handling of the bike. One of the best I have ridden so far. It inspired confidence across a range of conditions. Regular highway, gravel, wet tarmac, twisties… this is one sweet frame/chassis
  • The engine seemed relaxed at all times, though its sweet spot is clearly between 80 and 100 Kph. No worrying sounds emanated even after running 200+ kms hard at a stretch.
  • Good stance and ergonomics. While a light and buzzy bike tires you with its restless energy, a heavy & heat generating bike tires you just managing it in Indian traffic (inevitable even on long drives). The Himalayan feels just right.
  • Quick enough off the block to keep the commuters at bay and manages to keep up within 10-20 minutes of the bigger bikes in average riding conditions
  • Comfy enough for two up riding. In fact the rear preload seemed more tuned to two up riding than solo.
  • Lots of useful info on the dash, if we can get into the habit of actually looking at it.

Can live with

  • The ugly weld points and general fit and finish. Many bikes report the front external scaffolding or tank being mounted slightly crosswise. The chain guard and saree guard (if u have it on, heaven help you) screws falling off, paint flaking into the tank and blocking fuel lines etc.
  • Tall riders can end up knocking their knees onto the front scaffold. Mine did so (on one side only despite my legs being evenly long afaik :)). At the very least it looks suspiciously like a knee cap breaker in the event of a collision. Doesn’t look like much science has gone into its design beyond weld shop jugglery.
  • The engine vibes significantly after 100 Kph and isn’t really happy in that zone. One could argue that even the Impulse buzzes along happily at 85 kph and that is a 150 cc bike. So how much more are you getting for double the price and engine capacity?
  • If you are used to riding a big bike,then you do miss the occasional joy of blipping past that pretender in an i20, who thinks he is “driving fast” 🙂

Hate

  • The notchy, hard gearing that chews up shoes unless you’re shifting at high revs. Given that the bike requires frequent gear shifts due to it torque curve, this can be a real bug bear.

As of latest news, RE was recalling and fixing some of these issues free of cost. I did not experience undue heating or rocker noise, both of which are apparently getting a fix. And it seems clutch parts are being replaced for the gearing issue as well. The grapevine says this could actually be a cable / link issue and replacing the cable with a classic or Hero Honda (welll….) cable seems to improve matters 🙂

Finally, I find that most folks buying the Himalayan are ex Bullet owners. But I wonder how many of them will really enjoy riding it, because this is a very different animal. Not better or worse, just different! This is not a relaxed, easy going beast that thumps along regally. It’s a free revving, good handling pony that likes to be given a bit of stick. It’s really fun when you shift at high rpms and let that sweet chassis take the twists and road humps at goodish speed. So will the Impulse owner waiting for the KTM adventure, buy the Himalayan and enjoy riding it? That remains to be seen. I personally quite like it, if only they could get those damn gears to slot in neatly.

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