By Inaki Jose
Royal Enfield built its first motorcycle back in 1901 at Worcestershire, England, and no, Royal Enfield Motorcycles is not connected to its namesake battle rifle, the Enfield P-53.
Although, Royal Enfield was always a part of the British war effort and in 1863 Royal Enfield supplied canon precision parts and wheels to the Royal Small Arms Factory. A decade later, the British War Office tasked Royal Enfield to supply bicycles and later commissioned the company to design and build its first "battle motorcycle" which was called "The Flying Flea", a 126 pound, 125 cc, "Airborne Motorcycle", a motorcycle designed to be para dropped with paratroopers behind enemy lines and all over the European theater during WWII.
So, from the very start, "battle" was already in Royal Enfield's DNA. In 1955, Enfield Cycle Company partnered with Madras Motors in India in forming Enfield of India, based in Chennai, and started assembling the 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in Madras. The first machines were assembled from components imported from England. By 1957 Enfield of India acquired the tooling and the motorcycle was purely made in India. In 1978, the factory in UK eventually closed and Enfield, which later became Royal Enfield when sold in the US, were all made in India up to this date.
Enter the Royal Enfield HIMALAYAN
The first Royal Enfield HIMALAYAN (pronounced as hee-mal-yun') came out in 2015 which was designed by South African and Ducati Multistrada designer Pierre Treblanche. With simplicity and functionality in mind, a motorcycle that would take the rider beyond where roads would end, in short the motorcycle was designed for hostile and unforgiving terrains while keeping its "battle motorcycle" DNA intact.
Fast forward : The 2020 HIMALAYAN
The HIMALAYAN is a single bore, single overhead cam, 411cc, 24.5 claimed horsepower, EFI 5 speed motorcycle. My test 2020 HIMALAYAN test bike came in Lake Blue and White.
Additional updates for the 2020 includes ABS, (the 2021 model includes an on/off ABS switch), brighter and more visible instrument cluster and three brand new color schemes, namely Rock Red, Lake Blue and Gravel Grey.
The HIMALAYAN fit me perfectly, although I was in a grounded stance while seated, my legs felt they were comfortably stretched just right and comfortable even in traffic. Although others would find the seat too soft, it was perfect for my behind and skinny thighs.
Riding the HIMALAYAN all over the metro was a breeze, I hate traffic, who doesn't, but with the HIMALYAN traffic actually became more entertaining than irritating, I was relaxed and even had a chance to chat with my fellow riders (I strongly recommend riders to do this during traffic light stops ... it's very entertaining and good for tempers .. hahaha).
I was zipping around stopped vehicles with ease and a lot of confidence thanks to the HIMALAYAN's thin profile and lightweight, the bike was still nimble and stable even at crawling traffic speeds and direct steering, this motorcycle was built with exceptional balance and it sure made a lot of side view mirrors feel safe.
Full stop traffic and no singit space? No problem! The 21 inch front tire made it easy and effortless to conquer the "urban off road", or otherwise known as the bangketa or road curb, but please do not try this, I only tested it for purpose of educating and informing the readers about the HIMALAYAN's "urban off road" capabilities whether on unfinished road repairs, gravel, loose cements, humongous speed bumps and mud, the HIMALAYAN never put me in a difficult situation instead it gave me total confidence negotiating these urban road hazards.
On a serious note, the HIMALAYAN's beauty is in its simplicity, walang arte, function before form just like any military spec battle equipment, with exactly 3 pieces of tools, 10mm socket and ratchet, pliers, philips and a flat head screw driver you can already replace, clean and maintain the components easily, while in the field with the parts that you can carry in your panniers during extreme and hostile terrain rides making the HIMALAYAN live up to being a "battle motorcycle".
The HIMALAYAN is also practical and very efficient, in fact it should not be limited or exclusive to off road adventure rides, this bike can also be put to hard work and pay for itself. It should be used as a daily commuter because of its amazing 26 kilometers to a liter (my own guesstimate) city ride fuel consumption. I was riding all over the metro district trying to finish the 14 liters of fuel I had in the tank. I was riding the HIMALAYAN everyday for 5 days in different cities doing errands and testing. I finally gave up and returned my test bike with a quarter tank, imagine how much savings and extra ride money your average working guy would have saved at the end of the day.
The HIMALAYAN is also perfect for labor in the farms, moving around farm produce, or it can even be modified to carry sacks of soil or fertilizer or whatever. Also, due to the pandemic and a lot of lost jobs, the HIMALAYAN can be used as a delivery motorcycle.
There is a lot more I want to say about the HIMALAYAN, but I would already be a spoiler if I continue. One thing is for sure, the Royal Enfield HIMALAYAN priced at P299,000 is a practical motorcycle, very affordable to maintain because of its simplicity. This motorcycle is not built for speed, it is built to endure, it is a motorcycle that will adapt, can improvise, will overcome and will conquer, in fact it already conquered the Himalayas.
Again, don't take my word for it. Visit Royal Enfield Philippines at Doña Guadalupe bldg 7462 Bagtikan st, Makati City 1203 MM, or call 02 8899 2699 to schedule a test ride and discover what Royal Enfield has to offer.
Thank you Royal Enfield family, Mr. Jimmy Baraniga and Onie Pagkalinawan for the opportunity to discover and experience the HIMALAYAN.
RIDE SAFE BUT RIDE SMART FIRST!