ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN 450 Review – The Hills are Alive! Back to News List

Royal Enfield smashes the Himalayan’s shortcomings with the release of the new 450 – and at a great price.

Words: Pete Vorst / Photography: Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield’s Himalayan has earned a reputation for being a low-frills but rugged and reliable adventure companion since its debut back in 2016. Despite its budget-friendly specs-sheet, it surprised riders with its on and off-road capabilities. It wasn’t perfect—far from it—but it offered a comfortable ride, handled road shenanigans adeptly (even with its 21-inch front rim), and could be taken into off-road terrain of particularly ugly nature and get the job done.

The Himalayan Achilles’ heel has, until now, been its underpowered LS410 engine, further hindered by its relatively hefty weight and budget-friendly suspension. Royal Enfield claims that these issues have been resolved with the new Himalayan 450, and we attended the Australian press launch of the new model in the Victorian High Country to put it to the test.

There aren’t many better places on the planet to test out a new adventure machine. The Vic High Country has it all: beautiful ribbons of well-kept tarmac zigzagging through mountainous terrain, peppered with trails of various difficulty levels in every direction. I’ve heard it described as the Alps of Australia, and after taking in the stunning views over the two-day event, I tend to agree.

 Suspension and weight aside, my biggest complaint with the Himalayan 411 was its lack of grunt. While there was enough for cruising around town and off-road work, the Himalayan just never felt comfortable cruising along at highway speeds. Well, that has been emphatically resolved with the new water-cooled Sherpa 450 engine. The all-new power plant has a whopping 48.86% more power (39.48hp vs 24.3hp) on tap. To put that into perspective, the Himalayan 450 now packs more punch than the venerable Kawasaki KLR650 and it’s lighter too!

With its extra horsepower and the addition of a six-speed gearbox rather than the five-speed of the previous model, cruising the highways is just so much more pleasant — the Himalayan 450 is now a serious adventure touring option.

The 450 isn’t just a new engine thrown into an old bike; it’s all-new from the ground up and shares very little with the old model. There’s a new sturdier frame, upgraded brakes, and improved suspension on both ends. The chassis is a vast improvement over the 411, and on the blacktop, you can really have fun when corners appear. It’s a day-and-night improvement off-road as well, but it’s still better to use finesse rather than aggression if you want to enjoy the ride. However, the Himalayan will go anywhere if you pick your lines and take your time.

Apart from its modern new looks, the 450 is adorned with a ride-by-wire throttle, four ride modes, switchable ABS, LED lighting, a larger capacity 17-liter (4.49-gallon) fuel tank, and a powerful generator so you can add an array of electronic farkles. The new dash is fantastic: simple, neat, and easy to read. It provides every bit of information you could ever need, including a clock, gear indicator, ambient temperature, and more. Once connected to your phone via the RE app, you can even mirror Google Maps navigation from your device to the 4-inch display for turn-by-turn directions.

Despite all the additions, the new model weighs in at the same claimed dry weight of 191kg (421lbs) as the previous model. Ok, so 191kg is still weighty for a 450cc single, but it must be noted that the weight distribution on the new model is far better, and it feels significantly lighter on the move than the old model. There’s also a bunch of standard additions included on the Himalayan 450, like the centre stand, rear luggage rack, and tank crash bars that a lot of manufacturers only offer as optional extras, adding weight and cost for that matter.

One of the most attractive aspects of the original Himalayan for many people was its low 800mm (31.50”) seat height. Despite a slight increase in both ground clearance and suspension travel, the seat height has increased by just 25mm (.98”), so it’s still a great option for shorter riders. The Himalayan’s seat is now adjustable, so those looking for a roomier ride can raise the seat height to 845mm (33.27”). There is also a low seat option available, which brings the seat height down to a very accessible 805mm (31.69”).

Despite the comprehensive overhaul, it’s as comfortable as ever—both sitting and standing—and it retains that tough and reliable feel that has won it so many fans over the years. Enfield has stayed true to the original design; the things that riders loved, like its user-friendly nature, unintimidating attitude, and simplicity, are retained, while still delivering a motorcycle so vastly improved and different that it’s almost a totally new model.

It was hard to fault the old Himalayan considering its price point, and it’s even harder to fault the 450, especially considering its affordable price point of $8,990 (AUD) ride away—just $600 more than the old model. It has lost none of the charm of its predecessor while addressing the key performance issues of the previous model. Offering an excellent balance between capability and affordability, it’s an appealing option for riders seeking a dependable adventure companion without breaking the bank.

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