Oct 26, 2007

3 Road Trip to the "Highest Motorable Road in the World" on a Pulsar 200 DTSi [Part III: Concluding Part]

3 intrepid college friends, 3 bikes, 1 Road Trip.. to the "Highest Motorable Road of the World" and back..

The Pulsar 200 DTSi rider narrates the story..

Nilutpal with his Pulsar 200, at Khardung La

Day 5: 13.09.07
Pang to Leh

I’ll deliberate on my bike’s (Pulsar 200) performance on the trip now

Day 5 saw us making headway from Pang “early” morning at 09.15 hrs. There was a sheet of ice all over our bikes and I touched the engine. It was ice-cold..

Starting the Pulsar 200 at High altitudes: I was beginning to think that I would have to jumpstart my bike again. I flicked on the thumb start only to hear the engine whine. Kenny suggested I try with the choke on, which I had completely forgotten about. I offered Kenny the bike to try it himself after my failure at starting the bike. One go at the self-start by Kenny and the engine cranked to life!! After a bit of idling and letting the engines warm up a bit, it was normal again and the bike started at first go at the self-start. I had no starting issues whatsoever after this and made it good through the rest of the journey to Leh. The only thing I felt on the ride was the lack of punch at high altitudes, when we approached Tanglang La, the world’s second highest pass. But it wasn’t abnormal at all, considering the fact that the other bikes were behaving similarly.

I had made it through some extremely bad patches and I, frankly, had felt that my front forks would give away anytime. Plus I was really heavily laden, with 15 litres of petrol on the saddlebags, a 15 kg backpack and sleeping bags tied on the rear seat, which made balancing the bike a tad more difficult on the twisty roads.

After a brief stop at Rumtse for lunch, we made it non-stop to Leh at around 15.30 hrs through ripping roads in the valley.

My tripmeter read 1089 km as I propped my bike on the stand at the hotel.

That was followed by 4 days on the road in and around Leh on my bike and the return trip thereafter, but I’ll skip that cause it’ll be a very long write up then. Instead, I’ll deliberate on my bike’s performance on the trip now.

Suffice to say that I made a trip to the fabled Pangong Lake and took a long detour over a dead track and scaled the world’s highest motorable road – Khardung La, at an altitude of 18380 ft above MSL, on my steed - my Pulsar 200.

Mileage of the Pulsar 200 DTSi recorded during the trip: 45.92 kmpl..!!

Suspension of the Bike: As I have already mentioned, my forks are still doing well, although they have softened up a bit. And frankly, I like it better this way. The rear gas-assisted shocks have also received similar treatment and held on well after the very very tough ride through dirt tracks and rocks. My trips on the highway have become a bit smoother owing to the suspension softening somewhat.

Engine of the Bike: As for the engine, nothing’s changed except for the exhaust note. I cant really pin-point cause the tone from the silencer isn’t different, but there seems to be one more coming from the torque expansion chamber below the engine. Not that I don’t like the note now, just that it wasn’t there before I started off on the journey. I got it checked on my 4th service and the service guys found nothing amiss. Well, I guess that’s that. As long as nothing’s wrong , I’m ok with it.

LED Tail Lamps: There were no issues with the LED tail lamps and they are still brilliantly bright. I am stating this cause I have come across comments where people say that the lamps go kaput after a few days on the road. I think if my lamps have survived all the bounces and dumps on this ride, they will stay with me for a while.

Effect of Change of Engine Oil:The engine feels smoother than ever before now…probably because there was a lot of high-rpm revving involved through out the trip. The Motul 300V FL has worked really well for my bike. The NVH levels aren’t any different at low rpms in and around the city. But on the highway, where I cross 6000 rpm, the vibrations are noticeably lower and I didn’t feel any harshness in the engine compared to the earlier engine oil. After my 4th service, the service station guys replaced the oil with Castrol and immediately I could feel the rise in vibrations as I ripped on NH-8 towards Gurgaon. I think I’ll stick to Motul fully synthetic oil for a while now.

Chain of the Bike: The chain was the only thing that had me worried over the journey. The mud, dust and the snow was wreaking havoc on the chain and I had to see to it that it didn’t become excessively dry. A few packs of 2T oil and grease did the job throughout the ride and nothing untoward happened with the transmission. The chain does dry up a bit on dusty roads, but I think it’ll survive on regular feeds of grease!!

