Once we consider motorbike journey, it’s usually the identical fashions that come to thoughts: Honda Africa Twin, BMW 1250 GS and different Yamaha Ténéré. Nonetheless, it was with a way more modest however equally environment friendly machine that we tried an atypical highway journey in additional methods than one: touring 1,300 km on the peaks of the Himalayas, together with 900 km off-road. It was due to this fact on the handlebars of the Royal Enfield Himalayan which performs at residence, that we got down to courageous notably hostile terrain, together with in the midst of summer time. 7 days of a journey product of mud, stones, sand and dust.
Path Leh, a small city in northern India perched at 3,600 m and capital of Ladakh. It’s from there that we’ll be a part of Zanskar and its highest motorable roads on this planet (greater than 5,000 meters) of altitude, that are reduce off from the world for greater than eight months. However, if the Royal Enfield Himalayan is already prepared, it’s for us to first acclimatize ourselves to the altitude. We are going to due to this fact benefit from these two days of pressured relaxation to find our mount from each angle.
At first look, it is clear that the Royal Enfield Himalayan has all of the traits of an adventurer with its 220mm floor clearance, 21-inch entrance and 17-inch spoke wheels rear, on that are mounted blended tires. The robust tubular metal body is paired with a 41mm fork that boasts 200mm of journey. On the rear, suspension is offered by an adjustable monoshock with 180 mm journey. The bike is supplied with a small, extraordinarily resistant shoe which can show to be very helpful with the quite a few stone projections on the course.
On the engine facet, we’re removed from the big displacements talked about above. Certainly, as for its different bikes, Royal Enfield has outfitted its Himalayan with a reasonably modest engine however which proves to be completely tailored to the roads and tracks of the Himalayas. Actually, we might not be in opposition to slightly extra torque at low revs from the one cylinder four-stroke of 411 cm3. However a brand new 450cc model is predicted within the coming months. That mentioned, even in probably the most technical phases, similar to going through a slim passage with a steep slope and a mix of stone and sand, the Royal Enfield Himalayan proved to be extraordinarily environment friendly. Together with for much less skilled pilots.
As a result of additionally it is one of many benefits of this small motorbike. Its seat peak of 800 mm makes it accessible to all and reasonably reassuring. Actually the tallest bikers can have very bent legs, however on off-road, the standing place is crucial. And off-road, our journey has it in spades with greater than 900 km of pebbles, sand and dust, at an altitude that oscillates between 4,000 and 5,100 meters.
The primary day of the journey permits us to familiarize ourselves with the Royal Enfield Himalayan. 275 km aside, the cities of Leh and Drass are linked by a ravishing paved highway which doesn’t pose any issue. Regardless of off-road motorbike traits, it shows nice highway expertise, even when the safety supplied by the display is restricted. Be that as it might, the few sequences of curves on the course assist you to have enjoyable and testify to the agility of the bike which takes full benefit of its contained weight.
We are sometimes tempted to lift the tempo a lot the Royal Enfield Himalayan appears straightforward, however the unbelievable landscapes of this area which is residence to the traditional kingdom of Zanskar, encourage us to decelerate.
When it is not the highway security indicators that comply with each other each 100 m with messages which might be generally very properly thought out to remind drivers to decelerate. As a result of it’s a must to keep targeted on this stunning highway. Along with driving on the left, which you get used to in a short time, it’s a must to be cautious of cows that determine to squat on the highway, or of autos that generally dislocate in entrance of you with out actually worrying about bikes.
However the severe issues actually begin on the second day with 170 km to attach Rangdum. All of it begins with the ascent of a primary go perched at 4,200 m. The highway regularly disappears, giving method to a observe whose stones don’t spare our Royal Enfield Himalayan. The modest energy of the engine encourages us to play the selector which could be very docile. The descent on a observe that mixes stone and sand encourages warning, and the braking system is completely sized for the train, thus avoiding disagreeable surprises. Lastly, the lowered measurement of the bike makes it straightforward to barter the various hairpin bends on a slim observe.
Regardless of the altitude, the thermometer is near 30 levels however it’s out of the query to drop the jacket, and even to open the visor of the full-face helmet with the mud raised by our bikes. The primary fords additionally permit us to check our tools, which can present apparent shortcomings. A bit of recommendation, along with the boots, don’t hesitate to deliver just a few pairs of waterproof socks to criss-cross the Himalayas. The day will finish at Rangdum camp the place we are going to camp for the night time. Not with out having first tried to dry our footwear by the hearth underneath an unbelievable starry sky.
