Authored by Amit Yadav
India is a diverse country full of incredible history, culture, and nature, and one of the most popular ways to explore is by road trip or bus tour.
But I’ve never felt that flashes of a destination through a window is enough to fully experience its true beauty. I believe that “what we see through the windows is nothing but moving pictures which is kind a like watching TV”. After-all, should we not aim to feel and sense our own presence in the scene, as opposed to just watching it?
For this reason I became a fan of motorcycle travel. And where India is concerned, it’s very easy for tourists to buy or rent a bike. But riding a motorcycle in India is a whole lot different than riding in the west. So, here are my few tips and tricks to easily ride your motorcycle on Indian Roads.
Motorcycle Tips: Riding on Indian Roads
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Pick Your Ride
It’s probably obvious but your first step should be choosing your type of ride; choosing the perfect bike is one of the most important aspects of traveling by motorcycle. And your bike needs to be in accordance with the demands of your trip.
Your checklist for choosing the right bike should focus on aspects like mileage, low maintenance and most importantly, a comfortable seating position so that you don’t strain your neck and/or back over the course of a long journey.
If your budget won’t get you a sport bike you can consider options like renting a scooter, which is quite cheaper and lighter to start with. Once you rented your ride, check for engine and parts. Take it to test drive and make sure everything works properly.
Think Like an Indian
Many tourists are wary of riding on Indian roads because they can be chaotic. And you do need to be extra careful. Unlike Western countries, people in India usually don’t follow the road rules. They switch lanes, use hands as an indicator, and don’t mind giving you a bump if they’re in a hurry (so give way to especially big vehicles).
For example, in UK when rider flashes his headlights it means he is letting you go. But here in India, it means I am coming through, so make way. Also, vehicles will often stop in the middle of road for no reason. So you have to be mentally prepared.
Here, you will see children crossing roads, animals sleeping at corners, and improper road works. Moreover, you’ll be sharing the road with all types of vehicles; motorcar, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, camels, horses, trucks, tractors, buses.
So be prepared to think like an Indian. Don’t expect a peaceful ride, be very aware of your surroundings at all times, and be ready to expect the unexpected. Also, use your horn. In India, the horn plays a major role in traffic to intimidate other vehicles and people who cross roads unexpectedly.
Get the Right Gear
It’s essential to prepare for every circumstance if you plan to ride on Indian roads. You will likely experience a lot of dust in the air which can make your clothes dirty. So, avoid wearing light colors, and use goggles while riding.
Like-wise, there are also many insects and other air-borne obstacles, so research the best full-face safety helmet to protect your face and eyesight. While sporting a biker’s jacket and gloves will help you fight the heat and avoid dehydration, always ensure you wear a good-quality helmet as this might be the difference between life and death.
Make sure you wear motorcycle boots to ensure a good grip on the brakes. Other important accessories include biker boots, biker gloves and traveling backpack.
Be Extra Careful at Night
It goes without saying, but we all need to be extra careful when riding Indian roads overnight. It’s very common for people to drive without lights here, and you never know when they might veer out in front of you.
Make sure your bike is kitted out with properly working full-beams and headlights if you plan to ride at night.
Paperwork and Documents
Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork of the vehicle you have rented or purchased. The last thing you want is police on your tail. Here, in India, rules exist in a grey area, and you never know when a police officer might stop you to check your papers.
Tourists riding without proper paperwork may see huge fines, and it’s important to note that you will also lose big money for not wearing a helmet.
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