Top 9 tips while touring

It’s been quite a journey. After having enough of falling off cycles, I hopped on to motorbikes (more on that here – The thought was it should be easier right, no effort of pedalling. But now, two motorbikes, many a trainings from riding gurus and after clocking over 1,00,000kms, I’ve come to realise that I have a lot more to learn. But more on that later.

For now, after learning what not to do from my experiences with my better ‘three-forth’ AKA my small-decision-maker, have listed down top things to do/not do when you go touring, especially if you are going solo.

  1. KEEP YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS INFORMED: Learnt it the real hard way. Once, during one of my initial jaunts, after a long day’s ride, reached Sarchu, a place between Leh and Manali. There’s just no mobile network coverage out there. Yes, I should have called my small-decision maker before starting, maybe I was lazy, maybe I didn’t want to disturb her early in the morning. Anyway, that’s now history, couldn’t update her, and couldn’t reach her till the end of next day when I reached Manali. What happened next is, err, let’s leave it as being understood?
    The lesson learnt is that you should call your family and friends and keep them  informed daily. Give them a call before you start the ride for the day and tell them where you’re headed. Call them (or text) again to let them know you’re ok after you stop at the end of the day. If you know that over the next few days, you are going to be somewhere remote and telephone/internet connectivity might be a problem, let them know. It is also a good idea to let a friend know as well – preferably one of your regular riding buddies. A simple text updating your ride status 2-3 times a day should do. In case of an untoward incident or a mishap, a family is bound to get panicky. But a rider friend is likely to keep a cool head and will use his instincts to help you get out of the mess, and keep your family posted.
  2. INSPECT YOUR BIKE EVERY MORNING: I’m infamous for seeming to love my bike too much. Be it lubing the chain, checking the tyres or going through T-CLOCS checklist ( But I strongly believe that a happy bike ensures a happy ride. Nothing can be worse than something going wrong in the middle of a ride, especially something that could have been taken care of before starting, that too with some support around. In the middle of the road you have no tools, no support, no spare parts. Biggest telltale sign of an unhappy bike is oil stains on the ground where you parked. Also, when you start, instead of gunning right away, go easy for a few km, letting both your body and bike to warm up while paying attention to anything unusual in the bike’s performance.
  3. PACK LIGHT: This is something everyone says, and no one follows, that is until they
    WhatsApp Image 2020-04-19 at 7.49.19 PM

    Not my bike, just in case you were wondering 😉

    experience it themselves. The first time I went on a long one, I thought I had to be well prepared, planned for contingencies and back-up for contingencies. But the way things panned out, I didn’t need any of what I thought I needed, let alone the contingency or its back up. Worse still, the ones that I actually needed were buried under the contingencies and couldn’t be easily accessed. Lesson learnt – most of the day you will be riding, and your gear is good enough to last you through the day. The only additional clothes you will need is a pair for use while retiring for the day, and a couple of undergarments. Have multiple smaller bags inside one large one while packing, one for tools, one for clothes, one for eats, one for accessories for you camera, one for extra gear like raincoats/thermals et al. This helps you get to what you are looking for easily. Travelling light makes it so much easier to pack and unpack. The best way I’ve realised over the years is to keep all the things that I want to pack and then fight with myself to categorise them as a need or a want. I then ditch all the wants and half of the needs and I’m good to go.

  4. HAVE A PLAN, BUT BE WILLING TO DEVIATE: This is akin to “trust in god, but lock
    Screenshot 2020-04-19 at 8.14.09 PM

    BRO clearing a landslide

    your bike”. Having a plan is critical, but flexibility to change it is paramount. Plan helps you with point 1 above. While in unfamiliar territory, knowing where the next fuel spot is or good place to halt is critical. Also, to know what distance you can cover in a difficult terrain, a simple rule of thumb is to plan for 20-25kmph or approximately 25-30% of the distance you cover in good roads. The same 200km you cover in under 3hours in the plains can take well over 10 hours in the hill, maybe more in case of landslides or roadblocks. Tiredness will set in easily. And trust me, after riding a long patch of pathetically bumpy roads, more so in the rain and cold, when you get off your saddle, every part of you will be totally numb. Having a day or two as contingency or a zero day would be a life saver. If your body and/or bike is tired, call it off for the day. Relax and start afresh the next day.

  5. EAT AND DRINK RIGHT: If you are like me, who enjoys exploring new cuisines, new  menu, then this is not for you. But for some, eating alone while travelling can be boring affair. To some, breaking the momentum by pulling over for lunch or snack seems to be a drag. But skipping meals is not a great idea. Just like you do at home,  setting regular times to eat is a good idea. Be flexible, if you find a good spot to eat, ±30 minutes from the planned time, go for it. For one thing, you may not find the next good spot very soon. It would be a good idea to avoid anything heavy or anything that feels you drowsy. Fresh fruits or salads, energy bars and chocolates can act as that meal between meals. And most importantly, drink lots of water throughout your ride. You can get dehydrated very soon, without even realising it.
  6. WHEN TO START IS THE KEY MANTRA: I usually start late in the night or wee hours in the morning when near metros. The main reasons include, beating the heat and traffic. Usually there is an embargo for heavy vehicles in the day and they usually start at 9:00PM, best to avoid that time, especially near the outskirts of any city. It can be particularly unnerving to see a heavy vehicle going at 40kmph overtaking another going at 39kmph, blocking the entire road. In the hills however, I start early, as soon as there is a hint of sunlight and finish early. Many reasons to this, the flow of nallahs (water from glaciers flowing on the road) is much lesser thanks to it freezing over the night, you are better prepared for unexpected events like a flat, a roadblock, a landslide or simply bad weather. Best part is that the photos that you capture at sunrise are simply priceless. Also, nothing can be worse than trying to look for a place to sack out after sundown, given the fact that life almost comes to a standstill in the hills after dark. And when all goes well, you end up having time to spare for a little walk around or take in the sights.
  7. CONTROL YOUR TEMPER: There will always be jokers on the roads, people in cages
    Screenshot 2020-04-19 at 6.39.00 PM

    Truck in a hurry to overtake a van!

    overtaking in blind curves, yet others getting irked at a puny two-wheeler overtaking them, or some moron busy on phone and not spotting you. It is very easy to get irked, get into an altercation or at the very least show them the finger. Have been there many a times. Well, don’t. It’s just not worth it. He is not worth it. For one think, as sure as hell, within a few minutes, you too will mess up, karma of sorts, and you will be at the receiving end. No, I’m not superstitious, but with the incident on top of your head and/or you looking over your shoulder while riding will for sure get you into a spot, sooner than later. Instead, just ignore the joker and go ahead with what you are there for, enjoy the vistas and the ride, let the morons be. Worst case, take break, click a picture, a smoke or what ever that calms your nerves before you move on.

