There are many aspects to rent a bike in Leh Ladakh which keeps coming in the form of questions from the many of us. In this article today, I will address some of the concerns or questions related to renting a bike in Leh. I will also touch upon some other aspects or tips for a bike trip to Leh Ladakh (details of such tips I will cover in a dedicated article).
This way in this article I will be collating most of the frequently asked questions when it comes to renting a bike in Ladakh.
So, let’s start !! 🙂 🙂
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Let's quickly dive into the details:
1. Can I Rent Bike in Leh Ladakh?
Yes, you can rent bikes in Leh, and Fort Road in Leh is full of such shops that rent bikes in Leh. Depending upon the condition, model, make, and tourist rush, you can get bikes starting from Rs 800 to Rs 1600. Rather than booking over the phone, it is always much better to visit 4-5 shops over there and get a good deal after checking the bike conditions.
I will suggest you read this for sure to understand few tips on rental bikes in Manali or Leh: How to Hire or Rent a Bike or Motorcycle in Manali or Leh
In order to rent a bike in Leh Ladakh along with current Bike Union Prices, you can also check the DoW Community thread: Leh – Ladakh Bike Rental Rates 2019 – 20 & Reliable Shops.
2. Are outside rented bikes allowed in Leh – Ladakh?
Effective 2014, bike union of Leh – Ladakh had floated a circular where bikes rented outside Leh are not allowed for sightseeing purposes inside Ladakh (much like outside Leh taxis) except Tso Moriri and Tso Kar lakes which can be done while going to Manali from Leh.
Private bikes are completely allowed. As per the rules, it has to be either on your name or on your father’s name. In case, you are taking someone else’s bike then please carry a valid NOC from the owner of the bike which will help you in other circumstances outside Leh as well, if any.
You can use the outside rented bike to reach Leh but then for traveling to Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley, you will need to rent a bike in Leh only.
Can I rent a bike in Manali and travel to Ladakh?
A couple of years back, as per reports, this rule had gone even stricter. Some of the Manali bike rental guys have formalized a deal that for the days you will park the Manali bike in Leh, and you will rent the Leh bike for those days, they will charge 50% of the rent of their bike subject to the display of valid rent receipts from Leh Bike Rental guys.
So, confirm with Manali rental guys first about this signoff before you hire a bike in Leh. For Srinagar Bike rentals, yet not sure but they claim that their bikes are allowed though I personally doubt because even Srinagar Taxis are not allowed for sightseeing in Leh so I suspect similar implications would be there for Bike rented in Srinagar too.
To know more about this rule and present situation, please refer the link in DoW Community: Bikes Rented Outside Leh Banned in Ladakh
3. Can I rent a bike in Leh and drop in Manali or Srinagar or vice-versa?
Well, the oneway bike rental is quite costly and leaves a big dent in the pocket for you, sometimes like 12K for just the pickup from Manali or Srinagar apart from the daily rent you pay for the bike. Hence, always be very sure if you are ready to make that investment/expenditure or not or if at all it is worth the money spent on you or not.
My suggestion is that unless you are a hardcore biker and cannot live up without the passion of biking or riding in Leh, it is not that wise to spend that much money just for the pickup of a bike from Leh or Manali or Srinagar.
4. Can I do Leh – Ladakh trip on bike with pillion?
This is quite an important question and many times people ask this, but my reply is always in terms of a tradeoff of choosing between the comfort of riding and riding with your partner to save cost OR feeling of riding together with your life or soul partner or best friend ;)…
Similar to a bike ride to Spiti Valley, there are a lot of factors that drive a successful trip to Leh – Ladakh on a bike with a pillion. These factors include the distance of travel each day in your travel plan, the condition, and power of your bike, the luggage you carry on your bike with extra fuel, the size of your pillion, or your size ;), your skills of riding a bike and maintaining balance.
