Motorcycling in the Eastern Himalayas

M G Singh By M G Singh, 28th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/rp7kllyf/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>India>The Northeast

Riding a bike in the Eastern Himalayas is a test of endurance and a matter of great enjoyment

Riding for Fun and Adventure

The Himalayas are the world's tallest mountain chain. They are infinitely harder to negotiate than the Alps. In the Eastern Himalayas the kanchen junga which is the second highest peak in the worldtowers over all and sundry. Driving up these mountains is an event that will thrill you.

Selecting a Bike

The first step is to select a bike for this trip. You can go in for the latest bikes in the markets like the Yamaha and Ducati but back up support for these bikes is a big zero in the region you have to traverse.The best bike for a Himalayan drive in India is the Royal Enfield Bullet. You can have your pick from the 500cc or the 350 cc Bullet. The advantage of selecting a Royal Enfield is that you will be able to get back up support for the bike, as it is in production for more than 50 years. And mechanics are familiar with it all over India.

The bike is a little stiff to ride but is extremely stable.The bike with its new improved carburetor gives better mileage as well as develops 18 BHP. My preference is for the 350 cc bullet. The next step is to get it ready for the drive up the mountains.

Tools and Equipment

It is essential that you keep a puncture repair kit with you as well as a spare wheel. The spare wheel can be attached to the engine fork of the bike (transversely). In case the tires are worn out then go in for new tires. Travel light and a small knapsack will do the trick. The engine must be tuned and the idling speed increased so that the bike is fit for steep climbs.

The Drive

Begin your drive from Siliguri situated on the foothills of the Himalayas. Get into gear early as the sun rises early in this part of India. When you drive out from Siliguri you will cross the narrow gauge rail line. For the greater part the road will run parallel to the narrow gauge rail line. There is every chance that the narrow gauge toy train will chug along with you. It is a sight to savor and the colonial rulers the British must take credit for this..

While driving up the hills you will cross umpteen tea gardens that flower on the hill slopes. This is the home of good tea. Savor the countryside. Drive the bike in 2nd and 3rd gear and let the engine power itself up the mountain. Use very little clutch and this will not strain the engine. The climb really starts from Matigara and all along you can see the towering mountains. As you climb up the hills you can look down and see the plains. It is a wonderful panoramic view and gets better when you climb up. If you drive with alacrity you will soon reach Kurseong and you can have a halt there. Have cup of tea and kick start the bike again.

After Kurseong the drive is steeper and within another hour and a half you will be at Darjeeling. it is situated at a height of 8000 feet. You can continue from Darjeeling to Gangtok in Sikkim. The road is reasonably ok and moves along the edge of the mountain. However you could encounter fog and so be ready for it. While driving to Gangtok you will come across long lines of Army conveys. Overtake them slowly and if you need any help take it from them.

Last Word

You can return to Darjeeling and make that as a base and go for drives all the way to further places like Mirik on the Nepal border or Kalimpong. If you have a puncture on the road fit the spare wheel and repair the punctured tire. You will need a small hand pump handy in your kit. Remember the tires are the most important part of your drive. Riding a bike up the Himalayas is an adventure and you will live to relish it.

Tags

Driving, Eastern Himalayas, Mototbike Riding

Meet the author

author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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Comments

author avatar C.D. Moore
28th Aug 2014 (#)

Never thought of motorcycles in the Himalayas. Seems out of sync with the mythology some how.....

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author avatar M G Singh
28th Aug 2014 (#)

Hello CD Mopre. Times must change

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author avatar M G Singh
28th Aug 2014 (#)

Sorry Moore and not Mopre

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author avatar Retired
28th Aug 2014 (#)

Sounds like a great adventure. Many years ago I was a motorcycle fanatic and owned my own repair shop. I have owned Royal Enfields (Royal Oilfields we used to call them). Great machines for long-distance touring, but more famous for their constant oil leaks.

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author avatar M G Singh
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Mike, yes it's great adventure !

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author avatar M G Singh
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Dear Mike, you have my respect as you know so much about Royal Enfields

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author avatar Retired
29th Aug 2014 (#)

I love motorcycles, Madan. In 1970, my personal stable was 21 machines. I have always favoured British bikes, with the 1964 Triumph Bonneville 650cc being my all-time favourite, although I have owned at least one model from every British bike manufacturer. My last bike in the UK was a Triumph Bonneville engine set in a Norton Slimline Featherbed frame with AMC gearbox. It was race-tuned and low slung so I could escape the traffic cops on their 650 Triumph Saints or in their Jaguars and Rovers. In Holland I rode a Honda 400cc, a reliable machine that could cruise all day at 120 kmph and could do 150 quite easily on a German autobahn. In Australia I rode a Yamaha 250, a good machine for riding in the rocky outback. If I ever get to ride again, I would probably buy a Harley.
Have you thought about writing the history of Royal Oilfield? When the British factory went bust and production was subsequently started in India, it save this famous mark from extinction. The Indian versions of the bullet still retain the original design but with many essential improvements, including ending the constant oil leaks (by adding breathers) and brakes that actually work properly. Maybe I should get back to my roots and buy a Royal Enfield instead of a Harley!

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author avatar Ptrikha
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Wow! thats a great knowledge of the bikes!

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author avatar M G Singh
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Its great to interact with you Mike. I have owned many models of the Royal Enfield and presently have a 500 cc model.. I have driven the other bikes like Yamaha, but I love the enfield. Its also the standard vehicle used by the Indian army and police. I think its good suggestion to write the history of the Royal Enfield. Thank you Mike.

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author avatar Retired
31st Aug 2014 (#)

This discussion about these lovely machines is giving me the "I want, I want," urge. Actually, in East Java, 1950s Enfields, Beezers, Nortons, AJ's, Matchlesses and Speed Twins are often seen. I know of one 1954 350cc Beezer that has been handed down from father to son to grandson. It is in immaculate, original condition other than a non-standard exhaust pipe and Kie Hin carb.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Aug 2014 (#)

I may have to bookmark this. I've applied for an office job at a motorsports shop. I don't ride bicycles, much less motorcycles. But the staff are great and I have so much respect for bikers -- esp. those who are protecting our funerals from extreme right wing protest groups. So if I can learn from them while filing and whatnot, I think I'd really enjoy the change of pace. And then I could comment intelligently on articles like this one! Great job!

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author avatar Retired
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Phyl, get a bike! You can't begin to imagine the sense of freedom and pleasure that cruising a highway on a bike can give you until you try it.

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author avatar M G Singh
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Dear Phyl, Nice comment. One can appreciate a mobike without riding one

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author avatar Ptrikha
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Great description-perhaps you can share some pictures of your trip!

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author avatar M G Singh
29th Aug 2014 (#)

Yes, yes, In another post

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author avatar Randhir Bechoo
7th Sep 2014 (#)

Nice.Makes me wanna try it.Thanks for the share.

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