Editor’s note: This Quick Read is part of our Mini-ADV Comparison Test Review of the Kawasaki Versys-X 300, BMW G 310 GS and Royal Enfield Himalayan.
Interestingly, of the three mini-ADVs we tested, it’s the Royal Enfield that seems to know exactly “who” it is, and it makes no pretenses otherwise. It looks like a tool because it is. It looks like it could claw its way up a gnarly, oxygen-deprived pass because it was designed to do just that back home in India. Point it where you want it to go, twist the throttle and utilize the broad, friendly torque curve to tractor your way forward. It’s unflappable and rock solid. If the G 310 GS is the hare, the Himalayan is the tortoise; patience is the name of the Himalayan’s game, and slow and steady wins in its world.
The spec chart (see below) tells much of the story: a 58-inch wheelbase that’s more than 2 inches longer than the BMW, a big 21-inch tube-type spoked front wheel, 26.5 degrees of rake (the Versys-X 300’s is a steep 24.3) and 431 pounds carried low under a softly-padded 31.5-inch seat that compresses to put the rider even closer to the ground.
If you prize confidence and stability over quickness, the Himalayan is the bike for you. Its air-cooled single, fed by a simple fuel injection system (there is a fast idle switch on the left grip), churns out the most torque of the bunch and sounds pretty good doing it. It’s got its own brand of coolness as well; as our photographer commented, “It makes the other two look like toys.”
At $4,499, it undercuts the other two by $1,200—that’s a lot of dough to spend on accessories and gas for the adventures you’ll take it on.
We’ve had a lot of people ask about reliability, and to that end we didn’t have the Himalayan long enough to give a truly comprehensive answer. That said, our test bike did exhibit one quirk. It struggled to idle, especially when cold, and required deft throttle control until warm (read: we had to keep the throttle open at ALL times when cold, including when braking and/or downshifting, something beginners would have a hard time juggling).
We suspect this was due to the stringent emissions requirements on the air-cooled engine, but it’s something to consider if you’re looking to buy.
2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan Specs
Base Price: $4,499
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Type: Air-cooled single
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 86.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 2 valves
Valve Insp. Interval: 3,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection, 32mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.11-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive:O-ring chain
Ignition: TCI, multi-curve
Charging Output: 220 watts max.
Battery: 12V 8AH
Frame: Steel half-duplex split cradle, box-section steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 58.0 in.
Rake/Trail: 26.5 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm stanchions, no adj., 7.9-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring preload, 7.1-in. travel
Brakes, Front:300mm disc w/ floating 2-piston caliper
Rear: 240mm disc w/ floating 1-piston caliper
Wheels, Front: Spoked, 2.75 x 21 in.
Rear: Spoked, 3.25 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: Tube-type, 90/90S21
Rear: Tube-type, 120/90S17
Wet Weight: 431 lbs.
Load Capacity: 372 lbs.
GVWR: 803 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gals., last 1.4 gal. warning light on
MPG: 86 PON min. (low/avg/high) 49.5/58.4/64.4
Estimated Range: 234 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH:4,500