  8. ID AND IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (ICE) DETAILS: Always keep an ID with you and a list of ICE numbers. Your driving license should serve you well for the ID purpose. Keep another form of ID if you can as a precautionary measure. Have a list of In Case of Emergency details with you. Mention your address, phone numbers, blood group, contact numbers of at least 3 individuals who should be contacted in case of an emergency. Keep this on you all the time. Another important but oft ignored fact is that we don’t remember phone numbers anymore. The mobile phones have killed that capability of ours. When your phone runs out of battery or worse, losing or killing it (by accidentally dropping it into water for instance), you are completely done for. Have a small piece of paper in your wallet with details of your important contacts. same goes with spare keys to your bike, for sure dent keep them locked inside your panniers, you’ll need your keys to access the keys.
  9. GET FRIENDLY WITH THE LOCALS: I just can’t emphasise this enough, the
    Screenshot 2020-04-19 at 6.44.49 PM

    Helpful localites (Unintentional capture from my GoPro)

    number of times the locals have helped me, be it about road conditions, or a local delicacy or information on a place that’s not mapped, or a great place to stay, or relatively inane thing like how old the road is, more scenic detours that are available, well I could go on and on. It is a lot easier when you are solo, people tend to be intimidated interacting with a group. People themselves will approach you to talk to you when you are solo. Get friendly, click a few pictures with them and share the same with them.

Do let me know your views in the comments below.


About the author:

Muralidhar (

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.


  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.



Top 8 reasons to go solo

Whenever I meet someone who knows I’m a bike lover, they often ask me why I ride alone and some wonder about the genesis of the term Lupo Solo – Lone Wolf. To be honest, I hadn’t given it enough thought, probably the urge to go solo was more due to a taunt of a fellow rider. I once confronted this gent for not keeping to the time suggested by him. He then said I’m better off solo. So there I was, going solo. Sure there’s no one to click my picture, or someone to look over my bike when I take a quick break, these are but minor irritants.

With this COVID enforced introspection time got me thinking deeper, why indeed? Managed to collect my thoughts, grouped them to the top 8 reasons below. I’m sure there would be more, or some here you don’t agree with, or cons to going solo that are not listed. Those I would request you to leave in the comments section.

  1. I am the boss: The destination is mine, the route is mine, the pace is mine, the timeDSC_9780_Original is mine and so the motorcycle is mine as well. No obligations to reach the end of a predetermined route. If I feel like spending a day laying beside a river, I do it, without answering to anyone.
    Need I say more? Guess I will anyway.
    • I go where I want: When I ride alone there’s only one person I have to cater to while designing the route. I don’t have to bother about anyone else’s comfort with the distance, the destination, the route or the amenities enroute. The only thing that matters is what I want to do and my bucket-list.
    • I go when you want: Waiting to go is very annoying. I hate it when I’m all prepped up and am forced to wait until others turn up. It’s even worse if I have to meet people enroute, part of me knows they’ll be late and other part of me doesn’t want to be the one who’s late. Solo riding lets me head out whenever I want. Be it midnight to beat the heat and traffic or early morning to clock more miles or lazy start for a small sprint.
    • I can stop as many times as I want: I can stop when I want and take that amazing shot, or just stretch my legs or adjust my gear on answer nature’s call or listen to the nature calling. As many times I want to. Without worrying about holding people up. And the corollary holds too, I don’t need to stop for others, I don’t have to stop at a petrol bunk each time someone hits a red, trust me, it happens exactly after a couple of kms from the previous fuel break.
    • Ride Like I Want to: I can satiate that urge to twist my right wrist, whenever I want, without worrying about leaving anybody behind. Lean into that curve to my heart’s content. Scraping a peg or two. Or on the other hand, I can also take it as easy as I want, taking in the scenery, the smells, the sounds, no one will be waiting up.
  2. Interacting with New People: How often do you interact with new people without imagean official or personal motive? To me, if social obligations are the only way I end up meeting new people, then I see myself as a complete loser. On a solo motorcycle tour, I am not obligated to hang out with my buddies, there aren’t any. While I don’t enthusiastically make friends with strangers, I do occasionally meet people from different cultural and regional backgrounds. The new perspectives that I get from their stories and experiences are priceless. There have been innumerable times when localites have been lifesavers, be it warning about road conditions, or a local delicacy or information on a place that’s not mapped, well the possibilities are endless for an inquisitive mind.
  3. Practicing Self-Dependence: It is a different feeling to be totally on one’s own. SoloDSC_9813_Original is the only to make my decisions be my mistakes or my wins. I am responsible for managing my resources and keeping a check of things while traveling. Having no one but me to blame for my problems in the middle of nowhere is an unexplainable situation. Sure, blame games are a source of immediate solace. However, when solo, one does not end up wasting time on blaming instead one looks out for solutions. Also, I’m thrown into a corner to make a decision in an instant. Riding alone makes me feel independent in the most effective and efficient way. That has changed me, immensely.
  4. Spending Time with myself: We keep hearing of me-time, the latest buzz word. ButIMG_9001 how often do you really get to spend time with yourself? It is quite a rare occasion. There will always be people and their opinions. And so will the responsibilities to fulfill, one has work to be taken care of, duties to be discharged. I see travelling alone as an opportunity to understand myself better. I end up having a lot of time to think about myself, about life and about things which means to me. This is perhaps my single biggest reason why I travel solo.
  5. AppreciatIng Nature: Most of us today live in concrete jungles, the only nature we perhaps end up seeing is during the occasional visit to the zoo. Our connection with mother earth and nature is slowly getting lost. To me riding solo is a way to calibrate myself with nature, an opportunity to appreciate nature better. The sights, smells and sounds are like reset buttons in my life.
  6. Challenging myself: From the moment one thinks of a solo trip, it is a challenge. DSC_0150_OriginalConvincing people, prepping myself, my bike, deciding what to take, what not to. From day one to the last day of the ride, I’m on my own. Everything that happens (or doesn’t) is completely my doing. This reminds me of the quote – Danger is real, but fear is a choice. Being aware of the dangers and pushing the limits to lose my fear – nothing better than going solo to become more confident and comfortable.
  7. Become more Observant: When I travel in a group I barely pay attention to planning and exploring alternatives, I end up being just a luggage that my bike carries. I also too caught up in the struggle to keep up or in the wait for others. Or in the best case, I’m cocooned in my comfort zone, don’t feel any need to look at things around me. But when I’m alone I see things very differently, I start observing every small thing or people around me. Always looking for alternatives, pondering how things could go differently. Basically I start sensing rather than just seeing.
  8. Learn to take setbacks in my stride: Things almost always don’t go as planned. DSC_0159_OriginalI’ve had flats in the middle of nowhere, my bike got stuck in nallah, I skidded and dropped my bike, lost my way, got stuck in bad weather. Well, there are a lot of things I didn’t plan for or anticipate. Sure, it has set me back. But one is bereft of options, that’s when one learns to take it in their stride, looking for alternatives, a plan B of sorts. A sort of hard to forget lesson I’ve learnt when going solo.

