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View Results: What is the best bike for Leh - Ladakh??
Royal Enfield 350 Electra UCE 5 speed 2 22.22%
Royal Enfield 500 Machismo 3 33.33%
Some other RE (state in your post) 1 11.11%
Bajaj Pulsar 220 3 33.33%
Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-02-2012, 02:10 PM   #31
Witold
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glasswave View Post
I have freinds in Manali, that have chosen to tour all over the Himal using Enfields. Sesu, at the Veer guesthouse for example.

OK, so you don't like enfields, that much is clear. That's no reason for hyperbole. I think they are tough bikes, that require lots of maintenance, and carrying tools and a spares bin. I also love the Bajaj Pulsar 180, but have only ridden one four days in Nepal. I have taken a Chinese 150cc stree tbike, which are considered to be of the lowest quality, across XingZian, the Aksai Chin and the Tibetian plateau. I met a gent who had toured from Kargil to Padum (a much more serious trip than Manali-Leh) on an old bashed up scooter.

While I would never pretend to know as much about motor touring the Himal as a seasoned local, I do know this, people have have ridden to all corners of the globe on all manner of motorized conveyance w/o incident. I don't like Harleys and would never recommend one for a rwt tour (yet hundreds have done it on HD's), but, the again, I would never assert that the decision between a Harley and a more reliable mount is a matter of life and death.

Please understand, I mean no disrespect, I just think that there is room for opposing, but reasonable views.
Your opposing view and opinion has nothing to do with the question at hand, title of thread: What is the best bike for Leh/Ladakh.

Unquestionably, Enfields are not the best bike for such trip. (aside from the expensive EFI one). The primary reason why people take Enfields is because they are cheapest and easiest thing you can rent. That doesn't make them the best by any metric other than price.

And yes, obviously, a lot of Enfield riders complete their trips trouble free. Though I wonder how many of them have actually taken any tougher roads, like to Tso Morori route, Marsimik-La, Salsal, Thit Zarbo La. Any old joe on any bike can go up Khardung La and and down to Pangong first village.
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Old 02-02-2012, 02:34 PM   #32
Witold
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yamahuh View Post
We are fully aware of the dangers and the potential for AMS - our route is (we think) going to allow us to acclimatize fairly slowly over the first few days. Essentially this is what we are planning;

Day 1: Delhi - Amritsar
Day 2: Amritsar
Day 3: Amritsar - Patnitop
Day 4: Patnitop - Srinagar (Shikara ride in Dal Lake in the evening)
Day 5: Srinagar - Kargil
Day 6: Kargil - Leh
Day 7: Leh sightseeing (Thiksey, Hemis, Shey etc.) and get the permit made for Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri
Day 8: Leh - Khardung La - Nubra Valley (Diskit or Hunder)
Day 9: Nubra Valley - Khardung La - Leh
Day 10: Leh - Pangong Tso
Day 11: Pangong Tso - Leh
Day 12: Leh
Day 13: Leh - Upshi - Chumathang - Tso Moriri (Korzok)
Day 14: Tso Moriri - Tso Kar Pang/Sarchu
Day 15: Pang/Sarchu - Jispa/Keylong/Sissu
Day 16: Jispa/Keylong/Sissu - Manali
Day 17: Manali - Chandigarh
Day 18: Chandigarh - Delhi

Obviously this is not fixed in stone but it's our basic idea right now...

What do you think??
Your plan is basically solid. Arn and Tsk have both posted great feedback - sort of stuff you should consider.

Personally, having done all these areas on a bike, I will suggest a few things also, given you have 18 day time constraint.

First, you spent/waste a good amount of time getting in and out from the crap riding areas - Delhi-Manali and Delhi-right before Srinigar. Those areas are neither nice, nor culturally interesting. Srinigar is interesting for the Pakistan influence, but Dal lake is an ugly completely overrated cesspool. Basically, this part of your route is rather drab. If I could hire a tow to quickly bypass these areas, I would certainly consider it...

