Ladakh at your Rear View
Once upon a time doing a motorcycle trip to Ladakh, only a Royal Enfield would come to mind. And the dilemma will be on if it’s a 350CC Royal Enfield or do you need a 500 CC Enfield for the trip. But Enfield bullet was pretty much tagged as the only bike that was suitable for Ladakh.
But is it really true? Do you really need an Enfield for Ladakh? Best bike for Ladakh trip? Can you take a Pulsar to Ladakh? Or can you take a 150 CC or a 100 CC motorcycle to Ladakh? These are some of the queries that I discuss with my friends so often and the most common question of all is which is the best motorcycle for Ladakh trip today?
The answer depends on a lot of factors like the luggage you are carrying, do you have a pillion, or how old your motorcycle is? You need to know that it is not your motorcycle that will take you to Ladakh but it is you who is going to ride the motorcycle to Ladakh.
The fact is having a more powerful bike with heavy engine of course gives an edge.Bigger the engine means more the power which further means that the ride would be smooth, especially at steep ascents and you can dump the entire luggage you want on your motorcycle. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that a lighter motorcycle cannot get the job done. If your motorcycle is in a excellent condition, isn’t as old as my grandmother, and you know how to ride it then you can take it anywhere you want.
Age: No, I am not talking about your age but your motorcycle’s actually. Older the machine is, higher the chance is of it breaking down or giving trouble at several places. If you have a 10 year old 135 CC motorcycle sitting in your garage, do not even think about taking it to Ladakh.
Odometer: Your motorcycle may be only 3-4 years old but if you have already abused it to over 1 lakh kilometers, best not to ride it to Leh.
Pillion: If you have a friend or a family member riding with you as Pillion, do not take a smaller engine motorcycle as it will start to huff & puff at steep ascents. It’s not just the 2 people but the luggage as well on the motorcycle.
Luggage: If you are riding a 500CC motorcycle, luggage isn’t really a big concern but if it is a 150 CC bike, then do not carry unnecessary luggage. Just take whatever you must. More luggages on your motorcycle would mean a very uncomfortable and difficult ride, both for you and your machine.
Performance: You really need to know your motorcycle inside out. You should know how it performs at great speeds and steep uphills. No matter which motorcycle you have. If you have even the slightest of doubt, then get it fixed first.
Condition: Check for worn out parts in your motorcycle, anything that can break or fall apart. Whatever seems dicey, replace it.
Get it serviced: Make sure that you get your motorcycled serviced at least 1 week before you trip. Check all the cables, wires, clutch plates, chain set, tires, and wheels. After servicing, ride it for a week regularly to ensure that it is performing up to expectations and delivering the expected mileage.
Royal Enfield Bullet & Thunder Bird: For Rider with heavy luggage and a pillion, carry fuel while riding.
Bajaj Pulsar: Riders can rely on it and it won’t really ditch you, huge fuel tank makes it ideal for long journeys, seating position and on bad roads, it is bound to get your shoulders to start aching.
Hero Impulse: Riders going without pillion, comfortable seating posture, and Under-powered engine may sometimes prove troublesome at steep ascents if not well maintained.
Yamaha FZ and Fazer: Pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages as Pulsar.
KTM Duke: Pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages as Hero Impulse.
Royal Enfield Himalayan: Genuine upgrade to the Royal Enfield Bullet & Thunder Bird. Sitting position is straight and very comfortable, both for the rider and pillion. No Second thought to Ladakh with this in your garage.
CBR 250: The stock Contigo tires can be a problem in the slush/ice/rain/gravel. If you can afford to replace with better tires, this motorcycle can be bliss to ride with its amazing torque and Fi advantage at higher reaches.
Bajaj Avenger: Not Recommended as it has a large turning radius, riding position is bad for the trip. But it’s an excellent highway bike.