Which bike is right for Ladakh?

Ever since I came back from my maiden ride to Ladakh on motorcycle a little more than three years back, I have been asked many times by friends, friends of friends and many others about a lot of different aspects about visiting Ladakh. What to see..where to go… how to go etc but if there has been one question I have been asked the maximum number of times, it was (and still is); ‘Can I ride to ladakh on my bike? or Do I need a bullet to go to ladakh? or some other version of the same question.

This is the time when the roads across high mountain passes of mighty Himalayas open up and the holy grail of biking, Ladakh, becomes accessible by road.

CBR 250 on Rohtang la

CBR 250 on Rohtang la

This window of four-five months (May / June through September / October) every year is the time when bikers from across the country and beyond come to ride in Ladakh crossing some of the toughest terrains and facing extreme biking conditions. This is also the time of the year when I get asked about visiting or riding to ladakh the most. My answers to these questions have more or less been the same over the course of last two-three years and I am kind of bored now, repeating myself and hence this post.

Honda CBR 250 in Ladakh in an avalanche prone stretch

Honda CBR 250 in Ladakh in an avalanche prone stretch

So getting to the point, the answer to whether you need a very powerful bike to ride in Ladakh? or is a 150cc bike enough for doing ladakh ride? and other similar questions, here’s what I can suggest you based on what I have seen, experienced and learned.

Even though it might sound like a cliché, the saying ‘it’s not the bike but the rider that takes you places’, is one of the truest ever saying when it comes to motor-cycling.

No doubt having a more bigger and powerful bike makes the ride and the journey more comfortable but having a small and no-so-powerful two-wheeler is not that bad either. I personally know or have come across people who have successfully visited all possible places in Ladakh on their sub 100cc bikes.

Whenever I have given the above piece of gyaan to whoever have asked me about which bike can I take to ladakh, almost every time the next question has been, How?

Well let me tell you how!

If you keep the following things in mind be rest assured, you will be successfully able to ride to everywhere in ladakh and would make it back with no issues whatsoever.

Honda Stunner and R15 in Ladakh

Honda Stunner and R15 with pillion – in Ladakh

Firstlymake sure the bike is in good condition with no worn-out past. Before you start, get the engine serviced properly. Change the parts that have worn out more than half (clutch-disk, tires, etc.) and ride it for a couple of days before you actually take it to the hills.

Secondly, apart from being aware of and within your own limit, always know your bike’s limit and don’t try to push it beyond that, more so when you are in Ladakh. Help is hard to find in between nowhere. If you push the bike beyond its limit and if you break it, keep in mind that the nearest garage could well be couple of hundred kilometers away and it would not be a situation you would like yourself to find in!

And lastly, lack of oxygen acts more or less in a similar way on our bikes as it does on our bodies. We need oxygen in your blood for our body to function, in a very similar way the carburetors of our bikes need enough oxygen to burn the fuel that gets pumped into it. With less oxygen in the air, burning the fuel becomes a task for the carbs and the bikes significantly loose power at higher altitudes and so does the limit of your bike so the key is, to judge that and be within the limit.

Also read: All you should know about Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

All this being said, I personally think, no one goes to ladakh on his or her two-wheelers just for the sake of reaching there. We go there to enjoy as much the place as we go to enjoy the entire route so in my opinion, anything less than a 150cc bike and in decent running condition and you will not really be enjoying the ride.

What do you think about my suggestions about the right bike to ride to ladakh? Do you have any more point(s) which you feel I should add? Or, do you have questions of your own? Please shoot in. 

 


Protected by Copyscape

39 thoughts on “Which bike is right for Ladakh?

  1. Good post. Where there is a will, there is a way- nothing proves it better than riding to Lahaul or Spiti valleys. I have seen people easily going from Manali to Ladakh in age old scooters with all their luggage.

    • Thanks Uma, really glad that you liked it.
      You very rightly said about travelling this way. Such trips give you to a chance to be one with nature, know ourselves better and actually realize how small and insignificant we are in in this world. Of all the places I have traveled til now, my ride to ladakh has been undoubtedly the most enriching trip .

      And yes Uma, I do have some more similar things to post about which I will be doing soon 🙂

      Thanks!

      Cheers,
      Rajiv

  2. Pingback: How to transport motorcycle in train? | Rajiv Verma

  3. This itch ultimately took me to the Gopalaswamy hills on a weekend, a place which I had heard is beautifully green and well-vegetated but with real bad roads leading to the top of it. The bad-road part was not a dampener for me, in fact it actually made the biker inside me happy, hills and some off-roading is always great fun as long as you don t have to off-road for hours and hours. Which bike is right for Ladakh?