Please do leave your comments, and please do keep coming back for more…



About the author:

Muralidhar (

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.


  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

Why I stopped driving…

It started way back, even before I could legally acquire a license. My folks didn’t own a car. That meant only one thing, I was ever more desperate to have what I didn’t – opportunity to get behind the wheel, as often and as much as possible. I’d beg, plead, cajole anyone I could. More often than not, (read 0.001%) I’d succeed. I would visit many a showrooms, pretend to be a rich rice distributor’s son and request a test drive.

Finally, 6 months into my first job, I got myself my first car – a Madison Blue Maruti 800 standard, had loads of fun, but getting into it means I’ll have to digress.

And then I upgraded to a Maruti Zen. These two Marutis amount to the maximum fun I’ve had on four wheels. I used to think that the more expensive cars are simply over-rated and I used to think that any car priced over INR 10Lac are simply a waste of money (looking back, I wonder if it was a manifestation of ‘sour grapes’). I remember being very vocal about it too. This line of thought almost cost me a job, I didn’t know the interviewer was a passionate BMW owner and this opinion of mine really irked him.

When my wife needed a car, I got a Honda City, the CVT variant (over a decade later, we still have it). At that time, she was the only auto-transmission available in the market. Runs like a gem to this day, not a scratch under the bonnet (yes, read again, I meant under the bonnet).

Finally, I bought my last car (the way it looks, probably will remain the last car) – Land Rover Freelander 2. Had my bit of fun with her, a few long drives, a bit of off road, quite a few adventures.


This video doesn’t exist

Finally, as suddenly as she came into my life, she was gone.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog – why I stopped driving.


My three girls, yes, shoot me, am partial to white, so much so that I even sport my hair white.

I found a new love, actually a few of them. It was a passion that was lying dormant for over 40 years finally erupted. My love of two wheels completely overwhelmed me. At first, it was the bicycle (read more here) and then the bikes (read more here). Once I started, I just couldn’t stop, commuting, joyrides, weekend jaunts, vacations, everything was on two wheels. The freedom, being one with the elements, the sheer thrill that the two wheels gave resulted in the cars feeling neglected. Many a reasons for this:

  • The sheer experience:

Realised quite late in life, but riding a bike is therapeutic to me. The sheer joy of wind whistling in your ears, being one with the nature is an unparalleled experience. To quote Robert Pirsig, “Driving a car is like watching a movie. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a motorcycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore.”

You smell everything, feel everything, hear everything and everything around you is a blur. Over 1,00,000kms in total with these three sets of wheels and I still haven’t had enough of it, not just yet.

  • Camaraderie:

Whether you ride in groups or prefer going solo (read more on the pros and cons of group v/s solo rides here), camaraderie is a given. Even when solo, there is a brotherhood, a feeling that is very hard to put in words, there’s instant bonding, usually. Motorcycles definitely are conversation magnets. People feel less inhibited to come and have a conversation with you. They always end up saying one of the two things – “I wish I was doing what you are” or “I wish I knew why you are doing this.” Either way, it is an awesome feeling. On the other hand, if one is in a four wheeler, there usually is a wall that seems to prevent people from coming close.

  • Solitude:

A complete contradiction to the point above huh? Actually no, while riding is enjoying the company of other like minded folks, it still remains personal, very personal. It is you, your bike and your decisions, Despite being in a group it is that feeling of solitude the second the helmet is on.

  • Practicality:

    • Time: This is a big saving. Without necessarily riding the bike faster than cars, one can save 15-25% of time. The ability to squeeze in and out of traffic, makes it much faster on two wheels, be it powered by man or ‘horses’.
    • Space: The small footprint helps you park closer to your destination. Further, the real-estate required to park one car is more than adequate for 2-3 two-wheelers.
    • Cost: This is a topic big enough to ‘earn’ its own mention as a head below:
  • Cost:

    There are multiple aspects to this head. Will try and break the cost factor of a car down below, the bikes typically are immune to this, provided you are comparing like to like. This would hold no water if  you were to compare a super bike to an entry-level hatchback:

    • Acquisition cost: With the vehicles from INR 3lac to over 3 crores, there’s a different dream car that each one of us aspires and it almost always is just out of reach. Now, in hindsight, I wonder if the basic need of mobility is defied by such a priced possession as you may not dare to or may not want to take it to many a places. Surely it is heart over brain choice.
    • Maintenance & repair: This is a biggie, more expensive the machine, costlier is the upkeep. Don’t know if it is just my experience, but there seems to be a direct correlation between the cost of the car and its propensity to get pick up a scratch or a dent. One could argue that the repair is well taken care of by the zero depreciation policies, which brings me to the next cost head
    • Insurance: Zero depreciation policies are a big boon, given the cost of the repairs, but then the premium is a handsome amount, also, they are usually offered for a maximum period of 5 years. Post that, even a minor accident can set you back in a major way.
    • Depreciation: The value of the car goes southward faster than ice melts in peak summer. In fact there are times I wonder if it is more profitable to push the car down a hill and claim the IDV value as that is surely more than the resale value of the car

Sure, one could argue there are tonnes of cons of riding a bike – safety, open to elements, limitation on how much you can carry, bugs, dust and grime all over you. More often than not you are a blind spot to guys with more wheels, even if they see you, they have little or no intention of sharing the road.

To sum up, to me being on two wheels is a pure, almost childlike joy of speed, immediacy, adventure and everything that goes with it. In fact the cons above challenge me and turn me on more! Sure, there could be a need for a four wheeler on certain occasions, for that we have the Olas, the Ubers and the self drive cars. I can proudly say that there is one car waiting for me in every corner of the globe, and I don’t even have to spend on maintaining them.

And now to answer the eternal question – “Why you are doing this to yourselves?” – To me, it is all about the lean and the bellowing tranquility. If you are not a biker, never mind, you won’t get it.

And if you did get it, please do keep coming back for more…


About the author:

Muralidhar (

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.


  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.




Multistrada 1200S – Long term ownership review

She lovingly came home on 22nd January 2015, one of the very 1st Multis in Delhi I was given to understand. Today, 2.5 years later after clocking over 25000km (not a lot, but she shares the home with an equally loved Bonnie who too has clocked over 25000km in the same time period, an average of 25km per day astride each of the two bikes is all that I could muster), I would say that I have no regrets. Here’s my long term ownership review of the bike, heave tried to bucket the various factors very unconventionally (yet hopefully logically):

The heart factor: DSC_0010

This perhaps might seem as the single most important yet logically illogical factor, after all love as they say is blind. So I will try and steer clear of looks (with a disclaimer that I obviously love the way she looks). Multi will set your heart racing, a little twist of the right wrist in any gear, at any speed and she will ensure that the objects that appear small in the rear view mirror will look smaller, way smaller. I’m yet to have a vehicle pass me unless I want it to.

