Royal Enfield Himalayan
We prefer the relatively new Himalayan over the well known Royal Enfield Bullet. We believe that the Himalayan has:
- better directional stability at medium and high speeds.
- better brakes (front & rear disk brakes).
- better handling in difficult terrain.
- better and more comfortable riding posture; making long distance riding much easier.
The Himalayan has had its challenges; particularly in the first two years after market entry. The quality of several parts was low, as well as engineering flaws regarding engine head, clutch, swing-arm, alternator and t-stem.
Some first generation bikes suffered frame as well as swing-arm breaks, several consecutive alternator exchanges; and a clutch that became in-operational after relatively low kilometers traveled.
As a result, a severe shitstorm emerged on the internet, and a few owners went as far as (successfully) suing the company for regress.
In 2017 with the advent of the BS4 model Mr. Lal the CEO of RE promised all defects had been taken care of and the new bike, now aiming at international markets, seems to prove him right. The newer BS4 types, but also some from the BS3 series, are know for frame breaks on the steering heads. The frequency we estimate is about one in a hundred bikes where such an error, often due to bad welding, occurs. We have taken appropriate steps to minimize this risk for our bikes. We may be the only rental company in the world to have taken this preventative measure in the service of our customers’ safety.
Our bikes are all BS3 models for a reason: All questionable parts have been replaced with their BS4 counterparts. For all intents and purposes our BS3s are qualitatively at par with any new BS4 model. The weak t-stem remains in all models and we have done our best to counter that by using western made SKF bearings where available and taking particular care when adjusting and arresting it against water by using marine grease and encapsulation.
Whenever we purchase a used BS3 model we replace all parts that could have been damaged by previous use with new ones; which usually ends up near the price of a new bike.
So far we do not use the BS4 model due to the fuel injection; which while it may enjoy a slight advantage over the carburetor with its O2 sensor; otherwise only carries disadvantages, however as the market for good condition BS3 bikes shrinks over time we may have to switch to EFI as well in the future.
If the EFI system fails (and they do fail!) in a remote region it is hard to get a replacement. A carburetor rarely fails and if it does, any modern Bullet 500 carb can be used.
A replacement fuel injector costs 3 times as much as a new carburetor so many dealers do not stock them – it can take in the range of 2-3 weeks to obtain a replacement fuel injector. The injectors are also much more sensitive to bad fuel of which unfortunately there is plenty in India. Then there is the throttle position sensor which can either be malajdusted or fail. Finally the fuel pump can fail, an item the carburetor model does not even need. To cut a long story short, when one ventures into unknown and sparsely populated areas, one should minimize the risk of getting stuck due to the failure of an item that is unnecessary to begin with. Although once a year we offer a tour for a very small group our main focus is on the individual rider who will travel alone without technical assistance. That is why our bikes are in top notch condition before we hand them over – and are equipped with everything the lone rider would want or need, just in case. Read on to find out …
All our bikes are perfectly equipped for riding in the most challenging terrain of northern India:
It goes without saying that our tires are in sufficiently good condition to ensure good profile for the entirety of your trip. We use the best third-party crash-guards available. We even re-designed a solid Bullet model for the Himalayan because the available selection does not give enough protection. Our bike’s fuel tanks are extended to hold 21 liters (instead of 14.5). Upon request we will supply you with any or all of the following: A set of tools to change a tire including an air pump, a tire pressure measuring device, a front & rear spare tube, and all the pliers and spanners you will need to do roadside repairs, clutch and an accelerator cables as well as a set of front and rear brake pads.
For those with prescription glasses who may have trouble deciphering the tiny time indicator in the instrument panel; we have added an analogue timepiece on top of the break fluid container with a large face that is easily readable. Our drivers seats are all upholstered, additionally an “Airhawk” like air-cushion is available upon request. These bikes, being carburetor models, do have a fuel tap which has a reserve position (as opposed to the BS4 injector models where when you run out of fuel – you ARE out of fuel). The fuel tap is lockable.
Voltmeters as part of the USB charger, or as separate modules added to the instrument panel show the state of the electric system. This seems luxurious but in the face of a rather small 7Ah battery and no kick starter; combined with overnight temperatures occasional reaching -15C, keeping the battery operational is a must. The Himalayan alternator also has a history of failing.
With that in mind; all of our motorcycles have a 12V plug and you can opt to carry (free of charge) one of our small solar panels which under optimal conditions (sunny day between 10am and 2pm) re-charges a low battery within a few hours. This device would even allow continued riding with a defective alternator. The solar panel also allows the charging of all kinds of smaller devices from the bike without running the engine for extended periods when parking in the wilderness.
The headlight, originally a 65 Watt H4 bulb, has been replaced with a LED light of less amperes. So driving with lights during the day can now be done without running the risk of depleting the battery. Also: they don’t burn out as easily.
Foam grips make the handlebar easy to hold on to in spite of vibrations of the single cylinder engine. A Hella relay activated twin horn has been fitted as replacement for the original. Finally, maybe the most important enhancement, all our bikes have brakes adapted from the 535 Continental or the 650 Interceptor, namely Brembo 300mm floating or ByBre 330mm floating with their big calipers. The front brake is now more than sufficient.