Though each factor contributes towards only one goal that is the comfort of the ride you experience. I should have covered this topic under one detailed article but that can be done later 🙂 …
Hence, talking about these here briefly.
a. Be comfortable with long-distance rides with pillion
Since you will be traveling or be riding a lot almost every day in your Ladakh trip, on an average of 7-8 Hrs per day, you, as well as your pillion, must be comfortable with such long rides together. You should not complain about such long distances of travel. So, endurance and passion levels have to be high.
b. Ride a well-maintained bike
You have a good condition of the bike that will not ditch you in the middle of no-where when putting load on it and also enough power in bike, at least 150cc, though preferable is 180+, so that your pillion does not need to get down at every other steep turn or rough patch which will be in abundance and then you ask him/her to run after bike on such high altitude with less acclimatized body 😀 😀
c. Travel with light luggage
You carry as light luggage as possible or just enough to complete the 10-11+ ride to Ladakh may be in a single pair of jeans or riding jacket. Balance it out for you and carry only enough what is required bare minimum to reduce the load and increase every millimeter of comfort.
While riding in Ladakh to places like Pangong Tso or Nubra Valley, better drop all the unnecessary luggage at the hotel/guest house storeroom in Leh itself to shed more load for some days at least.
d. Be gentle on your motorbike
You need to also judge your size as well as the size of your pillion to understand if you guys fit well enough without suffocating the bike power in plains as it will surely suffocate to an extent in the Himalayas especially in high altitude. Maybe go for a test ride of 200+ KMs a day with it to get a feel of it before your Ladakh trip.
e. You must have a bike in control all the time
Last but not the least, you have all the skills of maintaining the balance of bike on slippery roads, or in gushing water crossings, mud stretches, and control on curves as your pillion moves, etc. You need these skills with a pillion sitting at your back with all that luggage you can imagine.
5. Can I use low powered Bike for Leh – Ladakh trip?
Well though it is not required to have a more powerful bike like Bullet/RE but always preferable to have more power to have much more comfort at times.
Even 100cc or 110cc or 125cc will be able to make a bike trip to Leh – Ladakh, and many people have done in the past as well. But, it won’t be that easy always and there will be places where it might or will struggle where it will be required to push manually, especially I believe if you get stuck in some water crossing or slush stretches.
DO NOT push the bike beyond its limit in case you get stuck rather use your physical power to get it out else you can get your clutch plates burnt. In the end, if you are determined, ready for the challenge and passionate enough then, of course, you can do a bike trip to Leh – Ladakh in a 100cc or 110cc or 125cc bike too as many people have done it in the past 🙂 🙂 …
6. Add On: How to prepare for a bike ride to Ladakh?
Well, to get yourself prepared for a bike trip to Ladakh or other remote corners of the Himalayas including Spiti Valley, I will suggest that you go through the articles mentioned under the DoW Community thread link: All About Bike Ride to Ladakh & Himalayas. This thread will help you cover almost all your queries related to a bike trip to Ladakh or Himalayas.
A Bike Trip to Leh with 100cc Bikes or Scootys – Practical Experience
So I have just completed my Leh trip on a TVS Apache 160 RTR, and I started from Delhi and to and fro via Srinagar highway. We were two bikers in total another one was on the FZ 150 2013 Model.
There have been instances of posts where I saw people saying that they have done Leh on a scooter, Khardung La on 125cc bike and stuff. None of them puts out real behind the scene story and hence misleads many aspirers, and they end up getting ducked up with their vehicles on high passes.
I want to throw light upon this matter, to clear up things for others who want to take their low capacity bikes or old bikes. The fact that one of the bikes mentioned above outperformed even a 350cc bullet and the other one got clutch plates replaced twice on the same trip makes this clarification more interesting.
On Srinagar Leh Highway
So from Delhi to Sonamarg, both bikes were at par. Still, while crossing Zojila Pass, things went bad FZ 150 is a low powered machine had to try harder to keep climbing and had to be pulled only in the first or second gear, doing so continuously resulted in burning of clutch plates. 20kms out of Drass, the bike was not giving any response.
We tried contacting control rooms of Kargil and Drass and even Srinagar, none of them seemed to be of helping nature. But the biker community is big, and few bikers on the way helped us getting the FZ back on the road, but it did not work.
So, in the end, the bike was towed till Kargil to a mechanic, and he then replaced the clutch plates. The next day we began for Leh, Apache was doing great, but FZ was giving out average performance. We crossed Namki La and Fotu La and made it to Leh by 9 PM.
On Leh to Pangong Tso Route
The next day it was our turn to go to Pangong, but since the main highway to the lake was closed due to landslides we had to take another route which later joins with the main road. But again, due to high altitude and low oxygen, the FZ could not pull, and even Apache showed some signs of lack of oxygen. FZ again ended up damaging the engine, and we had to come back to Leh.