I like the clockwise route. Arn gives good reasons to consider anti-clockwise. But here is the thing: when you do cw, you slowly build up to bigger and better things and get excited every day. I would imagine that the ccw route is the other way around - you see the best and the coolest, and then you are slowly moving down to scenery that is not nearly as impressive.

Perhaps you should consider only doing Delhi-Leh-Leh side trips and really explore those areas. I would much rather go to Turtuk and spend a day there than Amritsar/Patnitop. Maybe spend a day at Pangong last village and try to go up Marsimik La. Or maybe spend a night tenting with the nomads around Tso Mororiri... Things like that... IMO, they would be a lot more worth it than the Amritsar/Patnitop detour...
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:53 PM   #33
Yamahuh OP
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Amritsar? That is out of the way slightly unless you want to see the Golden temple. I would suggest you see Golden temple. Its really a wonderful sight.
you also get very nice food there. Its the "non veg food capital" of India.


Enfield is grand and royal. but sometimes pain is also royal pain.
A Karizma, or a Pulsar 220 will do fine.
Pulsar comes with a big fuel tank too, and is very fuel efficient. It will climb all slopes. do not bother with camping/cooking gear. If you can reach there, the place will have atleast tented acco + food.
Yeah the only reason we had Amritsar in there was to see the Golden Temple - although most of the focus will be on riding up into the Himalaya we also want to see some of the sites

Really appreciate your input and suggested route adjustments tsk1979
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:13 PM   #34
arn
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I have a different POV about the somewhat boring ride to the mountains - getting used to the bike. Sure, something like the Pulsar or Karizma do not have much of a learning curve, but all the same, doing those 600 oddkm on them (and getting a taste of the traffic) on smooth flat roads is a bit better than learning on the narrow Leh Manali road, for instance
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:28 PM   #35
Yamahuh OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arn View Post
Travel in this area has it's own set of problems:
  • Political disturbances in the Kashmir Valley which can lead to traffic shutdowns on the Kargil Srinagar route
  • Weather disturbances that can shut down Rohtang pass, the lowest but by far the most lethal on that route
  • A minimum of 2-3 low activity days once you hit about 11000 ft to acclimatize. Docs recommend about 5 days.
Now why am I writing all this? Just because you have planned a trip in August (usually the safest time)

Actually we'll be there in September - not sure if that makes much difference one way or the other though


Now what happens if you reach Keylong and the weather goes bad and the Rohtang and nearby passes are shut. You may have to stay there for maybe 3 days. Maybe more. Do you have that much standby time or will you miss your flight back? The road is the only route out. However, if you are travelling in the opposite direction, Delhi, Manali, Leh , Srinagar, you have the options of loading your vehicles in the train at Srinagar and flying to Delhi, skipping Amritsar, etc, which automatically gives you a buffer of some sort, so that you can catch your flight out.

This is a good point and not something we had considered - although I have been noticing on almost every thread I look at (both here and on other sites) that while everyplace else is beautiful and blue the Rohtang pass is - more often than not - whiteout conditions and distinctly shitty looking. The reason we were thinking of doing this from Delhi to Amritsar was because we had been led to believe that it would be a better route to help us acclimatize. However, your info and suggestion that we get through Rohtang early to give ourselves some time to make chages to our intinereary on the other side (should it be closed or unpassable for a day or two) makes perfect sense. We coudl skip Amritsar or any of the side trips that we are thinking of at the moment if needs be and hang for a day or two in Keylong to acclimatize.

Yep - good suggestion - Thanks


You need to get used to the bikes (no big deal for the Karizma/Pulsar/CBR) and the traffic (that can be a PRETTY BIG DEAL), so the first day stopover would be Chandigarh, then Manali (too low to start he acclimatization process), followed by Keylong. A very good alternative to Manali would be Vashist, just a few km away, everything would be a lot cheaper, the 2 km climb to town which is an irritation for somebody on foot is not felt when you have your own transport.

