Royal Enfield’s Himalayan debuted in the North American market in 2018, and in that time, the pint-sized ADV has become Enfield’s best-seller in the U.S. Thanks to the bike’s rugged styling, utilitarian design, and approachable demeanor, the budget-conscious adventure bike is at home both on the trail and the weekday commute. The Himalayan casts a wide net with simplicity and versatility, serving beginner and experienced riders alike.
With American adventurers continuing to flock to the small-bore ADV, Royal Enfield didn’t want to ruin a good thing. As a result, the Himalayan remains largely the same in 2022. The half-duplex split frame still cradles an air-cooled, SOHC, 411cc single and a 21-inch front wheel retains the model’s off-road prowess. While Royal Enfield didn’t fix what wasn’t broken, it addressed common owner feedback with touring-oriented upgrades.
Choice cockpit revisions now equip the adventure bike for long-distance travel while the firm’s Tripper navigation pod points the way. With Royal Enfield adding more road-focused features to the Himalayan in 2022, we wondered if the changes would sacrifice the Himalayan’s identity or only amplify the ADV’s flexibility? Fortunately, Royal Enfield invited us to find out for ourselves with a daylong test of the 2022 Himalayan on the backroad highways and off-road trails of Temecula, California.
The Himalayan may be a small-capacity adventurer but Royal Enfield equips it to fit riders of all shapes and sizes. The brand aims to expand that appeal in 2022 with slightly altered ergonomics. Now, the front rack isn’t just slimmer but shifted forward by 90mm (3.5 inches). With a 32-inch inseam, my knees easily fit into the tank cutouts and never met the tubular steel rack, but taller riders will embrace the added legroom.
Aside from the new rack, Royal Enfield also fortified both the seat with improved cushioning. The Himalayan’s original unit may have been far from uncomfortable, but dual-layer foam keeps the rider in the saddle even longer. Those plush accommodations only started wearing thin after a four-hour mixed ride (road and dirt) and most riders should squeeze extra mileage out of the robust new perch.
Of course, with extra distance comes extra gear, and a new rear carrier top plate improves the bike’s packing capabilities. In the past, many Himalayan owners turned to the aftermarket for a sturdier base plate. Now, Enfield includes the component as standard equipment. Unfortunately, we didn’t put the rear carrier to the test during the press launch, but the extra plate is a clear improvement over the old slotted unit. From tail bags to roll-top dry bags, the Himalayan’s new carrier offers a much better platform to lash luggage for the long haul.
A refined windscreen shape also makes life on the open road more pleasant. With a wider base, the new screen keeps the elements and bugs off the rider’s core. However, at five feet, ten inches, the wind bounced off my helmet’s chin bar and inner shoulders. For that reason, the Himalayan is most pleasant up to 65 mph. Speeds above that tend to batter the rider and demand much more of the 411cc single.
The Himalayan’s cockpit may be more hospitable, but the trustworthy thumper returns in BS-6 form (Indian emissions standard). As a result, lean fueling led to several stall-outs upon startup. The engine got past those hiccups after several throttle pulls during the warm-up process and they didn’t return throughout the day. The fueling doesn’t impact the rest of the Himalayan’s power delivery though, with the mill retaining its 24.3 peak horsepower and 23.6 lb-ft of torque.
That torque may max out at 4,000-4,500 rpm, but roll-on power proves strongest at 5,000 rpm. Luckily, the wee ADV cruises along at 65 mph at 5,000 rpm in top gear (fifth), allowing the rider to throttle out of potentially dangerous situations on the highway. Once the single surpasses that 5,000-rpm mark, it barrels to its peak horsepower at 6,500 rpm. Unfortunately, that’s also the Himalayan’s redline, so riders have to shift as soon as the powerplant hits its stride.
Even with that narrow powerband, the practical engine suits both the beaten path and dirt detours. Royal Enfield doesn’t stock the adventurer with a slipper-assist clutch, but the standard multi-plate wet unit works well when climbing through the gears on the pavement or feathering the clutch on the trail. Vibrations may be present at the bars but they’re never close to bothersome and the small-bore thumper throws minimal heat onto the rider.
Despite its new BS-6-compliant configuration, the 411cc single still delivers enough oomph to keep the Himalayan both accessible and entertaining. The Himalayan’s engine may be stone-simple but it’s water-tight, and Royal Enfield matches that reliability with its tried-and-true chassis.
After a day of navigating rock-strewn trails and winding canyon roads, the Himalayan’s suspension proved surprisingly stout. Many of its competitors opt for undersprung suspenders to buffer beginners from harsh off-road conditions. Royal Enfield takes another tack with the Himalayan, providing a simple yet surprisingly competent setup. The Himalayan’s 439-pound curb way may necessitate stiffer springs, but blowing through the 41mm conventional fork’s 7.8 inches of travel or the linkage-equipped monoshock’s seven inches of travel isn’t easy. From washboard to rock gardens, the suspension managed everything the trail could throw at it.
On the road, the chassis provides direct and predictable handling. It may not be the nimblest model in the category, but it remains fun in the twisties and capable in tough terrain. The Himalayan’s non-adjustable suspenders are certainly budget-friendly, but the factory compression and damping settings outperform that label. Of course, the suspension has its limits both on and off-road, but the setup allows the rider to grow with the adventure bike.
On the other hand, the braking system certainly has room for improvement. ABS governs the two-piston caliper mated to a 300mm disc at the front as well as the 240mm rotor and single-pot binder out back, but neither tout strong initial bite or reliable feel. Stopping power at both ends is sufficient, however, especially for the 24.3-horsepower mill.
While riders can switch off the rear ABS for off-road treks, the system is quite primitive. When held down, the ABS button doesn’t actually depress, making the five-second deactivation cycle a crapshoot. To compound the issue, the system reverts to dual-channel ABS each time the rider hits the kill switch. With practice, the rider can master the sequence and hit the trail in no time, but it takes time to develop that touch. The Himalayan’s ABS switch may be a minor inconvenience, but the new Tripper navigation device is much more intuitive.
When we tested Royal Enfield’s Meteor 350 in April, 2021, we weren’t particularly impressed with the cruiser’s Tripper navigation system. Based on the Google Maps Platformed and powered by the Royal Enfield app, the Tripper previously tripped over itself, losing connection even before the Meteor 350 reached its first turn. Royal Enfield’s latest update addresses that premature disconnection.
To pair the system with a smartphone, the user simply selects the available Tripper unit and keys the pod’s six-digit code into the app. Once connected, the navigation provides simple turn-by-turn directions. The small, circular TFT screen doesn’t display street names, but it does report the distance before each turn. For that reason, those on the open road may benefit from it more than urban riders. This time around, the Tripper navigation system guided me to my final destination without a hitch, which is a reassuring feat for the touring-minded Himalayan.
The ergonomic and navigation update may seem modest, but Royal Enfield matches that with an equally modest $5,299 price tag. The $300 markup over the previous model seems fair for the added functionality and comfort, but it’s an even bigger value when you consider the fact that the Himalayan’s MSRP actually rose at the current rate of inflation. No, the 2022 iteration doesn’t revolutionize the platform, but when you have such a successful beginner ADV on your hands, that’s a good thing.
Royal Enfield’s select revisions improve on the previous model’s touring chops while maintaining the Himalayan’s character, approachability, and off-road capabilities. Some may believe that the brand could have gone further with the 2022 upgrades, but we have a feeling that Royal Enfield is leaving room for future models in its adventure range.