A pretty common question nowadays for a Leh Ladakh trip is “Can I do a trip to Ladakh on a 100cc Bike or Scooty or Scooter?“. And why not? People from different walks of life have started visiting Ladakh every season. They all cannot ride the heavy cruiser bikes, so they look to ride to Ladakh on something they are comfortable with.
So, things like making a trip to Ladakh on a Scooty or Scooter have become common.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Wait, Can’t I just rent a bike in Leh Ladakh?
Many of us do not have the luxury to afford to own those masculine-looking cruiser bikes such as REs, Bullets or Avengers, etc.. Yes, you can always rent bikes in Leh or Manali and there are numerous rental shops available both in Ladakh and Manali to rent such bikes.
However, sometimes it does not make any sense when you have your ride and still rent a bike you do not know about to make a Ladakh trip. It is trivial to say that Leh bike rental cost will need to be bourne and it is not that cheap.
You will agree when I say that many of us are connected to our machines by heart or soul. We are familiar with how our machine runs, how it moves or how it reacts on certain days, much like we know our gals or boys 😉 (or perhaps better than them :P).
Hence, renting another bike in Ladakh with which you are not familiar or compatible, can be a recipe for a mishap or misadventure.
So, does it all mean that it is an end for you for making a bike trip to Ladakh since you don’t own a high power bike like Enfield or Electra or don’t want to rent it?
Well, the answer is a big “NO.” The simple answer is, “It is not required to have a powerful bike like Bullet/RE for a Ladakh trip but is always a preferable option and not a mandatory one. You can surely make a trip to Ladakh on a 100cc bike or a scooty like an Activa, Maestro, or Gusto as well.”.
A Real Example
One of my friends and an avid reader Dr. Ravindra Gavali says:
Most of us have daily commuting as 100cc bikes or small cars. Still, we have dreams to travel high on these beautiful and challenging roads in Ladakh. Its always preferable to travel on these roads using powerful, 4×4, SUV, high ground clearance kind of vehicles. But very few fortunate travelers can afford it. So, what about our dreams? But the impressions change as you see the local people defying all these norms for travel vehicles and still commute daily and comfortably on these roads.
You may travel on 100cc bike, although it doesn’t sound so comfortable. I have done it on the Langza -Tashigong – Gete and on Demul roads in Spiti Valley, using 100cc bike (star city). I did it with pillion riding, but I had to ask my friend to get down at one point (my bike got breathless while attempting a short-cut) near Gete. Apart from this, there was no problem.
Thanks to him for some wonderful tips and surely I have included them in the article as well so that all of us can benefit from them. There are countless such examples I know who have made trips to Spiti Valley and Ladakh on a scooty or scooter or less power bikes.
Tips for making a bike trip to Ladakh on a 100cc bike
Thousands of pictures flood over the Internet with biker groups riding those cruiser bikes in the barren lands of Ladakh or Manali – Leh Highway. The high powered bikes always look like a charming option but are they always needed for a Ladakh trip?
What about those who do not have such high powered bikes but still want to experience the adventure of a bike ride to Ladakh? Can you make a Ladakh trip on your 100cc bike or 125cc bike? Or, what about those lower-powered scootys such as Activas or Maestros or Gustos; can they live up to experience a Ladakh bike trip?
In this article today, I will talk about the tips and tricks that you must know if you want to make a Ladakh trip on a 100cc bike or a scooty, that is less powered two-wheelers.
1. Respect the limitations of your 100cc bike or scooty on a Ladakh trip
One of the most important things on a Ladakh trip is to understand and respect the limitations of your bike or scooty. Low power means that it will surely struggle or gasp for power, especially on high mountains passes where the air is very thin. Not an issue, even our lungs do so 😉
At times the 100cc bike or scooty can be painfully slow but it will surely make it through. Just ride slow and don’t exaggerate your engine as it may die over-doing something it is not supposed to do.
So, you can certainly make a trip to Ladakh on scooty or scooter or 100cc bike.
2. Avoid over speeding or try to catch other bikes
It is in your best interest that you do not over speed your 100cc bike or a scooty on Ladakh trip. Don’t fool yourself to try to catch another high powered bike zooming past you because a breakdown in the middle of nowhere can surely mean curtains down to the entire bike trip to Ladakh before you start to enjoy the ride at all. Over speeding light bikes also does not help in the traction as well.
