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Old 11-06-2008, 09:29 AM   #1
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Superbiking in India

Kindly ignore India specific connotations. This ride was done in North India. The bikes were: Two Yamaha R1s 2008, 1 Yamaha r15 (a 150CC moped 'track bike', a Karizma [223cc]. This trip log posted after a small request from a ADVRider in this thread.

The Banshee’s Himalayan Odyssey
Text : Sandeep Goswami (Old Fox) and tips by Sundeep Gajjar
Pictures: Sundeep Gajjar (Sunny)<--Myself

Superbikes are a heavy and tricky handful anywhere. And they become so all the more in heavy traffic, on bad roads and narrow mountain twisties. We got all this and more on the recent ride on two R1’s to Narkanda and Hatu Peak in Himachal Pradesh. We had been gunning for a ride on the ‘One’s to the mountains once the bikes had been run-in and Narkanda, some 70 odd kms beyond Simla, seemed a good destination to head to. An unusually severe and extended monsoon with the subsequent landslides had taken a heavy toll of the roads high up but we were game for it. Nothing like the proverbial ‘baptism by fire’ as a preamble to the long pan-India ride ahead.

Day 1: Saturday Nov 1st ‘08

The final rider tally stood thus: Sunny and your’s truly on the R-1’s, Manan on the R-15 and Rishi (a friend of mine) on my ZMA. Plans for a really early departure were sort-of rearranged as we had the exalted company of a black Goldwing (Sunny’s friend Shammi and his son), a yellow Comet (our very own Vroom aka Ashish) and Roger on his trusty Avenger till Murthal, our breakfast stop. The ‘Wing really dwarfs the One’s. Or rather it dwarfs almost every other two wheeler and even some 4 wheelers for that matter in sheer length and girth. Its handlebars are wide enough to provide leverage sufficient to lift a truck! And it was THE attention grabber at the dhaba we stopped at for breakfast.
Easy group camaraderie accompanied by a leisurely morning meal of tandoori paranthas and tea ensured that we finally hit the road well past 0800 hrs. With some 10-11 hrs of riding ahead, we focused on making good time. Traffic was moderate and soon we were crossing the brand new Panipat toll road, a real blessing, at a fair clip. No, we were NOT speeding on the 1’s, primarily in deference to our brethren riding on lesser bikes and secondarily also in deference to the law of the land. The R-1’s have limited range and need to be led to their watering hole (read petrol pump) every 200 odd kms. So we tanked up again between Ambala and Chandigarh, deciding to take a break at the Café Coffee Day just before Dharampur. Doing a couple of hours on the One at a stretch can be tiring, with the wrists, neck and back taking the worst though even the poor overworked brain starts clamoring for a break too. Ice cold Choco Frappe and Devil’s Own were welcome elements and so were the lounge sofas as we rested and relaxed our cramped limbs. The road ahead was inviting and some three quarters of an hour later we were corner-carving again. The smaller bikes had no problems keeping up with the biggies as we both were holding back those 180 odd ponies, the inconsistent road surface, lots of traffic and our unfamiliarity with the bikes on the hills being the reasons. A couple of photo-shoots on good clean curves later we crossed Simla. The ‘good’ roads disappeared, making way for deep ruts, crater-sized pot-holes, gravel, slush and sand virtually all over the place. The rains had done their job well. And the stiffly sprung R-1’s would slam back at us with almost the same violence as we’d take them through the rough.

Kufri, Fagu, Theog…..the story of the road was the same. We had made good time earlier in the day and were within 30 odd kms from Narkanda as dusk started settling in. The golden hour for photography became the golden hour and a half as we clicked away in a race with the setting sun. Dark enough for those brilliant lights of the 1’s and the cameras were finally stashed away. The curves though showed up the classic deficiency of motorcycle headlights. Lean the bike into a turn and the lights are actually pointing the other way. A centrally placed headlamp with wide beam-spread wins hands-down here compared to the four spread faring mounted lamps of the One. Hit a short straight and the road ahead would be lighted like a fairy ground but the curves were another story. We reached Hatu Hotel a little before 1900 hrs. A long but rewarding day as we had gained confidence both in the bikes and our riding ability.

Day 2 will see us ride to 10,500ft and snow capped mountains, stay tuned...

