For the last few days, the internet has been flooded with news of the rumoured Royal Enfield Himalayan. Apparently, Royal Enfield has trademarked the name “Himalayan” in Europe, giving hints on what to expect from the new on-off roader the company has been rumored to be working on. Every title from an on-off roader, an off roader, an adventure tourer, a hybrid of cruiser and an off roader and even a scrambler has been used to describe this upcoming motorcycle. Many motorcycle news sites like indiancarsbikes, zigwheels, ETauto, and motorbeam say that they can now confirm (in various degrees) that the company has indeed started work on such a machine. It is even being said that the new Royal Enfield motorcycle will be the first bike to be developed by renowned designer Pierre Terblanche who joined Royal Enfield last year. Royal Enfield, however, is yet to make an official comment, either accepting or rejecting the claims.
All that is well and good, but we at “motonomous & co.” will believe when we see the motorcycle with our own eyes. There’s been an onslaught of rumours of “upcoming Royal Enfield motorcycles” over the last few years. Except for the Café Racer, none of those rumours turned out to be true. But, we’re hopeful people. We’d like to believe that someone in Royal Enfield has finally seen some sense and that they are in fact developing an “adventure tourer”. And you might just hear yourself saying, “Now wouldn’t that be really cool?!” One just needs to take a look at the motorcycle touring culture in India to realize that this sport was built upon and is even today burgeoning on the two wheels of a Royal Enfield. Though other sport tourers, cruisers and naked street bikes are making their way into the adv touring community in India, a huge number still ride Enfields. Granted that Enfields are the cheapest of the lot, but they are a first choice for reasons other than just their entry level pricing. Call them heavy, inefficient, outdated or unreliable, the fact still remains that number of Royal Enfield aficionados has been, is and will continue to be the biggest force in the motorcycling community in India today. If you’re reading this, then you are either an Enfield rider yourself or you know of an Enfield club/group in your vicinity. One day, just to prove our point, take yourself to the meeting/flag-off point of this club, and take a close look at their Enfields. You’ll not have to look too long before realizing that there is some sort of modification and/or customization done of most of the bikes, if not on all. Royal Enfield may have indeed started work on the fabled “adventure tourer” only recently, but the Enfield touring community has been making their own “adventure tourers” for a decade ago, without waiting for Royal Enfield. (#BuiltNotBought) From simple cosmetic mods to completely overhauled customizations, from shoddy jobs to immaculately fabricated one-offs, the Enfield riders have been developing these adventure tourers for themselves in small garages with invaluable help from mechanics that these riders will even die for.
Because the truth is simple and plain. The stock Royal Enfield, be it the Bullet, the Thunderbird or the Electra, is just not fun enough to do long distances on. Not just that, many elements of the stock Royal Enfield actually look like they are there to make a long distance rider’s life more difficult. 11th hours #SNAFU and unexpected breakdowns are the norm. But enough of all this. Ever since we first heard about the proposed Royal Enfield Himalayan, we started making a list of different features and specifications that will make it the ideal Royal Enfield adventure tourer according to us. At “motonomous & co.” we are riders and not technical experts or engineers, so we haven’t used terminology or numbers to make our point, rather, this is a list made by riders with experience for riders who’d like to take this Enfield off-roader to places they’ve always wanted to take Enfields to. It’s a short list, but we’ve detailed it out, so take your time to go through it. This is OUR list of the elements that’ll make an ideal Royal Enfield adventure tourer. You don’t necessarily have to agree with it. But we’d like to know your views. So here goes…
ENGINE, SPECS AND PERFORMANCE
CC and BHP
This is what makes or breaks the success story of any motorcycle. From the reports, we know that the upcoming Enfield adv tourer will have a 400cc engine. The reports also say that it is likely to have even more bhp than their present 500cc engines, meaning that the bike might generate upwards of a minimum 30 bhp. These numbers are promising and exactly what we want.
The motorcycle industry has seen a torrent of heavy 800+ cc bikes being introduced as adventure tourers. Though these machines might make sense for a RTW rider (#RoundTheWorld), let’s face it, a normal sized lanky Indian can’t take them trail busting or off roading, which an adv bike needs to be able to do. We’re moderately sized Indians, give us a moderately sized Indian adv tourer.
The ideal adventure tourer made for India (#MadeForIndia), needs to have mid range power, enabling the rider to pull away upwards of 100 kph when he wants to, but equally letting them control the bike at low speeds on treacherous slopes and twisty curves, while still retaining enough tourque. We need manageable power, power that can be tamed, controlled at the will of the rider’s wrist, both on and off the road. It’s an on-off road bike, so we want it to ride like one, not just look like one. A lot of torque in the lower gears and a respectable top end speed will make it the perfect bike. On one hand, we want to be able to jump the bike over logs, and on the other, we want to be able to cover 800+ kilometers in a day’s ride while weaving through India’s traffic (#traffucked).
