The Indian Motorcycle Diaries: An Emerging Trend

Posted on April 12, 2012 in Travel

By Abdul Wahid Khan:

People take long distance motorcycle trips mostly to get a feeling of thrill and adventure through them. It is about overcoming fears and defeating in the battle of roads. It is a way to connect to the directions and to feel the world can never be felt while sitting in office. Your senses go on hyper drive while riding and you notice things around you which you would never notice while travelling in a car. There is nothing to disturb you, there is only you, your motorcycle and the surroundings.

The trend of long motorcycle trips in India is followed by both Indians as well as foreign travellers coming from different countries to explore India. They travel in groups or sometimes individually. Those who are more enthusiastic about motorcycles like to ride a separate motorcycle in the group while those who do not know well how to ride sit with other motorcycle riders. Riding in groups has many advantages. You can meet new friends and get support. All type of medical and technical aid is available. There is a more friendly environment and in very long trip, you do not get chance to get bored. On the other hand, in an individual trip, there is more risk and hence the adventure is more. There is no peer pressure and you can do anything without any restrictions and according to your own comfort. Generally, at least two motorcycles to go together are suggested for long trips.

The motorcycles used mostly in India for long trips are Royal Enfield motorcycles. They are commonly called Bullet after the most famous model ‘Bullet’ by Royal Enfield Company. Royal Enfield is a British company by origin and is famous for heavy cruiser bikes all over the world. In India, as of now, Royal Enfield motorcycles are the best cruise motorcycles available and liked most. They ride very smoothly at 75 km/hr to 100 km/hr. They give a mileage of 30 kmpl to 35 kmpl. Motorcycles other than cruiser ones are also available like Yamaha FZ series, Bajaj Pulsar series, and Bajaj Avenger but they are not very comfortable and do not perform that well at high speeds. A rider after a ride on Bajaj Pulsar 180 says it sounds like hair dryer at speeds more than 80 km/hr.

In Royal Enfield, there are a total of 12 different models available to choose from and they are available in 350cc and 500 cc capacities. The prices of Royal Enfield motorcycles in India range from Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 1.5 lacs based on model and engine power. Second hand Royal Enfield motorcycles are also bought which costs from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 generally but it may vary depending on the condition of the motorcycle. Some people also take these motorcycles for rent which costs around Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,500 per day. Generally, depending on the duration and requirement of the trip, people get their motorcycles.

The most common routes for motorcycle trips in India are Leh and Ladakh, Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, South India, Rajasthan and many more. The long distance motorcycling is also commercialized in India and there are many companies which organize such long distance trips. They provide everything necessary for the trips like the motorcycle, mechanics, accommodation, food, accessories, a guide who can speak different European languages, etc. These trips are around 10 days long and go in a group of around 10-20. The guided motorcycle trips are mainly targeted at foreign travelers who are new to the country and do not know much about how to explore the country on motorcycles. Such trips cost around $2000 per person per trip.

Some people go for certification in long distance riding to get a feeling of achievement in their passion. The most famous certification for long distance motorcycle riding is ‘Saddleshore’ from IBA (Iron Butt Association) of U.S.A. It has three different levels and one can go for any level directly. First is to complete 1600 km in 24 hours. Second is to complete 2500 km in 36 hours. Third is to complete 2500 km is 24 hours, which is considered as Gold certification. There are many more variations in such certifications and they can be done worldwide from one’s own location following their regulations.

There are various problems faced by long distance motorcycle riders in India. There has been increase in traffic on major highways and many drivers of cars, trucks or buses are not that skilled and drive very casually. One has to take great care to be safe from such careless drivers. The condition of roads in India is quite bad in some regions and it is very difficult to pass such areas on motorcycles. Considering the weather conditions of India, it is very difficult for riders to ride in daytime after 12 noon in the summer season. Even amidst all such problems, the passion of long distance motorcycling is increasing in India. The income level of people is increasing and they are looking for alternatives for adventure among which long distance motorcycle riding is quite a favorite. The introduction of other cruiser bikes in India like Harley Davidson and their dropping prices will further boost this passion. Various small groups are arising in every town and city for long distance motorcycle rides.