Ever look at a map of the world and wonder: What’s left to explore?

Royal Enfield has done the same, and realized the only places that remain relatively unconquered by motorcycle are the Far North and the Far South. So, to showcase the capabilities of the Himalayan adventure bike, Royal Enfield is planning a journey to the South Pole.

Details of the expedition

The press release says,

To commemorate 120 years of the pure motorcycling culture, Royal Enfield will take on yet another ambitious attempt—a first-of-its-kind motorcycle expedition that will attempt to reach the geographic South Pole.

90° SOUTH – Quest for the Pole serves as a tribute to the brand’s commitment to pure motorcycling, and to the courage and fortitude of explorers who have made history on two wheels. In this ambitious attempt to push the boundaries of motorcycling possibilities, two Royal Enfield riders will undertake a 39-day trek across Antarctica on a 478-mile (770 km) ride from the Ross Ice Shelf via the Leverette Glacier on expedition-ready Royal Enfield Himalayans. The journey is to commence on November 26, 2021, beginning in Cape Town, South Africa. The expedition will witness two Royal Enfield riders—Santhosh Vijay Kumar, Lead – Rides & Community, Royal Enfield; and Dean Coxson, Senior Engineer – Product Development, Royal Enfield—attempting to reach the geographic South Pole to the Amundsen-Scott Pole station.

 

Well. This does indeed sound like a bold venture.

However, it will not be the first motorcycle trip to the South Pole. Shinji Kazama rode a motorcycle to both the South Pole and North Pole back in the 1980s, along with wins at the Dakar Rally and Rallye des Pharaons, and other adventures.

Royal Enfield says it will partner with Antarctic tour operators Arctic Trucks for the journey, riding along a compacted snow track from the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole, to “reduce motorcycle drag and limit emissions to an absolute minimum.” They’re “ensuring no footprint is left behind by the expedition team except wheel tracks that will quickly be lost to snow drift.” Royal Enfield’s expedition will even pack out its own poop, to ensure the Antarctic environment stays pristine.

Details of the bikes

Royal Enfield is taking two modified Himalayans on this trip, modified in-house to bust through the ice and snow and function in the extreme cold. The machines have already gone through two testing procedures to make sure they can handle the Arctic environment. Again, as per the press release.
The Himalayan was tested for this arduous journey at the Langjokull glacier in Iceland, with an intent to mirror the conditions in Antarctica. Phase 1 of testing was held in September 2020 while phase 2 of testing concluded in July 2021.

 

Minimal changes have been made to the Himalayan motorcycles to make them ready for the terrain and weather conditions in Antarctica. For greater torque at the rear wheel, the countershaft sprocket has been changed from a 15- to a 13-tooth unit. A tubeless wheel setup with studded tires will allow the tires to run at very low pressures, and to increase floatation on soft snow while also providing adequate traction on hard ice. The team has introduced a stronger alternator using rare earth magnets, enabling the Himayalans to produce more current and enable the team to run heated gear off the battery.
Interesting mods for sure, but one of the challenges Shinji Kazama faced on one of his polar journeys was, his air-cooled bike wouldn’t heat up to proper operating temperature in the extreme cold. His team actually ended up putting guards around the engine to lessen airflow, to work around the problem, and went to a liquid-cooled machine the next time. Other ice-road-adventurer types have reported similar issues with extreme-cold riding in the Canadian North. We’ll see if Royal Enfield experiences the same problems, or if the electronic fuel injection serves to minimize the issue.

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