Ladakh Motorcycle Touring Travel Travel tips

Which is the best bike for Ladakh Trip?


Ever since I came back from my maiden ride to Ladakh on a 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.

Best Bike for Ladakh Trip – What to know?

This, the months after the winters, 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

Which Is The Best Time To Go To Ladakh?

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 motorcycling.

No doubt having a bigger and powerful bike makes the ride and the journey more comfortable but having a small and not-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 has 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

Which bike is right for 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 a couple of hundred kilometers away and it would not be a situation you would like yourself to find it!
  • 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.

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. 


57 thoughts on “Which is the best bike for Ladakh Trip?”

  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.

    1. 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 🙂



  2. 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?

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

  4. 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.


    1. 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.


  5. 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

        1. 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

        2. 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

          1. 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!

    1. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. 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.


    1. 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!

  10. 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

    1. 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 !


  11. Hey! Bro, hope you are doing great.

    may i know the perfect route to travel to Leh from Mumbai as i have very less knowledge about the routes, also can you help me that what would be the approximate budget which i should keep in mind?

    1. Hi Burhan, so I think Mumbai – Delhi is pretty straight forward but because I haven’t personally done it, I suggest you spend some time at places where you will get this info. forums is a wonderful place for the same.
      For Delhi to Leh, my personal favorite is the Srinagar highway for obvious reasons. Spend some time on the Travel tips section of this website and I am sure you will have more clarity.


  12. Hi, i am planing to go leh with my wife on my cbr250, is it safe or practical to go with pillion rider on cbr? And how much fuel i hv to carry, i am planning to go there via srinagar and will come back via manali, i hv healthy experience of bike riding in hills, please advise the best route plan.

    1. Cbr 250 us a great bike. With a pillon too, it would be great. If you don’t plan to go to Tso Moriri, you won’t have to carry extra fuel. Just tank up wherever you see a petrol pump on your way back. Srinagar route has a lot of petrol pumps. Ride safe, good luck.

  13. Hey, The post sounds really interesting.
    I do get that your bike is as good as the Rider. But one quick question.
    I have a Honda Trigger 150. I enjoy riding this bike a lot. Have driven it substantially maximum of banglore to mumbai.
    I am planning to ride it to Spiti Valley or Ladakh from delhi and back. I am okay to go for a new bike now. My question is.
    Given the same rider. Would it be better to go with a 200 + cc bike rather ??
    Or something zippy like the Honda Trigger is god enough,. ..
    I have been eyeing the Honda CBR 250 for some time. give me your thoughts. I tend to lean towards Honda !


    1. Hey Deep,

      Thanks for your question. Like I have already said, if you ride your bike within its limits, you can sure take your Honda Trigger to Ladakh or Spiti. Having said that, as you are open to getting a Honda CBR, I would say that is any day a better option.

      To put it in one line for you, I would say this : There is no replacement for displacement 😉


  14. Dear Rajiv sir we are 6 friends planing for leh laddak on bikes on August – Sept which month is safe and one more thing is there any pass required to Enter Leh. Pls ans me.

  15. Hi Rajiv
    I’m from Kerala…
    I’m planning my ladakh trip…
    Can I use my Apache 180(50000km) for the trip…
    I’m used it for many long trips..
    But ladakh is somewhat different ..

  16. I’m planning for ladakh-leh trip this august September on my Gixxer 150cc 2019. Is it a good option to carry ? Also please mention the essentials to be kept in mind and items to be carried. And kindly also give me some tips on making this trip memorable and safe.

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