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ADV BikesMeet the Royal Rally 400: A Paris Dakar-Inspired Himalayan Build

Meet the Royal Rally 400: A Paris Dakar-Inspired Himalayan Build

 A custom-built Himalayan that will make you want to ride the dunes of Africa.

Published on 07.23.2019

Ah, the good old days, when Yamaha XT500s, Honda XL500s and BMW R80 G/S Paris-Dakars raced the deserts, KTM was a small manufacturer few had heard of and the Paris to Dakar rally actually went from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal.

Spanish custom builder Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles remembers. And they’ve created a Royal Enfield Himalayan, based on the 2018 model, that will make you want to take on the dunes of Africa even if you aren’t old enough to remember the good old days.

Royal Enfield Paris-Dakar-Inspired Himalayan Build
The 21”/17” stock wheels are shod with Pirelli MT 21 Rallycross tires. An old-school enduro headlight and motocross-style high fender finishes off the front end.

Making just 24.5 horsepower, the Himalayan is nobody’s idea of a modern Dakar contender. But that’s not the point of Fuel’s Royal Rally 400. The Himalayan is a simple, affordable ($4,749 new), rugged bike with plenty of character and great maneuverability – a worthy platform for a custom build. Fuel understands the beauty of that and, with the exception of a new Powertronic ECU to improve fueling and power, largely left the powerplant alone.


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Fuel’s modifications are strategically intended to give the bike a more aggressive and compact look while staying true to its classic styling. They binned the bulky fairing/crash protector combo, probably shedding a good deal of weight in the process, replacing it with a classic, simple, plastic enduro-style fairing and beefy handguards. An old-school square headlight and motocross-style high fender finishes off the front end.

Paris-Dakar-Inspired Himalayan Build

Royal Enfield Paris-Dakar-Inspired Bike Build

The cockpit of this Himalayan build is streamlined with a single-unit Koso speedometer mounted just behind the fairing, and updated with a USB charging port to keep your devices charged (this isn’t 1979, after all). Fuel also added beefy Tommaselli handlebars and a handy switch to turn off the ABS.

The stock steel tank is still there, painted in a handsome red/white combination that recalls classic Dakar racers. They built a custom solo seat and mounted a removable rack where the passenger pillion used to live for strapping gear to the bike. In a nod to recycling, and the budget-friendly nature of the Himalayan, Fuel repurposed some of the front fairing/protector combo as a luggage rack on the left side.

Royal Rally 400 inspired by the Paris-Dakar Rally Bikes of yore

Custom Built Royal Rally 400

Out back, they cleaned up the Himalayan’s bulky look by eliminating the rear fender and adding a small, sleek LED tail light and turn signals. The upswept exhaust is a modded unit from a Suzuki RMZ450 attached to the bike via a custom hanger. The passenger pegs are gone, but Fuel left the brackets so the operation can be quickly reversed. The overall look is light, purposeful and retro-classic. It looks like a bike that could take you on a long ride through remote areas and be confident you’d get where you are going. It has proven to be exactly that.

Royal Enfield Paris-Dakar-Inspired Bike Build at Scram Africa Rally
Photo by Riki “Rocket” Rojas and Gotz Goppert

Fuel built the Royal Rally 400 with a very specific ride in mind: the Scram Africa, a 2,500 mile tour for classic and classic-looking bikes; think old-school Dakar and you’re close to the idea, except it’s a ride, not a race. This year’s event, in May, saw 35 riders on Triumphs, BMWs, and even a custom Harley doing battle with the dunes, sand, rocks, river crossings and extreme heat. The Royal Rally 400 made the run, and shots of it posted on Fuel’s website look like they could have been taken 30 years ago. As of this writing, the Fuel mods for the Himalayan are not available as a kit you can purchase, but it does demonstrate the bike’s potential for customization and will no doubt offer owners inspiration for their own retro-Dakar Himalayan build.

Himalayan Build Main Modifications

• Classic enduro front light mask
• Front and rear fender
• New indicators
• New solo seat
• New Suzuki RMZ 450 exhaust modified
• New rear grille
• New side case support
• Tomasselli handlebar
• Koso speedometer
• Pirelli MT 21 Rallycross
• Powertronic ECU

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby
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3 thoughts on “Meet the Royal Rally 400: A Paris Dakar-Inspired Himalayan Build

  1. Love this, but want have something with a bit more power and parts that you can get anywhere….why don’t the japanese manufacturer’s get this?