CENTER OF GRAVITY AND WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION.
- It’ll be awesome if Enfield can take some lessons from BMW in this area. Consider the R1200 GS. It’s a 250 kg behemoth that handles like a 100 kg dirtbike, thanks to where the engine is placed in relation to the weight on the rest of the bike. Place the engine such that its weight falls right in the center, AFTER the rider sits on the bike. Place the engine such that its low enough, making it easier for us to pick the bike when, and not if, we drop it.
- If you’ve ever jumped an Enfield over hurdles, then you know that 9 out of 10 times, the front is going to hit the ground before the rear and there’s nothing you can do about it, unless you are Murthaza Junaid from Art of Motorcycle (#DontTryThisAtHome). So be kind and place the engine such that we can jump it like the off roader that its supposed to be.
- One word. Six. That’s how many gears we want. Not five. Definitely not 4.
- If we’ve got it right, then 6 gears will make it easier for us upshift and downshift frequently on those technical sections without losing torque. And when you’re ripping across the tarmac, the 6th gear will give that extra boost that’s missing on all current Enfields. At least, that’s what we think.
- Also, wont it be awesome if Enfield can somehow engineer the gearbox to include their erstwhile “neutral finder”. Those of you who’ve ridden the 4-speed Enfields with the gear shifter on the right side know exactly what we’re talking about. Its simply a boon to drop from a higher gear to neutral in a split second when one has to apply emergency brakes.
- There’s no way to predict what the fuel economy is going to be like on this bike, but Enfield should take care to see that they give us a fuel range of at least 600-700 kms. And goof fuel economy is the way to go. Don’t give us a gas guzzling machine, please. We want to take this bike to Ladakh, to the Rann of Kutch and other places with off the beaten path. Currently, it’s a pain to have to carry extra fuel from Tandi for fear of running out of gas otherwise. We want to keep riding, so please enable us to do that.
- Make the tank ergonomic. Angular and deep in the front so it wont buffet the air and tapering and padded in the rear so we can grab it between our knees during those high speed curves or when we want to stand and scream through a section of whoops.
- We are social media freaks. All of us. We want to show off our rides and escapades to the whole universe. GoPro and other action cameras allow us to do that. We’re not asking for much, just a few flat surfaces on the top and either side of the tank, purposefully placed there for suction cup mounts, giving us the best angle possible. Its not difficult to do.
- Most of us ride with a tank bag. Keep the fuel cap on the side, so we don’t have to dismount the tank bag at every gas station. Also, keep a gap of an inch or two between the engine and the tank so we can loop the straps of the tank bag easily under the tank, without burning our fingers.
CABLES AND ELECTRICAL
- It’ll be really awesome if this new bike can have controls and electricals that are not prone to snapping into two in the middle of Moore Plains or when you’re 100 km away from any support. And as adv riders we are willingly going to put ourselves in these places. So please, make sure those things wont break.
ILLUMINATION AND HI-VIZ SOLUTIONS
- For crying out loud, let this adv bike have more than just one headlight. Not just that, but let them be powerful. Give us one rally spec halogen and a pair of Cree LEDs. Use German Hella beams; they’re only a few hundred rupees costlier than Indian beams. Give us day running lights which will be visible in our fellow rider’s rear view mirror from 200 mtrs away. Make space for a spare bulb somewhere in the bike itself.
- We’re mad riders, but we are only riders. We’re the smallest fish on the road and we want to be visible 24X7. We ride a lot during the night. The parking flashers that were introduced on the new TB were awesome. Let them be on this bike too. Add good quality reflectors on all the extremities of the bike. Royal Enfield, please reflect upon how you make this bike. (#IntendedPun)
SEAT, HANDLEBARS AND RIDING POSITION
- Its an adv tourer, let it have an adv touring seat. Narrow yet comfortable. Ergonomic yet sexy. Soft but durable. It needs to come over the tank so we can take those motocross style turns with our inside leg extended. Make it a split seat with a flat, undulated base under the pillion’s seat, so that when we are off on long multi-day ride, we can just remove the pillon seat, giving us a firm base to mount our luggage. Keep the riders seat height adjustable, so we can be more comfortable.
- We don’t need Pro-Taper or Renthal, but give us good quality alloy handlebars with some degree of damping built in. Keep them no-nonsense, easily removable. And yes, what’s with those holes in the current handlebars of Enfield’s UCE models where the switch consoles are supposed to go into? The switch consoles have a matching stub under them which goes into those holes on the handlebars. Give us the freedom to adjust the switches so that they’re where we can reach them. Enfield had it right on their old CI models, please bring that back.
