The Modern Motorcycle Diaries

Alex Chacón is a fellow biker who has done the ultimate motorcycle expedition. He calls it ‘The Modern Motorcycle Diaries‘.

Rest of us can only dream of doing something like that. He sold off everything to collect funds for the expedition and rode from Alaska to Argentina in 500 days through interstates, highways, dirt roads, no roads, mud, rivers, through hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, rain, hail, sun shine, snow, ice roads you name it and made it back! And all this was to raise awareness and money for Children of Uganda.

Here is a 9 minute video he uploaded on YouTube recently that went viral instantly.

Would you like to do the same?

Get inspired from the real biker (Alex).

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The bike he rode in this trip is a 2007 KLR 650 and he prefer it over the likes of BMW and KTM.

10 Things to Do in Ladakh for a Biker

‘The Roof of the World’, as Ladakh is referred to as, bears the ultimate challenge for every two wheeler enthusiast. I’m fortunate to ride there twice in my lifetime, and all the way from Mumbai. After reading and exploring the region I felt there are some places or activities here that many riders often miss out on. Hardly any detailed info is mentioned about them or if there is then its in bits and pieces. Here I tell you about 10 things to do in Ladakh for a biker once entered into the high land.

Ladakh Himalayas

Ladakh Himalayas

There are the usual things one does, or rather must do/ visit, having gone up to Ladakh — the ride up to Khardung La, an evening visit to Shanti Stupa, exploring the Nubra Valley and an overnight stay at Pangong Lake, are some of the must do – must see list every Ladakhi rider indulges in. But, there are some less visited and unusual destinations that a biker must not miss out on and a few must-do things, after having successfully reaching Ladakh.

1. Tso Moriri

This is one of the largest salt water lakes of the Ladakh region in northern Himalayas. The lake is completely frozen – totally ice during the winter season while a magical sight greets you in the warmer months. Other than the mesmerising natural scenery, the area is also populated with some flora and fauna. It’s at a distance of 250 kms from Leh, situated at the end of Rupshu valley.

Due to the distance and offset location, many bikers chuck the lake from their itinerary for obvious reasons. However, if you can make it to this lake, every minute and effort invested will be worth it! The camping site, crystal clear lake, beautiful ambience, spellbound roads and the magnificent sunset are enough to make your stay memorable.

Tso Moriri

Tso Moriri

2. Druk White Lotus School

The school was all over the papers when the Aamir Khan starrer Bollywood movie, ‘3 Idiots’ released world over. The school spreads across a large area and is wholly sustained on solar energy. The architecture and design of this institution is marvellous. The school was damaged in the 2010 floods but has now been fully repaired and restored.

Here’s a tip: Make a contribution to the school, not in terms of money, but resources – books, stationery, etc., go a long way in the education of the Ladakhi children.

Druk White Lotus School

Students landscaping at the Druk White Lotus School

3.  Zanskar River Rafting

The real colours of Zanskar are a sight to see. It doesn’t stop there – the rafting experience in Zanskar itself is enough to get the adrenaline pumping.

The valleys of Zanskar are also referred to as the ‘Grand Canyon of Asia’ but why compare it with the west when it’s a unique site in itself!

Fun fact: The Zanskar River freezes in winter and is used by local people to commute through for trade. Otherwise, the temperature of the water is around 7 degrees centigrade and the river route has been graded as class IV.

River rafting in Zanskar valley

River rafting in Zanskar valley

4. Hemis Monastery Ladakh

“Jesus lived in India” – A Book by Holger Kersten says that Christ once lived in the Himalayas. The book itself was controversial, due to several controversies; the fact is, as the author has mentioned, Jesus once resided in Kashmir and in the Hemis Monastery of Ladakh.

The Hemis festival is held in June or July every year; it is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. Hemis festival is the most popular of all the festivals celebrated in Ladakh. It’s a delight for the photo enthusiasts and a pleasure to watch for the avid tourist.

