Every riding adventure requires a worthy and reliable steed of steel; a motorcycle prepared to go where the rider takes it. The best motorbike that can be found in Vietnam.
When going on an adventure tour, you’ll need a ‘bike that’s practical, fun to ride, and dependable. And for riding in Vietnam, no iron horse is more worthy than the Royal Enfield Himalayan 400.
Royal Enfield’s Adventure ‘Bike Royal Enfield’s Himalayan 400 entered the market only a few years ago. It is the first of many new ‘bikes that will enhance their reputation as the oldest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. Production started in 1901 and is still going strong!
The Royal Enfield Classic has long been part of many Himalayan adventure tours. So the company decided to make a ‘bike specially designed for the task, hence, the Himalayan 400. Released in 2016, the Himalayan soon established a reputation as a rugged, sensible and affordable alternative to the overloaded behemoths that rival factories were produced.
The Himalayan: the Best Motorbike in Vietnam
The 2019 Royal Enfield Himalayan is powered by a 411-cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine that produces 24.5 BHP and 32 NM of torque. The new engine comes with fuel injection and is fuel-efficient, doing 35km – 40km/l depending on riding conditions. The Himalayan’s engine is the same original engine from its first release. However, it is now smoother, much more refined, and gives better gear shifts.
The Himalayan has a top speed of 134 km/h and a 0 – 100 time of 10.9 seconds. Now that may not be impressive-sounding for most people, and they’re probably right. A lot of riders think that for a 400cc motorcycle, the Himalayan is pretty underpowered. They might be right when considering normal highway use, but it’s a different story when talking about Vietnam. We’ll get to the ‘bike’s performance and how it relates to riding in Vietnam later.
The Himalayan’s design polarises a lot of people and when you get a good look at the ‘bike, you’ll see why. The Himalayan adopts a modern look but is based on a classic design with a utilitarian theme. It’s boxy, angular, and it definitely stands out.
Not a lot of bikes compared to the Himalayan’s design, but it’s a Marmite/Vegemite situation for most: you either love it or hate it! A lot of people fall in love at first sight, others despise it. But most people’s doubts soon disappear once they’ve ridden the best motorbike in Vietnam for a few miles.
The Himalayan 400 comes with redesigned, more dirt-friendly footpegs and bigger redesigned mirrors. The ‘bike’s instrument panel is a stylistic mixture of analogue and digital gauges which include a speedometer, an odometer, a gear indicator, fuel indicator, a clock, trip meter, a thermometer, and even a compass.
The ‘bike also comes with a sturdy steel skid plate as standard, crash bars on the tank. This can also function as luggage anchor points, a centre stand for easier maintenance, and a rear luggage rack. Luggage would be a primary consideration when riding in Vietnam and choosing the right luggage for the Himalayan can improve your trip. Check out Onyabike Adventure’s luggage options article for riding in Vietnam.
The Himalayan’s Edge over other Motorbikes in Vietnam
The Himalayan wasn’t made to win drag races or go toe-to-toe with Valentino Rossi, that’s no secret, but it’s great at doing what it’s built to do. It may not have the most horsepower in its class. However, the Himalayan has an ace up its sleeve with good low-down torque.
Speed isn’t the name of the game when getting around Vietnam. Rather, it’s all about the low-end grunt that powers the bike to get up and go quickly. 32 NM is more than enough for riding the motorbike around Vietnam. Torque is what helps the bike weave through the dense Vietnam traffic. It’s what pulls the bike out of getting stuck. It’s what gives a bike the ability to power through any terrain.
When riding a motorbike in Vietnam, torque becomes a rider’s best friend. It helps you to get up to speed quickly in tight traffic and makes the heavy bike feel light on its feet. The Himalayan’s massive 32 NM of torque accessible at relatively low revs gives the bike a huge amount of low-end power and a strong mid-range pull.
Driving speeds in Vietnam don’t really exceed 70 or 80 km/h and normal city driving is at around 30 – 40 km/h. Riding speeds on back roads and country roads aren’t exactly mind-numbing either. The roads are littered with potholes, animals, and other hazards so it pays to drive slower.
Most off-roaders would tell you that a good off-road bike’s brakes are like a mullet. They’re timid and reserved in the front but wild at the back. A 300 mm single front disc and a 240 mm single rear disc is what the Himalayan offers as stopping power. This set-up gives riders a precise braking feel up front and a rear brake feel that’s just a little bit sporadic. The Himalayan’s weight may also mean that riders could need longer braking distances.
