Having been on quite a few bike trips in India, and with no signs of stopping any soon, I just felt it was a good time to share a few things on my mind regarding bike trips especially in this country.
So, here we go:
1.You don't need a hi-fi cruiser bike to do trips, though its a good thing to have
Alright, all of us in India revere the Enfield Bullets and most recently, the Bajaj Eliminators as they are the most sturdy ones that are there for long trips and very durable too. But off late, many of the sporty types, the Pulsars, the Apaches and the Karizma's have been hogging the limelight too. But as a guy riding a modest 125 cc bike on long trips, I feel such bikes don't get the due recognition they deserve when it comes to long trips. I ride a Bajaj XCD 125 and am very very comfortable taking it out on long trips. They might not be as zippy as the Pulsars or as comfortable or durable as the Bullets. But they have very reliable engines, demand very less of your attention and cruise along comfortably at 60-70 km/h. More than adequate for your trips aren't they? So, if you're a biker like me having a modest bike, no worries, your baby will be real happy to hug you for long.
2. National Highways are getting better by the day
The national highways authority is doing a very ambitious project of 4-laning all the National Highways in India and is doing a pretty good job of it. These roads when in full form are a dream to ride on. They're very smooth and flowing and make riding a joy. Wherever you're riding to, if you have a choice of taking a route through the NHs, as they are affectionately called, go for it even if its a few km more. You'll thank yourselves you did. So will your bike.
3. State Highways are not that bad either
If the NHs are a dream to ride on, state highways are no less good. They too are improving. They are not as bad as they used to be and you wont have a sore butt after riding on them for long. They do link the interior places worth visiting in India and are not a bad thing to ride on.
4. You WILL NEED good biking gear
When I say biking gear, its not just the helmets, gloves and boots. A good elbow guard, a good knee guard along with ankle protects are seriously good things to invest in. We do get AlpineStars in India and thats a very good brand to get. A word of caution. India has a notoriously huge grey market for fake helmets. If you're buying one, please go to a reputed showroom in whichever city/town you are. Else, you have the world in the internet. Thats not a bad option to shop in, though getting the right size poses a challenge.
5. Summer trips are best taken with a good sunscreen and a full hand tee for company
You could be milky white in complexion before you take a bike trip in the summer. But at the end of it you might be tanned and tanned beyond recognition. Indian Summers are notoriously hot and having a good sunscreen and a light colored t-shirt is your best bet to counter it. Yours truly ignored this fact once and now arms that are in stark contrast to the body color. :( If you're thinking about pullovers and windcheaters, they will only add to the heat.
6. Watch out!!
Wherever you are riding in India, do it with full concentration. Stray cattle, kids playing on roads, jaywalkers when you pass through towns are a rider's biggest trap. Keep a watch for people when you're passing through populated areas and for stray animals in highways.
7. Indian Rain - Best friend and a Worst Enemy
Indian Rains do increase the romance involved in a bike trip. They cool everything down, makes the landscape get prettier exponentially and patter your bike incessantly to make the ride more challenging and thereby, making you a better rider. Trust me, your confidence increases manifold when you conquer a trip under torrential rain. They just make the trip much more worthwhile. But there's another side to the story. Rains and oils on road don't mix. The tar oil, oil leaks from other vehicles can cause many a bone break. Watch out for them. With a bit of concentration, they can be easily spotted. Avoid them,and you'll have the best trip wherever you're going. Difficult to imagine how much rain can do, but in India, trust me, it just adds to the whole experience.
8. Riding alone can be as much fun as in a group in India
Biker Gangs are becoming increasingly common in India and have carved a niche of their own. But individual bikers are a rare lot. At least, in my perspective. The awe people feel when they get to know why you're here, the way you stand out in the crowd and the adoration you get from kids is just so overwhelming. People will turn good Samaritans for you once they get to know you're a lonewolf biker. They really do. I still remember when I was in Mysore along with one more friend and we were lost trying to find the highway to Bangalore. A curious motorist enquired about us (easy to spot we were, decked up and all) and on getting to know we were lost, offered to escort us till the place where the highway starts! An escort vehicle?! Gracious! I tell you.
Well, that was most of what I had in mind when it came up with the idea of this topic. Hope it helped.
Until the next post, Ride safely and Keep Riding! :)