Some random things which noted while riding a Superbike to the mountains (in India): (by Sundeep Gajjar [Sunny])

  • Start off real early, always. Specially if you are in a metro city. Call center cabs have made us forget the meaning of really serene, quite and beautiful mornings.
  • Carry two helmet visors along : One clear for early morning pre dawn and post dusk and one tinted for the day. Dont rely on shades, you could encounter dark long tunnels en route in the mountains which could leave you virtually blinded if you dont stop and take your shades off. With a visor you can simply pull it up while entering.
  • Needless to say, dont overspeed, specially on relatively empty highways. If you go beyond 150kmph you yourself will be the one to blame if someone crossing the road causes a crash. In India, no one expects something to hurl at them at 200kmph!
  • even on a green light be very cautious and keep a 360 degree watch. Similarly, early morning dont stop abruptly at a red light, specially in the middle of the width of the road, most of the drivers dont obey early morning signals due to sparse traffic and they might crash into you from behind.
  • In general, on a highway it is safer to be faster than slower to the rest of the traffic.
  • A 190 rear does not guarantee you more traction on loose gravel in the mountains because the contact patch is roughly the same as on Indian bikes having thinner rubber but the momentum is greater.
  • Try taking corners at 2nd or 3rd gear in the mountains, specially if roads are not that good.
  • Try to find a position in which you balance the load on your wrist and shoulders, don't stiffen your wrist, shocks from potholes could damage it in the long run.
  • Try not to carry heavy stuff on your back, though this is one thing which I dont follow.
  • On open and plain stretches loosen a bit by stretching a bit while riding the bike one leg and arm at a time. Do shoulder circles too. Blood circulation often falls to a minimum due to high pressure on the shoulders, wrists and thighs.
  • Install a light on the visor. Under braking the lights (even when on high beam) angel down on the road failing to illuminate a substantial area ahead on the road despite of them being bright. This is a very dangerous thing.
  • Choose your line well ahead of taking a blind turn, anything could be around the corner. Don't even think of changing lines in an emergency on a superbike on Indian mountain corners. Your luck might run out.

Shammi, Goldwing rider, getting a good massage at a dhabha in Murthal

Bikes lined up in Murthal

L-R: Manan C, Vrooom, Puneet (Roger), Old Fox, Rishi

Vrooom sharing a lighter moment

To Shimla

Coffee stop near Parwanoo at a Cafe Coffe Day Outlet

Trees en route Shimla

The Good Roads...

The not so good roads...

Then some more good roads...

The 1 followed by 15..

Evening, beyond Shimla...

Almost pitch dark...

At 7810ft in Narkanda
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Old 11-06-2008, 09:44 AM   #2
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Looks great! I didn't think you had those bikes in India, all we seem to see on here are the smaller kind.

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Old 11-06-2008, 09:48 AM   #3
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Awesome photography![IMG]images/icons/eek.gif[/IMG]
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Old 11-06-2008, 09:49 AM   #4
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Nice Pictures

Great shots!
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:52 PM   #5
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Great ride, report & pics, Sunny.
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:25 PM   #6
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I am glad that you liked what you saw.
@Gboy : I am almost tired of crying out hoarse that all bikes exist in India , however officially only Yamaha and Ducati have their superbikes in, and that too an exorbitant price. Here is one more time, a Fireblade 1000RR around India pictures :

However there is no guarantee that a cow, or a dog, or a bicycle or a truck or even a freaking ufo wont land in the middle of the road when you are crouching down and accrelerating your crotch rocket on Indian roads , damn its frustrating.
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Old 11-06-2008, 07:33 PM   #7
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man there are waaay to many great photographers on this site
I mean there is no need for bike magazines with stuff like this or at least many could do well coming here to hire photographers
freaking amazing man

please keep shooting and posting!
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Old 11-08-2008, 01:21 AM   #8
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Day 2

Day 2: Sunday Nov 2nd ‘08

text : Sandeep Goswami (Old Fox)
Photos: Old Fox and Sunny

Sunday dawned really early for us. We were out and headed for Hatu Peak by 0615 hrs to catch the rising sun. The road to Hatu is narrow, about a foot and a half to spare on either side of a Sumo. And the gradient is daunting, especially at some hairpins. The only saving grace is the good surface. The WIDE turning circle of the 1’s made tackling those hairpins, with the gradient, quite a job. Bottom gear, low rpm and on the clutch with feet sticking out like out-riggers was the standard operating procedure. Hatu top was silent and alone, just for us. And the sun was just beginning to peek from behind the eastern peaks.

