How to do a bike tour in India, safely? Or, what are the best safe bike riding tips for India?

Not even Batman can drive his Batmobile in India without bumping into someone or other vehicle! It’s India I am talking about and there are hardly a few people who follow traffic rules here.

Even if you’re following traffic rules in India, you cannot expect everyone else to follow your footprints!

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In India, a safe bike road trip boils down to just one thing. It is like a game!

You do one mistake, and trouble will find you!

In my past a decade of bike riding experiences, I’ve done a lot of mistakes, but so far, have been able to remain scratch-less (none to me or to others).

I remember all the mistakes I’ve done on the road and I keep on reminding those incidents to myself. This stupid habit has helped me become better at riding and also how safely I can reach to the target point.

Tips for Long Motorcycle Rides in India

Let’s start with the essential tips for long motorcycle rides in India. I’ll talk about the Sour Butt Pain and how to avoid it, at the end. Because it is very important for you to remember!

#1 Avoid Making Stupid Plans

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During my bike tour, I rarely used to have plans. Every day, I used to follow the Sun towards South, till Kanniyakumari, and then towards to North.

It doesn’t mean that I never had a plan. There was a plan, not to make a stupid plan!

If you’re not confident about a particular road or turn, don’t go for it. The gut feeling is always there and you need to start trusting it!

For example, if I’m riding a Bajaj Avenger 220, then taking it to a beach is a stupid plan. It is not at a good fit for off-roading and I’ve tried my best to keep it on the road (he he).

#2 Keep a Rough Plan

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As I said, always keep a rough plan ready. Also, be ready for improvising an existing plan when the situation demands it!

You need to take a wise decision in favour of the safety of yourself, and your machine (bike).

Remember, an adventure is never an adventure if you don’t make it to home!

#3 Maps and GPS

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You’ll definitely not going to look cool carrying a paper map of India. So, avoid it!

You already have a decent smartphone which is equipped with state-of-the-art GPS system.

Start using it and learn everything inside that Google Maps app. In case you’re not familiar how it works!

If you ask me, I avoid taking help from GPS, as I still love asking for roads from lovely people of our country.

This habit may sound “not safe” to you, but it helps me in exploring and finding new roads.

Kiddo, I’ve been doing it for years. So, I’m experienced in it! Avoid following this habit from day one! (sorry if you’re an adult)

#4 Keep Emergency Contacts easily accessible

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Take a piece of paper, write your family contact number, address, your name and details, and keep it in the wallet.

You can also keep a similar note in the bag. Just make sure it is easily accessible, as James Bonds are not real!

And, Superheroes don’t visit India!

#5 Analyse the Data

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The data you’ve been recording (knowingly or unknowingly) is meant to be analysed.

The condition of the road, the kind of people you see in a particular city, the number of turns a highway has, the kind of cloud which rains or not, etc.

All this data is being recorded in your mind. You just have to analyse it properly and later, use it to make better decisions.

#6 Always Keep an Eye on Road

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A long motorcycle ride in India is a tough game. You do one mistake and the trouble will find you! I’m yet to see Shaktiman saving rider’s life when they are in trouble!

Avoid taking nap, doing silly things which can distract you from the road, and blah blah. You know yourself better! Who am I to judge?

#7 What you Eat, is really Important

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Even if you’re not feeling hungry, eating something is really important. If not the heavy food, then go for light ones.

If not the light ones, then you should definitely go for fruits like Banana and Apple. You can even switch to Juice intake.

I love starting my bike ride with the sunrise and at that time, finding a food, or even a fresh juice, is out of the question.

You can start the day with a small chocolate and when the shops are opened, go out and have breakfast.

#8 Keep Yourself Hydrated

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With each adding day in my tour, I started losing my appetite. It became tough for me to eat, even my favourite recipes or fruits.

I’ve done a couple of days with just a lunch, but with lots of water. It is recommended to keep a track of water intake.

Usually, I used to have, at least, 2-3 litres of water during the 300-400KMs ride. I used to double the water intake for longer rides.

