Riding Season!

From autumn last year through to spring this year, I’ve been riding out on the bike every chance I can get. We’ve had a long dry spell with little or no rain. Our merry band of motorcycle mates has been great company for short escapes beyond city limits. Call it revenge motorcycling if you will- but if 2020 shocked us into submission, 2021 gave enough dire warnings lest we got too comfortable, and 2022 took all our energies to get back to normal life, then 2023 surely calls for some bravado! With this objective in mind, we’ve been stepping out eagerly, on two wheels and four. 😊

All manner of bikes. All manner of rides.

A company offsite in mid December to the coffee country of Coorg, provided a good opportunity to create a motorcycle trip for ‘official reasons’. We would save on fuel, get there faster, be environmentally friendly, etc. The office folks did not have much say in this and were readily convinced. Acceptance of the same reasons by la familia was another matter altogether. I was in the middle of elucidating the benefits of two wheels over four when my kid cut to the chase with “ Daddy, you just want any excuse to ride out don’t you?”. 😊

Cold, fog, dawn, open highway. ETA 60 min to rendezvous.
Rendezvous. A foggy start to our official tour.

It’s a great feeling when you thumb the starter before dawn in your empty parking lot. After weeks of planning, anticipation and excitement, that calming sense of purpose as you roll out on the exit ramp is incredible. I think it’s one of the essential joys of motorcycle touring, to see it all come to that moment, when you start the ride. You’re sort of done with the rigours of…

All the gear? Check.

Pannier balance? Check.

Tail bag strap adjustment? Check.

Phone mount secure? Check.

Did I forget my sunglasses? Third pair of underwear? Check.

Charging cable? Check.

Did I lock the house?

Darn it, let’s just ride!

An early start and meet up with my fellow riders on the Hassan highway was interrupted by heavy fog within a few miles. Don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but fog + motorcycling is a bit of a no go. It’s a complete dampener (no pun intended). In less than an hour we were chilled to the bone and begging for that hot cuppa.

After some delicious dosas and piping hot filter coffee- perfect antidotes to frozen fingers- it’s all smiles.
We moved off the highway to explore a short trail in an ageing forest.
Dry leaves and mulch littered the landscape. But the forest was beautiful, with that mid morning sun filtering through the haze.
A Scram 411, A KTM 390 Adv and my Royal Enfield Himalayan. All have adventure in their genes but are configured completely differently.

We reached Coorg around midday. An incident en route which I’d call amusing and terrifying at the same time, became the unusual highlight of my ride.

My friend on the Ktm decided to gun the throttle at the first sight of the twisties. Snaking through coffee plantations and tall silver oaks, the ghat section approaching Madikeri is a joy to ride on. While the Ktm disappeared, the two of us took on the bends at a gentle pace enjoying the scenery. As we approached town, Google maps announced a short cut to our place of stay. I heeded Google mausi and followed her advice down progressively narrowing lanes which ended in a super steep 45 degree incline leading right into the tiny courtyard of a very rudely awoken Kodava gentleman. With barely a few feet left to spare, I managed to turn the bike around just to see my friend on his Scram following right after!

Now the only way out of that courtyard was that steep 45 degree incline down which we’d just come down. I was suddenly aware that my bike was loaded with panniers and easily tipping the scales upwards of 220 kgs or so. That’s typically the weight of a large 1000 cc adventure bike. The point to note is the large adventure bike comes with a really powerful engine and truckloads of torque. It would have made short work of that incline in front of me. A meagre 32NM of torque mated to just 24 odd horses on the Himalayan suddenly made the task ahead really daunting.

I let the Scram go first. It’s a lighter bike and had lesser luggage. The rider pulled up without much hassle. My turn. A silent prayer on my lips. Engage first gear. Build up revs. Twist of the wrist. Release the brakes. The Himalayan jumps forward. So far so good.

Halfway up the incline I think I hear the engine knocking- I wring the throttle as far as it can go, my heart in my mouth…uh oh.. if I lose traction now, it’s a long long way down to the valley floor beyond the homestead. From somewhere in the depths of its heart the bike pulls out a last reserve of power and tractors up to the top. It takes agonisingly long seconds. But it gets me out. Hats off to all the brilliant engineers at RE! 🥵

It was ironic that our four day trip to Coorg involved a nice ride in on day one, three days of conferences and sessions with office folk behind closed doors and a rain soaked ride back to Bangalore on day five. But in the end it was all good.

