“You should have brought a Honda,” is what the American expat owner of the El Salvadoran surf-lodge tells me. “Are you on a tour of Royal Enfield shops in Latin America?” and I cringe a bit because some days that feels all too true. After 7 months in Central America, my 2020 Himalayan is creeping up on 50,000 miles. I haven’t been kind to it, riding through salty beachside swamps and up jagged volcanic calderas, following every 4x4 track and donkey-trail Google seems to think is a road.
Soon entering my third year as a motorcyclist, there have been days where I feel like I’m running into the limits of the Himalayan's capabilities. Missing the speed and power of my second bike (a DR 650), gazing at small dirt bikes with envy, as I maneuver my overloaded mule through mud and sand. Yet we chug onward, at the speed it’s willing to go, over high mountain passes through jungles and coastlines, nearly 10,000 miles in Central America alone. When I let myself be pulled fully into the moment with this motorcycle, I’m convinced once more it’s the most perfect one in the world.
The bike you choose shapes the adventure you’re on; a high-cylinder BMW pulls you far and fast down the highway, an aggressive KTM or Husky lets you rip through those trails at a speed no local in Latin America ever would. But the Himalayan meanders. It asks, “What if?” What if we took that farm road, peaked over that ridge, stopped to talk to those children so entranced by the big bike with the bags. Traveling with it is a little like traveling in time - you’re going the pace of Ted Simon, of the explorers of old, not like Ewan and Charlie making deadlines and film schedules.
Even its propensity for breakdowns can be a small asset in the second and third world, because when it breaks, it’s a simple machine. My starter relay died in Nicaragua, and a local hole-in-the-wall Yamaha shop in a random village spliced in a replacement from a Bajaj moto (or tuk-tuk) that somehow fit. I’ve changed head-stock bearings so often it’s almost a maintenance routine, but usually costs under $100 in the Latin world where labor costs echo India’s. In Colombia I’ll need an engine rebuild, but it won’t be rocket science like a GS or Ducati would. In the breakdowns, I’m often forced to take a pause, look around, truly experience whatever place I’m in. And among the long-distance riders I meet, the Honda Rally also has a starter motor failure (expensive & complicated), and BMW or Suzuki alike, everyone seems to have blown at least one rear shock. I’m still convinced it’s the perfect companion for this voyage, and I can’t wait to see what other wonders this trusty little steed is willing to show me out there in the great unknown.
- Doubletake Scrambler Mirrors
- Booster Plug
- Universal Foam Airfilter
- Acerbis Handguards with Barkbusters Plastic
- BICYACO 7” LED Headlight with Halo
- Iridium Spark plug
- Short Kickstand with welded foot enlarger
- Extreme Dualsport Tuff Lite Turn Signals
- Givi Engine Guards
- SRC Moto Oil Cooler & Rear brake cylinder guards
- Hitchcock’s 30mm handlebar risers
- Garmin power harness & SRC gps bar mount
- Jesse Kimball Custom Skid Plate
- Delete Evap & Air Injection Delete
- Headlight Guard eBay Colombia
- YSS Front Spring Kit (had to remove YSS rear shock after blowing it out)
- IMS Pro Footpegs (KLR 650)
- GPR Exhaust
- Serco Moto Aux Lights
- Renthal Reed Windham Handlebars
- Warp 9 Clutch & Brake Lever
- Koso Apollo Heated Grips
- Hitchcock Mudguard Risers
- Hitchcock Battery Loom Add On
- Warp 9 Custom Front & Rear Wheel