3. Avoid low gear riding for long hours, it heats up the engine
Overheating your engine is the last thing that you will want on a bike trip to Ladakh. Make sure you do not ride in low gear for a very long time. In case some stretch is very punishing, and the bike needs a low gear ride only, please take a break every 4-5 KMs or 25-30 minutes just to let the engine cool down a bit. You will come to know your engine is hot in case the bike is rapidly decelerating or it is not accelerating properly.
Keep in mind that engine heat up does not necessarily mean the end of your dream trip. You have to make sure when you notice it; you stop by for some break of an hour or so to let it cool down.
4. Maintain or take care of your bike or scooty before and on the trip
You should know about the basic maintenance of your bike. Make sure you keep the air filters or carburetor clean enough else the dusty roads in Ladakh will choke them. This clogging will not help the situation at all, and your bike will crave power to pull making it painstakingly slow.
Keep a tab on the noise coming out of chain or sprockets. The dust/slush stretches over the bike chain can make them noisy and may cause issues. It is better in case you find your bike chain or sprockets are making noise, pull on the side, and lubricate the chain/sprockets with oil or grease. This lubrication will ensure its longevity.
Hence, bike maintenance is a key aspect for making a successful Ladakh trip on scooter or scooty or 100cc bike.
5. Carry enough spares to keep you out of trouble
You must always carry enough spares for your bike on a trip to Ladakh because you may find the mechanic, but he may not have the spare your bike need. Having a spare part handy can keep you out of deep trouble easily. At a bare minimum, you should be carrying a clutch cable, accelerator cable, couple of headlight bulbs, a spark plug, brake cable, adhesives like m-seal, Fevi-quick, Elfy, coolant, puncture repair kit, etc..
For a comprehensive list, you may refer my List of things to Carry on a bike trip to Ladakh. The same list will be more or less applicable for a trip to Ladakh on scooter or scooty as well.
6. Avoid shortcuts on the mountains as it can mean catastrophic
Shortcuts on mountains can become a shortcut to life. NEVER EVER try to copy someone taking shortcut just because he/she did it alright. I may be sounding pessimistic, but I consider my life to be very precious than a few minutes more spent on beautiful roads of Himalayas.
This is not applicable just for light bikes but also for any vehicle making Ladakh trip. The shortcuts do not follow the laws of physics and can harm the vehicle badly. It can burn your brake pads, and you can lose brakes.
Light bike or scooty means you can easily topple over descending a high degree gradient.
In case you are ascending, you will be putting too much load on your engine and may burn the clutch plates or overheat the engine eventually. So, it is in your best interest to avoid any shortcuts you may find especially on Manali – Leh Highway.
7. Lesser power means lighter bike, an advantage in itself
Ironically, the less power means lighter bike in weight than the REs/Bullets, and hence, it is fairly easy in comparison to navigate or ride them through the slush stretches or water crossings. Lesser weight also helps you carry it or push it with much ease than a heavier bike 🙂
8. Travel or ride as light as possible
Traveling light means putting less weight on your bike, and hence, the engine needs to pull a lesser load too. It will give the engine a breathing space as required, and your bike should perform better as compared to when traveling with heavier luggage.
9. Riding with pillion on 100cc bike to Ladakh, hmm?
Well, riding with pillion to Ladakh on a 100cc bike or scooty is again possible, but you need to consider riding more lighter and adjusting your pillion weight over it. There will surely be situations when you will have to ask your friend to get down to either push the bike or walk across a few meters.
If this suits, you may choose to ride with pillion on less powered bikes too in trans-Himalayas.
10. Start early in the day so that water crossings are not swollen when you cross them
This is an important factor because starting early in the day means less water in the gushing water crossings over Manali – Leh Highway. Your bike will struggle to pass through the power of gushing water.
Since you lack power while riding a 100cc bike or scooter, it is better you face much less power of water streams early in the daytime. There is more to start early in the day as you may read: 5 Reasons to Start Early & Sleep Early on a Ladakh Trip
In case you encounter a very ferocious water crossing and wondering what to do now, well, better wait for some pickup to come or other riders who can help you with a push or carry it over to the other side.
11. Ride solo or maybe in a group of 1-3 good friends who can stop for you when in need
Best is to ride solo or maybe 2-3 friends who can stop for you and maintain pace/rhythm with your speed, which of course will be a bit lower in case they are riding high power bikes.