I’m out on the same highway in the following month. This time on a Ninja 650. This is a seriously fast bike.

More rides followed in the next couple of months. I seriously considered purchasing a friend’s Ninja 650. On a ride out towards Bellur cross, I’m cruising at 150kph plus speeds on the Ninja. It’s a seriously fast bike and eager to input. The sense of speed is enormous, the feel sporty. This bike impresses with its smooth bulletproof engine. My friend’s machine is nearly nine years old but none of those years or wear and tear have affected its performance in the slightest way.

When the Ninja has smoked the horizon, and the Himalayan no longer has to play the underling in the ‘catch me if you can’ game, I take it down to its comfort ground- a dirt trail by the water. (it’s where the Ninjas dread to tread) 😊
Rocky Ridge Cafe and the environs beyond are revisited with a team mate on his Interceptor 650.

I followed up on the test ride of the Ninja 650 with yet another breakfast ride to Rocky Ridge Ridge Cafe, this time with a Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 for company. To know more about how we came to discover this place read this.

The backroads leading to Rocky Ridge are a delight to ride the Interceptor on.

The beautifully surfaced back roads leading to Rocky Ridge, are full of gentle arcing curves which beg you to take them at full throttle. These roads are mostly devoid of traffic (except the odd farmer on his newly bought tractor). As I lean into one of these sweeping curves at 80kph, I realise what it is about the RE twins that the Brits are going ga ga about. You see, at these speeds, on roads like these, with gentle twisties, the 650 twin engine is an absolute gem to experience. Think of a B Road in England, lined with hedges and the hawthorns on a sweet summer day. And a happy motorcyclist wearing smiles in an open face helmet just trundles by on his Interceptor, scattering the dragonflies. It’s idyllic. That’s the notion the RE’s engine lulls you into. A gentle idyll. It promises more power on tap, but is happy to chug along sweetly at 60 to 70 mph. It’s perfect for what they call ‘lazy riding’. When you’re never short on power, but never in too much need of it.

A B Road somewhere in the UK. Perfect for enjoying an Interceptor or GT 650. Back home in Namma Bengaluru you can head out on the smaller state highways and back roads beyond city limits. For more information go here.

The perspective here is that the RE 650 Twin is not about all out performance like the Kwacker’s 650 twin. I feel, the engineers at RE had a different goal in mind. The Kawasaki is a high revving engine with more than one and half times the power output of the RE. It’s decidedly smoother at high speeds. And although it’s not bad on roads described above, it’s not so endearing at low speeds. It’s at these speeds of 80 to 120 kph that the RE 650 twin comes into its own. It’s buttery smooth gear shifts and even engine note, and promise of generous low end torque is an absolute dealbreaker. I’m sure it sustain a top whack of 160kph or so easily, but it will be way past its enjoyable nature at that speed.

Papa Himalayan Baby Himalayan face off!

Umm, is that a larger Himalayan? Heck no, it’s gorgeous! You have to tear your eyes away from this beauty. A friend of a friend who joined us on the next ride had brought the Ducati Desert X along. A few jokes ensued on the resemblance of the Himalayan to the Ducati. Did Pierre Terblanche have a hand in shaping them both? Brothers from another mother?

Add some white fairing to the Himmy, and you’d be fooled for a few seconds. But only a few. The Desert X is incredible!

Well the Ducati is striking to say the least. And an easy crowd puller. So much so, that it almost overshadowed the raja bike. The BMW GS 1200. The undisputed king of Adv motorcycles. And how.

I surge ahead as the lights turn green. The big Beemer is mightily comfortable. It’s an open highway and on this Sunday, Bangaloreans are at their motoring best. I can hear some howling super cars behind me, had spotted an Audi TT and a Porsche 911 Carerra going neck and neck a few miles back. They’ve caught up.

The tacho climbs as I rev the bike- I know it’s a matter of seconds before they pass me in a blur. The big Beemer is not ready to give up yet. I can see 156kph on the speedo and the cars have gone ahead. Flashing brake lights fill my vision ahead and I can hear squealing tyres…what’s going on here? A large speed bump. They are skirting this cautiously now. Crawling underwater as far as I’m concerned. I’ve throttled down to about 120kph but there’s no time (or space) to brake or cut speed. I’m on pegs. The Beemer squeezes between the two cars and sails over the speed bump. There’s no wobble. No lurch. Nothing. A clean landing which I almost didn’t feel. Behind me, my friend following on his Ninja 1000 observes my rear wheel in the air, and gawks as the moment passes. Later, at breakfast he recalls the moment and how he uttered something so profane, I can’t write it here. 😀

I repeat, Mightily Comfortable.