She is a bit grumpy at lower revs. But keep her over 4000 RPM, you can hear your heart beat, yes even over the wind roar and the exhaust. And if you do decide to take her to the red line (at about 11000RPM) in the first three gears, you will have something soft and rubbery in your mouth, yes I am still referring to the heart (what were your dirty minds thinking?).

Of course there are multiple riding modes that you can tweak to get her to respond like a grey hound on a rabbit chase or a friendly retriever as a guide dog, and that brings us to the brain factor.

The brain factor:

At times you wonder if she is smarter than you. The electronic nannies like ABS, Cornering ABS, Cruise control (adaptive), EBD, ECU modes, ES/EAS, ETC, IMU, Traction control, Wheelie control etc. seem to take the purity of biking out. Yes, these nannies can be toned down or even switched off with a bit of fiddling, not really a rocket science. But, does take a bit of time to find your comfort zone. The new 1260 is a tad bit easier with graphics aiding the process. But do remember to check the settings before you ride off from your friendly, well-intentioned service centre, they could have accidentally reset it, changing the nature of the beast completely.

One part of me cringes at the thought of so many nannies governing you, but the other part constantly reminds me of the days when ABS was being introduced and a similar hullabaloo ensued, now one can’t think of life without it (except when off-road). With a hung jury on that, would just add that the nanny in MTS is not as abrupt and intrusive as in some other bikes, works silently in the background. Guess, I have to grudgingly owe my uneventful journey so far to it.

dsc_0159.jpgThe only time I do realise its presence is when she is in extremely harsh terrains and environment like the ones I encounter during my annual pilgrimage to Leh and beyond, sometimes the dash starts displaying all sorts of error messages, making the presence of these nannies felt. That’s when I love to wish away all the electronics as there is nothing one can do to fix it. Thankfully, as suddenly as, the error messages appear, they usually vanish as well.

The base-of-your-pant factor:

Ah, this is my favourite part. The sky hook semi-active suspension is a dream. The bike ‘actively’ alters damping and preload within milliseconds, adapting to every little variation in the terrain. Before you can finish thinking of riding the pegs or shifting weight, the sky-hook has already taken action, saving your poor behind from incessant rams from our dynamically changing roads. Result – you manage to maintain your cruising speed without the need to really slow down, keeping your overall average speed (and your poor behind) healthy.

It is called semi-active because the wheel’s position relative to the chassis not “actively” controlled.  In an active setup, servos and electromagnets push the wheel out actively instead of springs.

Totally a no nonsense, effortless mile munching bike, I end up covering at least 20% more distance same time as compared to my Bonnie without necessarily increasing my speed. This is one electronic nanny that I simply adore.

The ‘Bahubali’ factor:dsc_0043-e1533464892530.jpg

Given my build and height, friends ironically call me Bahubali (an Indian equivalent of He-man). After a long tiring ride, especially in the thin air of the mountains, to me, setting her up on centre-stand, or getting her unstuck from muck or picking her up if she tips over is not exactly is cake walk. The trick is to use the bike and her momentum to tide over everything. And the unexpected does happen sometimes, that’s when I do need help. Not that she is top heavy like some other ADVs, but she doesn’t have the low-CG advantage of a boxer twin either. These moments set me wondering if I’d have been better off with a smaller bike. More on that here.

The India factor:dsc_0150.jpg

I guess that during homologation, the Italians didn’t think the Indian conditions were, well, a lot harsher. Result, much shorter service intervals, air filter has to be replaced twice as frequently, dust and grime gets into every crevice, so opening pannier and seat locks becomes next to impossible, fork’s oil seals go kaput, fuel quality makes idling go haywire, but more on this in the tips section below.

The Eyeball factor:dsc_0113.jpg

Being with her is like having a supermodel in a bikini for company. She never fails to attract attention wherever she goes. This is both a good and bad thing. All the attention and curiosity is good if you are around, but when you are not on guard, people get on the bike, take selfies, try all sorts of things, toying with the levers, pedals, gears and accessories. Being a bit possessive, it’s not exactly what I’d like happening with my bike. Clearly, my ‘Bahubali’ build has no role to play in this. What clarifies further is the incredulous looks on the onlookers’ eyes, almost giving voice to their silent thoughts – how did this joker come to be with her” or “if only I had that kind of money“.

The wallet factor:

Hmmm, it is anything but light on your pockets. The bike has long service intervals, 15000km for regular services and 25000km for desmo. However, in the Indian conditions, the service intervals has been halved, the gurl visits maike (her paternal home aka the service centre) every 6000-8000km and/or after every pilgrimage.

The spares don’t come cheap with all the import duties. Also, there is a considerable wait for getting the parts in.

With the ADV market still nascent in India, most accessories are not easily available, even the ones available come with a hefty price tag.

But then again it is a small price to pay for the wide grin on your face.

Some quick-fixes and tweaks I discovered to make my long-rides a dream:

Here’s a summary of many a lessons learnt, some a very hard way:

Must have:

  • Bash plate/sump guard: dsc_0010.jpg
    Wouldn’t recommend a long trip without one. I opted for the OEM, know of a few who have chosen SW Motech, either way, a must to protect the underbellies of your gurls. She does have a good ground clearance but I’m sure some of the speedbreakers in India can even cripple battle-tanks (ok that was a bit of an over-kill, but you get the drift, no?).
  • Bark busters:20180306_163215.jpg
    The reservoirs for brake and clutch fluids are mounted on the bush guard which incidentally is a delicate plastic structure, all with an intention to keep the weight of the bike down. But that is the first thing to go in case of a hard brush against a bark or a fall, rendering the bike incapacitated with no breaks and/or clutch fluid. You could also lose your levers. I chanced upon a product from Bark Busters made for the multi, a bull bar of sorts, that protects the complete unit, an aftermarket product that is a life-saver.
  • Gaiters for front fork:dsc_0030.jpg
    A typical problem of dusty environments – while the stock bike comes with a wind deflector to keep dust of the from fork, but it is not sufficient to manage extreme dust. If a grain of dust manages to get in between the oil seal and the fork, you can end up with a leak. If the damage is bad, the front suspension can go kaput, worse, the fluid can reach the front disc, severely affecting the breaking. I opted for an Acerbis gaiter. It wraps around the fork, keep dust from entering while cleaning the fork as well.
  • Rear break:Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 9.15.19 PM.png
    There are two issues with the stock rear break pedal. First, the stock brake pedal is so small that one’s foot, especially with off-road boots, can easily slip off it or in the worst case, miss it altogether. Second, it being rigid, doesn’t take too kindly to even mild impacts. I opted for the optional OEM off-road version of the brake pedal. While this folds back, protecting me from mild bumps, it still is not big enough. Further, it has no extender (it is awesome in the GS incidentally) to help while standing on the pegs especially when you push yourself back to get the load off the front wheels.
  • Gear lever:DSC_0006
    Similar to The break lever, even the gear lever suffers similar problems. not necessarily small, but not folding and not adjustable. One tends to find false neutral, more so between 5th and 6th with heavy boots. The off-road one sorts that out, you can adjust it to your comfort zone while folding in case of light bumps.
  • Panniers:dsc_0013.jpg
    I initially went in for the OEM panniers, tail box et al. Single key, made by and for Ducati, and boy the sexy looks, nothing could go wrong, right? Yes, nothing did, they last me over 2 years and 20000km. But Indian dust proved too much for these as well. During one of my recent pilgrimages, the key hole got filled with dust and much. Just wouldn’t open. I had everything I ever needed, only I couldn’t access it. If I were to repeat the mistake, just for the awesome looks, I’d choose to tape up the openings during the pilgrimages so that they still remain functional, or if the brain were to rule over the heart, I’d go in for semi-rigid waterproof ones. More on my thoughts on luggage options here.
  • Centre stand:
    Despite the fact that my ‘Bahubali’ build sometimes makes it difficult to set her up on the centre stand, especially when the grab rails are tucked under the luggage, I’d still put this under must-have. One reason is the ‘Eye-ball factor’ mentioned above. an unattended bike is an open invitation for anyone to sit astride, can’t afford the problems associated with a bike that tips over. Secondly, it is a lot easier to fix a flat and to clean & lube the chain.
  • RAM mount:dsc_0002-e1533487662612.jpg
    While I do have a tank-top bag with a slot for mobile under transparent cover with charging capability, I’d much rather have a RAM mount for my waterproof phone. A lot easier during fuelling stops, one less piece of luggage to fiddle with, plus it gives me more room for riding on the pegs.
  • USB Adapter:
    Coupled with the RAM mount above, a cigarette lighter to USB adapter to juice up my phone and perhaps an action cam. Handy as power many-a-times is not readily available in remote areas. Having these trinkets fully juiced up sure come in handy.

Nice to have:

  • Fog-lights:dsc_0187-e1533487268142.jpg
    Have put this under nice to have as the 1200S has awesome stock lights with cornering function that really works as well, you wouldn’t miss a fog-light under normal circumstances. Thinking it is a must have, I have opted for the OEM ones. Chose the OEM over other brighter non-OEM alternatives in the fear that I’d lose the warrantee and also, non-OEM lights would mean that I can’t use the built-in switch. Now, I have a strange feeling that these don’t really make that big a difference (apart from making her more photogenic), one surely can live without them. Only time I feel the need for additional and more powerful dazzlers is precisely for that – to dazzle the oncoming joker driving in hi-beam. Else, I’d let it pass, pun intended. If you have a 1200, well, this could creep into a must have.
  • Battery maintainer:
    Nice to have again if you do not manage to ride the bike as often as you like. Also come in handy when you try to crank her up in extreme cold with, well less than ideal fuel. Further some insurance companies do not cover battery under insured items if you don’t have one. so more as an insurance than a necessity, I’d put this under-nice-to-have.
  • Tank top bag:rearview-shot.jpg
    Nice to have to stow-away nick-nacks like toll receipts et al, but as mentioned above, also eats up space and is fidgety while refuelling. Further, if you choose to have any other trinkets like the RAM mount for phone or action camera, or a GPS mount, they will end up fouling with the tank-top bag, not allowing for a lock to lock turn.


  • GPS:dsc_00011.jpg
    I opted for the Ducati branded Garmin Zumo. Funny that despite getting it through the proper channels, it didn’t have maps of my region preloaded. Had to buy the maps separately. For some reason, Garmin doesn’t provide any updates for India, it therefore has maps that were valid 4-5 years ago. Further, it doesn’t include lots of places. Unlike some other ADV bikes, the Zumo doesn’t sync with the bike to act like an extended dashboard. As a stand alone navigation device, that too a not so reliable on in my case, Google maps on your phone is a much better option with more functionalities like traffic info. To me therefore, a stand-alone GPS device is an avoidable investment.
  • Performance exhaust:
    This topic could end up rubbing a few the wrong way. I see the logic from the enthusiasts, louder means safer as the bike is more ‘visible’, performance is enhanced, lesser weight, the sound is musical, etc. But to me this too is an avoidable investment. The very advantages stated by enthusiasts works against my riding style. I do believe that I am yet to push my gurl and squeeze out all her 160 horses all the time, and that by a good margin I dare add. So additional power or performance fails to seduce me. My riding usually involves long hours and many a miles everyday. To contend with even the stock exhaust for extended periods of time, I resort to ear plugs. Any louder music, I guess I’d go deaf. So this too fails to entice. To sum up therefore, shedding a few kilos is not big enough a reason by itself to help my wallet lose some weight.

Some things to look out:

  • Fuel gauge (and the associated leak problem): The fuel gauge is not one of the most reliable parts of the bike, at least in my bike, have had it replaced twice over, thankfully under warrantee. Not a biggie, but got me into the habit of using both the trip meters, especially during long rides. But one needs to ensure that the pipe from the fuel pump is fixed properly. Else, it pops right out under pressure, getting petrol all over the front part of the bike instead of the engine.
  • Rubbery rear breaks: The fading break owing to the heating is another known issue. The rear breaks get spongy after a bit of riding. This is supposedly because of the catalytic convertor being too close to the break lines, over-heating the fluid. Some have opted for changing the exhaust, yet others different break fluids, I’ve chosen to live with it, relying more on front break and giving the bike a short break when the problem gets too bad. I have heard of two solutions, yet to try out either. One is changing the exhaust, the other using a different break fluid. If any of you have found this helpful or any other solution, please do write in.

Adv tourer v/s sports tourer:

I would like to end this blog with a question, what do you think of your MTS, is she an adventure tourer or more a sports tourer? Welcome your thoughts on this and anything else you would like to add to this, or simply your point of view on must and nice to have.


Please do keep coming back for more…


About the author:

Muralidhar (

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.


  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.


Musings of a lone wolf

18527841_10208975869130373_6922975058997027771_n.jpgA group of wolves by Moe Mirmehdi

The link above on a pack of wolves and their roles & behaviour got me thinking about group riding and roles played by different bikers in a group. Group riding too, when done correctly, has well defined roles, there is a lead who decides the pace of the ride depending on the road & weather conditions, capability of fellow riders etc., and then there is a sweep also called the tail, one who ensures that group rides as a group and that no one gets left behind. These two roles are played by the best and strongest riders in the group. In fact there is a whole science dedicated to this. Internationally, group riding training is one of the last segments of mandatory advanced motorcycle driver education program, saving the toughest training for the last. But, in India, where even basic training is not mandated by law, training sadly is not taken seriously enough. This leads to comical situations, including those of bikes being ridden like mopeds, with both feet down!