Hence, I quoted some friends who can understand it and support you when in need. Otherwise, it may become very frustrating for other bikers for whom you become the bottleneck.
Keep in mind if you try to push yourself or your bike and match their speeds, you may end up causing more hassles or delays due to mechanical issues with the bike. Hence, it is best to either ride solo on a low power bike or with those who are ready to match you and be with you.
12. Keep the grit and determination high
Last, but not the least, your grit and determination will ensure how you make your bike trip to Ladakh on a 100cc bike or scooty, successfully. There will surely be times when you feel the need for high power, but that is where your willpower to do such a challenging ride comes into play.
If you are determined enough, there is no one who can stop you in making a bike trip to Leh Ladakh on a less powered bike.
FAQs – Ladakh Trip on Scooty, Scooter or 100cc Bikes
- Is it possible to travel to Leh & Ladakh on the TVS Jupiter?
Yes, you can make a trip to Ladakh on TVS Jupiter, which is 110cc in power. You may also get TVS Jupiter or similar on rent in Leh bike rental shops too. Please read the tips mentioned in this article for more details.
- Can I make a trip to Ladakh on Honda Activa 110cc?
Yes, you can make a trip to Ladakh on Honda Activa which is 110cc in power. You may also get Honda Activa or similar on rent in Leh bike rental shops too. Please read the tips mentioned in this article for more details.
- Which is the best bike for the Ladakh trip with a pillion?
The best bike for a Ladakh trip is the one with which you are comfortable in controlling and riding. If you cannot control a bike or you are not comfortable with the riding position, then that is not the best bike for the Ladakh trip. You have already read in this article that people have already traveled to Ladakh on a 100cc bike to a scooty to Royal Enfields to the Ninjas sharing a range of horsepower.
- Can I cover Nubra/Pangong from Leh on a Scooty?
Yes, you can cover Nubra Valley or Pangong Tso trip from Leh on a Scooty. However, as mentioned in this article, you will struggle a bit at a few places for horsepower and your speed will be slow but nothing stops you from making such a trip.
- Can you ride a scooter on the roads of Leh Ladakh?
Yes, you can successfully make a trip to Leh Ladakh on a scooter. I have friends and have known many members of the DoW community itself who have done Ladakh trip on a scooter. Just follow the tips mentioned in this article, and it should be OK.
- Which is the best bike for a Himalayan trip?
As mentioned before, the best bike for a Ladakh trip is the one with which you are comfortable in controlling and riding. If you cannot control a bike or you are not comfortable with the riding position, then that is not the best bike for Ladakh trip.
- Can I find a shop for a Scooty hire in Leh – Ladakh?
Yes, you should be able to get a rental Scooty in Leh Ladakh from the bike rental shops in Leh town. The rental cost of Scooty in Leh is about Rs 800 per day, which is significantly lower than the high powered bikes.
- Can I do a trip to Ladakh on Yamaha FZ?
Yes, you can make a trip to Ladakh on a Yamaha FZ bike which is 150cc. As you read in this article, it is possible to make a trip to Ladakh, even on 100cc bikes. You may also get Yamaha FZ on rent in Leh bike rental shops too
- Can I make a trip to Ladakh on a gearless scooter or low powered bikes?
The short answer is Yes. You will feel powerless at some passes, the speed will be slow, but with strong will and determination, you should be able to make a Ladakh trip on a low powered bike. But, the long answer I have already discussed in this article.
- Can I take TVS Scooty Zest to Ladakh?
Yes, you can make a trip to Ladakh on TVS Scooty Zest which is 110cc in power. You may also get TVS Scooty Zest or similar on rent in Leh bike rental shops too. Please read the tips mentioned in this article for more details.
Well, as you can easily read that you can make a Ladakh trip on 100cc Bike or a Scooty. You need to take care of some necessary precautions and bingo !! You will be smiling on the pictures once back from your Ladakh trip, cherishing every memory of the arduous ride to Ladakh after that.
I hope that the above article helps you make your dream bike ride to Ladakh possible even on a low powered bike which you may be using a commute in your day to day life. In case you know your friend or a family person who is making a bike ride to Ladakh on a 100cc bike or a scooty, please feel free to share this article.
I will be looking forward to your comments and feedback which can help the other fellow rider of Ladakh too in the comments section of the article or in the DoW Community.