Again - great suggestions


I agree I got a bit carried away by the anti enfield tirade, but this is a place where you really do not want a breakdown of any sort, and you want your bike to brake and handle well, as the consequences of something going wrong can be far more catastrophic as compared to what can happen in less hostile climates and terrain

Understood and exactly why I am spending so much time peering at my computer screen lately The allure of the Enfield is great (romantic, classic, iconic, and quite possibly just 'ick') but I'd be a fool to think that we could bank on it being reliable.

But Yamahuh has limited time. I'm not sure he wants to spend it repairing his ride or making friends with mechanics all along the route when he could be visiting places he's been planning to see for years. We're here to help him choose the "Best" ride. He's not familiar with any of the bikes. Under those circumstance, if we consider what his priorities are, what are the chances that the bike we recommend is going to screw his trip? Mind you, any bike can, it's just that some are several times as capable as others. If any of my Indian friends wanted to do he same thing on his bullet, I would not even bring up the matter of his bike, for the simple reason, that having had this bike for some time at least (and knowing what else is available), he's going into it with his eyes wide open, the very best of luck and good wishes to him.

What would one say if he guy on the scooter kept insisting that that is the best mode of transport in the Himalayas? Or Nathan the CT110, and the farmer his tractor, with trailer? Can we call that guiding or misleading?
Maybe, Yamahuh, you need an extra day in Delhi to ride the Bullet, the Karizma, the CBR and the Pulsar back to back, and then decide which would be "best" for you.

We had hoped to avoid this and have bikes booked so that we could show up and be off and riding in a day or two but...
Great info and suggestions Arn
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:39 PM   #36
Yamahuh OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Witold View Post
Your plan is basically solid. Arn and Tsk have both posted great feedback - sort of stuff you should consider.

Personally, having done all these areas on a bike, I will suggest a few things also, given you have 18 day time constraint.

First, you spent/waste a good amount of time getting in and out from the crap riding areas - Delhi-Manali and Delhi-right before Srinigar. Those areas are neither nice, nor culturally interesting. Srinigar is interesting for the Pakistan influence, but Dal lake is an ugly completely overrated cesspool.

Really?


I like the clockwise route. Arn gives good reasons to consider anti-clockwise. But here is the thing: when you do cw, you slowly build up to bigger and better things and get excited every day. I would imagine that the ccw route is the other way around - you see the best and the coolest, and then you are slowly moving down to scenery that is not nearly as impressive.

I do like his idea of getting perhaps the most troublesome area out of the way quickly and if needs be we could spend more time in Leh doing day trips around (without worrying about whether Rohtang is going to completely screw us up) and then hustle through from Srinigar back to Delhi if we were short on time

Perhaps you should consider only doing Delhi-Leh-Leh side trips and really explore those areas. I would much rather go to Turtuk and spend a day there than Amritsar/Patnitop. Maybe spend a day at Pangong last village and try to go up Marsimik La. Or maybe spend a night tenting with the nomads around Tso Mororiri... Things like that... IMO, they would be a lot more worth it than the Amritsar/Patnitop detour...
You guys are giving me tons of things to consider but I really appreciate all the great info.
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:59 PM   #37
arn
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In fact, once you return to Delhi (subject to availability of time), you could consider a side trip to Amritsar - by train.

It will save you time. Bike (as you may not be too keen to ride at night) >> extra day.
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:23 PM   #38
glasswave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Witold View Post
Your opposing view and opinion has nothing to do with the question at hand, title of thread: What is the best bike for Leh/Ladakh.
Neither does this part of your post have anything to do with the topic of this thread. I was replying to what I felt was hyperbole on the part of Ang. I don't think that riding this route on an Enfield vs a Pulsar is a decision of life or death consequences. He then responded to me & I responded in turn. This is how forums work.

