SUPERBIKING TO LEH
Superbikes are powerful machines. And as we noted earlier, power helps in the ride to Leh. But then power doesn’t come easy. In the sense that very powerful bikes are heavy, bulky, usually have low to very low ground clearance (except for dedicated long-distance off-roaders like the BMW GS1200r and such), have short ‘full-tank’ range, are expensive and complicated, the latter precluding any possibility of repairs except by the rider or his support crew and usually have ergonomics that are not conducive to low speed rough road riding.
But motorcyclists are innovative, creative and have an unnerving habit of improvising with machinery. So the difficulty of actually riding a big bike not suited for the route to Ladakh has its own charm for that adventure-loving biker within and he does it. I myself have ridden a 1250cc/100+ bhp Suzuki Bandit, shod with tarmac tyres, to Leh and beyond via the Manali route in the middle of monsoons. Can be done, has been done and will be done but admittedly is NOT the recommended way to use your prized, envied and expensive beauties. Because the terrain and road conditions are ruthless in the beating they give, both to the rider and his machine, and usually at least one or at times both come away with some damage or the other.
If you still do want to ride your biggie to Leh, despite what has just been stated, do it via the Srinagar route. The roads are a LOT better on that side, fuel is more frequently available and there are stretches of tarmac that will make that big engine worth its while. No such scope exists on the Manali – Leh route.
As you can see in the above pictures, we had taken a Suzuki Bandit to Leh, which as per the best of our knowledge was the first instance of someone taking a superbike to Khardung La. We had captured that ride on video and made a short documentary on it, have a look!
As these big machines are penetrating deep into motorcycle market in India, more and more people are trying to push their limits and using these motorcycles the way they should be. What was unthinkable just a few years ago is a regular routine and now a lot of bikers are visiting Ladakh on these big bikes. One such gentleman has been one Mr. Naveen Jangid from Delhi who took his mighty Hayabusa to Ladakh, including the Khardung La. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first Hayabusa to reach there. It must’ve taken a lot of courage and hard riding to take this beast there. Hats off to him!
Do watch this video of Naveen celebrating this feat.
Then there are some more crazy people on xBhp, like one Mr. Aniruddha Kulkarni from xBhp Pune chapter. He rode a Triumph Bonneville with his wife as a pillion from Pune to Ladakh and back!
You can read his entire travelogue here
Motorcycling to Ladakh : Complete Series
Part 1 : About Ladakh, Reaching There, & Best Time to Visit
Part 2 : Choosing the Right Motorcycle & Preparing it
Part 3 : Preparing Yourself for Ladakh Ride
Part 4: Some useful Tips About Riding and Photography in Ladakh
Part 5 : Ladakh in Winter
Part 6 : Superbiking in Ladakh