Hemis Monastery Ladakh

Hemis Monastery Ladakh

5. Photography in Ladakh

Indulge in some genuine photography of Ladakh and capture the true mesmerising colours of beauty around you – there’s plenty to capture.

Ladakh is a playround for photography — rivers, mountains, snow, desert, animals, vegetation, people; fields… the options are endless.

photography in ladakh

Prep your camera and gears for photography in Ladakh

6. Volunteer

We know you are on your holiday ride but it wouldn’t hurt if you volunteer for a cause in Ladakh. At the end of this task, you’ll really feel happy for what you did.

Go to the monastery and offer a helping hand. Enrol as a volunteer to organise a local program or try out our favourite — teach some skill or perform at the Druk White Lotus School.

7. Ladakhi Food

Feast your eyes on the Ladakhi Menu. Submerge in the sweet taste of apricots or challenge yourself in a momo-eating competition. Food in Ladakh has a wide variety to it. Lookout for organically produced goods and dairy-products in the Ladakhi menu. The most favourite of all foods are the Thukpas, Momos, Laksa, Phalley and a variety of noodle and soup based preparations always served up in amazing combinations of condiments and sauces.

Some restaurant suggestions from my side – German Bakery, Himalayan Café, La Pizzeria, Lamayuru Restaurant, Tibetian Kitchen and Summer Harvest are a few good ones in Leh.

The delicious thukpa

The delicious Thukpa

8. Shop Hop

When it comes to shopping, you have the Ladakh Apricot Store, the Tibetan market, locally made clothing and handicrafts and a whole lot of souvenirs. The place has local art work on offer, too; many of which are beautiful enough to decorate your drawing room with. By-products of apricots is what we suggest the most and get yourself a lot of souvenirs too, you’ll find many unique ones in the market and in the narrow streets of Leh.

Shopping done, hop into the local DTDC office to courier your baggage back home rather than carrying it back on your motorcycle.

9. Lala’s Art Café 

It’s the ideal place to sit with a nice book, sip up some tea and get lost in thoughts.

The ambience of Lala’s art cafe gives you the feel of ancient India. The stone steps, the old restored building and warm people – everything feels right out of a story book. The café showcases some amazing black and white soul photography and the entrance downstairs has deep carvings.

Sit out with your biking buddies and throw some light on interesting tales to share and entertain.

10. Kargil War Memorial


“The land of the fallen”
 – Yes, many Indian soldiers have either dedicated or given up their lives so that we can live free. Once a battleground, Kargil is now a peaceful place and although tension does emerge at times, our heroes are always high on alert.

A war memorial dedicated to the soldiers of the Kargil War has been erected just outside of the town of Kargil. A visit to this place is a must to know what exactly happened here. Feel the loss and offer your prayers and gratitude.

Kargil War Memorial

Kargil War Memorial
Also published in MyBikeMyWorld.com

Kawasaki Ninja 300 Review and Ride Experience

Kawasaki Ninja 300 Review

After two decades of ruling the quarter litre segment worldwide, Kawasaki lays its stake to continue to rule the world with the launch of Ninja 300. The Japanese manufacturer, instead of just upgrading the Ninja 250R with minor tweaks here and there, which majority of manufacturers do with their winning models, created a whole new different machine.

Ninja 300 is a beautiful combination of superb power, impressive performance, agile handling, improved efficiency and crisp styling. I got my hands on the green goblin and after riding it just for a day I got only one thing to say – “Tonight, we Ride to Hell!”

Here is my Kawasaki Ninja 300 review and riding experience.

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Power, Performance and Delivery

Kawasaki Ninja 300 – “Evolution at its Best”

The new Kawasaki Ninja 300 runs on a four-stroke, 296cc parallel-twin liquid-cooled engine. The fuel injected motor generates a maximum power of 39bhp @ 11000rpm, with a peak torque of 2.8kgm produced @ 10000rpm. What the hell does this mean? It means you have a state-of-the-art missile at your disposal and the control of this better be in experienced hands.

