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  #1  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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Poll: Best Bike for Leh - Ladakh??

OK guys - I'm getting so much divergent information about which bike is best for Leh/Ladakh that I'm going to try and post a poll - also hoping that any information gathered here might help out future members (or current ones) trying to sift through all the different opinions...

I've heard - in no particular order - that REs are the worst bikes to take because they break down so much / they are the best bikes to take because although they break down a lot there is always someone who can fix them / the Bajaj Pulsar is the best bike because they are very reliable / it might be difficult to find someone to fix the Pulsar if it DOES break down - especially in the high mountains / Avoid the Hero Honda Karizma because of the weak clutch / the HHK is a decent option / the UCE engine is more reliable than the old cast iron lump and the new right brake and left shift bikes are a LOT more reliable/ the 350 is better than the 500 / the 500 is better than the 350





As stated in previous posts - we will only have 3 weeks and this is our 'trip of a lifetime' so we really want to minimize the chance of unexpected delays and mechanical hassles. That being said we would love to do the trip on REs if we can be reasonably assured that the bikes will be able.

Rental rates for RE or Pulsar are not that much different so cost isn't really a factor.

So what do you suggest?

If you have rented from anywhere in Delhi PLEASE tell me where and what your experiences were with the bike and rental service. Right now the places we are considering are Stonehead bikes (Pulsar and RE) BullettWallas (RE) Tony Bullett Centre (RE) and further choices include what size of bike to rent. With the Pulsar we will be going with the 220 non F.I but the RE we are thinking UCE 350 Electra 5s or would we be better on the 500 Machismo?

Also bare in mind that we will be carrying gear and so will require luggage racks or some way of strapping our gear to the bike.



Thanks all.



Yam
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  #2  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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Everything depends on the job needing to be done for which bike to use.

Even a scooter will do the trip and yes a Pulsar will also but they have to be both lightly loaded, no heavy weight stuff like people seem to like to use.

There are lots of Enfield's used and most are supplied in pretty crap condition especially sourced from Manali going by the last few seasons anyway.

350 Electra 5sp are very good bikes, our tour guide Moksha Jetley only uses the Electra on all her trips and it has not missed a beat in 3 years.

So long as the bikes are well maintained and ridden with care, that is ridden to get home again, not rip shit and bust through all that nature can throw at it, then the bikes will perform good.

The Machismo has issues, a really good bike but subject to water getting into the oil pretty easy and when they are pushed hard, thrashed they tend to remember and get a little fragile. The 500cc is a damn good bike if treated well.

The UCE EFI bikes are ok if brand new, to many electronic parts for the harsh conditions and if one was dropped in the rivers, then I doubt if it would compute much after that.

Twin Sparks should be a good bike.

Electric or self starts on all RE bikes are crap.

Putting more than 50kg on the rear carriers will break them and deal to the shockers and wheel bearings and bushes, chain sets etc.

2 up with load is pretty stupid, it will kill the bikes and stuff like this is the reason that when the next person comes to rent the bike they fail, because the previous person has abused it.

Best to find a good dealer and and go through a thorough pre ride check at the time of collection. But in the end there is an excellent chance of break down, be prepared for it, anticipate it but don't let it spoil the journey. It is part of the journey and after all Leh - Ladakh is pretty much the toughest endurance ride in the world and few bikes can take that like the Enfield's can.

Even KTM's have come to grief up there.
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  #3  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BulletWallas View Post
Everything depends on the job needing to be done for which bike to use.

350 Electra 5sp are very good bikes, our tour guide Moksha Jetley only uses the Electra on all her trips and it has not missed a beat in 3 years.

The Machismo has issues, a really good bike but subject to water getting into the oil pretty easy and when they are pushed hard, thrashed they tend to remember and get a little fragile. The 500cc is a damn good bike if treated well.

Putting more than 50kg on the rear carriers will break them and deal to the shockers and wheel bearings and bushes, chain sets etc.

Best to find a good dealer and and go through a thorough pre ride check at the time of collection. But in the end there is an excellent chance of break down, be prepared for it, anticipate it but don't let it spoil the journey. It is part of the journey and after all Leh - Ladakh is pretty much the toughest endurance ride in the world and few bikes can take that like the Enfield's can.

