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How to Travel in India with a Motorcycle

Royal Enfield Bullet
Royal Enfield Bullet (photo: michimaya)

Traveling to India means being faced with many sounds, tastes, and smells you have never encountered before.

It means discovering a new way of life completely different from your own. The challenge to understand it and adapt is constant.

From the very dense, buzzing cities to the quiet mountains, through the ancestral-like countrysides and southern paradise beaches, the country of sarees and spices will give you much to do.

India is the world’s 7th biggest country, so traveling from one part to another takes time.

Why not spice your journey up by making the time spent on the road as challenging as the rest?

In India motorcycle tours are very popular as it is a great and fun way to discover the country.

What motorcycle do I pick?

The emblematic motorcycle brand in India is Royal Enfield. The “Bullet” model of 350 or 500cc is the most popular one.

Spend some time on the streets of New Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata – you will shortly realize how common these motorcycles are in the country.

Choosing a Royal Enfield will allow you to connect with the locals and feel in pace with their habits.

But if you don’t have a good experience with this type of motorcycle you can choose another brand for your long-distance trip.

Many other bikes are present in India: Hero Motorcycles, Yamaha, Mahindra.

According to your budget, you can either buy a second-hand one or buy a new one and sell it at the end of your trip.

Renting one when for a long journey can end up being costlier.

You will find garages in every big city. If you start your journey in New Delhi, go to Kharol Bhag: the motorcycle paradise!

How do I plan the itinerary?

First, decide which parts of India you want absolutely to visit. The desert? The mountains? The beaches?

This will help you define precise areas of the country to head on to during your ride.

Secondly, pay attention to the weather in each of these regions.

As India is so big, it shelters different climates at the same time.

You don’t want to end up riding a bike in the mountains with five degrees outside.

Finally, keep in mind that riding in India takes more time than anywhere else.

The traffic is intense, and road conditions are not always reliable.

As an estimation, double the time it would take in your own country.

Small tip: remember that in India, everything is possible.

You can take the train with your motorcycle instead of driving very long distances!

Royal Enfield
Royal Enfield in Ladakh, India (photo: Kamaljith K V)

What equipment do I buy?

When doing a motorcycle tour, two words: travel light. You will enjoy the trip at its best by carrying less.

Make sure you have saddlebag carriers on your bike.

They are easily removable and will release you from the pain of carrying your bag pack on your shoulders all the way through.

Remind yourself to carry spares tools along with you.

Essential tools such as a battery, tubes, or a headlight bulb which you can replace yourself can save you in unpleasant situations.

Of course, a strong helmet is a must-have accessory that you cannot forget.

You may save some money on other expenses, but spending a budget on a good helmet is always a sound investment.

Keep in mind that quality approvals in India are not the same as in occidental countries. It is a smart idea to bring a helmet to India instead of buying it locally.

The other equipment involves a pair of gloves, some boots, and a mask to protect yourself from the heavy dust.

Take also a protective jacket. But as you are likely to go across hot and humid regions, you won’t be wearing all the time.

As for the rest of your attire, pack up a selection of clothes adapted to both hot and cold weather.

Finally, don’t forget to have a small first aid kit with you. Riding a motorcycle means taking the risk of facing (hopefully few!) accidents. Anticipate and be prepared for it.

How much will I spend?

Your expenses during your motorcycle tour will vary according to your comfort requirements. The more you live the “local way,” the cheaper it will be.

Indian food is full of surprises. Eating on the streets will let you meet some locals while spending very few.

Your money will be spent between:

  • Food – from 150 INR / day for local food
  • Accommodation – from 300 INR / night for standard guest-houses
  • Petrol – 500 INR / 200 km
  • Water
  • Diverse (entries to monuments, souvenirs, tips)

Reminder: don’t forget to keep your passport and driving license with you at all times.

India may seem like a chaotic place, especially when riding its roads.

But don’t take it as an opportunity to mess around – show the example and respect the rules. And, of course, have a nice trip!


This story was provided and published in partnership with Vintage Rides. 

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Siddharth Parmar (@1_Sid_3)

Sunday 6th of November 2016

Accommodation can be costlier. The guest houses need often to be booked in advance. Keep a buffer of upto INR 2000/- Night for a hotel stay

Ryder White

Sunday 21st of August 2016

I think this article nailed down all the must-haves in traveling India by motorcycle. I find your tips and advises very helpful especially the one with planning ahead and traveling light. You can buy any goods that you don't have along the way, just bring the necessities with you. Thank you for sharing.


Friday 8th of July 2016

A really informative article for people wanting to discover India on bike. I would also add that one should ride during the day (early mornings) and sleep at night. Nights are only for trucks here, plus they drive pretty rash so its better to stay off their way and enjoy the bed.

Randy @ Motorcycle Gear Hub

Tuesday 5th of July 2016

Inda is my dream destination for motorcycling trip. Thanks for this article. It really inspires me to make this come true.

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