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Zig Opinion: Royal Enfield Himalayan 650 - Does It Even Make Any Sense?


Do we really need a larger Himalayan or can RE take a different direction?

Ever since the Royal Enfield 650 twins made their debut, bikers have been demanding that RE use the same motor in the Himalayan to make it a better bike. As a thought, this does sound good, since the Himalayan struggles with high-speed touring. But plonking the 650cc twin-cylinder motor in the Himalayan’s chassis isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, Royal Enfield will have to develop an all-new motorcycle around the motor, so no wonder we haven’t seen any progress being made on the Himalayan 650.

A Himalayan Quandary
More than a larger motor to improve its highway touring, what the RE Himalayan actually needs is weight loss. As capable as the bike is in off-roading, the heavy kerb weight makes you wary of dropping it on your legs and injuring yourself. If this is the case with the current 411cc single-cylinder, imagine how heavy the bike will feel with the 650cc twin.

One also needs to factor in the width of the 650cc engine, which will make packaging an adventure bike around it a nightmare, especially for shorter riders. If Royal Enfield manages to shave off around 10kg from the bike, improve its weight distribution, and squeeze out a bit more power from the 411cc mill, the Himalayan will be a much better motorcycle. The drop in weight will not only make it a better off-roader, but the increment in power-to-weight ratio will also improve its top speed and overall performance.

Let’s Scramble
If Royal Enfield wants to go off-roading with the 650 twins, all they need to do is get inspired from Triumph Motorcycles (just like it did with the 270-degree crankshaft). The British brand has been able to expand the Bonneville family in an interesting and clever manner over the years. Rather than an outright ADV bike, Royal Enfield can develop a scrambler based on the Interceptor 650 on similar lines as the Triumph Street Scrambler. Modifying the existing chassis and suspension components wouldn’t cost much time, resources or money.

Since it will not be a hardcore off-roader, novice riders would also feel at home and given the visual appeal of a scrambler, it sits perfectly with the image of Royal Enfield. Since it isn’t an all-new motorcycle, pricing could be kept under check and it can be positioned at a slight premium over the Interceptor 650. The Royal Enfield Scrambler 650 will be a perfect bike to ride to Ridermania and enjoy the beaches of Goa, don’t you think?

Go All Out!
While the Himalayan 650 is a pipe dream, the third bike to be added in the 650cc family is a cruiser. We have already seen glimpses of the bike undergoing testing and the interesting bit about the upcoming Royal Enfield cruiser is that it features an USD fork and might be called the Shotgun. While the idea of a cruiser sits well for international markets, a sports tourer makes more sense for the Indian market.

Again, Royal Enfield can take inspiration from the Triumph Trident and the soon to be launched Tiger Sport 660. While the RE sports tourer need not be as sophisticated as the Triumph offering, it should offer a comfortable riding stance, large fuel tank for good range, mounts for luggage and long-travel suspension for better ride quality.

If Royal Enfield is able to fulfil the above criteria, it’ll have a perfect alternative to the Himalayan 650 without the hassle. The current 650cc motor has ample grunt for touring, is decently frugal, and can also compete against 500cc sports tourers in the international market as well. An added bonus will be if Royal Enfield could mimic the styling of the Moto Guzzi V85 TT. Now wouldn’t that be one pretty motorcycle?

Whatever direction Royal Enfield takes will be interesting to see, but one thing is for sure: the Indian bikers will be spoilt for choice in the future.

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Royal Enfield Himalayan

Royal Enfield Himalayan

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