Your assertion that opposing views and opinions have no place on internet forums would be laughable if it weren't so imbecilic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Witold View Post
Unquestionably, Enfields are not the best bike for such trip. (aside from the expensive EFI one). The primary reason why people take Enfields is because they are cheapest and easiest thing you can rent. That doesn't make them the best by any metric other than price.
Well, apparently there is room for debate on the topic since 5 of the 7 people polled have recommended RE's. Oh wait, you already said taht the Pulsars are the "best" choice so that's the end of the story. Oops, wait again, now you have decreed that RE's are the cheapest and the easiest to rent. So if you are looking for cheap and convenient, apparently RE's may be a good (the best?) choice. BTW, I never said the RE was the best choice, that differs from person to person, I just tried to give the op some food for thought.

I'll give you another reason or two, an Enfield feels like a real bike. I've ridden a Pulsar for a fair stretch, and it was indeed loads of fun, but it feels like a mini bike, like a toy. This does not apply to Ymahuh, but the Enfield can also be a better choice if you wish to go two up, or carry camping gear.

Now wait, why are the Pulsars the best choice. Oh yeah, they are most reliable. Best on a single metric

Quote:
Originally Posted by Witold View Post
And yes, obviously, a lot of Enfield riders complete their trips trouble free. Though I wonder how many of them have actually taken any tougher roads, like to Tso Morori route, Marsimik-La, Salsal, Thit Zarbo La. Any old joe on any bike can go up Khardung La and and down to Pangong first village.
I've been to Tso Moriri on an Enfield as well as Padum and to Spiti (quite a rough road) on an Enfield. No complaints really (well actually, they are slow heavy pigs of a bike), just carry some spares and keep on top of all the bits and bobs.

Finally,
I previously wrote:
"If I had 3 only weeks and was prepared to go super light, a pulsar would be more fun."

So really, just what is your problem?
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Old 02-02-2012, 10:47 PM   #39
arn
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Wink

I'd view the poll results with a bushel of salt, as people like ColdC have probably voted there


More important than the poll IMO are the reasons as to why or why not to go in for any particular choice.


I have not voted, BTW
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:50 PM   #40
Yamahuh OP
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Arn - If we were to take your advice and do the route in the reverse order it raises a couple of questions:

1: After acclimatizing in Keylong would we be able to visit Tso Moriri before getting to Leh or do we need to pick up passes in Leh before going there?

2: Using Leh as our base for a few days what are some destination options that you would recommend and that are doable in easy day trips / overnight with accomodations available (preferably without additional paperwork to the Inner Line permit for Khardung La / Nubra Valley / Pangong Tso etc)?

3: Not including Amritsar (which we may or may not get to depending on time) what are some recommendations for nice destinations on the stretch between Srinagar / Kishtwar and Delhi?

4: At a push - and with fully functioning steeds - how long would it normally take to get from Srinagar to Delhi without riding at night?

Thanks guys!

Yam
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:52 PM   #41
Yamahuh OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glasswave View Post

Now wait, why are the Pulsars the best choice. Oh yeah, they are most reliable. Best on a single metric
That might just be the most important one for us...

Quote:
Originally Posted by arn View Post
I'd view the poll results with a bushel of salt, as people like ColdC have probably voted there

I wonder why he took his posts down? After all he did do the trip and he did do it on an Enfield - his experience is whatever it happened to be...whether it's transferrable or not is perhaps another question

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Old 02-03-2012, 12:31 AM   #42
glasswave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arn View Post
Travel in this area has it's own set of problems:
  • Political disturbances in the Kashmir Valley which can lead to traffic shutdowns on the Kargil Srinagar route
  • Weather disturbances that can shut down Rohtang pass, the lowest but by far the most lethal on that route
  • Acclimation
The political situation bit is unpredictable, however people have to live, work, eat etc so usually a shutdown of more than a day or two is not common. Besides, there are flights out in an emergency from Srinagar.

The weather -all bets are off.