- It’ll be good to have a detachable bar, of the same gauge as the handle, which sits horizontal between the two ends of the handllebar. This will let us mount cameras, GPS systems, phones on the handle with ease.
- As far as the riding position is concerned, there is nothing new to invent. BMW R1200Gs, KTM 1190 Adventure, hell even the Hero Impulse got it right. Enfield, please don’t go wrong here. And yes, give us adjustable, foldable spike ended footpegs, please.
LUGGAGE RACKS AND MOUNTING
- We've used "Ladakh Carriers" made from Mild Steel and bought from shady shops for long enough now. What we need now are factory made luggage racks and mounts that give us the option of using them with saddle bags, panniers or as lashing points for bungees. In India, hardly anyone uses hard luggage, so make the luggage racks soft luggage friendly and leave the choice of upgrading to hard luggage to the rider, on the same rack. It's possible. Take hints from Wolfman luggage. And yes, please make them from SS or aluminium.
- Without using technical jargon, it'll be good to have suspension that won't bottom out at every jump. We're not going to be doing freestyle stunts on this bike, but it'll be nice to not feel a jarring impact on every bump and whoop while off roading. If the suspension and travel on this bike will be anything lesser than that on the Hero Impulse, then it won’t be worth it.
- Height adjustable mono rear suspension will be nice. It'll make the bike more stable on slanted impacts and also make it much easier to repair flat tyres.
ARMOUR AND CRASH GUARDS
- It'll be good to see the Himalayan to be an armoured bike. Bash plate, fork guards, chain sliders, bark busters, headlight grill, rear bump rail will not only make the bike look sexier but will go a long way in increasing the life of each part that the respective guards protect.
- Either improve the quality, dependability and performance of the EFI components, right from the fuel pump, the ECU, the electrical wiring and the EFI unit itself or make it a carburetted machine. It's a pain in the ass when you're in the middle of Dandeli forest and the fuel pump conks off and you're left with no choice but to port the bike. Trust us, we've been there. With a Carburettor, you can simply open it, clean it, change the slide or the float pin and bang, you're back on the road under your own steam.
- Two spanners, one screw driver and a spark plug wrench don't make a toolkit. We'd like to see a toolkit included that'll take care of even the smallest on-board breakdown. We're not asking for tools to open the engine or dismantle the chassis.
- As long as it works and performs well and doesn't break down, we don't care how it looks. Leave a lot of space for stickers though.
- It's meant to be an on-off road dualsport bike. So give it dualsport tyres. A 21 inch slim front tyre and probably an 18 inch broad rear tyre should do the trick in our opinion. Spokes please, no alloy wheels. Spokes can be tuned on the go by any mechanic to eliminate chinks in wheel alignment. Include heavy duty touring tubes. They exist. Not the threadbare thin ones we've seen so far.
- We're not looking for the "thump" anymore. We've grown past that. And in any case, ones looking for the thump won't go for the tourer anyway. If they want the thump, they are likely to also want the "Bullet" looks. So this bike won't cater to that market at all.
- Give us a good "vroom" or a "bbrrrrr" or a "braaap" if possible and all the performance that goes with those sounds. We're not expecting a Soundtrap or an Acropovic but give us a decent factory spec exhaust system. Place it high enough so it won't go snorkeling when we go river crossing but keep it low enough so that our saddle bags won't get baked.
SPARES, ACCESSORIES, KITS AND APPAREL.
- Give us good adv touring jacket, pants, boots, gloves and helmet. You're Royal Enfield owned by Eicher owned by Volvo. Only you can tie up with Goretex. It is the ONLY waterproof yet breathable textile in the world. Triumph's entry level armored apparel begins at 7 grand AND it has Knox armour. Which means it can be done. Again, buyers of this bike will be serious riders, give them serious gear.
- We're assuming this bike will need a new range of spares and accessories. It should. Make them available in the market. Everywhere. Like in the smallest shop in Moradabad auto nagar and even with the sleepy lazy owner of the Enfield authorised service station in Mapusa, Goa.
We’re sure Enfield has already thought of most of these points, if not all, but we thought we’ll just put it out there, and hope. If you agree, disagree, like, hate, laugh in derision or want to connect with us for a ride together, leave a comment below. We realize it’s a very ambitious list, but what the hell. We’re excited about the news. And we hope for the best. We’ll leave you with some pictures of adv touring Royal Enfields that we have come across.
"Give me a motorcycle, a camera, a good book and I can rule the world", says Aditya.
Aditya is the lead strategist and conceptualiser at Motonomous and also heads the content, design, photo and video teams.
Aditya bought his first motorcycle in 2009, and has been travelling on two wheels ever since...