After a brief (icy) night time, head to Padum through the spectacular Drang Drung glacier, one of many two largest in Ladakh. The highway will not be bettering, removed from it, and the fords have gotten increasingly sophisticated, with a depth and above all a generally substantial present. However our Royal Enfield Himalayan doesn’t care because of its floor clearance of 220 mm. The train however stays spectacular for a pilot who’s extra accustomed to avoiding Parisian manhole covers than the wild terrain of the Himalayas. 140 km additional, we arrive exhausted at Padum earlier than tackling the large a part of the journey.
Journey with a capital A
We cannot say that the journey has been a cakewalk thus far, even when it isn’t essential to be an knowledgeable in off-road to take part it have to be acknowledged. However the subsequent stage will certainly symbolize probably the most sophisticated of the entire journey: 220 km between Padum and Jispa through the Shinku La go which is perched at an altitude of practically 5,100 m. Slim paths, stones that require holding a protected distance from different bikes to keep away from harmful projections, extraordinarily steep climbs adopted by steep descents.
And as if that weren’t sufficient, the sand generally invitations itself to the occasion, generally blocking the entrance wheel of the motorbike which lies down gently. However we aren’t on the seaside even whether it is sizzling as soon as once more, and the fords permit us to chill off. The water stage is such that it involves our knees, and a few members of our group will as soon as once more take a look at the resistance of the Royal Enfield Himalayan by fully submerging it following a fall. However true to its popularity as indestructible, the bike will set off once more as rapidly as potential, with the one trophy being water within the headlight, as could be seen within the photograph beneath.
After just a few falls, happily with out consequence, we are going to arrive in Jispa at dusk. Joyful to have handed this passing examination imposed on us by the Himalayas, it’s now a query of resting as a result of we are going to take the identical path in the other way the subsequent day. Our boots barely have time to dry once we are on the highway once more. Fortunately the climate is as soon as once more good.
The climb on the highway between Jispa and the Shinku La go is a deal with, with a tarmac in good situation. Then we discover the observe and the ford crossings that are however simpler to barter within the morning, the melting of the snow being slowed down by the night time temperatures and the decrease water stage. Nonetheless, the course stays technical, and probably the most tough parts, specifically the descent within the sand, are this time uphill. Once more, crashes will not be unusual, however each the riders and the bike come via with no scratch.
We are going to arrive at Zangla 250 km additional for an evening on the inhabitant slightly out of time. No community, no phone, merely the unbelievable hospitality of our hosts and the Milky Approach as a spectacle.
The next day would be the shortest of the journey with solely 110 km to achieve Photoksar. It’s underneath a radiant solar that we take once more the “highway” which skirts the Zanskar river. The course remains to be as technical as ever with a generally slim observe, hairpin bends and even sections filled with sand or mud that don’t tolerate any errors. Fatigue would not assist, however the pleasure stays within the face of such an imposing setting. As soon as previous the Singe La go at 5,056 m, we attain our camp 500 m beneath. It is solely 2:30 p.m. and as soon as once more, we’ll be capable to get better longer earlier than attacking the final day. The environment is as soon as once more jovial and everybody will find yourself across the fireplace, earlier than a final icy night time buried in a quilt.
Again to civilization
Within the early morning, all eyes are on the go, ready to see the rays of the solar heat our camp. Within the meantime, the briefing is evident: if there are solely 160 km to go, half will nonetheless be over very tough and hostile terrain. Smaller, the ford crossings are not any much less tough, and we may even have the chance to take a mud bathtub. Foot caught underneath the Royal Enfield Himalayan, we’re as soon as once more grateful for its contained weight and our strengthened boots which can stop us from breaking.
After a brief break midway, we lastly discover the tarmac. The sensation of liberation is such that the entire group goes into Sport mode, attacking the turns like on the circuit and on the restrict of the bike. The savage horde will lastly arrive protected and sound. A steadiness sheet is then so as. Regardless of its issue, a motorbike journey on the Trans-Himalayan is a really particular expertise that will likely be remembered for a very long time. It is usually a uncommon second of camaraderie with our group of Indian bikers with whom we can have shared distinctive moments across the fireplace and on a motorbike. A bike that we now have a look at in a unique gentle.
As a result of underneath its air of small path, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is completely reduce for probably the most excessive off-road journey, all for five,390 euros. After 1,300 km, most of it on the worst potential terrain, the bike confirmed astonishing reliability and uncommon consolation that we by no means needed to complain about regardless of the lengthy days. A mannequin of simplicity and an actual grasp key, this Himalayan shows a versatility that instructions respect, even when, given its engine capability, its highway expertise stay very modest.