My friend takes me through a pre ride checklist as I sit on his bike. It’s more akin to a Captain and co-pilot exchanging notes and running through flight controls prior to takeoff. The BMW has electronic suspension which is activated at the touch of a button. It has multiple modes for (wait for it) turn signal indicators! There’s on the fly selectors/ toggles/ switches etc etc. I’m in a cockpit.

On the ride, we enter a small village which hosts a legendary breakfast place. In one narrow village lane, the bike stalls. At this point in time I’m expecting a dozen warning lights to pop up and completely fluster me. None of that happens. I downshift to neutral, thumb the starter, pop the clutch, drop first gear and off we go. Yup, it’s still just a lovable old motorcycle underneath it all. And May I say. Mightily Comfortable. 😃

Enroute to Sabbanahalli lake. The little Himalayan in the company of biggies.
Mirror mirror on the wall. Who’s the smoothest mill of them all?

Which brings me to the Ninja. Nope this is another one. The 1000. Is it fast? Yep. But I didn’t feel it like I did on the 650. Is it smooth. Yep. But I didn’t feel it like I did on the 650. Ok. Wait what?

Yep. It’s fast. But it’s not manic. It’s mature.

Yep it’s smooth. Too much to qualify. So you don’t feel it.

Is it like a car? Far from it. You feel everything. Enough said.

In an elusive quest for the perfect bike, for his current and future needs, another colleague and friend has recently settled on a 2023 Ktm 390 Adventure. This is easily the most talked about, most versatile bike in the adventure segment in India right now.

An early morning ride out to Murugan Idly, which serves lip smacking dosas from 6:00 am. We are witnessing this strangest phenomenon. Every few miles I’m alternating between dazzling sunshine and a light fog. It’s a bit crazy. The sky when visible, is a brilliant blue. My friend has switched to sunglasses. We pause and admire this freak of nature.

The cloud bank in the distance signals another area of fog we will be crossing. But right here, we are in glorious sunshine.

While the dry spell lasts, before the summer really scorches us, we intend to ride out to the mountains. That’s something to look forward to. Riding season ain’t over yet!

Yonder blue mountain calling! 😊

Happy Sundays in the saddle…

Brilliant weather, a gorgeous route, great company and a British Twin to make your day. Happy Sunday!

The monsoon had been making its way rapidly across the South when we first decided to go for a spin down into neighbouring TN. This would be a slightly longer ride than the usual breakfast sortie, with an interesting route and a promising breakfast at the Rocky Ridge Farms Cafe (https://www.rockyridge.in). I’ve now done the route twice already, where the second ride had more friends join in- such is the allure of the route and the breakfast place. 😊

Stop for a breather, a bit of a view, a little banter, with the crew.

Now if you live in Bangalore and are tired of the usual dash to Bellur Cross or halfway to Hyderabad for a bite to eat, then think of this place as a welcome respite. Be cautioned however, that this route is best enjoyed at a slow gentle pace, with lots of scenery along way, places to stop, soak in and build your appetite.

An early start had us cruising down Hosur road post dawn. After the toll, we soon turned off towards Thally. I’ve been on this road before, quite a few years ago, on my first outing on the Himalayan. You can read about that ride here- Lost in the hinterland. The road to Thally has since undergone a massive transformation. The broken two lane blacktop from our earlier ride was now replaced with a smooth four lane state highway, which cuts travel time in half.

This place is a hidden delight and a restful haven. Serves great grub for many a hungry biker!
At Rocky Ridge Farms Cafe, the owner has thoughtfully provided racks for keeping your riding gear away from the eating tables. 😊
Breakfast at Rocky Ridge Cafe is a yummy buffet spread washed down by loads of good coffee, juice or tea.

After a sumptuous breakfast at Rocky Ridge we moved on towards a 50km circuit that promised a lake, a forest and a waterfall. This route is the highlight and also includes a narrow and twisty hill section, with equal parts tarmac and gravel, which is a delight to ride on an adventure bike.

