The Black Mamba! RE Himalayan Ownership review

Not to sound cliché, but every guy holds a special place in his heart for super bike or a super car and let us be truthful that there are not many who can afford either or luckily both. Indeed, the affordability has come down to a point that many of us are able to materialize our dreams and are able to buy something close to our dreams. But it is also a fact that only a handful graduate directly and go on to buy a higher capacity bike, majority of us make a gradual shift from a 100CC and move on higher up the chart.

The commoner upgrade?

I belong to that ‘common’ majority who have graduated from a lower engine capacity to a higher one. Having owned a Yamaha FZ for 7 years I thought it was time to buy something which would suffice the highway riding as well as be nimble enough as my FZ in the city traffic. Bikes from the stable of Royal Enfield were always on the radar but there was nothing that interested me better than the standard 500. Yamaha had nothing coming from their end, never had personal liking towards Bajaj (no offence to anyone) although I admired their products which are always offered the best value for money. Honda’s CBR 250 had gotten too old, hence the search was on. There were whispers of Royal Enfield’s new model after the GT, but until then nothing was being finalized and neither was there anything concrete.

I was never unhappy with my FZ, it is still the best bike one can use to zip around in the Mumbai traffic without breaking a sweat and being a Yamaha mill it does decently well on the highways. But I needed something which I can use for my occasional tours, a bike which provides reliability on the highway. Time flew and the news of a new bike from Royal Enfield came hard and fast, spy images starting pouring in, then came the release dates which were eventually pushed to another year. With more information floating around on various websites, it was clear as to what we can expect from the new bike.

So why Himalayan?

Himalayan was introduced as the affordable and the only adventure tourer so far in the Indian market. I had made up my mind, this was going to be my next bike, the one that I would like as a replacement for my FZ. I had a few apprehensions, the ones which are attributed to a new product but I was ready to bear them all as I did have faith in a product coming from Royal Enfield.

Royal Enfield had an elaborate marketing campaign for Himalayan, there were these amazing videos of bike being tested by experts and the making of the bike videos. It generated a lot of interest and curiosity. It was and even now it is one of its kinds. While thinking of a new bike I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I require an adventure oriented bike. But the prospect of being able to buy one was mouth-watering to say the least.

Dhaval and his Black Mamba #REH
Dhaval and his Black Mamba #REH

After a long wait I was able to take a test ride of Himalayan, a short one but enough to nail the decision of buying it. Then came the agonizing waiting period associated with all the bikes from Royal Enfield. After a wait of 2 months, I got the delivery in June 2016. What a period to take delivery of a spanking new bike, the rainy season! But contrary to the perception, this bike was made for such seasons and the roads that come with it. It also came as boon to break the running in period as I do make a point to ride slowed on wet roads, a well realised point when it comes to Himalayan as the rear locks easily. There is a reason behind this pattern; Himalayan is made keeping in mind its off-roading capabilities where the rear wheel is required to lock in and hence the front disk brake are provided with lesser bite. This doesn’t mean that the Himalayan lacks in the braking department, it does amply well to provide an assured feel.

There were problems, but…

The initial lot of Himalayans did have its set of problems, but these were quickly acknowledged by RE and the updated spares were arranged for the problematic ones. I was lucky enough to have gone through the least of these problems so far as I know many who have been through a lot of issues.

The saving grace in all the cases has been the prompt response from RE to realize the impending issues and proving remedies for them. The major issues I faced so far were a faulty valve in the front tire tube, the magnetic coil going kaput (thankfully within city) and the hard clutch and hard gear shifts which were resolved by receiving the updated replacement spare part.

Dhaval Rawal with his REH "Black Mamba"
Dhaval Rawal with his REH “Black Mamba”

Sweet Chassis!

I have no qualms in saying that this is by far the best bike to have come from the RE’s stable till date. It has almost no vibrations, which has been the key feature of all the RE bikes so far! The best and I mean it when I say the best chassis on a RE bike, it handles marvelously well and imbibes more and more confidence in the rider on any surface. I say this with confidence after having tested it on a couple of off-roading trails, where even a novice like me was able to sail through most of the terrain with much ease. It is torquey enough to zip through the city traffic and provides much more confidence on highway at higher speeds, 100kmph is a high enough cruising speed for us Indians and the Indian roads!

It has been around 9 months with the Himalayan, it never stops to amaze me with its capabilities and even the problems which keep cropping up! Jokes apart, in spite of all the issues that I have faced so far, I still love riding the Himalayan, the love which only keeps growing each passing day. Hoping that my fellow riders find the same peace with their Himalayans!

Ride safe. Cheers!

This is a guest post by Dhaval Raval, or affectionately known as Dr.