You may wonder if a 47cc increase in power mill and a raise of 6 bhp would make much of a difference, compared to the 250R, but the moment you experience the Ninja 300, you’ll realize it’s a unique motorcycle by itself. Despite sharing some configuration and a few parts from its predecessor, there is a different personality to the 300. You’ll land up saying, “Wow…this is a whole new motor…”

Other aspects and improvements worth mentioning about this new mill are,

– Increase in the size of the valves
– Pistons are now weighing lighter than before
– Increase in stroke which obviously gives the plus number in cc
– 600gm lighter sleeveless die-cast cylinders
– The engine is rubber mounted
– Vibe free engine
– New slipper clutch system

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

A prominent issue with the Ninja 250R was that it was a sleeping giant until it reached 6000rpm. The real performance of that motor was found in the mid-range and beyond. But in Ninja 300 you can feel the torque right from 2000rpm itself. Just pop the clutch and the bike is ready to go boom from the first gear. This also makes climbing steep slopes on 2nd or 3rd gear effortless and stress free.

Now, do not worry about 6000+rpms in the Ninja 300. The question is – Do you have what it takes to handle this beast?! At a flick of the wrist, the bike is ready to show you what it is really made of. The twin cylinder engine is all set to give you instant throttle response and takes you up to three figure speed within no time. You’ll be in the 100kph+ range in just about 7 seconds, 1 second faster than the Ninja 250R. One thing is evident; we don’t have a large number of wide roads where you can legitimately test the potential of such bikes, so you could probably touch the 160 mark and immediately slow down. You may also notice that even after touching 160kph, the rpm needle is still not very close to the red line which means there is one more level to go!!!

The heat dispersion system also has been given attention to. You do not feel warm air on your thighs or anywhere near your feet like in earlier models, also the noise of the radiator fan can hardly be heard. This can be observed if the bike is kept idling in stationary position for a few minutes.

The 6-speed (1-down 5-up) gearbox imparts smooth, well weighted shifts. We can say the feeling is similar to the 250R but gentler and smoother than its predecessor and the immense rush of power is clearly revealed at every shift.

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Proud owners of the 250R the world over would often express their desire to have softer clutch lever on their bikes on various Kawasaki forums. The engineers at Kawasaki made a note of it and introduced the “slipper clutch” with which the Ninja 300 seems like a child play. Here is why.

Slipper Clutch

We just love it when we get to know that motorcycles with world renowned technologies are launched in India.

Here is the scene to understand the “slipper clutch” system practically – Let’s say we are engaged in a high speed ride and out of nowhere “Rossi’s” ghost decides to enter our body and nudges us to downshift our gears for that “Vroomm” feeling and we do just that. Now with the normal clutch system on our bikes in the event of sudden down shift of gear we would feel a deep jerk on our entire body rendering us imbalanced and at the same time increasing our chances of locking the rear wheel many folds.

This is where the slipper clutch system comes into play; with Rossi’s ghost in action, we downshift the gear suddenly, the slipper clutch system partially disengages itself allowing some amount of revolutions to bypass which prevents the rear wheels from getting locked up and enables a jerk-free ride too.

To truly appreciate this system, take the Ninja 300 on twisties and slopes and let the ghost out.

On the fuel economy front, we were able to derive an average of 37kmpl.

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Comfort and Handling

Long rides have now become a boon on the Ninja 300. Earlier, sitting on 250R was like sitting on a slab of rock and going for a ride. The seats are still hard, even in the 300, but much better – The seating position gives a sporty feel and you just have to bend a little forward for a comfortable reach out to the handle bars. The new mirrors now have more viewing (Read wider view) to them. Even for a horizontally challenged (Real Huge) guy like me who was wearing armoured motorcycle jacket I could view over 80 per cent of uninterrupted background picture in the rear view mirror.

The newly designed tank is perfect for cruising as well as for fast rides. You can grip the tank with your legs during high speeds and feel oneness with the bike at ONCE.

No other bike felt as stable as the Ninja 250R in its segment. And with the Ninja 300, the feeling is confidently carried forward with few improvements for holding on a more powerful engine.