Riding the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC. What a brilliant, playful machine this is!

I rode my friend’s Triumph Scrambler 1200XC, for good stretches on these rides. With Mark Knopfler belting out ‘What It Is’ in my Bluetooth headset and a roaring twin cylinder pumping oodles of torque under me, I was having a ‘best of the British’ time! This is a bike that redefines ‘easy with an attitude!’. Roll slow and it purrs to your input. Wring the throttle and it jumps like a startled hare- the rear slides, traction control cuts in arresting it in a fraction, I strain to keep the front wheel pointed straight while feeling an adrenaline rush! All transpires in a few seconds. Cruising at 80kph or 120kph is pretty much the same. The tall suspension flattens everything in its path. The bike’s fantastic geometry and handling belies it’s big engine weight. In all of this, however the bike is super friendly and comfortable. Takes some getting used to, but you never lose the feeling of being in complete control, at all times. Compare this with the other two bikes I rode the same day- a Ducati 1100 Scrambler and a KtM 390 Adv. These are power hungry, raging beasts and do not want to be tamed!

This lake is a few kms down the road from Rocky Ridge Cafe!
Sunday idyll.

A beautiful lake with a solitary fisherman’s skiff was the first point of interest, on the circuit. This was a gorgeous setting, with wind blown grass and native wildflowers all round the lake shores, surrounded by hills. We spent a short while here taking a few photos.

Motos by the water!
Wayfinding in the countryside

Beyond the lake the circuit climbs through some hills with narrow switchbacks, that is pure adv motorcycle territory. For this stretch I had the 1100 Scrambler. The Ducati is super aggressive to throttle input and would be a blast on city streets. However here, I was having trouble keeping up with the Triumph, the Himalayan and the GT. This was because the narrow hairpin bends occurred one after another every 100 metres or so, such is the nature of the hill track. What this implied was me having to downshift at the corner, rev the throttle when half way through the turn, shift up and then immediately cut down on speed and downshift again in half a minute at the next corner. This was tiresome. The Himalayan and the Triumph in comparison, lumbered on smoothly through the bends in one gear, right up to the top. The smaller wheels on the Ducati also were not reassuring on the gravel edges of the asphalt. It was hilarious. I was easily on the fastest motorcycle in the group. Yet I came up last.

View from the top!

The views at the top however, were very rewarding for any latecomer. What’s also nice is that this trail is not on any tourist map. It’s just a road that leads from one village to another, with a hill range in between.

Riding a spirited bike like the Scrambler up to the top was challenging but fun!

On the way back, three of us, riding in close formation, had a scary moment. A snake suddenly tried to cross the road ahead of the leading bike. Panic braking ensued. We were more concerned about whose wheel the poor creature would get wrapped up under! Luckily, all of us (snake included) just about managed to dodge each other. Whew! Just one of those things to consider when riding in India- expect the unexpected!

Heading down into the valley.
Adv Moto heaven.

This reptilian encounter notwithstanding, we had a great ride! We’ve discovered a new hideaway with great food and beautiful back roads to explore beyond. Can’t wait to return to the neighbourhood and catch up on what else it has to offer!

The route offers plenty of spots to take a breather and revel in natural beauty around you.
More folks join in on the second ride. A KTM 390 Adv and a Scram 411!
On the 2nd ride, the lake has changed character after the first rains. Gone were the grass banks, blue skies and clear water. It was still nice though!

Best of what’s around…(B’lore)

Over the past 11 years, I’ve pretty much covered almost every exit route out of Bangalore, in the format of lazy Sunday breakfast runs. These early morning rides have enabled new friendships fostered by our common love for motorcycles, exploration of some great back roads and discovery of some excellent places serving delicious local cuisine. You can read more about some of these rides here- https://yonderbluemountain.com/tag/back-road-beautiful/

Have captured below, images from rides in and around rural Bengaluru that I’ve done over time. Most of these areas are not more than a couple of hours ride from the city centre, so depending on where you live, some of the spots may be closer than an hour for you! Next weekend, if you are craving that mouth watering thatte idly or shavige bath all washed down with a hot kaapi, at the end of a short and sweet ride, do look up these places on Google. Give a shout to your moto mates and get going!

