Royal Enfield Himalayan
We prefer the relatively new Himalayan over the well known Royal Enfield Bullet. We believe that the Himalayan has:
- better directional stability at medium and high speeds.
- better brakes (front & rear disk brakes).
- better handling in difficult terrain.
- better and more comfortable riding posture; making long distance riding much easier.
The Himalayan has had its challenges; particularly in the first two years after market entry. The quality of several parts was low, as well as engineering flaws regarding engine head, clutch, swing-arm, alternator and t-stem.
Some first generation bikes suffered frame as well as swing-arm breaks, several consecutive alternator exchanges; and a clutch that became in-operational after relatively low kilometres traveled.
The t-stem (steering mechanism) had to be serviced, in some cases, after a few hundred km, depending of the roughness of operation. And the bearings often gave out as well.
As a result, a severe shitstorm emerged on facebook, and on the internet in general, and a few owners went as far as (successfully) suing the company for regress.
In 2017 with the advent of the BS4 model Mr. Lal the CEO of RE promised all defects had been taken care of and the new bike, now aiming at international markets, seems to prove him right.
The newer BS4 types, but also some from the BS3 series, are know for frame breaks on the steering heads. The frequency we estimate is about one in a hundred bikes where such an error, often due to bad weldings, occurs. We have taken appropriate steps to minimize this risk for our bikes. We may be the only rental company in the world to have taken this preventative measure in the service of our customers’ safety.
Our bikes are all BS3 models for a reason: All questionable parts have been replaced with their BS4 counterparts. For all intents and purposes our BS3s are qualitatively at par with any new BS4 model. The weak t-stem remains in all models and we have done our best to counter that by using western made SKF bearings where available and taking particular care when adjusting and arresting it against impact and other influences.
Whenever we purchase a used BS3 model we replace all parts that could have been damaged by previous use with new ones; which usually ends up near the price of a new bike.
We do not use the BS4 model due to the fuel injection; which while it may enjoy a slight advantage over the carburetor with its O2 sensor; otherwise only carries disadvantages.
If the EFI system fails (and they do fail!) in a remote region it is hard to get a replacement. A carburetor rarely fails and if it does, any Bullet 500 carb can be used because both bikes use the same model.
A replacement fuel injector costs 3 times as much as a new carburetor so many dealers do not stock them – it can take in the range of 2-3 weeks to obtain a replacement fuel injector.
The fuel injection units are also much more sensitive to bad fuel of which unfortunately there is plenty in India.
Finally the fuel pump can fail, an item the carburetor model does not even need. To cut a long story short, when one ventures into unknown and sparsely populated areas, one should minimize the risk of getting stuck due to the failure of an item that is unnecessary to begin with.
Although on rare occasions we do offer small group tours of the pre-planned type our main focus is on the individual rider who will travel alone without technical assistance. That is why our bikes are in top notch condition before we hand them over – and are equipped with everything the lone rider would want or need, just in case. Read on to find out …
All our bikes are perfectly equipped for riding in the most challenging terrain of northern India:
It goes without saying that our tyres are in sufficiently good condition to ensure good profile for the entirety of your trip.
We use solid third-party crash-guards (rather than the puny little things RE offers and that most rentals have).
Bikes either have two 5l metal Jerry cans in professionally designed holders, not the usual unreliable plastic cans that leak and are hard to open, or their fuel tank is extended to hold 19 or more liters.
Each bike is equipped with a set of tools to change a tyre including an air pump, a tyre pressure measuring device, a front & rear spare tube, and all the plyers and spanners you will need to do most roadside repairs.
Of course a clutch- and an accelerator cable are included as well as a set of front and rear break pads. In case of a flat tyre we suggest you have a 500 Rupee bill handy and flag down a truck driver who likely will be happy to do the changing of the tube for you.
We use hand-made specially reinforced luggage carriers; with lockable steel boxes. This is not (only) because they are cheaper than the fancy aluminum boxes RE offers but mainly because we can then mount them lower (while also lowering the exhaust pipe) which makes the bike more stable and in case of low-speed toppling over (happens fairly often) they, together with the crash guard, help avoid your leg getting stuck under the bike. That is, unless you choose one of our sporty naked bikes and bring your own luggage bags.
For those with prescription glasses aimed at long distances who may have trouble deciphering the tiny time indicator in the instrument panel; we have added an analogue timepiece on top of the break fluid container with a large face that is easily readable.
Our drivers seats are all upholstered with gel-packs, additonally an “Airhawk” air-cushion is available upon request free of charge.
These bikes, being carburetor models, do have a fuel tap which has a reserve position (as opposed to the BS4 injector models where when you run out of fuel – you ARE out of fuel). The fuel tap is lockable.
Voltmeters as part of the USB charger, or as separate modules added to the instrument panel show the state of the electric system. This seems luxurious but in the face of a rather small 7Ah battery and no kick starter; combined with overnight temperatures occasional reaching -15C, keeping the battery operational is a must. The Himalayan alternator also has a history of failing.
With that in mind; all of our motorcycles have a 12V plug and you can opt to carry (free of charge) one of our 10 Watt solar panels which under optimal conditions (sunny day between 10am and 2pm) re-charges a low battery within a few hours. This device would even allow continued riding with a defective alternator. The solar panel also allows the charging of all kinds of devices from the bike without running the engine for extended periods when parking in the wilderness.
The headlight, originally a 65 Watt H4 bulb, has been replaced with a LED light of significantly higher brightness and less amperes. So driving with lights during the day can now be done without running the risk of depleting the battery. Also: they don’t burn out as easily.
Some extra rear break – and turn – signal lights have been added as a safety feature although in India their use by other vehicles is not very common.
Foam grips make the handlebar easy to hold on to in spite of vibrations of the single cylinder engine. A Hella relay activated twin horn has been fitted as replacement for the relatively unreliable original.
All of our motorcycles are equipped with a GPS locator. Depending on GSM reception in the area if you travel in a group you may join the others easily after venturing off alone for some time; by accessing their precise location with your smartphone.
To cut a long story short:
Our rates are similar to the average motorcycle rental service, but our bikes are much better maintained and accessorized. While most others see your business as a one-time gig we see you as a valued return-customer who, after enjoying the beauty of the Himalayan ranges would like to come back for more….