Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Chassis Breaking: Here’s What Went Wrong

  • Jun 18, 2024
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We got an explanation from Royal Enfield about why there were two cases of the Himalayan 450’s chassis breaking while riding, and the reason might surprise you. We do a deep dive into what happened and what the solution is to avoid such failures

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Chassis Break

Quick News Highlights

  • There have been two separate incidents reported where the Himalayan 450’s chassis broke while riding

  • Royal Enfield says it was due to improperly installed aftermarket crash guards

  • The company is working to address their customers about how to avoid such failures

We’re sure most of you must have come across two separate incidents recently of the Himalayan 450’s chassis breaking while the bikes were being ridden - one of these was reported by a rider in Assam while the other case happened when a rider was on his way from Chennai to Hyderabad. Thankfully, the riders in both cases got away without any injuries. But a bike’s frame breaking without being involved in any crash is a serious red flag. And it reminds us of the teething issues the original Himalayan 411 faced with its frame breakage issues, which affected a large number of bikes before Royal Enfield addressed them by strengthening the Himalayan 411’s frame in its subsequent updates. This time, however, Royal Enfield has proactively addressed the issue, carried out some in-house tests and given us an explanation of why the Himalayan’s chassis broke in those two incidents.

Why did the Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 chassis break? Here’s what RE says:

According to what Royal Enfield told us, both customers who reported their chassis breaking were using aftermarket crash guards. But how can crash guards affect the bike’s chassis? For that, it’s important to understand how the chassis is engineered and how the engine mounts to it.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 chassis broken

On the Himalayan 450, the engine is a stressed member of the chassis. If you look at the image above, you can see the points circled in red. These are the points where the engine (which is a cast aluminium construction), is mounted to the tubular steel frame. RE uses specialised bolts for these mounts and also has special spacers to ensure that these bolts can bear the stresses going through the chassis and ensure that they remain correctly torqued over a period of time.

Now the engine mount on the downtube is a key point where any engine/crash guard mounts. Due to the differences in tolerances between the cast aluminium engine casing and the welded tubular frame, Royal Enfield has another set of spacers and bolts for their GMA (Genuine Motorcycle Accessories) guards to ensure that the bolts that will hold the crash guard, chassis and engine in place have the exact clearances required. These spacers aren’t identical to the ones that come standard on bike and the left and right ones come in different sizes as well, as you can see in the image below (refer to the parts labeled 3 and 4).

Royal Enfield’s official Large Engine Guard

All components of Royal Enfield’s official Large Engine Guard

Royal Enfield says that they ran multiple computerised as well as test-bench simulations to see what would happen if one of the engine bolts that connects to the top tube was torqued incorrectly, came loose, was missing or if an incorrect spacer was used. In all these simulations, a lot of the stresses which should be easily passed through the engine and frame were being focussed near two points of the top tube. And it’s these stresses which eventually led to the chassis cracking and failing.

What’s the solution for the Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 chassis breaking?

Royal Enfield told us that the best way to avoid any such issues would be to use the engine guards from the company’s GMA catalogue. At this point, RE offers two flavours of guards - a Large Engine Guard (pictured earlier), and the Rally Protection (which also comes with an aluminium bash plate under the engine), pictured below. These cost Rs 4,750 and Rs 9,950 respectively. We think these are quite well priced, almost at par with any guards you can get on the aftermarket, and provide adequate protection as well.

Royal Enfield GMA Rally Protection

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But does that mean you shouldn’t be using aftermarket engine/crash guards? Unfortunately, yes. Royal Enfield told us that the Himalayan 450’s user manual specifically mentions that any ‘changes’ or ‘modifications’ to the chassis by using aftermarket guards will void the warranty.

ZigSays

We here at ZigWheels have had a Himalayan 450 in our long-term fleet for the past six months and in that time, we’ve clocked in about 6,000km on the bike while commuting in Pune, doing some long(ish) distance rides, and even taking the bike on some off-road trails. We haven’t encountered any issues on the bike apart from small niggles like the front number plate rattling.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450

That said, there are over 40,000 Himalayan 450s on the road at this point in time, and so far there have been only two incidents where the chassis has failed. Of course, even though the failure rate percentage is tiny in this case, it doesn’t excuse such a critical failure. Royal Enfield has stated that they’ll be officially communicating with all their Himalayan 450 customers about this issue, and also briefing their showrooms to recommend that new customers purchase the official crash protection on offer.

Our wholehearted recommendation would be to stick to Royal Enfield’s official crash guards and not bother with aftermarket ones. Now this was an issue for the first few months after the Himalayan’s launch with a lack of official accessories from Royal Enfield. But that issue has been resolved now and all Royal Enfield showrooms will be able to offer their GMA crash protection at the time of purchase or even after.

Royal Enfield GMA Crash Protection

The company has also told us that it could also look into working together with accessory makers in the future to ensure that any aftermarket crash protection would be built to the Royal Enfield’s standards. And if you’re insistent on getting aftermarket crash protection for your Himalayan 450, we highly recommend checking out Royal Enfield’s official fitting instructions for their GMA crash guards. These are comprehensive guides with specify which bolts to use and where, as well as how much they need to be torqued. These are available on the Royal Enfield website for download.

Broken Himalayan chassis image credits to respective owners.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Video Review

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450
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