The Tubeless Tyres: The tubeless tyres really inspired confidence as I was sure that even in the event of a nail getting embedded in either of the tyres, I would be able to limp on. In fact I had a tubeless tyre repair kit under the rear seat and we had carried a portable foot pump to boot. While Himanshu’s Pulsar 150 had a puncture on the return, my bike didn’t let me down with a puncture of any sort. While on the rescue mission with Himanshu and his rear tyre on my bike, I offered him a ride, to which he commented that I enjoyed more torque and pulling power compared to his 150 dtsi. He also felt my bike was more balanced, which were what I had commented on my first review of my bike.

Issues Faced: There were a couple of time when my bike’s central stand scraped rocks during a particularly botched up ride thorough a terrain that consisted of nothing but rocks and sand. There were also a number of times when the front tyre raked up some pebbles and threw it at the engine and the starter motor. At one inspection, I did find a rock embedded in the gap between the motor shaft and the bendix starter drive. But luckily, it was too big to go in and I took it out without any hassles.

I also found the flexible blinkers so very useful. At one very sandy stretch, I bogged down while maneuvering a turn and I just couldn’t hold up the bike due to the sheer weight of all my stuff on the bike. My bike gently tilted to one side while I struggled to hold it up. After a futile fight, I gave up and laid down my bike gently on one side and called the rest of the guys to help me get my steel horse up. The blinker had completely bent upon the weight of the bike but didn’t break. And once the bike was up, I turned them on and it was working just fine!

Towards the end of the trip, the front fairing had developed excessive play during jerks and I logged it onto the service sheet at the time of the 4th service. A loose M3 bolt was the cause and a replacement of the same has solved the issue now.

Apart from the chain that needed periodic look-ups and the fuel tank readings, I frankly didn’t attend to my bike at all during the trip. In fact, I was so confident later on, I ripped across a particularly rocky stretch before Koksar on the way back- doing some 50-60 kmph on a road that was under construction (with some help from the softened suspension, of course)!

Fuel Consumption..!!: Now for the fuel consumption: I’ll give all the figure at the tank fills on all the way. The method remained the same – tank fill to tank fill upto a certain mark on my fuel tank. I had started with a full tank from Gurgaon and the first fill-up was at Chandigarh, where I managed to fill in 4.39 liters. The second tank fill was at Manali, where my tank guzzled in 9.37 liters. Manali was also where I filled up both of my jerry cans with Xtra premium petrol. The 3rd tank fill was on the last petrol pump en route to Leh , at Tandi. This time, my bike took in 3.83 litres The next tank fill was after the ride to Khardung La and this time it was 9.14 litres. The 5th tank fill was before leaving Leh and the tank took in 6.37 litres. From then on, the next tank fill was at Manali, 2 days later and 10.51 litres on the dispenser. The 7th was at Chandigarh, with 11.55 litres and finally at Gurgaon after making a complete circle from AIIMS and back to Sushant lok – 7.3 litres.

The total fuel consumption stood out at: 62.46 litres.
And the total tripmeter reading was 2868.4 km, which turns out to be 45.92 kmpl..!!

Now don’t ask me how I managed this figure. All I know is I was quite surprised at this figure myself. I double-checked my logbook and fuel station receipts and yup, these are the figures, all right.

That’s about it. A very candid review of my bike on this trip. Infact, we are all planning a trip again sometime next year. Nothing beats a bike trip on roads that we had traveled on, period. If you want to beat the mundane office, there’s nothing like taking a trip like this. Sheer heaven.

If you are interested to know more in more pics and details on the return trip, visit my blog "Outside The Wall".

Till the next time again, adios amigos.

Happy and safe biking!

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This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.


Kedar Parikh, said...

Its intresting to see that amongst all the pics only the bikes and faces change. The Landmarks are all the same, as if every 1 who goes there have to click a pic at the same spots in same angles.

God i miss my own pics there.

A friend of mine and a fellow xbhpian went ther last month:-

Payeng said...

The Trip to Leh-Ladakh seems to have become sort of like a pilgrimage for bikers..

Good to see more enthusiasts on their steeds


nilu said...

kedar: u are right dude, the landscapes do look similar on most of the pics that are posted by fellow bikers. But the terrain provides similar scapes for miles, so wherever you shoot a pic, it wont look much different on a pic. Like I mentioned, there are places that have to be seen to be believed. The pics dont do any justice to the raw splendour presented to the naked eye.

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