Even KTM's have come to grief up there.
Certainly appreciate your reply BulettWalla - so, given our options , which one would you recommend (seeing as we are considering renting with you anyways)? Sounds like you rate the Electra 350 5 sp pretty highly - is that the UCE or not? Definitley not interested in EFI way up in the mountains..
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Old 11 Jan 2012
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Hi Yamahuh,

We source our bikes from particular suppliers that meet our standards. There are 3 that we use. The reason why we source is that between these suppliers there are over 200 bikes available and all that we have to do is push them hard to give our clients the best ones. A win win me thinks.

How many bikes are required, what time of the season as this does have a bearing on which bike to use, one up and what weight factor.

500cc takes care of most issues, the Machismo is the most common but can be a little fickle at times. The std 350 electra is a good runner if the load is not great as the 500 has better pulling power.

The 350cc UCE Electra is pretty good, not many available but not impossible to get with advance bookings.

And I omitted to mention the Thunderbird brilliant bike actually, very agile but not so good heavily loaded.

Regards Chris

So what I would recommend does depend on your answers to the above
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  #5  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by BulletWallas View Post
and after all Leh - Ladakh is pretty much the toughest endurance ride in the world and few bikes can take that like the Enfield's can.
No it's not. There's a race happening over in South America at the moment, which IMHO, is a lot harder on man and machine than pootling up and down a few hills (ok, rather large hills) with gradients shallow enough that the Indian army trucks can move supplies in and out during the short weather window.

All Bullets are average to poor, it just depend on how well (or not) maintained they've been (as previously said).

In 2003 me an a mate rented carburetted Bullets in Manali and rode to Leh and beyond, me on a 350 and him on a 500. Both were sh!te when they left Manali and one arrived back on a truck.

In 2004 I rented a carburetted 500 in Delhi and rode to Leh and beyond, Zanskar and Kashmir and back to Delhi without much of a hitch. The bike was well prepped before it left and was maintained all the way round.

A little report: Indian Himalayas TBSdotCom

Chris
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  #6  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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So who did you rent from when you rented the good 'un?
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Old 11 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by BulletWallas View Post
Hi Yamahuh,

We source our bikes from particular suppliers that meet our standards. There are 3 that we use. The reason why we source is that between these suppliers there are over 200 bikes available and all that we have to do is push them hard to give our clients the best ones. A win win me thinks.

How many bikes are required, what time of the season as this does have a bearing on which bike to use, one up and what weight factor.

500cc takes care of most issues, the Machismo is the most common but can be a little fickle at times. The std 350 electra is a good runner if the load is not great as the 500 has better pulling power.

The 350cc UCE Electra is pretty good, not many available but not impossible to get with advance bookings.

And I omitted to mention the Thunderbird brilliant bike actually, very agile but not so good heavily loaded.

Regards Chris

So what I would recommend does depend on your answers to the above
You know who I am and what I'm looking for - I e-mailed you the other day
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Old 11 Jan 2012
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Sorry no enquiry has come from 'Yamahu' so that does not help me much.

Honestly we get 3 or 4 enquiries for bookings a day so we tend to get a little clinical but keep giving out the info to answer all of the questions so that the enquirer is pretty happy to go ahead.

Sometimes we have declined to supply bikes to those that we feel are not capable of functioning in rarified air, handle a 245 kg loaded bike pushing through deep mud and icy rivers.

We have had big tough looking Belgium and Germans trundle off up into those small hills and valley's called the Himalayan range and call us asking for trucks to collect their bikes and gear cause they are just to exhausted from the tough riding. A few experienced endurance BMW and KTM riders taking the Enfield's up and coming back saying that the trip was the toughest that they have meet. And a few Aussie lady back country riders, exhausted but exhilarated with the whole diversity, so it takes all sorts and gives back to all sorts.

This region, well a small section of it is renowned for thinnest air in the world, the highest level of altitude sickness in a small geographical area. This thin air is what makes it very much more difficult a ride on many people. Also we know of serious health incidents and deaths amongst travellers that just should not be going up there.