The bike is very swift in handling despite being in the 170kgs+ category. Manoeuvring in city is as easy and riding on highway is heavenly.

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Styling and Lineaments – Who is the designer?

May not be Picasso or Manish Malhotra, but we sure have some design geniuses at the Kawasaki design department! You ride the Ninja anywhere and we bet you’ll make some (ALL) head turn.

Although the inspiration for Ninja 300 comes from many of its siblings but this one, just steals the show. The floating windscreen and integrated signal indicators come from ZX-10R- The dual headlights from the ZX-6R. Wheel and side fairing design are from the ZX-14R and the new overhauled silencer and foot-pegs from other big brother (models). The rear of Ninja 300 looks somewhat like the 250R with 10 per cent improvisation of the tail and under seat area.

However, if you keep both the bikes, 250R and 300 side by side, from some angles you’ll find the 300 seem lighter and leaner over the prior variant. But that is NOT true, obviously.

The moment you get close to the bike, you will be tempted to brush your hand over the body to feel the deep glossy surface. Ninja 300 today is probably one of the best looking motorcycles in the world in its class by far.

As many would agree, 300 is a bike to drool for!

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Braking and Suspension

The front comes with a 290mm single petal disc while the rear with 220 mm one, each equipped with dual-piston callipers.

Braking is in par with its overall performance only when you don’t compare it with the 250R. Evaluating the braking by comparing it with the earlier Ninja models will not give the right judgment here. Some might find the braking in the 250R more powerful while first timers may feel what they have on 300 is the best.

After riding on steep slopes, downhill, taking sharp corners and going a little off track we are satisfied to say that braking is pretty much up to the mark. You don’t get an ABS option in the Indian version, but the question remains, do we really need it? Read, all you really need to know about ABS.

The suspension of the Ninja 300 is somewhat on the stiffer side, just like the 250R, although the front telescopic forks and the rear adjustable Uni-trak suspension have been improved to deliver a smooth ride and stable handling over a wide range of speed and road conditions. Best is to keep the default company settings. The wider IRC tyres are impressive rubber. The bike handles well at corners during low as well as high speeds. Confident and agile are the words that best describe the feeling. Tires being made of soft compound will get exhausted in the 12000-15000 km range but that should not be a bother because thereafter, you can go for MRF Zapper Q which now comes in a tubeless variant which has a Life-expectancy of 25000kms.

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Instrument cluster and console

Only analogue pods for reading makes way a very stylish digital and analogue instrument console designed to impress and guide.

You have the tachometer in analogue design at the centre, warning lights get their individual positions and a cool digital screen on the right side dedicated for quick reads.

Warning lights consist of low battery voltage, OBD port, engine oil pressure, engine temperature, neutral shift light and high beam indicators along with two trip-meters and a clock on the digital screen. Also something new you’ll notice is an ECO sign appearing every now and then next to the speedometer. Its appearance represents that you are in the economy mode. It’s a handy feature to have in the console of the bike. Fuel economy is expected to be around 25km/litre, though we did not get to test this. But depending on your riding style, the efficiency figure can get impressive. Note: On Ninja 250R we managed to get an average of 40km/litre over the company mentioned 26km/litre. The magic is in your hand 🙂

With the 300, we finally get the pass switch, which was painfully missed on the 250R. Headlamps are still on the DRL, so no off switch on this one too. We could not see them in action as it was a day ride but based on what Kawasaki has delivered till now, surely the light spread will not be disappointing.

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Verdict

So the big question is Should I Buy the Kawasaki Ninja 300? Absolutely! Ninja 300 is a hands down winner in all departments. Kawasaki has left no stone unturned. Whatever could be upgraded from the 250R has now been brought to a new standard in the 300. Also, Kawasaki will be the first to get this new segment in India. Currently, there stands no competition to the motorcycle and with regards to the after sales service; Bajaj Probiking is already prepared in delivering premium quality service for the maintenance of the motorcycle.