Some people complain that heavy motorbikes are a handful to manoeuvre in traffic. However, the weight isn’t really all that noticeable on the Himalayan on or off-road because of the ‘bike’s low centre of gravity. Weight isn’t always a bad thing, however, and it can be a benefit as it gives the bike more stability when riding at higher speeds. Vietnam’s got some twisty roads and first-time Vietnam tourists would benefit greatly from this added stability.
The Himalayan’s front forks are quite soft and the rear shock is on the stiffer side. In off-road situations, this set-up would be preferable as the front takes a lot of the big bumps and the rear does the dampening. This set-up is also great for bumpy imperfect Vietnam roads and for off-roading. The soft front forks are easily able to soak up bumps on the road and potholes are nothing to worry about.
The Himalayan has 220 mm ground clearance, perfect for running over and above logs, rocks, and debris on the trail. The Himalayan’s tall first gear paired with the meaty low end means the bike barely stalls and is great, not only for off-road crawls but for Vietnam’s slow stop-and-go traffic. It also has one of the lowest seat heights of any adventure motorcycle at 800 mm and even riders like Lihn, manager of an all-women riding group in Saigon, standing at 5”4’ can flatfoot the bike comfortably.
A lot of riders would tell you how confidence-inspiring being able to flatfoot a bike can be especially when riding off-road. It gives riders more control and a secure feel. The comfortable seat also allows for a long time in the saddle. When going on an adventure ride, a comfortable seat is one of the first things to look for.
Motorbike Availability and Pricing in Vietnam
Another great thing about the Himalayan 400 is its pricing. Cheap small ‘bikes, usually mopeds and scooters, are very common in Vietnam. However, bigger motorcycles like the Himalayan are getting more and more visible in recent years. These bikes are now easier to access with dealerships importing a larger number of them. The Himalayan is among the cheapest and the best offerings in the middle-weight adventure motorbike category in Vietnam costing around 131,000,000 VND (5,000 USD) brand new. For what you’ll be getting for that price it definitely makes the bike underpriced. Not only that, but it also makes everything else in the category seem overpriced.
What You Need to Ride the Best Motorbike in Vietnam
There’s a lot of things you’d need when riding in Vietnam. Anyone coming into Vietnam for an adventure motorbike tour needs to come prepared and ready for the journey. Luckily, there’s an Onyabike article dedicated to getting you ready for your Vietnam adventure ride. But for a more general sense, you’ll basically need only two things when riding in Vietnam. A good quality full-face helmet, and an international license equivalent to an A2 license rating.
Why Onyabike Adventures Chose the Himalayan
The Himalayan doesn’t have the power of a rocket ship, but the amount of torque this ‘bike provides is more than enough for actual real-world riding. In busy, crowded, city streets as well as off-road scenarios, torque is a rider’s best friend.
Some would protest about the lack of power and the lowish top speed of the motorbike. However, in Vietnam, this power is more than enough. Most locals ride mopeds anyway and traffic is slow, so driving around at 60 km/h would make you feel like you’re already moving fast. Additionally, the Himalayan’s sweet spot for speed is around 90 – 100 km/h but while riding in Vietnam, riders probably wouldn’t even get up to this speed.
The reason why Onyabike Adventures chose the Royal Enfield Himalayan as its trusted steel steed is because of the great off-road capability. The suspension and engine are tuned for off-road use but also produce good performance on the road and highway.
When riders think of adventure ‘bikes, they usually think tall, big, heavy, and intimidating. The Himalayan serves as the antithesis to this. Ergonomics on the bike is comfortable, and the upright seating and tall handlebars make it easy to stand up on the bike when moving around off-road.
The Himalayan is also an inexpensive motorcycle being one of the cheapest in its class. Servicing on the Himalayan is also a piece of cake. The oil, oil filter, and airbox are all easy to access. Valve clearance checks are also simple and quick. The Himalayan may have shorter intervals between servicing compared to other dirt ‘bikes or dual-sports. However, maintenance takes half the time and can easily be performed in your own garage.
Some riders say that the Himalayan is at an awkward spot in the dual-sport/dirt ‘bike category because it isn’t a full on adventure ‘bike or a lightweight dirt ‘bike. The Himalayan is neither of these, but it can also be either one. It’s light enough for the trails yet stable for long highway use. The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a reliable workhorse built to get riders to places in one piece.