En- route to Manchanbele Dam
Nelligudde Kere
Wind Hill, Ramanagara. Savanadurga in the distance
At Sabbanahalli lake
A trail near Nandi hills
En route to Chota Ladakh off Kolar Road
Chota Ladakh!
Off Berigai -Shoolagiri road
Muningara Dam
Sanamavu Reserve Forest, Thenpennai River
Ragihalli State Forest
Savanadurga State Forest
Harohalli Jigani Road skirting the Bannerghatta Wildlife Reserve
Jawalagiri Forest
Manchanbele Reservoir


2016- Stock Bike 😇
2017- Scrambler 🧐
2018- Enduro ‘chichora’ bike 😈
2019- Adventure Tourer 🤠
2020- Retro Tourer 🥸

On the horizon…

It’s December, 2020 and here in India, scientists say, we have peaked the pandemic. We have learnt to live the ‘new normal’.  Being cooped up, working from home, ordering groceries in and living the socially distanced life, takes physical and mental toll. Eventually we got fed up. We started venturing out, with due precautions, either for a drive to my sister’s place out of town or for a spin around the neighbourhood. I also started riding, mostly on Sundays, with a group of old friends from the workplace.

Motorcycling is a great way to maintain social distance. Inside my helmet, behind my mask, I’m in my own little world, away with thoughts, munching miles at 70 kph. I’m comfortably snug in my riding gear, the tall visor doing a great job of deflecting windblast. The big hearted Italian twin I’m riding is purring gently along the highway that connects Bangalore to the west coast. A slight twist of the throttle, catapults me to 168kph in a heartbeat. The torque on this engine, is enormous! And man, this stallion is fast, as is sure footed. I’m riding my friend’s Ducati Multistrada 950, while he’s trying hard to keep up on the bike I switched, a Honda CBR 250R. The little quarter litre single is smooth and can whack up a good pace, but its 26 horses are no match for the 113 raging stallions of the Italian. It’s such a beauty, this gleaming red firebird on wheels, and I can’t help but grin from ear to ear, everytime I feel the torque wave. 

We are headed back to the city from an early morning ride to Belur Cross. Today was a good day, out here in the open, after many dull, housebound days. A long ride out in the country, was just what the doctor ordered. For once, I did not wake up to more depressing news, but was up at dawn with eagerness that befits a long awaited motorcycle ride. We have two friends on Ninja 650s, and another Ducati 950 Multistrada to keep us company.


At Belur cross we stop for coffee. I take the newer Ninja 650 for a quick spin. This is such an incredibly friendly bike. It puts you at ease immediately. The bike is extremely flickable, and I remember an earlier occasion where I rode comfortably through town in dense traffic, without breaking a sweat. The second big positive is the heat management- I never felt the engine heat near my legs. I would venture so far to say, that the cooling system is better than any other similar bike I’ve ridden. I prefer the bigger bike feel and touring friendliness of the older model – we had a 2013 model on the ride with us. This one with its single sided rear monoshock, taller windscreen and flamboyant green and black livery, is to my mind, a beautiful motorcycle. This would have also been a great bike to pick up as a second owner, had it come with ABS as standard. In this day and age, for a decently agile and fast sports tourer like this, it’s a big miss. The latest Ninja 650 has righted these wrongs, and is a delight to ride, but somehow is not as evocative as the previous model. 


This breakfast ride in the company of larger bikes, and a subsequent one on which I rode my Himalayan to TM Hills, with the gang, got me thinking. While for the moment, the Himalayan is an answer to all my motorcycling needs, some time in the near future, I do aspire to add a larger hearted sibling to give it company. Which then, would be the second set of wheels I should start planning for?


When thinking about the another bike, I’m certain about this. The bike has to be a machine for everyday use. I know enough motorcyclists, who’ve spent big bucks to acquire their dream machine, but use it sparingly on weekends to avoid struggling in city snarls in the ever evolving traffic situation. The seasonal condition of our highways dictates the route chosen for these weekend outings as a straight run down the interstate to a coffee stop and a boring, straight run back. Head off the highway, onto smaller dirt roads, and the bikes start showing their limitations. If they’ve bought a large cruiser (read Harley Davidson), its a beast to handle. If they’ve bought a sports bike, it starts showing its delicate side. The suspension’s not up for it, and neither are your wrists or butt. Granted, my friends on their Multistradas would be grinning and gunning at this point. But they would be cautious too, as the trail gets tougher- the last thing they can afford is the thing ending up on its side. This is where I feel, the Himalayan has been a really good fit for me. Its a daily use bike. And it can take punishment without punishing your wallet. But it has its own limitations. On good roads, I need it to be generating upwards of 40 horsepower, which it woefully does’nt. And its fabled low end torque, is just not enough for a full fledged tour with pillion- as many folks have told me. 