AMS - acclimatization does not start at altitudes of less than 9 - 10000 ft, and before you go into the "danger zone" as it were, it's better to be fresh and rested, and started on Diamox as a preventive measure.

Now why am I writing all this? Just because you have planned a trip in August (usually the safest time) does not mean the weather gods have sanctioned it, or some fundamentalist politician fanning hatred in Srinagar. Now what happens if you reach Keylong and the weather goes bad and the Rohtang and nearby passes are shut. You may have to stay there for maybe 3 days. Maybe more. Do you have that much standby time or will you miss your flight back? The road is the only route out. However, if you are travelling in the opposite direction, Delhi, Manali, Leh , Srinagar, you have the options of loading your vehicles in the train at Srinagar and flying to Delhi, skipping Amritsar, etc, which automatically gives you a buffer of some sort, so that you can catch your flight out.

That's why I suggest you do it in the opposite direction. Hopefully, none of the scenarios I've mentioned will happen and it will be a collection of happy memories and gorgeous photos that you take back, wondering perhaps as to why I painted such a gloomy picture, when the reality is so rosy. It's just that that's what contingency planning is about.

The changes you'd have to make, though, would be to try cross the Rohtang at the earliest, to get to Keylong where you can acclimatize. Plenty of reasonable places to stay, and just take it easy and drink in the surroundings, and take the sort of photos that turn all your friends green with envy for the next two days before moving on.

Personally, I prefer to cross Punjab at night (avoids the hideous traffic) and be in the hills by early morning so as to reach Manali by one or so, but that is DEFINITELY NOT for you. You need to get used to the bikes (no big deal for the Karizma/Pulsar/CBR) and the traffic (that can be a PRETTY BIG DEAL), so the first day stopover would be Chandigarh, then Manali (too low to start he acclimatization process), followed by Keylong. A very good alternative to Manali would be Vashist, just a few km away, everything would be a lot cheaper, the 2 km climb to town which is an irritation for somebody on foot is not felt when you have your own transport.
This is all very good advice. If you have no experience no experience with India traffic, or in other developing nations, it can be quite an adjustment. My first trip to India, I took a cab ride from Delhi to Derha Dun, and just riding in the cab scared me to death. Remember, herein lies the greatest danger, getting smashed under an oncoming truck (in your lane) or a bus or a jeep, cow cart etc. Pedrestrians should know enought to yield, but my greatest fear is hitting an inattentive child, there are many, especially in rural areas w/o much traffic.

To that end, if you've had no experience, you may want to consider making arrangement to take the bikes to Chandaghar on the train with you, I've been told this is possible. Then you could leave from there to Shimla the next morning at 4:30 or 5:00, hiring a cab to show you out of town and thus avoid the traffic. City traffic and riding on the busy highways on the plains takes much more getting used to than the mountains, IMO, but then again, mountain driving has been a part of my life since childhood. Spend the afternoon walking up to the monkey temple (execise at 2200m) and seeing this classic Raj hill station. Leave Shimla to Mandi at first light, and if all is going well then shoot for Manali (a big day). It'd give you time to warm up on roads with less traffic.

Weather problems can be for real. On my first trip to Ladakh, I arrived in Darcha having trekked 17 days from Lamaryuru only to find that a landslide had closed the road to Rhotang and that it was expected to be closed for months. many tourists were heading back to Leh to fly or bus to Srinagar. I decided to continue my walk, so I hitched to Baralacha La and walked down to Chandra Tal in 3 more days. I thought at that point, I might as well trek on to Manali, but the route prove to difficult for unguided trekking so I hitched a ride on a truck crossing the Rhotang in sleeting snow and showed up in Manali in full monsoon weather.

