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Motorcycle travel in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India...

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  #1  
Old 5 Dec 2005
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India, bikes, leathers, insurance and good times

Hi people,

Just returned to UK after riding in carribean, heading for india, looks like everyone reckons Goa to be best starting point. Arriving this month, but have dodgy legs, need electric start. Do these old enfields have a button. My leathers are twenty years old and I need new ones does anyone know of a good leather man south or north from Goa. I am going to stay until march. What about insurance in India? Do you need a hat or not? What about the police, are they corrupt like Russia and the old eastern block? I have done 52 countries by bike far so what advice for an old sea dog have you got for india. Please teach me to suck eggs I have no pride, just want to ride.

Jonny
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  #2  
Old 5 Dec 2005
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Hi,
The Enfield comes in an e-start in Europe but I think it's a conversion done after the bikes have been exported here. I'd say you were probably unlikely to find an e-start for sale in India but I could be wrong (I assume you are looking to buy second hand). You might have to ride one of the numerous small Jap bikes available. Not the same I know but you can console yourself with the fact you're less likely to break down!
Matt
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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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  #3  
Old 5 Dec 2005
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Went to the Enfield factory yesterday.
They are making electric start models for the Indian market, but they're a pretty new thing so will probably be hard to find secondhand.
Theres a big main dealers here in Madras, you might get one there.
contact enfield via the website at www.royalenfield.com
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  #4  
Old 6 Dec 2005
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I won't comment on the Enfield. If you search this site (and many others, no doubt) you will find plenty of opinions. I've only ever ridden one once and seem to remember that they aren't that hard to kick.

No Indian wears leathers. In most parts of India cows are considered holy... Get your gear in Europe. Last time I was there helmets were compulsory only in Delhi. Most bikers were wearing them, but nowhere else.

I don't stop for Indian cops, unless they are armed. Most of them don't have guns, vehicles or radios, and the phones are out of order. In the beginning I did stop, but it got too annoying. Never paid a bribe, though. Easy, they don't speak English!

I got third party insurance, but was told that it won't pay anyway, cause I'm a foreigner. Don't bother in any Asian country, unless it's an entry requirement. Exceptions are Turkey and possibly Iran.

If you are thinking of buying an Enfield in India please use the search function and check out the "Carnet" link on the left, especially if you are thinking of riding it out of the country. It's no longer possible.
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  #5  
Old 7 Dec 2005
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Cheers guys. I don't want the leathers for India, but understand that even though cows are Holy there is a healthy tanning and leather industry in india goats make great leathers. i only use my leathers in hot countries like southern mediteranean and southern US states and of course Russia in the summer. The problem is that i prefer a proper riding jacket like the old style barber, but then I suffer from the old salt and vingar of old sweat. I hate european leathers as one I require no lining and two they always make me look like I should be riding a harley very slowly or I should be next to valentino Rossi on the start line. What i want is a kind of safari leather jacket so all my documents and neccessary items can be carried in my pockets. I also prefer leathers as I tend to crash quite a bit, thats why I can't use a kick start. So what I am looking for is made to my design leathers at the lowest cost possible. Now try and sort that out in europe and I might as well just go every where by private plane. Money that is the answer and india don't get much cheaper. or am I wrong? The only way I constantly tour on my bike is because I look after me cash.
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  #6  
Old 23 Dec 2005
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Goa is a good place to start, but do forget about that Enfield. Both, the 350 and the 500 are slow and underpowered. The suspension is rubbish and you'll have a hard time on bad roads. Get a Honda Karizma instead. It's a single-cylinder (223cc engine) bike that's at least reasonable comfy, fuel efficient and totally reliable. It's cheap to run, stone simple to work on and unlike an Enfield, doesn't start falling to bits...
Also, given our kind of weather, forget the leathers. Get a good, thick denim jacket and pair of jeans and that should suffice.
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  #7  
Old 23 Dec 2005
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Enfeild has more "class" though whatever that means. I've never seen anyone wearing leathers in India, most of the time it's too hot anyway.
Any bike gear i've seen there was poor quality (helmets, waterproofs etc) so bring anything you need.
The Enfeild is easy to kick start (compression ratio 6 to 1 i think) it shouldn't pose too much of a problem.
The cops in Goa are used to pulling over foreigners on Enfeilds and know what documents you're supposed to have. They might want to see an international licence. I copped a 100 rupee ($3) fine because i'd left it in the hotel.
Sean
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  #8  
Old 28 Dec 2005
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Cheers guys I am here now been here since the 17th december. i am getting it all sorted on the ground now. I will let you know how it all works out. For those who wish to know a helmet law has been in operation in india for some time, you need to wear a helmet on the major roads. of course you don't need to but hey then you are a muppet. The weather is not hot, only for people who come for a couple of weeks, so when they say it is they are two week tourist. I had to wear my clothes in bed because it was so cold compared to central america where I came in from. Mad dogs and english men go out in the midday sun, it is time for chai and relaxation, the rest of the time is for riding. And by the way the other muppet who said they do not have cow in india, you are stupid my friend, this country has everything, including muslims who like to eat cow, so please don't give advice like you know, please come to india and find out.
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  #9  
Old 28 Dec 2005
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Have fun in India!