The Himalayan is great on trails…
and adequate on tarmac… as long as you are riding solo. With a pillion its 20 horses short, at the very least.

All this ruminating has got me convinced, what I really need is decent middle weight. A 500cc to 800cc twin cylinder motorcycle that does’nt weigh a ton. A bike that’s as easy to flick round a street corner, as round a bend in the trail. A motorcycle that has enough torque to carry rider, pillion and hard luggage all the way to Timbuktoo, at a decent clip. A bike I can improve my DIY skills on. A machine to look long and hard at, every time I come back from a ride. A machine to love more, every single day. A choice of wheels that does’nt warrant second thought for the tarkari run to the bazaar, or to a client meeting in Bangalore’s Central Business District. A vehicle that’s always preferable to my car. 

It’s a tall ask. And these are trying times. However, 2020 has been the year of some promising new launches. And 2021 promises to be even more so. So I’ll keep adding to the brief. And hope that some day soon, in sunnier times, little Himalyan can ride out with a bro he can really look up to. 



If you can’t ride, read.

I can imagine how frustrating the current situation might be for an avid motorcyclist. Coronavirus has affected several countries around the world and the motorcycling fraternity in many of these countries would be raring to ride out at the slightest easing of restrictions.

Out here, for a good part of three months, I did not even look at the motorcycle. I stayed home, stayed put, stayed safe. Come June, with the lockdown lifted, I did roll the bike out. It needed a battery replacement, which got done. And on 16th June, we quietly accomplished 4 years of being together through thick and thin. To celebrate the occasion, I went for a quick highway run with my cousin, who also owns a four year old BS3 Himalayan. The short ride, gave us a chance to reflect on two things-

1. How much we had missed not riding

2. We were really among the last of the breed, with our BS3 Himalayans. With the success of the EFI Himalayan in the last couple of years you don’t see many of the older ones about. I felt lucky to have this simple forerunner of a machine. And it felt great to have it running so smooth and true four years on.

Short highway run within the district to clear cobwebs from my mind. Seen here with the other BS3 Himalayan, both 4 years old.
The Himalayan has evolved over the years, but stayed true to its core purpose of being an everyday, everything, anywhere use machine.

However, aside from this small outing, for most of the Lockdown, I consoled myself browsing through some of my favourite reads on the shelf.

Here’s a glance at my budding motorcycle reads collection. Would strongly recommend all three, if you haven’t had a chance to get your paws on them yet.

Looking through them brought back nice memories of my own rides and good times with the bikes I’ve owned and ridden.

Here’s hoping that the world overcomes this crisis soon, and we find ourselves back on our machines, rolling happily into the new millennium.

Himalayan update- 23000kms and counting…

A few weeks ago, I finally managed to lay hands on the last item required for build ideas I had for the Himalayan. 23500 kms and 3 years, 8 months in the making, I’m very happy with the way it has turned out. Almost everything added to the bike is a genuine Royal Enfield accessory. No cheap aftermarket bits and bobs here.

Himalayan, circa 2020
Himalayan, circa 2020
Retro-tourer, circa 2020.

In my last post Essential Upgrades, I had talked about replacing the worn out stock seat with a Touring Seat. The Touring Seat took me more than 6 months to locate and buy. For some weird reason, Royal Enfield does not have online sales for bike accessories. And this one is a best seller that almost every dealership runs quickly out of.

For more than a year, I ran the bike without any kind of wind protection. I was glad to get rid of the fiddly stock visor which had a serious buffeting issue at high speeds. However, I still felt the need for a smaller cowl or fly screen to complete the look of the bike.

Made a quick sketch to see how a flyscreen would look.

A quick sketch on my iPad convinced me that a flyscreen might just do it. Got myself an Interceptor 650 flyscreen the next day. Had to convince my mates at Highlander, my friendly neighbourhood Moto workshop, to file and shape the mounting bracket. But other than that, it was an easy fit.

Short Flyscreen from the Interceptor 650. A high intensity LED bulb from NightEye replaces the stock bulb in the headlight.