The photo-session got underway with gusto. The bikes were shot first and then our friendly neighbourhood lensman turned his loving attention to Manan’s enthusiastic antics. The chap is a trained gymnast and can do standing cartwheels with a Daijya held in one hand!. A proposed action sequence of clicking him mid-air in a flying-kick stance went sort of wrong on the landing part and our fittest became temporarily lame. A badly twisted knee (later diagnosed as an overstretched tendon) put him out of action. Hats off to Manan’s ‘never-say-die’ spirit that he managed to ride down Hatu and all the way to Delhi the next day with that busted knee.

Some villagers came over for ‘darshan’ at the Hatu Mata temple and one of them was carrying a locally made muzzle loading gun. Sunny, our understated creative, requested a borrow of the weapon and I ‘shot’ him with the branded R1, gun in hand, gun raised, bowed with gun at arm’s length and finally gun on camera tripod. Great! The sun was high up by now and the ‘light’ not really flattering for the bikes, we bowed in obeisance at the temple and started the descent. A pond halfway between Hatu-Narkanda had attracted Sunny’s attention on the way up. Now, with the sun up, he panned into action. Rode the branded R1 over grass and slush to the far end of the pond to take HDR’s that would make the scene look straight out of a place like Alaska. Good going there. Another half hour at that location and we returned to the hotel and our belated breakfast.

The rest of the day was spent in fixing Manan, checking out the bikes, updating the site (Sunny did that, we were the overseeing advisors) and lazing around in the hotel lawns in the afternoon sun. Wanted to visit the nearby Tani-Jubbar Lake but someone from the hotel staff said a tree had fallen across the road enroute and the authorities would take time in clearing it. And also didn’t want to leave the injured Manan all alone behind. Talk of group ethics :-D. We were planning an early start for Delhi the next morning to avoid getting caught in rush-hour Simla traffic (you bet it is just that at office-time) and so turned in rather early post dinner.

A photo from the last evening

To Hatu

To Hatu Peak

10,500 feet at Hatu Peak

Black and White

Black and White 2

L-R: Rishi, Manan, Sandeep Goswami, Sunny

Showroom at 10.5k feet!

Manan Relaxing after an acrobatic session

Rishi probably looking into the future and contemplating the tyre puncture

The mighty R15

Manan cartwheeling

The Hatu Mandir

Coming down from the Hatu Mandir

Vistas from hatu peak

Vistas from hatu peak

Road back from Hatu is very narrow, you often have to give way to four wheelers, and you s houldnt be caught on the dropside, specially on a superbike!

At Hatu Peak

He raam, agli baar mujhe R1 dena, R15 nahi!

DSG Advert Interrupt


End the War!

Road from Hatu to Narkanda

Decadextrous Manan!

The result after a Kung Fu jump!

Back to Narkanda

Lake Hatu

Sunset from Hatu Hotel

Relaxing in our hotel garden

A tree in our hotel garden
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Old 11-08-2008, 06:00 AM   #9
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Wow, understatement of the year...but they are STUNNING photos!! thank you
Ah say what ah like and ah like what AH BLOODY WELL SAY!

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Old 11-08-2008, 06:10 AM   #10
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Stunning photos, as usual
Himalayas on a Motorcycle - Photography book by Chanderjeet
Mango Lassi of the bumfucked hillbillies MC
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Old 11-08-2008, 10:38 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by indianBoy


Lake Hatu
Absolutely Stunning Photography!

Why do all of the best Ride Reports come from INDIA?
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:21 PM   #12
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Without doubt the very best pictures I have seen anywhere
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Old 11-08-2008, 02:55 PM   #13
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bloody terrific photo's!!!!


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Old 11-09-2008, 06:13 PM   #14
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Great Shots!
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Old 11-09-2008, 07:09 PM   #15
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Wow, simply amazing photography. Thanks for the post!

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