Bottom line is that those that think that this region is tame, don't know nothing and one thing is for sure, it is a heavy endurance region that has seriously high risk of injury and illness along with it.
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  #9  
Old 11 Jan 2012
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So who did you rent from when you rented the good 'un?

Check post #3 at http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...in-india-59736
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Old 11 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by BulletWallas View Post
renowned for thinnest air in the world, the highest level of altitude sickness in a small geographical area. This thin air is what makes it very much more difficult a ride on many people. Also we know of serious health incidents and deaths amongst travellers that just should not be going up there.

Bottom line is that those that think that this region is tame, don't know nothing and one thing is for sure, it is a heavy endurance region that has seriously high risk of injury and illness along with it.

Altitude, whereever you are on the planet, is the factor that affects the "thinness of air". It's a bit humourous to imply that Indian air at 4 or 5000m is thinner than Pakistani, Tibetan, Nepali, Central Asian or Bolivian air at the same altitude.

Riding a bike in the Indian Himalaya is a great experience and isn't necessarily as easy as making a short road trip around Europe or the USA. But trying to paint it as a super difficult, hardcore experience is stretching the potential of most companies marketing budgets a bit far .

Without wanting to get into a p!ssing competition about who knows more, or less, driving/riding on Indian (Himalaya) roads is dangerous and has a higher risk of injury or worse than most places. The reason isn't altitude however: It's the (sub)standard driving "skills" of other road users, IMHO. This is mitigated a little by the lower levels of density traffic in the region.

Over and Out. This thread is now all yours.

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Old 12 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by BulletWallas View Post
Sorry no enquiry has come from 'Yamahu' so that does not help me much.
No problem - your replies have been very helpful and your Facebook info on renting policies was a very clear and informative post.

To answer your questions:

How many bikes are required, what time of the season as this does have a bearing on which bike to use, one up and what weight factor.

We wil require two machines at the beginning of September for approximately 3 weeks and our intended route will take us up to Khardung-La. Weight factor will be definitely no more than around 20 kilos I should think - not including gas canisters. We will not be carrying camping gear etc.

So what do you think?
350 Electra / 500 Machismo or Bajaj Pulsar??



Chris: Are you from the K/W area of SW Ontario by any chance? My permanent address is in Puslinch - just outside Cambridge and Guelph
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Old 12 Jan 2012
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Chris, there are a few anomalies up in the Leh region and a recent report which I can't locate commented of a particularly high incidence of altitude sickness in a very small geographic area and compared to other parts of the world at the same altitude this area had a larger incidence of the illness. There is also the magnetic mountain up there, where compasses go hay wire so what is happening to cause the sickness remains to be learnt.

Yamahu, personally I would go with the Electra 350. All bikes can and will fail at some stage somehow and having something that is easy to repair so that the journey keeps moving forward is the best bet.

There was an enquiry for 2 bikes in September which Vivien responded to but have not had any further feed back from that.

We try to give good information, prepare people at least mentally to what they might expect on a bad day in the hope that if nothing goes wrong it was an amazing trip then.

There is also the list of mechanics out and about which we try to get travellers to give us more to add so that others have it easier.

Regards Chris
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Old 12 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by BulletWallas View Post
Yamahu, personally I would go with the Electra 350. All bikes can and will fail at some stage somehow and having something that is easy to repair so that the journey keeps moving forward is the best bet.

There was an enquiry for 2 bikes in September which Vivien responded to but have not had any further feed back from that.

Regards Chris
Yup - that was me!
Still need to talk to my pal about it - He's in Canada and I'm in Taiwan so we need to schedule a Skype date...

A lot of Chris' in this thread!!
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Old 12 Jan 2012
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Yeah, got me worried cuz his profile says he's from Gods Own, can't be Kiwi because its called Godzone.
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Old 12 Jan 2012
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Yeah, got me worried cuz his profile says he's from Gods Own, can't be Kiwi because its called Godzone.
For Information


God’s Own County = Yorkshire


God’s Own Country, also known as Godzone or less often Godzown = New Zealand. Sometimes also Australia, Kerala in India, Mississippi and Tennessee in the USA and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).


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