2nd June 2015 was a memorable day for me. Its quite significant, in my short motorcycling life. I gifted my self a Royal Enfield Bullet 500! And guess what? My folks back home, had not even the slightest clue of what had been transpiring. I had secretly been trying to dig up documents required for the registration process. It wasn’t an easy decision choosing between the KTM’s and Royal Enfield , which were amongst the two more desired brands a couple of years back. What did influence my choice though, was the same bunch of friends with whom I rode to Ladakh. They had owned bullets for a while now, and had only praises about them. I pestered the life out of the sales rep. at the dealership to ensure that the bike be delivered on my birthday. Because birthday’s are the only days you get away with pulling of stunts like these, with Indian parents at least.
From the minute I swung my leg over and fired the bike up, my excitement knew no bounds and I had a smile wide enough to fit a banana in my mouth sideways! Over the year that I owned it, I made quite a few customisations to make the ride a lot more comfortable for long distance riding. Yet I was always left craving for an extra surge of power that it lacked. Something I didn’t understand when comparing it with a KTM.
My camaraderie with the bike lasted only about a year… I still hadn’t been able to digest and wrap my head around the fact that Royal Enfield motorcycles require a lot of care. May be I wasn’t prepared back then to adapt the ‘Wrench, Ride, Repeat!’ sort of life. I was tired of breakdowns, vibrations and many other issues which more than being earth shattering were heart wrenching. I realised, I wanted something that was quick, reliable, durable and less demanding in terms of maintenance.
I was inclined towards the Royal Enfield Himalayan, but it wasn’t glitch free. I sought advice from a lot of guys who had owned Himalayans.Most of them suggested I wait a while until, the company was able to extend troubleshooting support to the fullest. Next up for consideration were the KTM’s. But I figured they were too aggressive for city riding and the 390 cc variants had certain heating issues.
An acquaintance suggested I try the Honda CBR 250R. In my head, I was absolutely uncertain considering the riding posture, its luggage carrying constraints and the fact that I had never owned a sports tourer. After some research I decided to consider the option and in no time, I had managed to find a pre-owned one which was in great condition and fit my budget. I barely test rode it for 5 minutes and it swept me off my feet. The refinement of a Honda engine made it a proposition impossible to deny, considering I had been riding a vibration magnet. It checked almost all the boxes on further research. It had long service intervals, was more refined in terms of fit and finish, was quick, agile around corners and most importantly very reliable.
I have owned it for about 2 years now and used it for regular commute within the city and long distance touring. Given the current pool of bikes, it definitely is a bit outdated in a lot of areas that other sports tourers supersede. The one area though that its fantastic is with Honda’s many a decade old, engine refinement and reliability. I have clocked about 17,000 kms since I bought it and it has never left me stranded during a journey.
Until I started riding the CBR 250R, body posture, lower body control, counter-steering, corner apex and many such terms never made a lot of sense. But it inculcated in me a new style of riding. There hasn’t been a single opportunity that I have missed to push the bike to the edge be it on or off- road. It definitely isn’t proficient at handling off-roads but did survive most of what I threw at it without too much of a hiccup and does a great job at its price. I personally believe that this motorcycle is very forgiving for beginners wanting to own a larger capacity sports tourer some day and even experts who own and ride larger displacement motorcycles alike.
During the time I have spent with this motorcycle, I have discovered that I am a lot more attracted to dirt roads, jungle trails, beaches, rocky terrain rather than the more conventional tarmac. And so very soon I intend to trade my CBR250R for a Royal Enfield Himalayan.
Its my dream to ride and own a higher displacement adventure motorcycle someday. And I believe that the Himalayan, with all its flaws would be a great way to harness my skills, not only to ride the dirt but also to get my hands dirty and learn to wrench.
When riding off-roads, both man and machine take a solid beating and its always handy to know a few fixes that help you get out from in the middle of nowhere. Moving to the Himalayan is the first step towards making a change from just a rider to a rider who knows his machine. It might be a couple of weeks until I have the new ride. Until then rubber side down guys!