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Adventure bikes — the easiest way to have fun with motorcycles without the need for a specialised environment. I don’t know how many of you have realised that, but if you own one and have figured this out, your money has been well spent. Adventure bikes are the perfect blend of comfort and go-anywhere ability. Given the chance, everyone wants to escape from their mundane lives whenever the opportunity arises, and for that, adventure bikes are your best bet.

This 410cc long-stroker packs oodles of torque.

Which one to choose, then? To keep matters simple, we have picked the Royal Enfield Himalayan, a motorcycle that has been around for a while which took birth in the mountains but is also designed to take on life on paved roads. The second one wears a vibrant shade of orange and wants to stand out from the crowd, the KTM 250 Adventure. It might be the newest one on the block, but KTM’s lineage in offroading is something that cannot be ignored even in the smallest offering in its adventure portfolio.

Refinement is what this motor is about.

The powertrain is the most fundamental part of a motorcycle, and it’s the Himalayan that has the bigger heart in this duo. However, the 250 Adventure is more modern, with its DOHC four-valve head, liquid-cooling and a slick 6-speed gearbox. The Royal Enfield, on the other hand, makes do with an air-cooled engine assisted by an oil cooler, a conventional two-valve head and a 5-speed transmission.

The RE’s clocks tell you all you need to know.

Like most KTMs, the 250 Adventure is ready to race regardless of the surroundings, terrain or even the rider’s state of mind. All it wants to do is sprint to a fast pace that involves the mid and top of the rev band. It’s a lovely bike to ride, one that always wants to go fast. At slow speeds, the engine feels twitchy and disinterested, which can get annoying around town. But the moment you cross the 5000-rpm mark, all of this smoothes out, as the bike becomes ready to make use of that torque that’s coming in strong.

The KTM’s meters are very functional.

The Himalayan’s 24.3-bhp longstroke motor is no slouch, either. It is quick to turn your surroundings into a three-digit blur without wasting much time. However, I must say that it is in the nature of Royal Enfields that despite such speeds, they don’t bring along a state of urgency. Even at 130 kph, the Himalayan feels just as calm as it does at 100 kph.

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The KTM is like a horse with blinders that is striding forward, sticking to the intended line and loves to carve through sweeping corners. In comparison, the Royal Enfield, while it can do that, doesn’t like to be in a tearing hurry. It’s more like a mule that can keep up the pace, leaving you with the opportunity to gaze at the environment you are traversing through. It wants you to enjoy every bit of your time spent on its saddle, right from the contact of the tyres with the terrain to changes in ambient temperature.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the KTM is a slacker in relaying feedback. It is rather precise in communicating information pertaining to the task at hand. The premium suspension provides accurate feedback of the road surface, while the brakes give a real-time feel of how much the pads are biting and also how much more pressure they can handle. And lastly, the slightly stiff suspension does help on long journeys, but it also lets you know when it is time to take a break and stretch.

These motorcycles can be likened to a contest between a sherpa and a globetrotter. You see, the Himalayan might not have all the fancy bits that the 250 has to offer, but it doesn’t need them, either. The KTM, on the other hand, is definitely superior in terms of the cycle parts, tech and more. It’s like a young chap who is eager to stay ahead of the pack, leading the way even if unsure of the final destination. The Himalayan will keep up with the KTM, maybe a corner or two behind, but will gracefully carve its way through twisty mountain passes nonetheless. Those who buy the Himalayan will not be in the hurry to reach anywhere quickly anyway. The way I see it, these bikes are a clear case of aggressive engineering versus soul. The truth is that both are immense fun. Head versus heart, then?

Regardless of the nature of the motorcycles, both are capable of creating a lasting memory of every single ride. Now, that can either be kicking the KTM’s tail out in the dirt or taking a nap on the Himalayan on its centre stand. In the end, these bikes are here to offer an escape from everyday life whenever opportunity knocks.

MOTODATA
KTM 250 ADVENTURE

POWERTRAIN
Displacement: 248cc, single
Max power: 29.5 bhp@9000 rpm
Max torque: 2.44 kgm@4000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed

CHASSIS
Type: Split trellis

BRAKES
F/R: 320-mm disc / 230-mm disc

TYRES
F/R: 100/90 R19 / 130/80 R17

DIMENSIONS
L/W/H (mm): 2154/900/1263
Wheelbase: 1430 mm
Ground clearance: 200 mm
Seat height: 855 mm
Kerb weight: 177 kg
Fuel capacity: 14.5 litres

PRICE: Rs 2.51 Lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

MOTODATA
ROYAL ENFIELD HIMALAYAN

POWERTRAIN
Displacement: 411cc, single
Max power: 24.3 bhp@6500 rpm
Max torque: 3.26 kgm@4000-4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed

CHASSIS
Type: Half-duplex split cradle

BRAKES
F/R: 300mm disc / 240-mm disc

TYRES
F/R: 90/90-R21 / 120/90-R17

DIMENSIONS
L/W/H (mm): 2190/840/1360
Wheelbase: 1465 mm
Ground clearance: 220 mm
Seat height: 800 mm
Kerb weight: 199 kg
Fuel capacity: 15 litres

PRICE: Rs 1.91 Lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai)