Honda NX 500 vs RE Himalayan: Should you go Indian or import?

Christopher Chaves Updated: May 29, 2024, 06:08 PM IST

When Honda launched the NX500 in Jan this year at Rs 5.9 lakh, no one was really shocked by the pricing, because like the model it replaces, CB 500X, the motorcycle it replaces, it is still sold here as a CBU and comes with some new features and a slight bump up in the price of the older bike. Now, the old CB 500X was and now the new NX 500 is, seen more of an everyday bike that's great on long-distance rides. Still, we at Overdrive would like to see how this import fairs against some Indian built-competition that's meant to perform just as good and, for almost half the price of the Honda. Cue the 2024 Royal Enfield Himalayan. Alright, yes it is a combustion chamber short, but it's supposed to be a lot more capable machine. So it's time to find out who does what better, and which one suits who best.


Starting off with the designs and aesthetics of these motorcycles, the NX500 has a lot in common with the older CB 500X. It essentially is the same bike with a face lift and some new tech thrown in, but on the looks frontier, I'm not so sure if I like this slightly boxy up front one better. This one looks like a proper mile muncher as well, but the older bike had a sharper, better flowing design aesthetic. Well that's according to me anyway.

The half fairing and the wind deflector up front, it's meant to keep the wind at bay while cruising down the highway. Then there's the smaller 19/17-inch alloy wheels setup which will take on the streets fine, but not fare so well when you hit some off-road trails. Lastly, there's just 180mm of ground clearance and there's absolutely no protection for the underside of the bike so you could damage the exposed pipes if you're riding a bit too aggressive out on the trails.

Now the Himalayan on the other hand looks nothing like the bike it replaces from the Enfield stable. It's the more athletic looking, not as boxy as the older bike and it appears ready to take on all sorts of terrain and elements.

The Himalayan has minimal bodywork ready to take on the great outdoors. It certainly looks ready to go off-road with the way the wheels are setup the 21/17-inch spoke wheels and you also have 230mm of ground clearance which is great for tackling all the rough trails you'll come across.

There's no denying that the RE looks more of a butch off-road ready bike while the Honda comes across as a soft-roader of sorts but looks are subjective and both these motorcycles have undeniable road presence on their own.

Features & Build

A cool feature of the NX 500 has to be its 5-inch TFT screen that's been lifted off the XL750 Transalp so you have a simple, quite vibrant layout and it's got the option of got Bluetooth connectivity, turn-by-turn navigation, and this bike even gets traction control, something that the Himalayan doesn't come with.

But then again the Himalayan too has a very unique screen of its own. The Himalayan gets a round vibrant instrument pod that comes with Bluetooth connectivity as well, but this one gets a cool feature that lets you see the whole map on the screen which is really handy when you're out on the road heading towards an unfamiliar destination.

The RE screen even reads out distance to empty which is good to have on long distance rides while the Honda simply reads out your running rate of fuel consumption. The RE gets the tank crash guards as standard these neat and unique tail lights that are integrated into the turn signals. While the crash guards, knuckle guards, tinted windscreen and tail rack that you see on the Honda here all cost extra.

Something I really liked about the Honda was the way the buttons clicked and snapped every time I used them and the joystick is backlit which looks neat at night. The Himalayan on the other hand, the joystick felt quite soggy and flimsy tom employ in comparison. To reiterate, the Honda is a CBU unit, and you can't shy away from the build quality that feels a step higher than with the Enfield. Now moving on the engine..

Engine & Performance

Now the 471cc parallel-twin in the Honda makes a good 47Ps and 43Nm, which makes it great for city and highway riding. Low down the powerband, you'll find it very tractable in the city. It picks up very nicely under 2,000rpm while the mid-and top-end performance, all the way to the 8,500rpm is a whole lot of fun and you won't find it to be lacking any power really. It's one of the most fun twin-cyl engines you'll come across today.

Now coming to the RE Himalayan. This 452cc single, is down on power and seeing as it's a single cylinder in this company, it isn't as refined as the Honda motor. It makes 40PS of max power and 40PS of max torque which is more than decent and max torque arrives at 1,000rpm sooner than it does on the Honda. But lower down the powerband, under 2,000rpm, it feels uncomfortable, like it's ready to stall. At 3,000rpm it wakes up and realizes that it's got to get a move on. The fun really lies between 4,000 - 7,000rpm and that's where you'd ideally like to be on this motorcycle.

Both bikes have square, bordering on short stroke engines so mid-range performance is supposed to be where it's at with the pair. But as you would expect, their methods of function and power delivery are quite different from each other. There's a lively response every time you twist the throttle on the Honda making getting ahead of city traffic a breeze, but with the RE you have to be in the sweet spot and be forced into additional gear changes to really feel the rush of excitement or carry out a brisk overtake. With the NX500 power feels a lot more natural and instantaneous lower down the powerband and the twin disc setup at the front allows you to stop predictably well.