Here’s a summary of additions to the bike at 20000kms.

  • Upgraded the handle-bar to the Braced Handlebar Kit (Part no. 1990206). The handlebar weighs 20% less than the stock bar, is beautifully finished, and Made in Taiwan. From Royal Enfield Brand Showroom, BTM Layout, Bangalore.
  • Installed Bar-End Finisher Kits (Part No.1990220) for the same handlebar. From Royal Enfield Brand Showroom, BTM Layout, Bangalore.
  • BMC Lifetime Filter for the Himalayan- Sourced from Big Bear Customs, St. Marks Road, Bangalore.
  • Brake Reservoir protector from the Continental GT (535). (Available at most Service Centres)
  • Metzeler Tourance Next tyres- 90/90-21 to the front, 150/70- 17 to the rear. (Orion Motors, Koramangala)
  • Short Flyscreen from the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, (Royal Enfield Brand Showroom, BTM Layout)
  • Royal Enfield Aluminium Panniers with mounts (Royal Enfield Brand Showroom, BTM Layout)
  • Royal Enfield Touring Seat for the Himalayan (Royal Enfield Brand Showroom, BTM Layout)
  • NightEye headlight replacement bulb (Sourced online)

To know about other bits of DIY which shaped the bike, and my overall ownership experience, you can catch up here. If you are a Himalayan owner and have done some fiddling yourself, do drop me a line. 😊

The bike setup feels perfect for lazy ganders through backroads like this. 😊

Hinterland beautiful…

“When in Bangalore”, I heard a wise man say, “pick a direction and ride. You’ll get somewhere nice!”.

The year gone by has been hectic for me, to say the least. Work was demanding, and so were some family commitments. I also did many road trips to Pondicherry, Coonoor, Coorg, Madurai and Kodaikanal, on four wheels. The upside was that I spent a lot of time with family and enjoyed driving my 5 year old Renault Duster, to these beautiful destinations. The downside was that I could not really go for a long ride on my Himalayan. What I did do, however, was discover more of the hinterland outside Bangalore and found some neat little spots.

Ganalu Waterfalls, Mandya

The sheer beauty and accessibility of these falls (you can get quite close to the water) is an awesome experience. Still off the mainstream tourist map, this place is a hidden gem. The falls are just 100kms from South Bangalore and great for a day’s ride.

Landscape enroute to the falls.

The last 5 kms is through lovely scubland.

Ganalu Falls viewed on approach.

This quaint canal is about 5 minutes away from the falls…

…with a spectacular little bridge to park your moto.

Loved this spot!

While the falls were breathtaking, I found this lovely canal enroute even more enticing. It was the perfect spot to just park the bike and revel in the gentle flow of water, watch reeds waving in the wind and listen to birdsong.

Route options from the Mysore and Kanakpura higways.

Muninagara Dam

This place is a little tricky to get to but extremely rewarding, once you have found it. Its barely 50kms from Bangalore and less than an hour away on a good day.  You can access this one off Kanakpura Road. Google Maps tends to mislead on the final approach, as there’s a couple of waterbodies close by-and we were led to believe that these were the dam. So we asked the locals and they pointed us in the right direction.

Waterbody en-route to Muningara dam

Muningara dam- pumping station bridge

The reservoir forms one edge of the Bannerghatta Wildlife Reserve and on a good day, you are likely to sight wildlife. An electric fence separates the village fields and runs along the bank highline to keep predators at bay. A great spot to spend moments in idyll and admire nature at its finest. The good thing about this place is that its not accessible by car. If you aren’t on a Himalayan, you probably cant access it by bike either. 🙂 So its very heartening to see the place only frequented by village folks who have kept it clean and beautiful.

The hills on the far side belong to the Bannerghatta Wildlife Reserve

Great spot to to soak in views and observe wildlife

The electric fence behind the bikes is a deterrent for wildlife entering the village area

Muninagara Dam
Route options to Muninagara Dam

Dandiganahalli Dam, Chikabalapura

If you own a Himalayan (or any other similar bike for that matter) and want to a ride to a place where you can generally thrash about, then this one is for you. While the Dandiganahalli Dam is a lovely destination by itself, its this dry lakebed enroute that caught our fancy. We had a ball scrambling and drifting on this lakebed, which was part slush, part grass, part gravel. Check footage here- Scramble by the lake!

