What's the new Himalayan 450 like?
On a multi-day adventure?


This Spring, myself and three friends set ourselves the challenge of riding across country on trails, camping, and then hiking a mountain on foot. 

Without taking any hiking gear.

Everything had to be done in our riding gear. 

I've got an email ready to send you where I’m going to tell you about the ride, but today I want to tell you about the bikes. 

Specifically the new Himalayan 450. 

Because for a heavy old lump, it really did surprise (some of) us.

This email asks for a little more of your time than usual today, but I'll do my best to make it worth it. 

Grin time on the KTM 450EXC

Jim on the CRF300L

Marc loaded up on the ES700

JB shows no mercy to the Himalayan 450

The bikes involved were, my KTM 450EXC, Jim’s Honda CRF300L, Marc’s GasGas ES700 and JB’s Royal Enfield Himalayan 450. 

A solid mix of trail and adventure bikes, from light to middling to a little heavy. 

JB had borrowed the Himalayan 450 from Royal Enfield for a story he’s writing for TRF Trail Magazine. The trip would be a perfect test that included 600+ motorway miles and about 200+ish miles of twisty road, gravel tracks, muddy ruts and rocky single track(ish). 

The majority of the Himi riding was undertaken by JB. I was either pointing my Canon lens at him or following him with my GoPro. 

I can confirm that JB knows how to ride. He was stood up and balancing on those Himi pegs like it was a trials bike, albeit a heavy trials bike. 

At no point did he drop it, and in the only place that it got stuck, a large muddy puddle near Alston, it took just the slightest of help from Marc to get going. 

JB will be writing a full in-depth review for the TRF Trail Magazine (TRF members get the mag free - find out more here), but I asked him to give me a short summary to help paint the picture for you here. 

"Wow – the resistance! 

Resistance 1, from those who know and love the ‘old’ Himalayan – ‘they’ve ruined it, it’s ugly’. 

Resistance 2, from those who didn’t engage with the old Himalayan – ‘wow, they’ve modernised it, still ugly though’. 

Beauty, it turns out, is not in the eye of the beholder, but the eye (the heart and the soul) of the rider. The more you ride the new Himalayan 450 the better it looks. It’s smooth, sophisticated, and yet still characterful. And probably most importantly, it’ll now cruise hundreds of motorways miles at a steady 70mph. 

In short, it has practicality, it now does modern traffic speeds effortlessly. While still making a good fist of the trails. A 21st century Himalayan (as was the old one, but you know what I mean).

Sorry, did I not mention the weight?"

We all had a short ride on the Himi at various points throughout the journey, mostly on the less technical stuff seeing as it was a loaner bike and no-one wanted to be the guy who put a dent in it. 

Here’s what Jim thought.

"My time on the Himi was very limited, I was enjoying my first proper ride of the Adventure Spec CRF and getting used to it as the bike in the garage at home is a 2020 KTM690. I jumped on for a short road ride, followed by a relatively steepish decent off road with a some loose baby heads and a couple of drops.

Picking it up off the side stand you could feel the weight but I couldn’t tell how much of this was the excess fat of luggage JB had strapped to it for his adventure. 

I’ve ridden the original Himalayan and always struggled to feel comfortable standing up, the cylinders/frame always felt they pushed on my calves giving me that John Wayne feeling. 

The standing position felt comfortable and positive on the new 450, despite the weight it oozed confidence. I was surprised just how light the levers were enabling me to very easily control the clutch and brake with just one finger. 

It’d be great to load the 450 a little lighter and lower and have a longer ride one day."

Fancy pants Marc put his thoughts on YouTube

And here’s what I thought. 

I loved the old Himalayan 410. The bold old school boxiness of it. It looked like an actual proper Himalayan adventure bike. A two fingered salute to the plastic enduro hooligan bikes we all ride. It screamed “I’m built like a tank I’ll take as long as I like to get to wherever I’m going, thank you very much, put the kettle on I’ll be with you whenever”.

Himi old v Himi new

So when I saw the studio shots of the new 450 version, well it’s not so boxy any more is it. The clean lines are gone. The tank is sculpted like it wants to go faster. I was disappointed. 

But, when JB rolled into my drive, and I saw it in the flesh, I was a little surprised. 

The odd looking tank makes more sense when you look at it from behind. It sticks out somewhat allowing for the 17 litre fuel capacity but does it in such a way that you can stand up on the pegs and it all feels right for trail riding. It doesn’t push your knees out, the geometry feels thought through by designers who have actually ridden off road. 
JB offered these wise words, “The more you ride it the better it looks”. 

My stint in the saddle didn’t last long, just ten minutes on some gravel and asphalt, so don’t take my review as ‘in depth’. 

I think the bike I would compare it to the most is the BMW G310GS which I’ve spent a little time with in the past. However, whereas on the 310 you really feel like you are sitting ‘in’ the bike, at times like you are in a comfy armchair, this Himmy 450 felt much more as though I was ‘on’ the bike, riding with purpose. 

It felt composed, smoother than I expected on the gravel and a touch more vibey on the road. 
The side stand is a ridiculous relaxed angle so you are constantly reminded of the bike’s weight when you stand it up, but when I got going I didn’t notice the weight too much other than compared to my KTM 450EXC it wanted to keep going straight when I wanted to turn, so it’s certainly not a nimble or flickable machine. And that front end is going to take more effort than I was willing to give to come up into anything that resembles a wheelie. 

But really can you compare the two 450’s? 

Our cross country adventure started on my doorstep, I’ve got trails minutes from my home. There is no ‘liaison’ to get to the good stuff so the full fat, lightweight KTM fun machine makes sense for me. 

But JB had to ride 300 miles to get here. 

And here he is riding exactly the same trails I’m riding, a bit slower, with a bit more concentration, but is he having any less fun?

And then he’s going to ride it another 300 miles home. 

Would my face be beaming if I had to do that on my little plastic enduro machine?

I’m not so sure. 

The more I rode with JB, watching him enjoy that Himi in some of the most remote and rewarding landscapes England has to offer, the better the bike began to look. 

I think it deserves its place in our adventure riding community, some of you are going to absolutely love it. 

Which makes me think we should probably get around to designing some hard parts for it don’t you think?


Greg Villalobos

P.S. In my next Ride & Hike email I’m going to tell you about where we took the mighty Himi.


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