Over the past few years, Indian bike enthusiasts have become off-road savvy. And they have good reasons for that, after all, with bikes like the Royal Enfield Himalayan igniting the segment, adventure bikes are finally accessible to a lot more buyers.
Now in 2019, you’ve got another addition, and this time Hero’s much awaited Xpulse takes the off-road bets to under Rs 1.10 lakh in the country. This bike has opened up the gates for buyers with small budgets, but offering them a chance to venture into the gravel without feeling bad about scuffing their bikes.
Both the Himalayan and Xpulse are different in a lot of ways, especially the engines they carry, but with the option of a sub Rs 2-lakh bikes in the market, which one of these should you pick and why. We’ll give you the best possible answers.
The first thing that you will notice is that the Himalayan does not try very hard on the looks front. The paint schemes available are black and white in matte finish. The design is minimalistic as well, and the bike has a tall stance.
The Xpulse features round headlights and a windscreen, and also receives enduro-style handlebar and handle guards as standard. The bike has an upright riding posture which is perfect for off-roading. It also comes with a muscular-looking fuel tank that adds more meat to the bike’s look.
The instrument cluster on the Himalayan has a unique layout and includes a compass, which can come very handy on your off-road trips. Being a mixture of analogue and digital, the cluster takes some time getting used to, but once you get familiar, it is pretty informative. The rear tail lamps are LEDs and have a neat layout.
The Himalayan sports a newly designed 411cc engine called the LS410. The ‘LS’ stands for ‘long-stroke’ and comes with a counter-balancer. Previous generations of Royal Enfields used to vibrate a lot, making them uncomfortable for long journeys.
The LS410, though, has almost no vibrations and is also punchy enough, with 24.5 horsepower and 32 Nm of torque. The bike just loves to sits between the 3000-4000 rpm range, above that you will feel the need to up-shift.
With the upgraded fuel-injected (Fi) engine, the bike’s performance has seen a big improvement, which becomes evident while riding it.
Xpulse is being offered in two variants; carburetor and fuel-injected, for which buyers will have to shell out more
The Hero Xpulse is powered by a 199.5 cc air-cooled, single-cylinder engine, which pumps out maximum power of 18.1 bhp and 17.1 Nm of maximum torque. The same has been drawn from the Hero Xtreme that launched late 2018.
These power figures are not going to induce a lot of excitement among those riding the Xpulse in the gravel, but good enough for those who’re just starting off with their off-road journey.
How do They Ride?
The Himalayan might be packing a 411cc engine, but Royal Enfield has tuned the bike to perform better in low-end torque. This makes sure the bike can easily handle slush or three, overcome uphill riding, and manage to hold its fort, even when the going gets tough.
High handlebars and an easily accessible seat height (800 mm) make for excellent riding posture. The fuel tank’s shape allows for quick change in sitting/standing position too, making it easy to manoeuvre through bumps.
With the Xpulse, the bike’s dimensions have been raised with longer suspension but even then people with height of 5’8 to 5’10 can easily sit or stand while riding. The power figures, as we’ve highlighted before, doesn’t offer enough punch on the highway but head into the mud and the bike, with its rugged tyres can give you nice time.
Also worth noting, Himalayan gets a 15-litre fuel tank, with real-life mileage of around 30 km/ltr. Hero Xpulse gets a smaller 13-litre tank, but the 200cc engine is highly expected to give a fuel efficiency of over 45km/ltr, or maybe 50, if the riding style affords you to.
Which One to Buy?
There you have it.
The Himalayan from Royal Enfield packs a lot of punch and its performance sees refinement with the addition of a fuel-injected engine. It becomes a lot safer too with the dual-channel ABS on board. Everything else remains the same, and there’s isn’t much to complain about, other than the lack of power the bike feels to have while riding on the highway.
For over Rs 1.74 lakh (ex-showroom) it was the most affordable bike for adventure seekers, until Hero launched the Xpulse last month. This bike gets a 200cc engine with limited power on offer but its got off-road tyres, with upright riding stance and other features taken care of but only single-channel ABS equipped on it.
If budget is really a constraint, and off-roading is your interest, the Xpulse is a good way to start of the experience. If you want that extra power, more surety from dual-channel ABS in tow, the Himalayan, costing over 1.8 lakh (on-road) is your best bet.
Also, if you can wait, keep an eye for the KTM 390 Adventure, expected to launch in the coming months. This bike could offer you the best of performance, off-roading and features.
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