This article also brings us to a more basic question – are you a wolf in a pack or a lone wolf? This depends a lot on what biking means to you, and, don’t be surprised, it means a lot of diverse things to different people. There are some meanings that drive (or is it “ride”) one closer to a group riding rather than being a lone wolf. Here are some of them that I could readily think of, and it is not water-tight either-or compartments, it could well be a mish-mash of more than one below. Also welcome your thoughts if different from the ones listed.

  • Building familiarity with a new bike: Most people get their new bike through its paces starting with group rides. Apart from the usual bonding and brotherhood reasons, one is curious to know what one can do with his/her bike, general biking knowledge like service centres, accessories, customisation, tips and tricks.
  • Extreme riders: These are riders with a penchant of touring unchartered territory, places where they are unlikely to find any help in case of emergency. That’s when having a co-rider is critical. These typically are very small groups and consist of very like-minded people with similar skill-sets.
  • Riding for a cause: More frequently than not, various entities organise rides for a cause. It is a great reason for riding together and for expressing your solidarity.
  • Once-in-a-lifetime ride in exotic location: There is always a special place in the bucket list of most riders which is either too far/expensive to take their own bike or too extreme or involves too much of paperwork. To tick this place off the list, going with tour operators is an option. While all in the group are likely to be strangers, having a veteran organising things, taking care of logistics (including bikes, hassles of paperwork et al) with a security of back-up vehicles is logical alternative.
  • Wanting to socialise: And then there are folks who are inherently gregarious and just love company, meeting people. Riding a bike is their other love and they use it as an opportunity to socialise.
  • Building connections: These are guys who love biking so much so that their occupation is directly related to biking as well, say owing an accessories/mods outlet or being tour organisers etc. They ride in groups, whether they like it not, so as to build connections with other bikers, an opportunity to garner new clientele.
  • The humble-brags and not-so-humble-brags: These are the typical show-offs in any group. They are out there to advertise their achievements and/or their bike/mods and or their skills/knowledge. There also end up being the leaders in the said groups, deciding where to stop, when to stop, what to eat, bordering upon being a #SmallDecisionMaker.
  • Show-piece collectors: These have-money-will-spend guys would have spent a lot more time talking about their bikes than on it. Their social media handles will be a-flush with photos of them with their bikes at various locations, so what if they shipped it there or got someone else to ride it there.

And then there are prime motives that tend to make you choose going solo over a group. Over the years I’ve finally come to understand that, to me, biking is akin to meditation, a tool to attain temporary freedom, a moment of solitude with my gurl. This has inadvertently translated to going solo for most part. It lets me be the boss, deciding when to take a break, when to push on further, where to stop, etc.. It also helps me get a place to stay without much ado.

Contrary to what it sounds like, the objective of solitude can be met even if it is not solo ride, theoretically at least. End of the day, one is alone on one’s steed during the ride. I therefore have been part of a few group rides as well, but they would account for less than 10% of all my rides. My favourite peeves of a group ride are one too many:

  • Rides never ever start on time, the punctual ones end up getting penalised, always.
  • IMHO, biking in a mismated and contrastive group is a sure-shot invitation to disaster. Diverse riding skills, pressure to keep up, frustration of slowing down/waiting for others seem to play a magical spell on one’s mind, adversely affecting one’s ability to ride. More the number of bikes bikers, greater the probability of a slip-up.
  • Group rides of say 5 people over a distance of 100km, as a rule of thumb, will slow down the ride by at least 15% (if not more). This percentage only increases with more members and/or distance. There are gazzilion reasons behind this – random and uncoordinated stops for clicking photos, smoking, fuel, bio-breaks, tail-enders taking a wrong turn etc., leads to a lot of riding time compromised.
  • And then there are the clashes of ego, what somebody else is deciding for the group need not necessarily be what works for you.

To some, these peeves are no biggies and that these are small compromises one makes to ride in a group. To me however, it seems to go away from the basic need of solitude. If at all, I would team up with one or utmost two like-minded people. But then again, that’s me. What do you see yourself as, a lone wolf or a pack animal?

To sum up, if you are a pack animal, please remember the nine points below. These are things that help you and the rest in the group:

  1. Always come prepared – tank up in advance, wear the right gear, remember the acronym ATGATT – All The Gear, All The Time.
  2. Ride plan/route should be discussed before start. Just in case one gets separated, the modality of regrouping should be known to all to avoid frustrating waits for everyone else.
  3. 2x2Never ever ride right behind the rider ahead of you. A 5 second gap (please note the unit is time and not distance, that way you are in the safe zone no matter what speed) should be maintained at all times, and if the road is wide enough a 2×2 staggered formation is preferred.
  4. Look beyond the bike in from of you, ALWAYS. It is very easy to get fixated at the tyre of the bike ahead of you and this target fixation is also the easiest way of stealing valuable seconds of reaction time in case of an emergency.
  5. img-20141109-wa0002.jpgMake a note of the kind of bikes others are riding in a group. All bikes should have similar capabilities. For instance, taking a modern classic to a group full of super-bikes is like taking a knife to a gun fight.
  6. There are some universal hand signals, or if your wallet permits you could even opt for multiway communication equipment.
  7. Usually, mistakes occur when one goes outside the comfort zone under a pressure to keep up. It is not worth it. Push yourself outside the comfort zone in a track or in a private cordoned off area. public roads are not for pushing it. Here’s where knowing the ride plan comes in handy. You can regroup at the next break location.
  8. Your ride is as safe as the weakest in your group. Always look out for them, give them their space and if you think you are the weakest link, there’s no pressure to keep up.
  9. Finally, remember, it is a ride for pleasure, and not a race. It is all too easy to confuse one for the other. Save races for a track day.


About the author:

Muralidhar (

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.


  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.

A biker’s musings…

A biker’s musings…

When my spills from a cycle became more frequent than frequent, I decided to move on to motorbikes – a safer option (??). Went through a really long cycle of evaluation – REs to Continental GT to Thruxton to Daytona to Tiger to a Night Rod. Now, that’s quite a range with nothing in common what so ever! Even the cost of the shortlisted bikes ranged from INR 150,000 to IRR 2,200,000, in hindsight, guess I was looking only at drool-factor or at any one specific aspect of the bike while shortlisting. Incidentally, when I was on a test-ride spree on the above shortlist, what hit me was that I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 18! My dad used to own a Bullet, obviously I would monkey around with her. We used to stay in a township where technically everybody knows everyone else. Eventually complaints from well wishers about my monkeying around forced my dad to take action and he sold the bullet off and instead got a Bajaj Chetak.