Speaking to acclimation, most people show no AMS symptoms until approaching the 3500-4000 meter range. If you were in Manali, I'd take a test run up to the Rhotang, getting some exercise atop the pass if you felt you were up to it. Perhaps a ski on the snowfield? You could then shoot back to back to Manali if you felt poorly or on to Keylang. You can take "rest/acclimation day" there. I am a firm believer in active rest days, walk high, sleep low. I think two or three rest days at the same elevation is a waste of time. Also, I don't like Diamox, it can relieve mild AMS symptoms, but it also can mask them, leading one to believe they are ok, and to push upward when they should really be resting or descending. Listen to your body and don't ignor the signs. If someone else says you don't seem well and you are compelled to argue, you are likely in big trouble, descend! Make that a rule, if your buddy says we "need to go down," then no argument, it's time to go.

Try and go for a little walk atop the Baralacha La as well, even 10 minutes. This helps loads. If you feel good after walking 15 minutes atop the Baralacha La, you're good to go! Everyone is different, listen to your body, some of the strongest athletes can have trouble while fat ass gringos do great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Witold View Post
First, you spent/waste a good amount of time getting in and out from the crap riding areas - Delhi-Manali and Delhi-right before Srinigar. Those areas are neither nice, nor culturally interesting. Srinigar is interesting for the Pakistan influence, but Dal lake is an ugly completely overrated cesspool. Basically, this part of your route is rather drab. If I could hire a tow to quickly bypass these areas, I would certainly consider it...

I like the clockwise route. Arn gives good reasons to consider anti-clockwise. But here is the thing: when you do cw, you slowly build up to bigger and better things and get excited every day. I would imagine that the ccw route is the other way around - you see the best and the coolest, and then you are slowly moving down to scenery that is not nearly as impressive.
I agree that if you could "get a tow" up to the mountains, that it'd be worth it. Most of the Northern plains are not so interesting and the main roads are dangerous, especially for newbies.

Culturaly and scenically, I'd go for the ccw route. I like the way you progress through the Hindu lands and slowly enter more Budhist influence as the people look more Asian, then you leave Leh, and the people take on a Persian look as you enter the muslim lands. You can notice the difference valley to valley. It's the intersection of three of the worlds greatest cultures. Scenery wise, I don't think you can beat the trip out from Kargil to Padum, simply awesome. Kargil to Srinighar is also amazing, the way you cross over the final pass to the "green side" of the Himal and down to Kashmir and area as fecund as the Serengehetti. Stay on the little lake (Nigeen, much nicer, I recommend Rafeeks palce), quaffing brews and three squares in a day, then ship the bikes back to Delhi.

Conversely, getting to Rhotang at the end of September means that the monsoon should be starting to wain. With perhaps better weather on to Chandaghar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arn View Post
@ glasswave: Bashed up scooters have done it, a moped called dot has done it, ... They can all do it, no argument at all. To each his own as well, again no doubt about it.

I agree I got a bit carried away by the anti enfield tirade, but this is a place where you really do not want a breakdown of any sort, and you want your bike to brake and handle well, as the consequences of something going wrong can be far more catastrophic as compared to what can happen in less hostile climates and terrain

But Yamahuh has limited time. I'm not sure he wants to spend it repairing his ride or making friends with mechanics all along the route when he could be visiting places he's been planning to see for years. We're here to help him choose the "Best" ride. He's not familiar with any of the bikes. Under those circumstance, if we consider what his priorities are, what are the chances that the bike we recommend is going to screw his trip? Mind you, any bike can, it's just that some are several times as capable as others. If any of my Indian friends wanted to do he same thing on his bullet, I would not even bring up the matter of his bike, for the simple reason, that having had this bike for some time at least (and knowing what else is available), he's going into it with his eyes wide open, the very best of luck and good wishes to him.

What would one say if he guy on the scooter kept insisting that that is the best mode of transport in the Himalayas? Or Nathan the CT110, and the farmer his tractor, with trailer? Can we call that guiding or misleading?
Well, for some reason, it was best for him. As quoted per scooter dude, "This is more my style, I'd rather tool along on my scooter than worry about a big heavy bike."

