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.
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.
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.
Firstly, make 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.