So far, I’ve done 750KMs in a day and a 14 hour of continuous ride.

#9 Avoid Eating too much

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My typical day starts with heavy breakfast, followed by heavy lunch and then light dinner. But, when I’m riding, I try to keep all three on the lighter side!

I try eating five or six times a day, instead of filling my tummy in three times. So far, this trick has been helping me a lot!

And, I get a chance to eat at more outlets on the road.

Love for Highway Food!

#10 Know Your Digestion

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We all know about the food items that can make us visit the loo, more than once or twice a day.

While riding, it is being intelligent that you’re avoiding those food items. It is very important to know how your digestive system works.

If you’re not sure about a particular recipe, be shameless and ask the cook about ingredients.

Or, keep a good number of papersoaps, and a water bottle. Hello, we’re talking about India. There are no toilets on the highway!

Okay, very few.

#11 Know Your Machine

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These days, teenagers buy a new machine and go for a long ride. I’ll recommend you to stay away from making such plans!

Even if you’ve read tonnes of reviews about the machine, it is advisable to know your machine first.

Start taking small rides, let’s say 50-100KMs, and try to know how it performs in various situations!

You need to listen to the engine’s sound, as it’s the first sign of a bad condition.

Do I really have to tell you to keep it regularly checked? Are you that naive?

#12 Use Ear Plugs or not?

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Based on things I’ve read on other blogs, it is recommended to use ear plugs as it can filter out the noises and keep your mind away safe from working on those noises.

In India, the case might be different, though!

Anything from any direction can come on the straight road you are riding on and the chances increase at turns.

So, you need to hear the noise in order to improvise quickly and make a decision to keep everyone safe!

What do you think about using ear plugs while riding in India or not? I really need your inputs here!

#13 Tips for Sour Butt Pain

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After my 50 days of the bike tour, a friend of mine started calling me “Tashreef-e-Khaas”. It means that I’ve a really special butt.

For a person who hasn’t done long bike trips, this may sound like a joke. But, the moment you’ll experience the pain a rider’s butt goes through, you’ll sense the reality in it!

Let’s cut the butt-talk and share tips that can keep your butt safe from getting sour.

Sour Butt Tip 1 – Ensure that the fabric between the seat and your body are minimum. Like, wearing just a boxer and riding pants will do the job. Avoid wearing anything else!

Sour Butt Tip 2 – Take regular breaks. I used to take, at least, a five minutes break after every 50-100KMs.

Sour Butt Tip 3 – During those breaks, avoid sitting at a place and start walking. Move your legs as much as you can.

Sour Butt Tip 4 – I used to sit in the squat position (or our “Indian position”) for, at least, 4-5 minutes, and it used to help, a lot!

Sour Butt Tip 5 – Avoid moving while riding as it can distract you from the road. If it pains a lot, then taking a five minutes break is a better idea.

Sour Butt Tip 6 – During long rides, the skin starts getting dry due to the lack of proper airflow. You can arrange some airflow for your butt when you’re not riding! (Ab sab kuch me hi batau?)

I couldn’t find any other good reference specifically written for motorcycle riding, but here is a good read, written for avoiding sour butt pain in case of bike (cycle) riding.

Bonus Tips for Long Motorcycle Rides in India

#1 Watch out for cows!

#2 Highways in Kerala are just like street roads!

#3 Avoid riding during the night as a lot of vehicles are on the road without even a reflector or break light.

#4 Don’t go out in the search for ghosts. A lot of witches have been reported walking down the roads, with a candle!

This was all I had learned and could share to help you do a long motorcycle ride in India.

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Yes, I took my bike to an Island in India – Diu!

Thoughts?

