The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a simple, rugged, inexpensive, and unpretentious ADV motorcycle. It’s rough and tumble and ready to roll off into the desert or single-track at a moment’s notice. By all accounts, it’s great at what it does. But it, like all ADV bikes, skirts on the dorky side. They’re upright, have big windscreens, mounting points for extra luggage, and a thick comfy seat. All of that is functional, but it certainly doesn’t cut a figure that screams “badass” or “beautiful”. With a simple parts kit, Royal Enfield has changed all of that in its new FT411.
Let’s get something out of the way before I tell you about the FT411. You can’t buy one. You can’t even buy the kit to install on your own RE Himalayan. For the time being, this kit has been produced in conjunction with S&S Cycles for the exclusive use of Royal Enfield’s flat track training program, Slide School. The school is scheduled to travel the eastern U.S. this summer and fall, though the first event was supposed to be yesterday in Florida and was postponed because Florida is a fucking mess right now.
The Slide School is planned to be a 3.5 hour course on how to slide a motorcycle around a 1/5th mile clay oval. Having done it a few times myself, I can attest that it’s about the most fun you can have on two wheels. With some instruction led by pro-rider Johnny Lewis, everyone is bound to learn a thing or two. The course is geared toward beginners and intermediate riders, but it’s probably a lot of fun even if you’re advanced.
The Himalayan has been modified for track use in this case by removing all of its on-road and off-road equipment, stripping it back to just a seat, motor, wheels, and handlebars, which gives the adventure thumper a super cool functionality-first look. The stock lead-acid battery was swapped for a lightweight unit, bringing total weight down to 360 pounds from a stock quoted weight of 182 kg.
The wheels have been replaced with 19-inchers to better accommodate flat tracker tires. Of course the gearing has been futzed with to give the bike better acceleration at the cost of top end speed, which couldn’t be reached on a 1/5th mile oval anyway. There’s a high-flow air filter, and S&S developed a high-mount exhaust that, based on the video above, makes this thing sound pretty dang cool.
The frame and engine remain totally stock Himalayan units, demonstrating just how versatile and capable this bike is in stock geometry. Up on top, however, the big cushy seat has been replaced with a carbon fibre tail unit and seat tuned for flat-track leg-out ergonomics. And of course there are carbon fibre panels for your race numbers.
The Himalayan isn’t a speed demon to begin with, as it makes use of a single-cylinder 411cc air-cooled four-stroke engine. That 24.5 horsepower and 10 kg-ft of torque is just barely sufficient for off-road adventure riding on a budget. Take away a big chunk of the bike’s curb weight, and augment that power slightly with some freer flowing intake and exhaust work, and it’s going to wake up a bit.
I’m a bit of a dork myself, so I’ve been super curious about the Himalayan and its capabilities recently. But when Royal Enfield makes their bike look like this, I am significantly more intrigued. I’ll have to fabricate a metal bottom for my big size 13 riding boots, because I want to whip one of these around in a circle until the fuel tank is empty.
For the record, I asked a representative of Royal Enfield whether it would sell any FT411 kits for its Himalayan customers to modify and got this response: “There isn’t anything immediately available to the public but that is the goal.” So, uh, hell yeah! As soon as it’s available I’ll be ordering an FT411 kit, and then I’ll be looking for a Himalayan that has been dumped to convert into my own flat tracker!
Perhaps even more exciting? RE says it is developing a similar flat tracker kit for its 650cc twin-powered models, the INT 650 and the Continental. All I can say to that is Hell Yes.