Himalayan fans have long been hoping Royal Enfield would bring its newer engine, the 648cc parallel twin used in the Interceptor and Continental GT models, to the Himalayan platform, and now, according to an exclusive on India’s BikeWale website, it appears that wish is on its way to come true...
Himalayan fans have long been hoping Royal Enfield would bring its newer engine, the 648cc parallel twin used in the Interceptor and Continental GT models, to the Himalayan platform, and now, according to an exclusive on India’s BikeWale website, it appears that wish is on its way to come true.
When the Himalayan hit the scene back in 2016 it quickly gained a passionate following, and with good reason. Here was a rugged, easy to ride, adventure-ready model with a 21-inch spoked front wheel, that was also low seated and best of all, a bargain ($4,599 when introduced to the U.S). A sore point, however, has been a lack of power from Himalayan’s 411cc single, which at full thump, delivers a scant 24.3 bhp.
According to BikeWale’s sources, the Himalayan 650 project has actually been in the works for 18 months, though its debut isn’t planned until the 4th quarter of 2024. Yup, that’s a sadly long wait time for those eager to own a more powerful Himalayan, and there’s also no guarantee the new models — not one, but two to start — will even be off-road worthy adventure bikes.
Do we really need a larger Himalayan or can RE take a different direction?
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.
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?
I see RE is bumping the displacement up to 450 cc, with 40~ish horsepower expected in that Himalayan application. That's sufficient for highway speeds, but maybe Interstates would be ... unfun. Debut in '23, but maybe not in the USA then.