As per my original, post, were it me, with only 3 weeks, and going super light, I'd take the Pulsar. Probably the 180, due to the more upright riding position and wider bars.

My final bit of advice for Yamahuh is:

GET MORE TIME!!!, 3 weeks is cutting it razor thin. Beg, borrow or steal a forth week. As you said it's the trip of a lifetime. I'd never attempt it on less than eight, I admire your fortitude.
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glasswave screwed with this post 02-03-2012 at 12:42 AM
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:19 AM   #43
Yamahuh OP
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Thanks guys - can't tell you how much I 'preciate your input.
Re: the 4th week - would that I could - unfortunately our schedule is determined by my friends vacation time not mine - once he heads home my wife will be flying in to meet me so I have as much time as I need but my buddy Tim had to beg, borrow and steal to get 3 weeks - sucks but there it is...
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Old 02-03-2012, 01:17 PM   #44
arn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yamahuh View Post
I wonder why he took his posts down? After all he did do the trip and he did do it on an Enfield - his experience is whatever it happened to be...whether it's transferrable or not is perhaps another question
He took his post down because his experience was quite possibly NOT what he claimed it to be - he claimed to have ridden through a snowstorm for 40 km but did not have a speck of snow on his bike. In sub zero temperatures, snow does not disappear that easily. Besides, you cannot ride in a snowstorm up in the mountains.

Coming to your questions:

I am NOT the best person to answer some of these for the simple reason that Tso Moriri etc were not on my agenda at all - I did not have time. So you'd get a far more accurate answer at BCMT, for instance. In case you are planning a portion of your travel through an agent, he may be able to present an answer as well as to whether you can get your permits without applying in person (in advance).

What I'd suggest though is that you do your homework on a list of destinations and plan only for the next day. You'd get good advice at whichever hotel you stay as to what are the places worth visiting/within reasonable distance/ what is shut on which particular day etc. For example you may want to visit one of the monasteries - the hotel will be able to give you more accurate info as to which might be of more interest to you, and it may not be the one you originally planned to see. LOCAL knowledge trumps visitor's (including mine!) every time :) The "Dal lake" parallel if you wish. (Once you get to Srinagar it may be worth your while to ask where they dump the sewage ....)

If doing the trip CCW, Srinagar Delhi is an irritating "cold turkey" ferry run. There will be traffic, army convoys, if present can rob you of substantial time as well. You'll have to cross the cities in Punjab too (I wonder how many of the flyovers/bypasses have been completed?), which means traffic, substantial quantities of it, one of the reasons why I've always made it a point to whizz through at night. It's also the sort of distance which will take you nothing less than two days unless you skip meals, ride fast, start before the crack of dawn and enter Delhi in rush hour with the setting sun. The only POI on the route seems to be Dharamshala ... but again I think you might want to think carefully about whether it is worth spending a day there as opposed to somewhere in the mountains.

Something to mull over - have the rental outfit pick up the bikes from there/put them on transport to Delhi, then spend a day seeing the Mughal gardens/local handicrafts, and fly back/take a overnight train back - to Delhi, perhaps to Amritsar.



Quote:
Originally Posted by glasswave View Post
This is all very good advice. If you have no experience no experience with India traffic, or in other developing nations, it can be quite an adjustment. My first trip to India, I took a cab ride from Delhi to Derha Dun, and just riding in the cab scared me to death. Remember, herein lies the greatest danger, getting smashed under an oncoming truck (in your lane) or a bus or a jeep, cow cart etc. Pedrestrians should know enought to yield, but my greatest fear is hitting an inattentive child, there are many, especially in rural areas w/o much traffic.