Finally, 25 odd years after I rode a bike, I picked up the good ole Bonnie #TriumphBonnevilleT100, #Bonnie. Yes, it was not even in the shortlist. The practicality of having usable rear seat (to convince the #SmallDecisions maker that I wasn’t being selfish when I decided to bike) and a respectable ground clearance, yet having a drool factor helped me home into the Bonnie. Triumph calls colour scheme of my Bonnie – Aurum gold – talk about them ensuring comprehension, “just in case you don’t know what aurum is you dummy, it is gold”!
I rode her like the wind, literally, a sense of freedom that is indescribable. Despite getting on the saddle after a break of almost 25 years, it was almost second nature. In fact I would inadvertently upshift when I meant to downshift, the bullet’s gearshift pattern seemed to be hardwired into my brain. It took me 6-8 months to get used to the correct side and correct pattern of gearshift on my Bonnie, talk about old habits dying hard!

Joined a group of bikers, made new friends, explored new places, went on many a long rides including those to Rajasthan and a childhood dream – Khardung-La – the highest motorable road. More on these trips later, but the musings and memories of people’s reactions to the Bonnie:

Joined a group of bikers, made new friends, explored new places, went on many a long rides including those to Rajasthan and a childhood dream – Khardung-La – the highest motorable road. More on these trips later, but first, the musings and memories of multitude of reactions to the Bonnie:
Someone or the other invariably has always walked up to me and asked some or all of the questions below, even today:
Koi race-wace hai kya? (roughly translating to – Are you guys part of a race?) For the life of them they haven’t figured out why one would aimlessly roam around in the extremes.
Khud ke paise se ghoom rahe ho kya? (roughly translating to – Are you guys actually footing the expenses of fuel et al that too with one’s own money!)
Yeh kyon kar rahe ho? (roughly translating to – Why are you guys doing this?) Kaash mid-life crisis ke baare mein samjha paate.
Kitna deti hai? (roughly translating to – How much fuel does she consume?) The timeless Indian curiosity. #KitnaDetiHai
Light on hai bhaisaab (roughly translating to – The lights are on?) The good samaritans, unfortunately the Europeans think the bike lights must be constantly on!
Accha, do engine hain? (roughly translating to – Oh, so this has 2 engines?) Yes bro, its called parallel-twin.
Kitne ki hai? (roughly translating to – What’s the cost?) Another timeless Indian curiosity. #Cost
Is it the original Triumph? 😐 #FacePalm The best part, coming from a person in modified Gurkha with the coveted star on the bonnet.
Kitne gear hai? Accha 5, 1 up and 4 down? (roughly translating to – How many gears? oh 5, so 1 up & 4 down then?) Like I’m dying to hand over the bike to him for a trial ride.
And then one day I was peacefully cruising through the countryside. I suddenly heard really loud exhaust of an RE (#Bullet, #RE, #RoyalEnfield) that was really being pushed real hard. For a second I almost impulsively twisted my throttle, a typical male reaction to show that certain part of his anatomy is bigger than that of the other person in question. But then I decided not to, an alien territory, didn’t want to vex an angry local. He caught up with me and signalled that I stop. He was over 6 feet tall, really well built and his dress and mustache indicated that he was a local. To me it was redder than a red light. So, stop we did and had a brief chat:
Him: Bullt hai ke? (The thick Haryanvi dialect roughly translating to – Is it a Bullet?)
Me: Nahin bhai Triumph hai. (roughly translating to – No brother, its a Triumph?)
Him: Trump? (Trump? – no indication of political affiliations here, thats the Haryanvi accent)
Me: Haan wahi. (roughly translating to – Yes)
Him: Kitte cc ki hai? (roughly translating to – What’s the engine capacity?)
Me: Nau sau bhai. (900cc brother)
Him: Nau sao? Danadan bhagti hogi? (roughly translating to – 900? She probably races crazy?)
Me: Haan, lekin aapki Bullet bhi koi kam nahi hai. (roughly translating to – Yes, but your Bullet is not something to be ignored either)
Him: Haan, door se yo bullt hi laage hai. Kahan ki hai yo? (roughly translating to – Yeah, from a distance your bike looks like a bullet too. where she from?)
Me: England ki company hai, bilkul Bullet ki tarah, dono bhai-behen hi hain. (roughly translating to – From England, exactly like your Bullet, they are practically siblings)
Him (sheepishly looking at Bonnie): Bhai to yo hi laage se, ben to maari Bullt se. (roughly translating to – Yours looks like the elder brother, and mine the younger sis)
So much for my initial anxiety!
And then one day during a ride, I accidentally left the key in the ignition, overheard the exchanges when I quickly doubled back to pick the keys:
Him 1: Chabi chod gaya hai. (roughly translating to – He’s forgotten the keys)
Him 2: Lekin kick kahan kahan hai? Start kaise karega? (roughly translating to – But where is the kick start? How will you start it?)
Him 3: Bhaari hai, koi dhakka dekar bhi nahin ja sakta… (roughly translating to – yeah right, bloody heavy too, can’t push-start either)
Many many miles later, more so when one of the litre class bikes overtook me, I realized that the Bonnie can’t keep up with the present generation. The final nail in the coffin was when someone commented that it was an old man’s super-bike, I finally lost it. Went ahead and picked up a Ducati Multistrada 1200s.

About the author:

Muralidhar (

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.


  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.


Journey to the world’s highest motorable road (#WorldsHighestMotorableRoad):
It was June 2015, peak summer, just about when the mountain passes were opening up for traffic. A motley crew of 10 “young” men decided to conquer the world’s highest motorable road, a journey of a lifetime, one that I had been waiting for all my life. We were on 8 bikes and the remaining 2 in a car. We were quite an ensemble, some of us seeing each other for the first time. I for sure didn’t know all of them very well, definitely not familiar with everyone’s riding skills. The first halt planned was Jammu. Enroute, we witnessed crazy sandstorms and rains, visibility was down to few meters, forcing us (and other vehicles on the road) to a grinding halt, putting us way behind schedule.
A couple of breaks later (like broken rim, crashed bikes and broken egos, frayed tempers and some road kill), we reached Jammu, almost 20 hours after we started in Gurgaon! I was barely awake as I hadn’t slept a wink for over continuous 40 hours. Finally we did reach the hotel we had booked.
IMHO, could have been done in a lot lesser.
After a night halt and a much needed rest at Jammu we were all busy loading our luggage onto the bikes to start riding to Leh. A bunch of curious kids were looking at all the RE Thunderbirds, Classics, Desert storms and my Bonnie. It was very exciting to hear them speak in a dialect that sounded like Punjabi, but wasn’t. Later on I got to know it was Dogri:
Kid 1: Bhaiyya eh 350cc hai. (Bro, this is 350cc)
Kid 2 (the Bhaiyya): Arre oose chod, eh dekh 500cc (forget about it, see this, its a 500cc)
Kid 1: Eh bhi 350 (this is 350cc too)
Kid 3: Eh dekho kya mast miltree colour hai (pointing to the Desert Storm – look at this awesome military colour!)
All kids reach the Bonnie, looking really curious, until the smart bhaiyya looked at the T100 badge on my Bonnie and said very confidently Arre yeh to 100cc hai! (This one is 100cc) So much for the much touted 865 cc, 61 bhp bike. I was really foxed – do I join the others and laugh or go for a big #FacePalm!
The natural beauty of the hills is just unparalleled! It’s a non-stop feast for one’s eyes. We chose a lesser used path to reach Srinagar from Jammu. It is called the Old Mughal Road. It is a beautiful, winding narrow road via quaint villages. As luck would have it, it was raining cats and dogs, as we took shelter in the awning of this shop, the 3 beautiful kids, (don’t you adore those blue-green eyes…) offered us bread. To us tired, wet, frozen and hungry riders, it was heaven send! Another #FacePalm moment when the sweet girls told us that this was supposed to be eaten with subzi like roti, and not gobbled down like we did. When we offered to pay, the lil lad said Paanch Rupaiye, (5 rupees) we dug into our wallets the girls quickly said, koi baat nahin uncle, koi nahin. (It’s ok uncle, forget about the money). Do we lose this hospitality, the #Masoomiyat (innocence) once we urbanise? I wonder. Incidentally a common Indian way of addressing unknown men who are older than what one can call “elder brother” is “uncle”.

