The Dream Ride! Being a pillion through the mighty Ladakh on Duke 390.

Vrushali Surve

Happy pillion for life!
Although Ladakh has not remained inaccessible to various sorts of travelers, riding all the way up to 17000 mt. is not yet a cakewalk for a Duke 390 rider with a female pillion and with a riding couple's basic luggage. Nevertheless, we were determined to make our dream ride happen. Practically, we were only partially prepared for the ride, but mentally, we were all set! After several "Yes"s and "No"s, we finally dared and did it, and how? — SUCCESSFULLY!!! After all, where there is a will, there is a way. So, I shall now begin sharing the story of our dream ride — 14 days–14 chapters. Stay tuned!

Read Chapter 2, Day 1 here: The Dream Ride! Being a pillion through the mighty Ladakh on Duke 390.
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Vrushali Surve

Happy pillion for life!
Our original plan (since 2012) had been the Ladakh ride, but it took shape only after Rohan (my husband)—the rider—and his fellow NHTians (#NomaHawkTourers) Sushil and Neeteesh executed their dream ride in July 2016. During both the rides @Yogesh Sarkar's itinerary and the logs on BCMT had been an important guide for them.

Later, when it came to planning our ride, a few other friends also expressed their desire to join, and the ride started getting inclined towards the equally mesmerizing Spiti Valley. (Sushil even hurriedly booked his Tusker for the trip. )

However, for some unforeseen reasons, Spiti couldn't happen, and everyone else except Rohan and I had to back out. As I previously said, everything was set; we had got leaves, had readied our Duchess (as I call our Duke 390), and we were in no mood to drop the plan at all. Fortunately, we had the Ladakh ride ready as our backup plan, and there was no looking back for us. So, on the day before the ride (which was supposed to be to Spiti), Rohan chalked out all the alternatives, and we set ourselves for our dream ride—Ladakh2018!

I shall leave you all with a few clicks of the making of the dream ride and will be back with Chapter 1 soon!

The Duchess getting ready for her biggest ride!

We got her transported till Amritsar through VRL Transport, and they took pretty good care of her.

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Vrushali Surve

Happy pillion for life!
Chapter 1: The Day before The Ride

Spiti or Ladakh, regardless of the destination, good planning and preparation was imperative. We had our gears, routes, and The Duchess, all ready.

For the bike and luggage, we used the following:
- Luggage rack/saddle stand: NexusGears.
We couldn't source from Sahyadri, the best in the business; therefore, we had to buy this. Quality was okayish, quite substandard.
- Saddle bag: Rynox drystack.
These are absolutely waterproof and completely reliable even in super heavy rains.
- Rucksack on the rear: Spykar Jeans' rucksack.
This one is super sturdy and good for any kind of rough use, and it also served as backrest for me throughout the ride.
- Tank bag: Rynox dirt sack.
Needless to say anything about the quality, the tank bag is a must for everything that you'd need to be handy: basic electronics, documents, and of course, light snacks or dry fruits.
- Extra fuel: Two 2-litre Maaza bottles.
Maaza bottles are too good for this purpose, as they are thick and sustainable.
- Helmets and gears: 1 SOL and 1 SMK helmet, 2 sets of DSK riding jackets and pants, Tarmac Venom riding shoes (for the rider), Quechua Arpenaz 50 Mid Women's Hiking Boots (for the pillion), 4 pairs of riding and woolen hand gloves, balaclavas, bag cover(s), rain gears (and as many pairs of socks as possible!).
- Bike spares: Engine oil, clutch cable, ACC cable, bolts, temperature sensor, spark plugs, chain lube and cleanser.
- Other/Miscellaneous yet essential items: Bungee cords for tieing the rucksack, chargers, power bank, a pair of Sena SMH-5 Bluetooth headsets for both the helmets, camera lens, action cam, camera mounts, tapes.
- Documents: Flight ticket printouts, photocopies and original ID proofs, permits, route maps' printouts.
- Gel seat for me, the pillion: As you all know how the Duke 390 pillion seats are, without the gel seat, the pillion's rear wouldn't survive the ride.

P. S. We strongly recommend basic and minimal (yet sufficient) clothing, and, of course, thermals are a must throughout the ride!


So, owing to the literally "last moment" change of plan (from 4 people leaving for Spiti to 2 people leaving for Ladakh), we did need some kind of support, as it was just going to be the two of us now, without our friends or a backup vehicle. This is when India's human GPS, H. V. Kumar Sir (HVK) came into picture.

Our friend, Sushil, on the note of not being able to join us due to unforeseen and inevitable circumstances, quickly helped us with getting in touch with Kumar Sir—right from getting us registered on the #RoutO app to convincing Kumar Sir for helping us out, and bang on! We packed everything that was left and were set to leave at 04:00 AM on July 7, 2018!!!

I'll be back with D Day in the next chapter, leaving you'll with a few snaps from the day before.

This was basic load testing; the saddle bags (along with the luggage inside) were parceled to Amritsar with the bike.

Basic toiletries for a couple!

Near-to-actual load testing is mandatory before D Day!
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Vrushali Surve

Happy pillion for life!
Adding some items that I missed out in the list in Chapter 1.

- Medicines/First-aid kit: Combiflam, mebarid/biquinol, dimox, soframicin, neosporin powder, relispray. Out of these we mostly had to use only relispray a couple of times.
Although we had carried for the sake of it, we personally don't recommend riders to consume dimox for the following reasons:
1. Since we gradually and steadily climb up the altitude, we can easily acclimatize.
2. Dimox has its own side/aftereffects such as continual tingling sensation and feeling lightheaded and thirsty.

- Bike spares: Puncture repair kit.

- Clothing: 2 pairs of jeans, cargo pants, numerous boxer shorts and t-shirts, and a pair of thermals/liners for each. Most of the riding time we were in riding gears, except when roaming around in the same village or nearby places.
great ride, we (wife and I) are also planning for a similar ride in the month of september, have started the prep main worry is luggage as we are going in the onset of winters so not sure how much we will need. any ideas?


Be a Good person but Don't try to Prove.
Excellent start Vrushali. I love reading about preparations for the trip, the excitement, people committing to go & then back out etc. These things are no less enjoyable as the journey itself.

The exhaustive coverage with which you have started this log will make it one of the top travelogues in this forum. Congrats.


Plz Help Himabuj (Amit Tyagi) in Corona Fighting
Great Start !
Great Riders !

Please post about your luggage management on bike !
Rynox Saddle Bags were enough ?
Please post in detail for all !