To that end, if you've had no experience, you may want to consider making arrangement to take the bikes to Chandaghar on the train with you, I've been told this is possible. Then you could leave from there to Shimla the next morning at 4:30 or 5:00, hiring a cab to show you out of town and thus avoid the traffic. City traffic and riding on the busy highways on the plains takes much more getting used to than the mountains, IMO, but then again, mountain driving has been a part of my life since childhood. Spend the afternoon walking up to the monkey temple (execise at 2200m) and seeing this classic Raj hill station. Leave Shimla to Mandi at first light, and if all is going well then shoot for Manali (a big day). It'd give you time to warm up on roads with less traffic.

[COLOR="rgb(255, 0, 255)"]True, that! Learning to drive ride in India with Delhi as the first lesson is something like learning to swim at the deep end. That said, you'll pick up the traffic " rules" soon enough[/COLOR]

Weather problems can be for real. On my first trip to Ladakh, I arrived in Darcha having trekked 17 days from Lamaryuru only to find that a landslide had closed the road to Rhotang and that it was expected to be closed for months. many tourists were heading back to Leh to fly or bus to Srinagar. I decided to continue my walk, so I hitched to Baralacha La and walked down to Chandra Tal in 3 more days. I thought at that point, I might as well trek on to Manali, but the route prove to difficult for unguided trekking so I hitched a ride on a truck crossing the Rhotang in sleeting snow and showed up in Manali in full monsoon weather.

Now that sounds CRAZY And AWESOME!

Speaking to acclimation, most people show no AMS symptoms until approaching the 3500-4000 meter range. If you were in Manali, I'd take a test run up to the Rhotang, getting some exercise atop the pass if you felt you were up to it. Perhaps a ski on the snowfield? You could then shoot back to back to Manali if you felt poorly or on to Keylang. You can take "rest/acclimation day" there. I am a firm believer in active rest days, walk high, sleep low. I think two or three rest days at the same elevation is a waste of time. Also, I don't like Diamox, it can relieve mild AMS symptoms, but it also can mask them, leading one to believe they are ok, and to push upward when they should really be resting or descending. Listen to your body and don't ignor the signs. If someone else says you don't seem well and you are compelled to argue, you are likely in big trouble, descend! Make that a rule, if your buddy says we "need to go down," then no argument, it's time to go.

The plus point with a bike is that it can lose altitude just as it gains it - fast. Apart from Keylong, you can also start the acclimatization process at Marhi (20km before Rohtang at 11thousand something feet) Trouble is, there is very little accommodation there - but it is an option if the pass is blocked for a day - to go back to Manali/Vashist is fairly useless from the acclimatization POV. Keylong is at the more or less the same altitude, but on the other side of the Rohtang.

Re: Diamox - I was advised to take it by the doctor at the local hospital, after the episode at Tanglang La. It's possible that it may have beneficial effects apart from simply masking symptoms.

I'd like to add to the very valid points to fight against AMS mentioned by glasswave, this time from personal experience, As he mentioned, fitness makes little difference. I was in martial arts training at that time and the first day at that altitude was, let's put it this way, not nice. I think one of the factors that aggravate it tremendously is fatigue. On both occasions that I got the splitting headache and nausea, I was short of a night's sleep, one of those occasions I'd ridden non stop from Delhi, some 10hrs for me. On a subsequent occasion - this time rested, - Nothing. Nothing at all


Try and go for a little walk atop the Baralacha La as well, even 10 minutes. This helps loads. If you feel good after walking 15 minutes atop the Baralacha La, you're good to go! Everyone is different, listen to your body, some of the strongest athletes can have trouble while fat ass gringos do great.



My final bit of advice for Yamahuh is:

GET MORE TIME!!!, 3 weeks is cutting it razor thin. Beg, borrow or steal a forth week. As you said it's the trip of a lifetime. I'd never attempt it on less than eight, I admire your fortitude.

arn screwed with this post 02-03-2012 at 09:35 PM
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:32 AM   #45
Yamahuh OP
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Thanks Arn - been talking to the guys over on BCMT as well as here - will post my Tso Moriri Q up for Yogesh.
Once again - as always - really appreciate the input and solid advice.

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