The dam is best visited early morning, when the sun is just lighting up the waters and you have the whole place to yourself. There’s a fair bit of ‘beach’ area by the water where one can set up a small tent or have a picnic.

One can get to far end of the lakebed, on the bike, between these shallow bodies of water

Lakebed enroute to the dam

Dandiganahalli Dam


Nandi Hills Circuit, Nandi Hills

If you live in Bangalore and are into motorcycles, its a no brainer, you would have ridden to Nandi Hills. I used to do that quite often, about 5 years ago. Lately though, with the place receiving a whole lot more attention, with a whole lot more people living in Bangalore, going up and coming down can become an annoying affair- traffic snarls are common at the start of the climb and towards the narrow entry gates. On weekends and public holidays, this place is best avoided. A few months ago, we decided to chance it and see how the hills were faring. Once we turned off the airport highway, it was evident, we had not picked a good day. On a whim we continued past the turnoff to the climb and ended up doing a 20km loop around the base of Nandi Hills. This turned out to be a very nice road indeed. So next time you are in these neck of the woods and dont want to battle the sunrise crowd, head on round the hills- you might like it more.

Morning ride, hot tea, Indian Paratha Company

Nandi Hills circuit

Lovely back road to ride around the hill


Himalayan- Essential Upgrades

In my Himalayan, 15000km Update. I had talked about upgrading to a good set of tyres as the stock tyres had worn out completely. After shortlisting various on/off road tyres, including the Pirelli MT60, which does duty on Himalayans sold outside India, I decided to run with Metzeler Tourance Next. The photos below, show how the bike looks with new shoes.

Metzeler Tourance Next- 90/90 x 21″ Front Tyre- easy fit on the Himalayan.

Metzeler Tourance Next- 150/70 x 17″ rear tyre. This fitting requires a skilled mechanic as the rim width is designed to hold a 120/90 x 17″ tyre. Nevertheless, once installed correctly, the tyre is a seamless fit. I am using a Ralco 140/17 tube in the tyre. 

The tyres are significantly higher grade (being Metzelers) and therefore, significantly more expensive. But they are comparable to or cheaper than, the other options I looked at. I chose these tyres after a fair bit of research, for the following reasons:

  1. In three years of use, I have not done any serious off-roading on the Himalayan. And I realise, that while any offroad trail which comes my way, when I’m on a ride is more than welcome, I’m not much into off-roading as a sport. Which meant that I required a good set of dual sport tyres that would be ideal for commuting and touring.
  2. I wanted road focussed tyres that could handle dirt trails. Now the stock tyres are good on dirt and okay on road. Folks who are on their second set of stock tyres are bound to disagree with me, and a month or two ago, I would have sworn by the Ceats. However, since I’ve put on the Metzelers, two things have become crystal clear- a. The road grip is amazing- I feel much more confident entering and exiting corners now, and b. braking has improved tremendously.
  3. Off road adventure tyres with knobbly treads have very poor mileage on road. Here the Metzelers stood out, with a lot of online reviews claiming a mileage of 15000 plus miles. This was one big deciding factor.

My second investment was the all aluminium box panniers from Royal Enfield. The panniers are sturdy, lockable and waterproof, with two years warranty. Mounting and removing them is a straightforward affair, and build quality is pretty decent. They add quite a lot of character to the bike. The bike looks purposeful and adventure ready. Here again, I researched luggage systems from Shad and Hepco and Becker, both of which offered hard plastic cases, but were on the expensive side. I went in for the Royal Enfield product as it was very good value for money, robust and simple to use.

Royal Enfield Aluminium panniers on the Himalayan.

Some DIY was required to mount the number plate, but it turned out fine, I think. 

Mounting and removing the panniers is a 5 minutes affair. 

I’ll pop in a review soon, about these upgrades, once I’ve headed out on a long ride. In the meantime, I’ve been commuting. And the panniers are an absolute blessing. Earlier, I’d spend at least 10 to15 minutes daily, strapping my laptop bag on and taking it off the bike; now, its a 30 second affair. The panniers swallow everything. And keep stuff snug and dry. ‘Fill it, shut it, forget it’, is what I say. 🙂

Commuting, before the panniers. My laptop bag is mounted on the rear seat with the help of bungee cords. Everyday, prepping the bike took at least 10 minutes. 



Scramble by the lake!

A short scramble on a lake bed enroute to Dandinagahalli Dam.