Words: Varad More
Images: Rohit G Mane
With the Himalayan, Royal Enfield was brave and quick to plug the gap between budget street bikes and high-end imports, with an adventure machine that was easy on the pocket. Too quick perhaps. The first generation Himalayan always felt like a project that the company hastily launched in early 2016. Soon enough, several quality issues started cropping up as more and more bikes got on the road. Over the past few months, Royal Enfield has been troubleshooting and addressing the issues ailing the Himalayan and it seems to have ironed out all those issues with this new BS IV update. Of course, a short 200km ride isn’t going to be telling if reliability issues still persist in the long run, but for now, we will take a quick look at what’s new and improved on the Himalayan FI BS IV.
As the name suggests, the new Himalayan now gets an electronic Fuel Injection (FI) instead of a carburettor. The fuel injection system is more robust and precise, especially when dealing with extreme weather conditions, something the Himalayan is expected to play in. So the issue of knocking at high-altitudes above 5000rpm or cold start troubles are a thing of the past. The throttle response has gotten smoother and linear although a slight lag is still felt in first gear under 2000 revs. Thereon, acceleration is seamless and clean and the gentle throw of power helps when one is riding around off-road surfaces. The vibrations are curtailed especially around low revs and the gearshift mechanism too feels smoother and more precise than the previous version.
While the inclusion of fuel injection has been the most significant update on the new Himalayan, the bike has undergone a host of other changes and improvements that were a cause for concern on the outgoing model. To start with, the oil-cooler gets thicker piping for better coolant flow resulting in improved cooling. It also gets a new metal guard to protect the oil-cooler unit from damage caused due to debris and off-road elements. A lot of changes are in tune with new government regulations like the headlight now stays on, in compliance with the government rule for all two-wheelers to have the Automatic Headlight On (AHO) feature. So the switchgear now does away with a headlight switch. AHO translates into better visibility for fellow motorists to notice and acknowledge two-wheelers on the roads.
Another regulation that the new Himalayan BS IV needs to comply with is the Euro norm for all motorcycles to have the hazard light button on the handlebars and not on the dash. Basically nothing should require the rider to take his hands off the handlebar. Why Royal Enfield did not incorporate the hazard light button in the RHS switchgear in place of the now junked headlight switch instead of completely omitting it, is beyond me.
A welcome change though is a side stand sensor, which immobilises the bike if the side stand is down. There are a lot of minor updates and improvements like a support plate for the rear mud guard under the seat and silver accents on some components now get matte black treatment as many BS III models saw the silver paint fade out with time and use. We did put the motorcycle through its paces, riding it off-road and even jumping it at a motocross track and throughout all the abuse, one thing was evident that the Himalayan FI BS IV indeed is an improved and better built machine than its predecessor. A lot of work has gone into addressing the quality and part issues on the previous bike and it certainly feels like a sturdier and able-bodied adventure machine in its latest guise. But the answer to the most important question – “Will it suffer from reliability issues in the long run?’, will only come with time. Let’s wait and watch.