Postscript: Southern India (c)2000 Bruce Clarke

March 2000: It's been roughly 14 months since my tour in south India. I've received a lot of e-mail about this trip and I thought it'd be a good idea to write up a short addendum to the original report.
About 110 different folks per day (I was surprised to discover it was this many!) are hitting my web site, and most take a look at the India report. (The California and Arizona trip reports are also popular, but to my surprise not Australia - my favorite trip). I've received many comments and questions since. It looks like most of the hits are from Americans or Europeans who read the report but are not actually too interested in doing any overseas touring themselves.
Unfortunately I get the impression that a number of folks are getting scared off from touring India after reading the report, and that was not at all my intent! I simply wanted to report my experience and I hope that folks will learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy motorcycle riding in India! I've selected a few of the choice e-mail comments and pasted them below.

From Hannes Leo --- :
"We both bought our bikes (Enfield 350s) in Delhi, Carol Bagh. You will find many shops there with all kind of Enfields in every condition you like." -- "We bought our bikes for $800 US (1995 model) and $700 US (1990 model). But the model is not so important only the condition." -- "If you buy one ask for rebuilding the engine, new tyres, new clutch and stuff like this. Everyone will make you this but you have to ask for it." -- "Papers: You can choose between have the (registration) papers in your name or not. If you want to change the papers to your name it will take something like 14 days to get it. My friend did it like this. But this is only interesting when you want to bring the bike after the trip to your country or you will sell the bike to an Indian. If you want to sell it again to a tourist you dont need it (so I did). But you have to have the papers with the former owner name and a contract where it says that you bought this bike and the insurance papers. That's normally done very fast. If you find an OK bike the paperwork is done in the same day. Rebuilding of the bike is also done in one day. Tell them also that you want to make a test drive (eg. Delhi to Agra) and if there are any problems they should fix it without any charge." -- "Enfield is fun and adventure I wouldn't travel in India without one."
From ---
"We have read the stories about your tour in India and we were quite surprised about the distances per day you were doing. It sounds like they had a fixed plan (booked hotels) to hold on to which we don't do. We will see where we end up at the end of the day so we don't have to achieve as many kilometers as you had to. We stop when the bikers want to stop, it's your tour!!" --- "In spite of your bad experience, I still have the opinion that an Enfield is a wonderful machine to travel on, if you love and care for it.. I drove my Bullet 500 last year from India via Pakistan and Arabia all the way overland to South Africa and had NO problems at all (33,000 km on sometimes terrible roads!). " --- "As for the Paktours bikes, we are in the stage of buying 6 brand new bikes, just as I did for my trip to SA. New bikes mean less trouble and if you do proper maintainence they will stay that way (the brakes will work like they should do!)."
From P.M. of Canada --- who has rode solo in India by Enfield:
"I really sympathize with your troubles on the Enfield. I think you were endlessly patient with the bike and the organizers. Imagine being told you're riding too slow! If you wanted to race there are much better places to race than the Indian highways. I would've had a fit."
From S.K. of New Zealand --- who also runs Enfield tours in India:
"I had heard that the Goa/German boys had gotten really slack, but your journal reads like a bloody nightmare! It sounds like the operation has become positively dangerous."---""The story you were spun about main engine bearings is complete and utter bullshit, the bearings are of high grade steel and will last 60000 KMs but you do need to do an engine rebuild every 60K otherwise the bearings will fail."---"These guys seem to be trying to blame the bike for their poor maintenance"---"Please write to Lonely Planet and let them know of your experience as I feel that the level of unprofessional service you received brings all motorcycle tour operators into disrepute."
From A.S. of India --- who rides an Enfield regularly in east India:
"I am glad you enjoyed your trip. It was quite flattering to go through your description, really!! On the flip side, you had a rather nasty experience with the Bullet 500, which I am sure you won't forget in a hurry."
From Peter of CBA --- the tour operator:
"It was our first time that two bikes had to be left behind because of engine failure. But to judge the condition of a crank shaft bearing is very, very difficult. Anyhow the 5 oldest Bullets will be sold and replaced by factory new bikes before the next season. All other bikes will receive an engine overhaul. The other bike failures are usual stuff, but 10 punctures on one tour are extreme rare"---"Definitely in your group there were some inexperienced bikers, just look at the number of accidents."
From M. Ferris of Australia --- who also runs Enfield tours in India:
"What can I say? You pay peanuts, you play with monkeys!! I have heard MANY such reports of Peter's operation; his bikes are appallingly bad, the ride is conducted like a route march, there's always pressure to keep up... 300 KM in a day anywhere in India is just a ridiculous distance to aspire to." --- "It's just a shame you're choosing to dump on the venerable Enfield for its assumed shortcomings, rather than point out that you chose to use the cheapest tour operator, who obviously provides the poorest quality bikes." --- "And WE have NEVER had a problem with crankshaft bearings; the story you were told is just pure-and-simple-bullshit."
From HG of California --- an Indian ex-patriate:
"I do differ about your opinion of the Enfield, (the) Enfield 350 or 500 is a good bike with regular maintenance. I have owned Enfields and ridden them for the last 15 years." --- "You and your group had a typical problem which other people have had - renting a bike which has been used and abused by people who have never ridden an Enfield before." --- "Right now I am importing these bikes into Mexico...and they perform good. Too bad you rode a basket case Enfield!!! Not your fault... not the motorcycles... but the people who rented you the bike which is not in a good condition."
"I E-mailed you several months ago about your trip to India, and have since taken my trip. In July my wife and I joined 15 others for a Ferris Wheels trip to the north of India and into Kashmir. I cannot tell you how great a trip it was, one of the harder things I have ever done, but worth the time and expense. The bikes were first class and we had three full time mechanics with us for the entire trip. If you ever do India again, you should try Ferris Wheels."
If I get more comments of interest, I'll post them in the future...