OPINION: Bigger Himalayan 450 – Is It Good News for Rivals?

The bigger Himalayan 450 is a gem of a motorcycle and it truly deserves a lot of credits but there is a problem – quite a big one that is… Our editor Saad Khan discusses..

Back while I was covering the first ever Himalayan’s debut, I think, somewhere in Delhi, I was convinced that the idea of a simple ADV should work. And with the credentials the Himalayan possessed, it soon created the much needed initial hype.

However, the product backfired as it had terrible quality check (QC) and things went so awry that (probably for the first time in the history for a reputed manufacturer) Royal Enfield had to halt the production of the motorcycle altogether. Do note that the product went bad here and not the idea.

The original Himalayan, though controversial, opened up a lot of avenues for bikers wanting this type of a machine…

Finally, the Himalayan 410 went onto create a new segment after the product was sorted and became fit for the roads. The idea of a simple ADV gained so much popularity that other makers started copying it. Yezdi introduced a direct rival and biggies like Honda are also speculated to be studying this very segment.

The idea of original Himalayan was so good that Yezdi introduced a direct rival against it – but the problem is that it looks more like a copy of the Himalayan rather than a rival!

The only big shortcoming of the Himalayan was its lack of power that was felt on highways. Royal Enfield thought of plugging it by introducing a more powerful version of the motorcycle. And very recently the Himalayan 450 was born and it, clearly, is a major breakthrough product.

The Himalayan has become one nasty, surprisingly powerful and capable motorcycle and an ADV that should check most of the boxes for an end buyer. At a price hovering close to Rs 3 Lac, it justifies its tag as well, with the kind of ammo it comes with. But there is a problem!

And that problem is the eventual placement. While the older Himalayan 410 was placed in the sub Rs 2 Lakh segment, the bigger version, that is completely different, sips ahead to another level – at Rs 3 Lakh. This is a world of difference for a market like India.

So, the identity of the Himalayan has changed from an accessible, entry level, basic and affordable ADV to a fairly powerful, loaded ADV. But these traits have come at the cost of accessibility and affordability. In simpler terms, Royal Enfield created this very segment and now after a few years of demand creation it has left it to other rivals to simply latch onto that demand – of a basic, accessible ADV around that price tag of Rs 2 Lakh.

A simple solution to this would have been – Introduce the big 450 as a stepping stone for the existing Himalayan buyers and keep the current Himalayan as is. The least Royal Enfield could have done is create all that focus on the biggie but keep (or introduce) a basic Himalayan (based on the 410 platform, stripping of some features) at around that Rs 1.7-1.9 Lakh price tag.

himalayan 450
The bigger and more modern Himalayan 450 is a brilliant motorcycle and one that deserves a lot of applause. But it is the company’s strategy that seems a little flawed…

So, eventually it would have enjoyed the fruits of the tree it nurtured for all these years and in the process it would have had products for aspiring entry level, basic ADV lovers this side of Rs 2 Lakh; as well as an option for existing owners of Himalayan 410 to upgrade or new buyers considering 390 Adventure (and other similar motorcycles) around that Rs 3 Lakh mark.

Based on the conversation I had with one seasoned jouno (and a friend), the reason of moving away from the older Himalayan was that Royal Enfield wanted to completely disassociate with the older model and the negative publicity that it had garnered.

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But I believe the controversy that was so dear to the 410 Himalayan had subsided and there was real interest in the positive attributes that the ADV flaunted – and that is why its sales were steady (and possibly picked up) at around 2500-3000 units on an average – higher than lot of other 2 Lakh motorcycles – including the Dominar, CB300F, CB350s, etc.

At the sub 3 Lakh segment, and a lot of more power (and equipment), the new Himalayan 450 is expected to attract a lot of new buyers higher up the pedestal (probably some from the KTMs fold), however miss out on the ones that wanted a basic, easy to use, accessible ADV this side of Rs 2 Lakh!

By creating demand and then emptying the sub 2 Lakh segment, Royal Enfield has literally gifted this sizable segment to various other players and I see this demand going to Hero (it is expected to introduce a bigger Xpulse with Karizma’s 210cc engine) and Honda (patent pic of a Himalayan-like motorcycle recently emerged) and who knows this may even be good news for Yezdi Adventure as well.

I will be keeping an eye on the new Himalayan’s sales numbers to see if there is some kind of erosion. But even if it manages to do well in the 3 Lakh segment, I am sure majority of the buyer set would be new and it would have done higher numbers with 2 Himalayans – placed significantly apart.

What do you think…?