On Khardung La Route
Again the next day my friend rented a Himalayan for Khardungla, and I was on Apache only. The day went well, we were able to scale Khardungla on our motorcycles and came back, Apache though showed signs of fewer oxygen levels after South Pullu.
We then came back to Mechanic for a final checkup of bikes before we left for Delhi. We found out that both bikes had eaten up more than half of their engine oils. We topped up and started the journey back for Delhi.
While coming back both the bikes did fine and FZ though was working just fine on a “Jugaad”.
Practical Tips from this Ladakh Bike Trip
In the above section, I shared the experience of the bikes and what happened in various sections of the Ladakh trip.
So what is the catch here?? See points below-
1. Age of the bike
Both bikes being carburetted were not able to keep well with the decreasing oxygen levels, but Apache 160 was slightly more powered and just 3 years old, managed better.
Yes, fuel-injected bikes are recommended and not carburetted.
Talking about age, yes FZ was > 6 years old and that became a limitation for the motorcycle to take on rather an unforgiving terrain of Ladakh. Bikes older than 3-4 years surely will show more problems with higher landscapes. Changing air filters will not reduce the age of the engine; you need a full check-up.
2. Power of the bike
Both motorcycles are less than 200cc, FZ showed problems, but Apache did just fine, this does not at all mean that you cannot take low capacity bikes to the top, but trust me there is no replacement for Displacement.
250cc engine will beat the other two any day. Hence don’t fall for claims of doing Leh on scooters or Activas. They never share the other side of the coin. Hence a 200cc making at least 16nm torque would be ideal (Fuel Injected must).
3. Heating up of the engine
If your bike is an air-cooled kindly ride with breaks after every 60-80kms. Air-cooled engines do need breaks else you might end up with a ceased engine. Also, an overheated engine eats shit loads of engine oil and, yes, use clutch only for changing gears, learn when your bike requires upshift and downshifts as to extract optimum performance out of it while climbing uphill.
4. Tubeless v/s Tube Tires
Tubeless tires recommended with low air pressure my bike as 90/90 Front and 110/80 rear tires and I kept 27 and 31Psi respectively, this keeps the tire more grounded and grippy and reduces chances of a puncture. Ps. I had no punctures on my entire 3000kms journey.
5. Service of the bike
Get your bike serviced inside out. Get brakes, chain sprocket, clutch plates, and pistons checked, clutch plays a vital role in mountains. If your bike is older than three years or 15k Kms, get Accelerator wire, brake, and clutch-wire replaced right away. Spark plugs and air/oil filters are assertions here. Carry extra engine oil no matter what you ride; engine eats more oil at high altitudes.
IMPORTANT Note: There is only RE and BAJAJ showroom in Leh so if you are taking bikes of the brands mentioned above you should not face any problems in getting bikes serviced. But in my case, it was one Yamaha and other TVS, so we relied on the mechanic near Airport road. His name is “Shashi” Ph: 9419344430. In case you need to get your bike serviced/ repaired, look no further, he is the right man. I don’t have exact coordinates of his location, nor his shop had any name board (till June 19), but you may call him on the given number, and he will guide you throughout the trip.
6. Your body condition
Your body needs to get used to your bike and riding conditions. Start with small journeys. Don’t just go ahead with the big shark. Start with small targets and gradually increase the altitudes. This way, you will be able to judge your and your bikes’ performance and how well you will do on high mountains, which ultimately will prepare you for the Mecca Medina of Bikers, ie. Ladakh.
You should always carry your own water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂
The above points have covered most of the aspects of taking a motorcycle. Motorcycle’s health plays a vital role in the journey, but the rider’s health is equally important. If you have not ridden before and you are taking your motorcycle to Leh for the first time or for that matter if you are riding for the first time for the journey to Ladakh. STOP right there.
I hope the above set of tips will help you prepare much better for your Leh – Ladakh trip on a bike. Have you encountered any of the situations described in the tips above?
If yes, please do share your experience with all of us in the comments below or DoW Community. You are also more than welcome to share any other tips for a bike ride to Leh – Ladakh you would like to share with us.
Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel to ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram or comments on my YouTube videos. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.
If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Ladakh, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable Ladakh trip.