  4. My bike is in fully maintained condition with 8000km on odometer.
    Can I go to leh-ladakh-pangong-nubra on my Pulsar RS 200 ?

  5. Hello Rajiv,

    I have seen your blog and its useful. thanks

    I have a small question..i am planning to travel this year in Aug’16 to Leh from delhi and back to delhi. I have Pulsar 150 cc (5 years old). is it feasible to take this bike in those terrain.

    thanks

    • Hi Anuj,

      As long as your bike is in decent condition, you should not have any issue. Make sure the tires, the engine the cables etc. are fine and you should be perfectly fine.

      I have friends who have been going to Ladakh, Spiti and all over in their more than a decade old bikes.

      Just remember one thing, ride the bike in its limits and don’t get carried away.

      Have a great trip.

      Cheers,
      Rajiv

  6. I have done it on my discover 135 last year September. I didn’t faced any problem at all. Moreover, at bharatpur before sarchu I was stuck in snow fall for 30 hrs. Where duke, Enfield s failed to start mine got started in 3 rd kick. Covered all places without any problem. Only thing to keep in mind Is know your limit s and don’t put extra weight.
    Have a nice trip

        • hi rajiv i have stunner 4 years old but in good condition i want to to make a tour of leh so please tell me its good to go or i need to get a bike on rent

        • hi rajiv i have stunner 4 years old but in good condition i want to to make a tour of leh so please tell me its good to go or i need to get a bike on rent & please tell me about the timing & pakage

          • For sure you can take it, provided the bike is in good condition. The tires, the carb, the breaks. And most importantly, ride it within its limits.

            Have a great trip!

    • You can go anywhere, all you need is to know your bike, ride sensibly and be safe . Let me know your specific queries and I will suggest you what’s best.

  7. Rajiv it was very useful view as I was confused a lot to take my own140cc bike ya rent bullet there but know m very clear

  8. hi rajiv i have stunner 4 years old but in good condition i want to to make a tour of leh so please tell me its good to go or i need to get a bike on rent

  9. Hey Rajiv,
    Me & my wife are planning to go to Leh Ladak from Manali on August 2016 with group of some other friends. We are totally confused with the bikes. Initially we thought of taking my Avenger 220, but one of my friends told that renting a 500cc Royal Enfield is much better and another friend told that what i heard is true but taking our own bike is much better. This confused me again.
    I stay in Bangalore, and our initial plan was to put my bike in train till Chandigarh, and some guys get our bikes from Chandigarh to Manali and we ride from Manali to Leh and return.
    Will there be any issue of permit if i take Karnataka registration bikes?
    Can Avenger 220 can bear two people’s weight?
    Which one you vote? Taking a bike from Bangalore or renting it there?
    Please help me. I am totally confused.

    • Your Avenger is more than you need. Don’t get a bullet and increase your troubles. Plus, rented bikes from out of ladakh are not allowed anymore.

  10. Sir, I want to buy bajaj V n learn to drive it n take it leh in 2015. It’s in my budget and I am almost 40years so don’t want to take risk of learning KTM oor pulsar 180+ How much time shall I drive in city first before I go to Leh via bike. Btw I am very comfortable in a four wheeler and I have driven bajaj chetak only and that too about 10 years ago.

    • Hi!

      If you don’t have riding experiecne in the recent past, I suggest you start doing that first. Ride in the plains first and after that, do some dry-runs to near-by hill-stations with luggage and all.

      Head to Ladakh on your Bajaj V only when you are comfortable enough.

      Good luck, ride safe.

      Cheers,
      Rajiv

    • I don’t have much good things about REs, let alone the CI. More so when it comes to challenging terrain. But having said that, if you are confident about your bike, go ahead.

      Good luck!

  11. Hello Rajiv
    May I know which route is good for a biker to go to leh between srinagar- leh or manali-leh highway and also mention me about the cautions for the way
    Thank you

    • My favorite route is the Srinagar – Leh, any day. It’s more practical too, like I have already mentioned in the post.

      About being cautious, just be alert. Remember, you are not riding to Leh just because everyone else has and you too want to brag, if that’s the case, well…I would say don’t go.

      Enjoy the road, be in your limits, watch out for idiots who race in the mountains and don’t get lost in the beauty around you while riding.

      Stop to enjoy the view and the proceed.

      Ride safe !

      Cheers,
      Rajiv

Leave a Reply