Monday, 17 April 2017

MotoTravel : Chanshal Pass

Spring breaks in with opening of high passes around Uttarakhand marking the start of riding season and thus we rode from Dehradun to Himachal this time to Chanshal pass that bridges Uttarakhand and Himachal at 12000+ft ASL. From well laid tarmac to hard grueling torn off roads, from bright hot sweaty sunny days to cold freezing nights, from clear skies to snowstorms and from zero to 600+kms on the ODO we went through all what the venture had to offer. eight riders from Dehradun of every sort of machines went on to embark on this adventure.

Huge ice walls enroute

Riding along Pabbar river

Mountain Top


Watch out for the complete album here

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Dual Sport Dream

The idle wondering times of the day pass by gazing out of the window, sometimes flipping through old pictures distracting me just enough momentarily from the longing of going on a next excursion. Sitting idle and daydreaming has been the job lately. Spring brakes in this month marking the advent of summers and thawing of snow and the clearing of roads, luring they call. Bored, I now drop pins over the maps and curbs on the expenses eyeing to the high roads, passes and the mecca of travel Ladakh.


Less driven this winters and the past season my motorcycle has been strolling itself through some engine and chassis malfunctions. The steering races has been a pain in the ass and the engine`s out of its order. Already into 45000kms on the ODO the mill needs an overhaul and the chassis some reconditioning. With the month gone by in struggling through the steering races, though all ending in vain, engine is up for a complete overhaul.
Eyeing forward to the high passes and long trips I long to get off the armchair and hop on the bike. Ride through the plains of Morey at Pang and the loops of Gata, gather some more landscapes from the saddle and more adventures on my dirt bike.

Well not a dirt bike per se but a dual sport motorcycle. Not a dual sport in fact either. Well that’s what the ambiguity is, I think, of the sole dirt/dual-sport bike India has, the Hero Impulse. The sole motorcycle launched back in 2012 and discontinued in the same year. The adventure purpose built bike was in turn an adventure for the guys at HeroMotorCorp getting some rise in their sale figures, unlikely to happen the bike was phased out leaving the dual sport enthusiast deserted with a spark of hope in the name of Impulse. Less applauded by the consumers and the biking crowd Impulse still has less recognition and thus a handful of owners. Thus is the sad state of the dual sport motorcycles in India. Yet to comprehend and contemplated by the biking enthusiasts, the dual sports will take a long time from now to seep in to the biking culture of today. Meanwhile we ride the sole off roader manufactured in India (thus making us potent to own it). Also the RE Himalayan.

Coming to RE (Royal Enfield), the “desi kata” of the Indian biking culture which to my liking and comprehension is a 200kg worth of iron which I love to ride to over smooth tarmac roads with a thumpy feel at the saddle. The torquey engine thumps itself to high speeds with less rpms on the tacho and vibes at the bars which I love riding on RE. This very emotion rooted deep has made RE what it is today, synonymous with long distance riding and adventure tours apparently. Hard as it always has been for me to understand the RE with adventure riding I take a slight inclination towards the Himalayan. The Himalayan launched last year with name “Himalayan” portrays the travelling/touring gesture of the travelling culture that’s hard wired between the biking enthusiasts and RE. Launched targeting the motorcycle tourers of India, and their very emotion of the same as a prey, Himalayan was looked upon and still is as a potent adventure bike which RE has built to go through all what the tourers may face while travelling in India and that’s true.

Apart from Impulse the Himalayan as a dual sport bike is a boon momentarily once offroads are concerned.  Himalayan is a great machine potent enough to get one through bad roads and river crossings and almost all high passes and Ladakh easily making it desirable and with a small price tag a great bang for buck but not to my liking though. To me it’s a soft tourer that’s it. What I think is, RE couldn’t just let go off its genes plonking a thumpy, long stroke, under-squared engine on, what they claim, an adventure bike. Loaded with off road goodies like the 21inch front and 17 rear, spiked foot pegs and less weight (only comparing to other Enfields) it surely gives a more practical off road feel to the machine. But nowhere close to what adventure bikes are, it aint even the same ballpark. Impulse with dirt oriented ergonomics and even on less power accommodated by less weight is more likely to be driven with ease and better maneuverability over long stretches of broken roads and adventure riding. But the whole discussion over the scenario of the only two dual sport bikes we have and what`s close to being a dual sport bike or a purpose built off roader or a terrain tamer is futile.

I admire dual sport machines like the Honda CRF 250, the Kawasaki KLRs, the Yamaha Tenere, Tigers and 1290Adventure.  Driven by travellers over long distances crossing countries and borders on a saddle that was every ounce of worth it. A dual sport dream of travelling across the Latin America through Bolivia Chile and Argentina is yet to be accomplished someday meanwhile I drool over the pictures of those who do. I too eye forward for a dual sport machine manufactured in India thus easy on my pocket. The emotion meanwhile satisfied with mighty Hero Impulse which is under a lot of changes and up for Ladakh this year but in a whole another way. I can`t just wait to hit the roads after Manali to Pang and then the roads of Korzok where I shall charge through the long gravel road on the foot pegs and the water crossings and the famous Paagal Nala where the high ground clearance will get me through ease pass the boulders and rocks and the corners at dirt will be scraped fish-tailing the bike all possible and best done on a dual-sport machine.

But for the meanwhile bike gets reconditioned, I think of the roads and my last bitter experience of Ladakh. Anyways …for now the weather outside is dull and so is summers when not ridden, counting hours I flip through the old pictures still gazing out of the window with in mind a dual sport dream.