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#Wanderlust | After fighting against my destiny for years, and trying to get a settle life, I finally decided to be a Free Bird. I always felt this appetite to Travel, which I ignored in early phase of my career (as a Blogger). HighwayMonks is my Escape now :)

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi pawan, i would add my experience of almost all long distance rides put together on my thunderbird including indore to ladakh, Delhi, karnataka, goa, pune etc etc. And yes sour butts is a constant annoyance for riders and esp in sweaty noons. The fabric you wear helps get over this to some extent, second is the design of your saddle ( the bike saddle 😉) . And these days i read about some material like airfoam and all i guess which helps to maintain ventilation and acts for cushioning during bike rides. Anyone who has used it recently may tell better. The earphones, well i cannot ride without some music and earphones to cut the constant thump from My motorcycle. A timely check on sideview mirrors is always good to ensure butt buggers are noticed. Gut instincts demand great respect when riding on indian roads. The hydration part you talked about is often underrated and riders tend to keep for hours without break which adds up quick tiring n loss of focus. Good blog bro. Keep riding.

    • Hi Anuj,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these important topics which are left, usually undiscussed and ignored in front of the adventure being planned.
      Personally, I feel okay traveling without music if the roads ahead are new to me. Like, I totally lost my mind when I saw the road in Rameswaram or the Parallel-to-Sea roads in Gujarat and South Indian states, Orissa and Karnataka being my fav.
      During my research, I also came across these cushions and all. But, I doubt there efficiency. For as long as possible, I’d prefer keeping things old school, as if we had it all comfortable then it’s not that fun 🙂
      Glad to hear that you liked the blog. Keep reading and keep riding.

  2. ohh. you had asked input over ear plug and i wrote a short essay over butt sour. haha

    i mostly ride with ear plugs or headphones on(not playing songs). purpose is just to cut down noise. it helps specially when you ride keeping visor open.

    ear plug and headphones which i use cuts down sound around 30% and i feel it safe, you can hear horns, brake line sound of even auto rickshaw.
    things which goes slightly unnoticed are
    1. wind noise if visor kept open
    2. chain slap
    3. if something metallic goes loose on your bike.

    • Thanks again for sharing your inputs, these are really valuable and coming straight from your personal experience.
      I had no personal experience in this case, so needed an input from the readers.
      Keep traveling, and keep sharing your experiences to help others. 🙂

  3. sour butt? whats that?
    yeah, this is the question from a rider having far less experience as compared to yours.
    but have done few 700-800kms ride a day and mumbai ladakh mumbai without rest day in between other than leh itself.
    now after quick introduction, will come to the point.
    according to my observation and thinking, below are the reasons for sour butt though i haven’t faced it yet(thanks to Almighty)
    1. sitting position. (if rider keeps all his upper body weight on his butt only, like in cruiser where transferring upper body weight to feet is not convenient)
    2. weak hamstring and buttox muscles
    3. cozy seat with extra padded foam( yes it is a reason. ppl think its going to help thier pain but it works in reverse direction. more cozy seat leads to less ventilation. less ventilation leads to sweat, sweat leads to friction and rashes. in turn you get sore butt) also it deviates your natural weight distribution ability of your butt which is made for sitting on flat surface.
    4. long sitting interval.

    now my inputs to above points
    1. opt for a ride where yiu can sit upright and part of your weight can be transferred to your feet and at the same time you can hold tank bit tightly with your thighs.
    2. walk, jog, run, weight exercises
    3. stick to the OE seats. (OE seat in my 200NS and Yamaha RX135 serve the purpose well.)
    4. stand on footpegs for a minute while riding once in 20-30 kms. this will save both precious things, your time and your ass. rode 400 kms in an stretch on karizma and 200NS with absolutely no butt pain.

    PS: if you find it useful, please give me credit while you publish this info.

    thanks

    • Hi Rizwan, welcome to HighwayMonks 🙂
      It’s good to hear that you haven’t had Sour Butt even after riding for long hours and covering long distances. But, you had to agree that case with everyone varies as the situations are different.
      I wrote these experiences after riding 11,000KMs across India for 50 continuous days. Out of those 50, it was raining heavily during 45 days. So, I did experienced the butt pain! Don’t think that I regret it. I absolutely loved the fact that I did that tour. 🙂
      Your tips are equally good. This discussion between us will help other readers.
      Keep traveling buddy!

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