Moving over to the Himalayan, the single discs at either end provide just about adequate stopping power given the bikes performance stats. As far as the engine is concerned, now you have to remember that this is Royal Enfield's first liquid cooled motor out here and there is one particular issue that you will come across with this bike, and that's to do with the engine heating up quite quickly in the city, especially when you're stuck in traffic. Also crazy hot days like this, don't really help matters further on that front. The Himalayan is definitely a lot happier and comfortable clocking down kilometers on the highway. So, if you're mostly going to be roughing it out in city amongst traffic, the NX500 won't have you wagging your index finger, heated in disbelief, as the Himalayan would have you. Heat management works just fine with this one. Honda have had years of experience with their liquid-cooled parallel twins and that finesse really shines through with the NX 500.

Ride & Handling

On the NX500 the travel is just 180mm and the suspension is setup quite soft so it'll absorb pretty much everything you throw at its way out on the street. The center of gravity is a lot lower than something like the Royal Enfield Himalayan, so it's a lot more agile and flick able than the RE.

I'd previously had a chance to ride the older bike from Delhi to Solang Valley and back and understood just how comfortable the motorcycle can be over long distances. And with that regard, NX500 takes over from where the CB 500X left off very well. The suspension setup is soft but very absorbent over bumps and irons out undulations very well, provided that you are taking it easy and travelling at a steady pace. The faster you go, the more unsettling bumps tend to get and you'll have to ease off the gas and be a little more alert while taking on a bump at higher speed.

The previous Himalayan 411 was one of the most comfortable bikes to be astride in its class, and in that regard, this latest 450 model aces it just as well. I found the seat to be accommodating while letting you not only adjust your posture or even stand up comfortably according to the terrain youre traversing over but also take on corners with pace and aggression that you may not have previously anticipated. Sure, it may not be as nimble as the Honda, but it certainly doesn't fail to impress. The longer wheelbase and a suspension setup that's more in tune to tackling the rough stuff makes it the more stable of the pair given our highway conditions. And once the roads vanish, well this bike is leagues ahead in terms of capability and will kick up dust in the Honda's face. Once you get a hang of what the suspension is capable of managing, taking on rough terrain is just so easy.

The suspension on the Enfield isn't all that soft and it's well balanced in terms of stiffness as well, because it doesn't sink to much under heavy braking, which is great. Thanks to the 230mm of ground clearance, this motorcycles weight is slightly more off the ground so flicking it about isn't as simple and easy. For a matter of fact, getting it on main stand can be a bit tricky.

The seat-height of the Honda NX500 is at 830mm and getting astride isn't too much of a task. Getting both feet flat on the ground once you swing a leg over is very manageable. Moving over to the Royal Enfield Himalayan, the seat height is 5mm less, but with the way the bike leans on its side stand, getting astride is a lot easier.

Getting the Himalayan up on its center stand is a lot more difficult than it first seems, because of the way the bike is balanced. Even though both bikes weigh the same, the Honda feels a lot more balanced and with a lower center of gravity, it's a lot easier to get up on its main stand.


So if you have to choose between these two, it boils down to what you'd expect to accomplish astride your motorcycle. Now most ADV bikes nowadays are hardly ever exposed to the challenging terrain they're built to master, rather they are bought for their styling and level of ride comfort they provide. The Himalayan looks handsome, has a good amount of features and is the more comfortable bike to be on and although it may be more demanding to ride, it allows you to be a lot more adventurous in your biking life. But not as much fun down the highway. So it's not flawless. The Honda, feels well put together and feels like an absolute gem of a street and touring bike to have in your garage. It'll absolutely blitz past a Himalayan that's pinned at 140kmph down an open road. But its range of capabilities is limited to the kind of you traverse over. Once again, not exactly flawless.

Now the Honda NX500 will set you back by Rs 5.9 lakh (ex-showroom) which is quite steep. But it is a CBU at the end of the day so the build quality is really good, the engine is fantastic, lively and really enjoyable out on the road. So it's good for the city and out on the highway, especially the suspension will keep you comfortable all throughout. Not so much so when you opt to be a bit adventurous off-road.

Coming to the Himalayan, for pretty much half the price, almost 2.85 -2.90 lakh (ex-showroom), so it's good value for money in this comparison. But then again, with this motor, it does feel like you really have to work it to get the best performance out of it. It's not very city friendly as well, on account of the heat produced by the engine alone. Like its name suggests, the Himalayan is more in tune with highway rides and its very capable off-the-road. So would I buy one? Unfortunately, no. not at this point because there are some issues with the first batch of bikes that the company are yet to address because we have witnessed some phone connectivity and issues with the switchgear and most importantly, the biggest one has to do with the heat management.  As far as the Honda is concerned, yes it is a very good road bike, but not what you would call a 'value-for-money' offering. I'd think long and hard about writing a cheque out to Honda too. I wish that the company would have offered stuff like the crash guards as standard fitment given the heavy price tag.

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 2,01,000
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)

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