Peter
Leathers-wearing muppet
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  #10  
Old 10 Feb 2006
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Having ridden both, I would rather chew glass and stick needles in my eyes than ride a light weight honda or yamaha.

The roads in India outside of the cities are too rough with too many surface types to ride comfortably on a smaller lighter bike.

Enfields: if you maintain the bike the suspension is fine. Emphasis on maintainence. If your fork hasn't been checked and maintained than it's not going to work well.

You can buy a single seat, the old fashioned kind that is like a bicycle seat that has coils. Yummy! Great for salty dog butts and young ones alike!

Leathers...I haven't had any luck at all. The leather that was available was quite thin. I didn't have much luck, but I didn't really try. Check out the Muslim communities for leather.

Helmets, I don't recommend them unless you're going on a high way or travelling at higher speeds. They will fry your brains in the heat and you don't want to compromise your vision or hearing in city driving.

Do bring a quality half helmet that is light in color though. Even though the helmet law is national and randomly enforced...anything that straps to your head counts as a helmet. You will have a good laugh at some of the objects strapped to peoples heads. My favorite: cricket helmets, horse riding hats and the plastic super low quality florecent yellow construction guy hats!

If you opt to buy your bike in a city like Delhi, you might be able to get a push button start for your bike. Not sure if this address still works: mukeshmotors@hotmail.com

Once you get the hang of kick starting the kick start is pretty easy. I was a total spaz and would break into a humiliating sweat. Finally a kind soul took me aside and gave me a lesson. Within in a week I was kick starting with my flip flops.

India will probably be the most insane and bizarre place you will ride, but the most fun and rewarding. Everytime I arrived at my destination I felt as though I had just cheated death. It has been the most fun I've had riding. But I've only ridden in 10 other countries!

Good luck and have a blast!

Catherine

[This message has been edited by catsyrbe (edited 10 February 2006).]
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  #11  
Old 28 Dec 2006
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custom leathers

mate,

dont know what your schedule is, but if you want custom made leathers, vietnam has some wicked and super cheap tailors that do just about everything.

JG
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  #12  
Old 31 Dec 2006
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There is a huge leather market in Dharavi where they will make a fitted jacket for you as per your specs and measurements. You choose the cut, no of pockets etc. All this for less than 4000 INR in most places. You could contact Mr Salim Chopra at "leather hut" - he'd be one of the best people to help you out.

There is a problem with leather, though. Black will get very very hot in the sun, and the lighter shades will get very very dirty , soon, courtesy of the trucks spewing diesel smoke. Fabric can be washed, leather...?. may smell interesting too after a while.

