Comparison Review: Bajaj Dominar vs Royal Enfield Himalayan

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Both bikes are intended for touring purposes
  • The Royal Enfield Himalayan impresses with its touring capabilities
  • The Bajaj Dominar emerges as the jack of many trades

It’s a great time to be a motorcycle enthusiast and I say that earnestly. For the budding tourer, racer or cruiser, there is a highly diverse market out there in the sub-500 cc segment and you can pursue the motorcycle of your choice without having to dig deep into your pocket. Both the Bajaj Dominar and Royal Enfield Himalayan then are very diverse motorcycles, built for a different customer base. However, as different as the bikes may seem, they do have a similar purpose – that of touring. And so, we check out, which tourer of the two makes more sense.

bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

Bajaj Dominar vs Royal Enfield Himalayan Comparison

Bajaj Dominar 400
1.45 Lakh * On Road Price (New Delhi)
Bajaj Dominar 400
Which One Looks Better?
 
The Bajaj Dominar and Royal Enfield Himalayan are like two ends of a rainbow. The Dominar looks modern, is more compact in appearance and definitely has that mass appeal attracting all the attention. The mosaic-styled LED headlamp is the attention seeker while the sculpted lines extend onto the fuel tank. The rear gets chunky grab rails and Bajaj’s trademark vertical LED lights look menacing. It also gets very fancy pair of alloy wheels, which completes the sporty urban look. The build is impressive and the paint looks fantastic, quite establishing the premium appeal.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Bajaj Dominar's LED headlamp looks stunning

In contrast, the Himalayan is unique and certainly different in every way. With the dearth of tourers on our streets, the bike brings in some novelty with its bare bones structure, teardrop fuel tank and slender frame. The rear frame sits higher in keeping with the bike’s off-roading capabilities. The Himalayan sits significantly taller than the Dominar and might seem a little intimidating to a few. It isn’t noticeably Royal Enfield-like either. The lineage is very much present but this one manages to carve out a distinct personality. Yes, the build quality could’ve been better, but if you are making the transition from older REs, the Himalayan will impress.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The RE Himalayan comes with lots of anchoring points

The other part I really like about the RE Himalayan is its purpose-built nature. The steel semi-double cradle frame is utility oriented and comes with anchor points for panniers, jerry cans and other supports. The Dominar isn’t as accommodating in comparison and that makes it slightly restrictive.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Himalayan's unit looks busy, but is fairly simple to read

Ergonomics and Instrumentation
 
Keeping up with the modern bodywork, the Bajaj Dominar gets a smart looking digital instrument console. An auxiliary unit on the fuel tank displays all the warning lights and while it looks very cool, it isn’t easily readable on the fly. The digital console looks busy and packs in only the basic information. Meanwhile, there seems to be a lot going with the Himalayan’s console. Take a closer look though and turns out it’s a fairly simple unit. You get an analog speedometer, tachometer and fuel gauge, while there is a digital readout for the odometer and trip meters. It also packs in a digital compass, which is a segment first and goes well with the off-roading nature of the bike.
bajaj dominar vs mahindra mojo comparison review

The Dominar's console looks nice but remains basic

Ergonomics on both motorcycles are targeted largely at keeping things comfortable for long hours. The Dominar’s wide and contoured seats make it comfortable for both the rider and pillion. The cushioning isn’t the best and will last for two-three hours. The handlebar sits wide on the Bajaj with a certain aggression, while the footpegs are centre set but slightly rear inclined. Meanwhile, the Himalayan offers slimmer seats that are equally comfortable, while the slender fuel tank allows you to stand and ride with ease. The handlebar is tall but won’t tire your arms, while the upright posture keeps you flexible. The Himalayan also comes with motocross styled foot pegs that come in handy when going off tarmac.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Dominar uses a 373.3 cc SOHC motor with 4 valves

Power and Performance
 
Both the RE Himalayan and Bajaj Dominar sport big single-cylinder engines, but are vastly different in engineering. The Dominar’s KTM-derived 373.3 cc liquid-cooled motor gets a single overhead camshaft (SOHC) with four valves, and has been tuned for linear power delivery. The motor makes 34.5 bhp and 35 Nm of peak torque that is available across the rev range. The motor is likeable and revs up to 9500 rpm with speeds climbing faster than you would expect, even with a kerb weight of 182 kg. However, the Dominar disappoints from constant vibrations. While the motor is capable doing triple digit speeds, vibes hamper the riding experience with constant buzz around the foot pegs and seat. Complementing the engine is a 6-speed gearbox which offers precise gearshifts. Gear changes are spot on and respond well to input. It also benefits from a slipper clutch, which makes for more controlled downshifts. Cruising speeds are in the vicinity of 110-120 kmph at around 6500 rpm in sixth gear, while the top speed attainable is around 160 kmph.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Himalayan feels underpowered for its proportions

