Southern India (c)2000
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.
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.
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.
Hannes Leo --- firstname.lastname@example.org :
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."
email@example.com --- http://paktours.homepage.com/
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!)."
P.M. of Canada --- who has rode solo in India by Enfield:
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."
S.K. of New Zealand --- who also runs Enfield tours in
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."
A.S. of India --- who rides an Enfield regularly in east
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."
Peter of CBA --- the tour operator:
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."
Ferris of Australia --- who also runs Enfield tours in
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
of California --- an Indian ex-patriate:
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
"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...