Weekend rides are fun with the sheer variety of bikes that come to the party. Last weekend I had the privilege of pitting the Royal Enfield Himalayan BS-VI against the new KTM 390 Adventure. Both these adventure touring bikes have their own character and loyal fan base.
An Instagram poll I put out had almost equal takers for both (some wanted both).
Some would argue that it’s not fair to pit the Royal Enfield Himalayan against the KTM 390 Adventure, given the difference in pricing. The Royal Enfield Himalayan BS-VI prices start at Rs 1.87 lakh ex-showroom, while the KTM 390 Adventure carries a price tag of Rs 2.99 lakh ex-showroom.
What does the KTM 390 Adventure offer for that extra Rs 1 lakh over the Royal Enfield Himalayan? Turns out, both have some really strong points to put forth. I rode both the bikes over the weekend, so let me give you a quick riding impression of them.
First the specs.
Riding the Royal Enfield Himalayan BS-VI
Royal Enfield has given the Himalayan subtle updates. The BS-VI engine obviously comes with fuel injection and a new catalytic converter, but besides that it also gets some feature upgrades. It now has hazard lamps, which can be switched on by the right side switch-gear.
It also gets switchable rear ABS, to make it easier to deal with off-road use (but turning off ABS can be time-consuming, despite the button on the panel - one has to press and hold it for quite a while).
Thumb the Himalayan to life and it settles into a steady single-cylinder relaxed thump. The seating position at 800 mm is comfortable for a rider of my height (5’8”) as I can keep both my feet planted on the ground. The handle has good reach and offers a relaxed, upright riding stance.
What I particularly like about the Himalayan is the suspension. It soaks up anything you throw at it with ease. The large 21-inch front wheel is great at finding its way through rough terrain with the long-travel front forks making light work of potholes.
Although the Himalayan offers only 32 Nm of torque and 24.8 bhp of power, the torque comes in low in the rev band, meaning you don’t have to twist the throttle too much. However, once speeds get beyond 100 kmph, it loses breath and tops off at about 130 kmph. It feels most comfortable in the 80 kmph to 100 kmph zone, where you can ride all day long.
The five-speed shifter is precise, but it could do with an extra cog. At 100 kmph in 5th, the engine sounds busy at 5,000 rpm. The engine is smooth at low revs, but some vibes creep in beyond 4,500 rpm. While it does get a bit warm in traffic, heat management from the simple air-cooled unit is adequate.
The Himalayan’s brakes have been improved considerably and the bite is really good now.
Riding the KTM 390 Adventure
The KTM 390 Adventure is a tech-loaded adventure motorcycle whose styling makes the Himalayan look like its from another era. It comes with cornering ABS, switchable ABS, quick-shifter, traction control, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, TFT display, LED headlamps and a whole lot more. It even has an adjustable windscreen and 12-volt power socket.
Height-wise, the bikes are similar, but the KTM has a higher seat position at 855 mm. This left me tippy-toeing on the bike in traffic. Thankfully, it’s nearly 30 Kg lighter than the Himalayan, which weighs 194 Kg dry and hence easy to flick about.
Fire up the KTM 390 Adventure and you get the familiar, hurried idle purr from the single-cylinder engine. It’s a free-revving engine and is throttle happy. Twist the throttle and it lurches like an excited kid. You hardly
The motor doesn’t have much grunt low down in the rev range. Most of its 37 Nm of torque comes in post 3,500 rpm. Being a short-stroke motor, it revs higher, unlike the long-stroke Himalayan. Which is why it’s great at high-speed, but not happy in stop & go traffic.
The six-speed quick shifter feels light and easy, and the KTM is eager to get to 100 kmph easily. Top speed (although we didn’t test it as this was a brand new bike) is over 150 kmph. At low speed though, you will find yourself having to downshift often to prevent it from getting grabby without the low-end torque.
The KTM 390 Adventure has a liquid-cooled engine, which is great for longevity of the engine oil. However, in traffic, when the fan turns on, you get a waft of hot air on your legs. The wide handlebar is great for when you are standing on the pegs and riding and the bike feels perfectly balanced.
What We Think
The Royal Enfield Himalayan BS-VI is still a great value-for-money adventure tourer. Its simplistic tech and robust suspension would make it feel perfectly at home in, well, the Himalayas. For long-distance travel on highways, it can feel a little under-powered. For the price, though, it’s a great buy.
What is really attractive about the KTM 390 Adventure is the amount of tech it packs in. It would make for a good long-distance tourer and probably trump the Himalayan when it comes to covering distances quickly. The handling is great and being light, one is tempted to just fly over rough patches and speed breakers. It soaks it all in. In the city it’s not that much fun.
So the deciding factor. In one word: Price. If you can stretch your budget the KTM is a good buy. If you can’t the Himalayan is great value for money.