Royal Enfield and Trans Himalayan route: made for each other
There is no shortage of prestigious motorcycle brands. But straddling a Royal Enfield is a very special adventure. Exit speed buffs, this elegant Indian has for baseline “keep calm and ride safe “.
Moreover, this bike of legend became the ideal mount to face the highest road of the world, the Trans Himalayan.
Inheritance of the British Empire, Royal Enfield is Indian since 1968, thanks to the bankruptcy of the English company and to the willingness of Indian managers. At first adopted by the local army for its robustness, it gained the heart of all thanks to its elegant shape and its power. The Chennai factory (former Madras, in the South of the country) based in 1956 by English became the brand headquarter. Here, 8 000 employees produce 30 000 new models every year.
In India, driving a Royal Enfield already means being somebody.
In many provinces, only the notables possess it. Here, you engage “for life” with your Royal. Some people buy it to pass on to their children. And in town, you can even drive it without helmet!
In 50 years, many things changed at Royal Enfield except one: the hand manufacturing.
You read well: in Chennai, no electronics, no computers. Assembly, painting, decoration, design, polishing everything, absolutely everything is hand-made. The fairing shines like a mirror, every logo painted on the reservoir owes its flow to the expert hand of a real artist. And this human implication gives a soul to this bike… A legend is born.
Reliable and strong, it is a high temper motorcycle made for the mountain. “You go up the mountains as a rider, but come back as an explorer “. That is what asserts the President of Royal Enfield.
In the North of India we find the mythical Trans Himalayan, the highest “motor” road of the world. A proverb says “birds of a feather flock together”. Thus not amazing that so many bikers of the whole world come to face it in Royal Enfield!
Clermont Yu, a photographer settled in Paris, is going to try soon the adventure because” this moto makes dream of and this route is the highlight of road-trip “.
The Indian road is rarely an easy one and we all have in mind the scene of a fervent and muddled traffic. But Trans Himalayan except to the Indian rule. During 500 km, from Manali ( Himashal Pradesh) to Leh (Jammu and Kashmir) longing the north Indian border, mountains are calling the shots to the region of Ladakh, more than 5 000 m high.
From passes to valleys, it draws volutes, makes the traveler crossing the Indian tundra and mineral universe. Most of the time, it rather looks like a track. Riding is an odyssey during which bodies and machines are severely tested by holes, pebbles, mud and ravines.
Facing the Trans Himalayan, it first means overcoming your fear of the unknown. Here, abrupt changes of weather, collapsed road, gas stations lack, bogged down trucks or rivers to be crossed give rhythm to the daily run of bikers.
We often meet poor workers coming from all the country to reconstruct sections destroyed by landslides.
No way to forget the altitude… Pilots and engines run out of air in 4 000 m and tune-ups are needed.
But the old bikers assert that a Royal Enfield never let you down in the difficulties. You just have to play smooth driving, to be patient and the solidarity between fellow riders makes the rest.
The reward? This unordinary road offers incredible feelings.
The green, white or lunar landscapes, the summits crowned with clouds which glitter on a desert plain, a herd of yaks bathing in blue waters of Pangong’s lake, stopovers which often look like makeshift camps, a salutary massage in Leh to rest your painful muscles …
You will not forget the permanent smile of Indian drivers in their shipwrecked trucks nor the possible stop to Sony and Bony, a kind of Aladdin’s cave where we patch up Royal Enfield of all Himalaya.
And of course, the welcoming temples and the colored prayer wheels which mark out the road because you circulate on the “territory of gods “. Here, you can make bless your bike; A major rite for a machine having a soul.
Finally, the arrival to Leh, little town near the Roof of the world, is the end of the journey but its presence is a surprise so far from everything, with snowy summits background. One says that on arrival, we feel like deserving to be there.
From the Trans Himalayan adventure in Royal Enfield, you will return charged of images. An opportunity for Clermont Yu to specify: “I would have many things to tell and show when I’ll be back “.