In comparison, the Himalayan draws power from a two valve 411 cc motor fed by a carburetor and throttle position sensor. The simplistic motor is newly developed by Royal Enfield and makes 24.5 bhp at 6500 rpm and 32 Nm of torque available between 4000-4500 rpm. The motor is progressive and gets a throatier exhaust note in place of the trademark thump. Speeds build faster on the Himalayan than older Royal Enfields and a 5-speed gearbox helps transfer power to the rear wheel. The long ratio gearbox allows for lesser gear shifts and when going off-road too, fewer gear changes make for better riding when you stand on the pegs. That said, the Himalayan does feel underpowered and could’ve done with a tad bit more. The gearbox too, albeit not the most precise, is smooth enough in shifts but finding neutral is a concern at times. Nevertheless, the cruising speed is around 80-90 kmph beyond which vibrations creep in. Incidentally, the Dominar has more vibe concerns than the RE.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Himalayan surprisingly impresses with its handling capabilities

Handling and Braking
 
The Bajaj Dominar benefits from the steel-tube perimeter frame and that has helped distribute the weight evenly across the bike. So, despite being on the heavier side, the Dominar does not feel so and is actually quite agile around corners. The telescopic forks up front and the Nitrox monoshock suspension setup at the rear are also tuned to keep the bike on the fun side. The ride quality is firm in favour of good handling, without having to compromise too much on comfort. The suspension absorbs broken roads with ease and it is only the big potholes that are disturbing. The firm suspension also gives the bike excellent high speed stability and the MRF tyres manage to offer excellent traction. Windblast on the Dominar is considerable at high speeds, but isn’t unsettling.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Dominar's braking prowess is excellent, especially with ABS

In comparison, the Himalayan will just glide over bad roads like no one’s business. The telescopic forks up front come with a long travel of 200 mm, while the single shock setup at the rear has a travel of 180 mm. Now, the soft suspension coupled with the very capable CEAT dual-sport tyres might make you think that the Himalayan would falter around corners; but that isn’t the case. The tall motorcycle is pleasantly agile on bends and the lean angle too is quite impressive. The rigid chassis setup makes its case here and you are less likely to slow down, notwithstanding whether you are on or off-road. That said, the Himalayan isn’t the quickest when it comes to lane changes with the massive 21-inch front tyre being the culprit.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Himalayan's front brake lacks feedback, rear feels sharp

When it comes to braking performance, the Bajaj Dominar is miles ahead of the Himalayan. The 320 mm disc at the front and 230 mm disc at the rear offers sharp and progressive feedback. The bike stops sans any drama and the pedal offers excellent bite. ABS is offered as standard allowing minimal rear lock. The Himalayan disappoints with its stopping capabilities with the 300 mm front and a slightly larger 240 mm rear disc brake doing duties. The front brake lacks bite and feedback too is minimal, but the rear brake inspires confidence. While this setup may not be ideal for tarmac, it does well off-road and helps you have better control over the front.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a no nonsense tourer

Verdict
 
Oh boy, this is a tough one! Not because the bikes are very different, but largely because it depends on your intent for purchasing them. The Bajaj Dominar makes a compelling case for anyone looking to upgrade from the Pulsar line-up or any other 150-200 cc motorcycle. It’s fantastic when you think of it as your first big bike. The power is manageable and the extensive features are much appreciated for the price of ₹ 1.55 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). However, I still think of Dominar as a bigger Pulsar or a bike that will take me in and around the city as well as on the occasional weekend run. It does that job perfectly well and I make no complaints there. Between the two, it will the easier bike to live with as well.
bajaj dominar vs re himalayan comparison

The Dominar emerges as a jack of many trades

The Royal Enfield Himalayan then, emerges as a bike with completely different set of values. Much like other REs, this one too is a lot about commitment. You can’t back out after getting one home and the purpose-built nature might shy away a few from making it their day-to-day commuter. But here’s the catch, the Himalayan is a simpleton at heart and that’s what I like most about the bike. It will take you anywhere without throwing a tantrum. Yes, it could be tad better built and reliable, get more power, while ABS should have been standard like the international version; but the Himalayan is about committing yourself to those expeditions and that’s why it makes the cut as the more capable tourer, but only slightly.

Photography: Pawan Dagia

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