India has a huge and vibrant leather industry and you can get WHATEVER you want - not surprisingly, the better quality stuff costs more. That said, it will still be significantly cheaper than the stuff in USA and Europe. You can get real cheap too, but the stuff you get at rock botttom rates will not put a smile on your face.

There are Enfields available with electric start now - but as they have recently come into the market, you will not get older used ones with this feature. A factory fresh bike may require a lot work to be put into working condition.

Enfields have pretty miserable suspensions. Any decent 150+cc bike will offer a better ride on broken surfaces - and most will come with a starter. And it would be in your interests to buy a new bike so as to keep bike maintainance to a minimum. Heck, these things cost just 1250 USD odd, except the Karizma (for which you can expect to spend copious amounts of money on replacement parts for a bike older than 20000 km, if the parts are available in the first place, that is).

Instead of buying heavy armour you could consider buying roller skating type guards - they will definitely protect your elbows and knees from the initial impact with the road and can make the difference between riding on, and a horizontal trip to the underequipped and undermanned rural health center. Cheap too, available at any sporting goods shop.

You MUST wear a helmet! Road conditions can be chaotic, and the thing will protect your face from the dust and the heat too (especially the direct radiation from the sun) while riding. A thin towel on the inside will soak up the sweat - washable easily!

Of course, some people may actually LIKE sunburn on their ears and neck, and may want others to see how their brains look on the road as a consequence of a minor fall (where they will actually fry on the hot tarmac). Hope you are not one of them.

Again, you can buy local or any well known imported brand, all are available here (Nolan, Shoei, Arai, Index, AGV....).

I'm in Mumbai. Contact gmail.com(at sign)arnob01 (flip that!). Bullets in Mumbai may be rented from indiabikes.com(at sign)andy

Insurance - your vehicle will come with insurance (third party), at least it should.

As far as road rules are concerned for all practical purposes, the heavier vehicle has right of way, whichever side of the road so, be prepared to scrub off speed quick. Disc brakes help, again, not available on the older enfields.

Wish I'd seen this thread earlier. Happy wandering!
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  #13  
Old 31 Dec 2006
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Alans post above is all good advice. A few small points.
When Enfield decided to add an electric start they did it properly. taking the opporunity to make new dies to cast a stronger crankcase. I do not know if they beefed up the crank or bearings at the same time. The lean burn enfields ( mostly 350cc in India) can be had with electric start, but so far not available in UK. These do have beefed up internals. The other possibility is to buy a pre 1971 bike, and have it updated. afterwards have it shipped back if you like it.) Options include a choice of standard or beefed up crank assemblies stroke/weight and nicasil barrels..
also the five speed box models can easily be changed to either right or left hand shift. So if you are an old codger like me you can get the bike set up to your natual instincts. Hitchcoks here in the UK also offer a different cam plate so you BSA riders cand change the natural 1 down 4 up Triumph setup to 1 up 4 down BSA/Norton setup.. sorry if i missed anyones favourite bike. I think it might be cheaper than shipping and its attendant hassles to buy a bike then either get what you can for it before returning. Do not try to import a post 1971 bike.

Re leather, ought not to be a problem in Goa as many there are christian.
a thought, do they do buffalow leather? lots there, my dad did not trust them always told me they bit bad tempered.

Last edited by oldbmw; 31 Dec 2006 at 20:52.
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  #14  
Old 1 Jan 2007
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The lean burn AVL engine (found on the machismo and the thunderbird) is a different engine. Better acceleration, economy, but noisier at speed.

Anyways, all that info is on their website.

Buffalo leather is available too. These guys will arrange for everything short of human skin
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  #15  
Old 10 Feb 2007
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things are changing!

Things are changing.!
You can get the best of the leathers, gloves and helmets in Delhi. Shoot a mail to bunnypunia@gmail.com if you wish to get these when in Delhi.

Enfields are history. There are 223cc Karizmas in Delhi for sale as well as rent. Dont know about Goa though
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