The Journey: Delhi – Chandigarh – Shimla – Manali – Leh
Ideal Time to Visit: Summer is the best time to ride on this route which only opens for 4 months - May, June, July and August. The region is covered in snow for the rest of the 8 months
Entourage Strength: I rode as part of a group. The group should neither be too large or too small as it affects travel circumstances.
Preps: Getting the bike in mint condition for a long trip is a challenge but both the bike and rider needs to be completely prepared for every eventuality. I made sure that I took with me extra clutch and throttle cables, carrying a tubeless tyre puncture repair kit is also very important. Next, I had the stock petrol tank replaced with one that had a higher fuel capacity, and had the bike fitted with two carriers on each side of the rear section where I needed to place my luggage and some extra fuel tanks. And finally, I packed all kinds of tools that are required to handle minor faults and had the stock tyres changed with Ceat on-road/off-road type tyres for better stability. I never compromise on tyres. Tyres are the most important thing in motorcycle. That, and being in full riding gear when on a trip.
Assistive Gizmos: As far as gadgets are concerned, a GPS tracker was the most important device that we used on our way. To the best of my knowledge, there are slim chances of other devices working along this route as signals are very poor.
Road & Traffic Conditions: The ride all the way is pretty smooth except for the stretch you encounter before Sonamarg.
Best & Worst Stretches: Kargil to Leh was inarguably the best stretch of the ride. Zozilla Pass and Pangong Lake were two of the best scenic locations.
Weather Encountered: If you start out for Leh in the months of May or June, you will experience intense heat, right until you reach Srinagar. After crossing Srinagar, the weather turns pleasant and makes for a ride you won’t forget any time soon.
Food Joints & Stopovers: Our first stop was at Haveli in Karnal. After riding around 170 kms we indulged in some appetising food from Punjab. The lassi served there is not to be missed. There are plenty of options along this route where you can stop to have a bite and not feel disappointed. Do stop by and locate the choley-bhaturey shop at Sonamarg. Break for some tea, bread and butter at Lakhanpur and on your return look for the Lake View Resort to have a decent meal.
Bike Care: On long trips like this one, I always use Motul fully synthetic oil to boost the performance of the engine and pay extra attention to the tyres, checking them every once in a while. I ensure that my HID’s and Roots megasonic horn go wherever I go.
Locals: You’ll find friendly locals who will make you feel right at home. The language barrier might be a bit of a problem though, and you can easily find a guide to show you the way ahead.