Royal Enfield's Himalayan gets you places without draining your tank
With a name like Himalayan, this 2021 Royal Enfield motorbike brings to mind images of adventure beyond Singapore's borders.
Biking friends overseas have spoken of its hardiness when travelling from Udaipur in Rajasthan to Pangi in Himachal Pradesh in India - a journey of more than 1,000km. The country is also the home of Royal Enfield.
The 411cc single-cylinder Himalayan has a digital compass to aid navigation on off-road detours when roads are closed or are too decrepit for use.
While the Covid-19 pandemic makes it impossible to explore neighbouring countries on a motorcycle, I did go on little adventures in Singapore on the sleet-grey, fuel-injected Himalayan - looks more like urban camouflage - over the last two weeks.
From wet ground to mud trails to the occasional slope, the five-speed bike delivers without any nasty surprises. And that is the way a bike should be for those planning to go on a long-distance adventure on two wheels.
The Himalayan has a neo-classic appeal. The round headlamp, grey-trimmed analogue speedometer and fuel gauge, plus "Royal Enfield" stamped on its fuel tank guards, are all links to the past.
It even has a small cold-start lever on the left handlebar - something you rarely see on motorcycles today.
Its thick contoured seat complements the upright riding posture and natural reach to the wide dirtbike handlebars.
EASY TO OPERATE
The Himalayan, which has anti-lock brakes that can be disarmed for rear wheel sliding on gravel, is easy to operate.
With a maximum of 24.3bhp and 32Nm of torque, the bike gets you to your destination without drama. But it also means you need to twist the throttle sometimes to get more power.
You are unlikely to break records with its maximum speed of about 125kmh and a century sprint of 10 seconds.
Yet, it has decent real-world power delivery for city riding. Most of the excitement happens between 3,500rpm and 6,500rpm - well below its 9,000rpm rev limit. It cruises at 90kmh with about 4,200rpm in fifth gear.
Where the Himalayan excels is in fuel economy and ride comfort.
If you are light with the throttle, you can get about 30km to a litre of fuel. In theory, its 15-litre fuel tank allows you to cover about 450km, which is great when you are far from a petrol station.
For a 65kg rider like me, no suspension tweaks are needed.
The motorbike's 41mm telescopic forks and a rear shock with linkage are not adjustable for damping, but it is perfectly plush for road use.
Perhaps having bigger wheels - 21-inch in front and 17-inch for the rear - helps soak up the bumps.
Steering the Himalayan equipped with semi-off-road tyres is like riding a dirtbike where you dip the handlebars into bends.
You will feel its 199kg weight in slow turns or when parking the oil-cooled bike on its main stand.
Still, these are small niggles for an $18,000 machine fitted with several extras, including a bash plate, steel-braided brake hoses and a small wheel guard just below its front fender to reduce water splashes.