Our first Achilles heel was the Zoji-La pass. What made novices lead the way while the experts waited, I don’t seem to recall. But what certainly was out of this world was riding behind a mama bear and her cubs. Boy, could they run!

It was a case of scare them or drop your bikes and run back, there was no way we could do a U-turn in the slush and muck. I chose the former, wonder, in hindsight, if stand-off would have been safer. For, honestly, not sure we were more scared or them! We successfully crossed this pass with not too much further ado…
Riding further ahead, we met some chicks…
 Posed with battle tanks…
 Stopped over at the Kargil war memorial. An unexplainable emotion – just the question “why” kept coming up in my head constantly, why the wars, why the sacrifices, why hatred, why, why, why, WHY! No satisfactory answers ensured that I found one silent corner and shut myself down for sometime.
Continue from there we did, had to reach Leh. Stops enroute got us to meet some more local kids. DSLRs were out and flashing, kids posed, posed rather well, I dare add. But by the end of it all demands for Baksheesh got so loud that we had to scoot.
At a quick pitstop that soon followed, the disarming smile and happiness on the face of this kid on seeing bikes was priceless.
By the time we reached Leh district, some 80+ km from Leh city, it started getting cold and dark, we decided to call it a day. The quaint place was right next to the road, we sank into our beds. We convinced ourselves that this was the best thing to do to acclimatize ourselves to the altitude rather than racing to Leh.  The following day, we had a lot of time at our disposal, under 100km to Leh and the whole day ahead of us. We really took our time…
…crossed a few passes and felt snow fall for the first time… (before this, I had never seen snow falling, it has always been before or after snowfall!
Road was fantastic, for most parts we had amazing fun riding on one of the straightest roads, well maintained, with desert on both sides. We stopped for a few photographs.
And immediately after this photo, I tried to take a U-turn, most simple and basic of manoeuvres, but didn’t realize I was in 3rd gear. Bonnie couldn’t take this abuse, definitely not at this altitude. She stalled. And I dropped her, at 5 kmph! Doesn’t get more embarrassing than this huh? Broke my foot peg in the process. Quickly changed the one from behind to front and I was ready to hit the road again…
…not this way, if you know what I mean.
Continue we did, sometimes thumping, sometimes racing, sometimes waiting. But always ready to go…
…through the twisties at Lamayuru – moonland…

 …or one of the innumerable road blocks due to landslides…
 …or the magnetic (???) hills…
..or proving that I do not have ‘chicken stripes’…
 Got a royal welcome at the hotel, the place was awesome. Food was brilliant, it seems like a luxury to have a proper room with mattress, heating, laundry facility and even a WiFi. We kinda made this our base camp and after every expedition, we’d return to this hotel.
So continuing to thump, race, n wait; being eveready to go…

The customary pose at the mighty Khardung-La…

At the Khardung-La & Chang-La, Bonnie sure did grab quite a few eyeballs.
Was overwhelmed with respect and a feeling of patriotism yet again. The presence of the soldiers patrolling there rain or snow is something that deserves a hell of a lot more than just respect.

It was quite a sight to see Bonnie merging right into the whiteness of snow. Bonnie purred along effortlessly through anything that nature threw at her, would have prefered a bit more of low end torque, but apart from that, it was perfect.

Visit to Nubra valley was something else. Dunno about you but seeing a sandy desert with camels amidst snow capped mountains was not something I had ever imagined
The experience at Pangong Tso was surreal! The color of water changing with time, the temperature changes, the very ride to the lake and the fact that we were literally at China’s border was something else
The tranquil peace at the lake made us all take off and do their own thing. Some took of for photography, other for a dip in the lake yet others rode of to more desolate spot to meditate, some chose to hit the bottle and yet others hit the sack!
 I guess I selfishly spent time with myself, mah gurl and stacking up a few pebbles…
 Finally called it a day in these tents. They were awesome in the day, when the sun was up. Once the sun set, I was breathless, no-no, not the awestruck breathlessness, literally breathless, oxygen deprivation. Was working up a sweat just to haul myself over to the toilet, yes sweating in freezing temperature! But it was an experience I’m ever-ready for an encore (anybody listening?)
And thence began the loooooooooooong return journey…
…many a nalah crossings…
…and a very interesting gent called Topi (the gent sporting the yellow helmet), life saver, literally…
…and one random skull in Mori plains, couldn’t resist the photo-op…
…and a few moments of peace and introspection…
 …and that of forced male-bonding (never before and never since have I slept so close to another man, there were 15 or so of us in mattresses and razaais good for I’d say 10). After a sound sleep (actually quite literally, for there were Harleys, Busas, RE w/o mufflers, Yams amongst our snorers)…
…and a lots of eventful-events later (omitting them here as they were less to do with biking and my running out of tongue-in-cheek ways to narrate them without ruffling feathers), when I was feeling rather pleased with myself and my achievement, saw this gent riding a cycle rickshaw from Jalandhar enroute Mumbai (a distance of 1800km). Saluted him and his journey, came back to mother earth, and returned home.
That brings me to a new beginning, but then that would be a new note.
Do circle back and check my page for new stories
Till then, continuare a correre Hmmm, #TheItalianConnection, story idea…

About the author:

Muralidhar (

A biker | A blogger | An adventure junky | Animal lover

Tries to fit all of the above whilst working as a brand marketing professional. His blog is a product of contemplations, reflections and an unquenchable thirst for self-deprecating humour. It is the world as seen through the eyeballs of a salt-and-pepper *sixteen year-old* fighting off #MidLifeCrisis. No doubt perspectives will be different when seen by others and those are equally welcome in the comments section.


  1. This is written with a sole intention of laughing at and with the author, no offence meant to anyone else.
  2. No bikes or animals or bystanders were harmed while writing this.