Ladakh and most other Himalayan journeys on motorcycles require some planning before you embark on the trip. Since you’ll be riding long distances in places with minimal gas stations, or even if you’re traveling on a motorcycle with a smaller tank capacity.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
What is the need for carrying extra fuel on Ladakh or Spiti trip?
Carrying some additional fuel will make a massive difference between rolling into a gas stop or walking 15 kilometers. Of course, when you’re with a group of riders, a simple siphon hose will get you out of a tough spot. But, if you are traveling alone, that extra container of gas will save you.
Preparation before the Trip
Right before you start your journey, the entire game is in preparation. So, you need to consider a few things.
Firstly, know your motorcycle’s average mileage per tank of gas. If you have a larger tank and excellent gas mileage, you may only need a small container.
After that, you’ll need to determine the amount of extra fuel you will require. This will depend on your tank capacity, your planned route, and the availability of petrol pumps.
Now, the last thing in terms of fuel capacity is to determine how and where you will mount a fuel container. This step will be dependent on the make of your motorcycle. You should keep in mind that there will be multiple restrictions and limitations, but use a bit of creativity (keeping in mind your safety) and you’ll surely find a solution for any motorcycle.
As for the luggage rack, if you’re in Delhi you can enquire about it at Karol Bagh. Ask for Ladakh carrier and see if you can get it on rent.
How to carry fuel with you on your Ladakh Trip?
To carry fuel, the cola bottles are fine as long as you can carry them somewhere. And the bottles are quite convenient too when you require to pour the fuel. Regarding Carrying fuel, coke bottles of 2 Ltrs do a wonderful job if you can carry them with ease. Also, consider that your bike will give about 30-35% less fuel average than normal. So, calculate accordingly.
12 Ltrs will make six bottles, so too much space they will need. Hence jerry cans are good. If you can buy good quality jerry cans, they won’t leak. They come in a variety of capacities ranging from 1 gallon+. The beauty of these fuel containers is that they stack neatly together and are secured with a mounting bracket. This enables you to carry even more fuel needed along with other fluids, like drinking water.
Another option you may consider is a flexible Fuel bladder. These have been used for many years by the military and on boats. They come in a large variety of sizes. They are made of heavy fuel safe plastics, welded at the edges and have been proven to be an excellent method for short term storage of petrol.
Important Tips for Carrying spare fuel for Leh Ladakh Trip
- The best way to carry spare fuel is to take them in sturdy metal jerry cans, which are leak proof. Those used in the army are the best ones.
- If you cannot get hold of the Jerry cans, carry two ltr cola bottles with you as they are leak-proof plus they are easy to stock up.
- Avoid carrying spare fuel in Ladakh in plastic containers or plastic jerry cans as they might burst. In a car, 20 ltr water containers are much better and sturdy than any other cans.
- Always use plastic to seal the opening and prevent spillage.
- No matter what type of container you take to carry spare fuel, always leave space and fill about 90% of the capacity to avoid spillage.
- When carrying spare petrol on a bike in Ladakh, I highly recommend protecting the plastic containers you are using from stones or pebbles that might cause a crack or leak in it. So, use a protective layer below or around it, tarpaulin could be used too.
- Make sure you always carry a thin cloth to filter in the impurities in case you need to buy fuel in black.
- If you rent a bike in Leh or Manali; those bikes do not have good mileage due to wear and tear and rough usage. Hence, do not take the words of the bike rental guys and take the bike for a local Leh ride to see how much mileage you are getting from it. Using that as a baseline, take its 80% mileage to do the calculations as in remote routes, it will further decrease.
Storing Luggage safely
Ladakh is quite a safe place in general. Also, if you’re traveling to the middle of nowhere – expect negligible population around – thus, the threat of losing your stuff is minimal due to other folks. Be assured that no one takes anything out of your vehicle.
However, nature is another game altogether. Remember that the harsh roads, the harsh climate, and the harsh hours will all take its toll. Ensure all your stuff is packed and sealed properly. Tie it up with bungee cords to secure it in place.
Also, though I doubt anyone would be carrying laptops on the trip – if you are – your laptop’s hard disk may crash altogether if operated at high altitude. Better not to carry it and have as many spare memory cards with you. Yes, at a higher altitude, the air is saturated and may lead to failure of hard disk function. Do not operate your laptop/ hard disk anywhere except Leh and Pangong unless it’s an SSD.
FAQs on Carrying Spare Fuel on Ladakh or Spiti Trip
What are the hazards of carrying extra fuel on a motorcycle?
Well, the obvious danger is that they can explode under certain circumstances. Damaged closures can cause leaks at the cap or cracks in the container. If leaking fuel finds a spark, it could be disastrous. There is an inherent risk of puncturing the container in a crash, or if it falls off the bike. You should continuously inspect the fuel containers should to prevent these risks.
You can, but we do not recommend it. Even if you’re using a gas safe container, you will want to consider your safety in the event of a crash. If you’re sliding down the pavement with petrol strapped to your back, you are likely to become a human flame thrower. It is much safer to carry it somewhere on the motorcycle, rather than on your person.
Do fuel bottles need to be vented?
No, they don’t need venting. However, it’s important to keep any such containers out of direct sunlight. Protecting them from the sun will help in preventing the overheating of the container. When the fuel heats up, the vapors will expand, and the container, under enough pressure, can explode. It is advisable to keep opening and re-shutting the containers every few hours to release pressure.
When planning a trip like Ladakh, or anywhere where sources or fuel is limited- you should prepare yourself fully for making the journey. Of course, carrying petrol is an integral part of off-road experiences as it will ensure you’re not stuck in the middle of anywhere pushing your bike to the next petrol pump, which could be 100 KMs away.
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Also, it is important to be able to speak with local villagers when you spot them, in case they have some fuel available in the “black market” – if required. Keep in mind the storage of this highly flammable substance is critical, and you should put a lot of care into this.