The only thing that goes against the bike is the whopping price tag. The bike comes for Rs. 3.85 lacs on-road Mumbai. Immediately, the comparison starts with CBR 250R, the upcoming Duke 390 and other Honda machines which are most likely to arrive in India in the next few months but like mentioned before, the Ninja 300 is a unique motorcycle and CANNOT BE compared with anything else. You have to see it from this perspective. If you feel the price is high, then you must understand the fact that for this amount you are surely getting the best, modern, state-of-the-art motorcycle from Kawasaki. So if you have the money to shell out, then yes, this motorcycle is the ideal choice to satisfy your sport, touring and commuting needs. You may even go ahead and get these 5 useful accessories for the Ninja 300 that will take the stance of the motorcycle a notch higher.

So here I conclude my Kawasaki ninja 300 review. Do leave a feedback in the comments section to let me know what you think.

“Tonight, we Ride to Hell!!!”

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

High Five for

  1. The new refreshed look
  2. Improved handling and dynamics
  3. Power distribution across RPMs
  4. Ample under seat storage for tools and documents

Wish it had

  1. Fibre extension on the Front mud guard to protect the radiator from dirt and debris hitting on it during monsoons. (You can still get the aftermarket product.)

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Tech Specs:

Engine Type: Liquid cooled, 4- stroke Parallel Twin

Displacement – 296 cm3

Bore and Stroke – 62.0 X 49.0 mm

Compression ratio: 10.6:1

Valve system – DOHC, 8 Valves

Fuel System: Fuel Injection Φ32mm x 2 (Keihin) with dual throttle valves.

Ignition: Digital

Starting: Electric

Lubrication: Forced Lubrication, Wet sump

Transmission: 6-speed return

Maximum Power – 29.0 KW {39PS}/11,000 rpm

Maximum Torque: 27 N.m {2.8 kgf.m} / 10.000rpm

 

Frame, Tyres and Brakes

Type: Tube diamond, steel

Wheel travel: Front: 120mm

Rear: 132mm

Tyre: Front 110/70 – 17M/C 54S

Rear: 140 /70 -17 M/C 66S

Brake Front:  Type: Single 290mm petal Disc

Caliper: Single Balanced actuation dual –piston

Brake Rear: Type: single 220 mm Petal disc

Caliper: Dual –piston

 

Dimensions

Overall length: 2,015 mm

Overall width: 715 mm

Overall height: 1,11omm

Wheelbase: 1,405 mm

Ground clearance: 140 mm

Seat height: 785mm

Curb Mass: 172 kg

Fuel Capacity: 17 litres

Kawasaki Ninja 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300

 

Also published in MyBikeMyWorld.com

5 Useful Accessories for the New Ninja 300

After the entire patient wait for the new Ninja 300 from Kawasaki, it is finally available for bookings at a Pro biking dealer near you. It’s supposed to be the next gen upgrade to the best selling quarter litre bike of all time – The Ninja 250R. To takes things even further I went scouting for some cool accessories for the Ninja 300. Checkout my pick…

Kawasaki Ninja 300 Review also present on Wanderlust Biker.

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300 now has dual independent head lamps

1. Adjustable levers

Apparently, Kawasaki has provided adjustable brake and clutch levers for the 650cc and upward segments. Adjustable levers add comfort and convenience for riding as well as enhance the handling of the motorcycle. Not the aftermarket levers, but OEM products are available on Amazon for the Kawasaki Ninja 300. If you don’t prefer the online option, wait a little for them to arrive at the motorcycle accessory stores of India.

2. Aftermarket exhaust

If you think the sound of the exhaust has been beefed up in the new Ninja 300, you are sorely mistaken. Sorry about that! Despite altering the low and mid level torque along with a few tweaks, the sound of the exhaust remains pretty close to that of the Ninja 250R. If you are looking for that roar in your Ninja 300, pick the aftermarket exhausts. Some good ones are from Yoshimura, M4 and Leo Vince GP Corsa Slip-On Exhaust.

3. Crash guard

Like it or not, a crash guard is the most important accessory to buy for a motorcycle. Be it Kawasaki or any other brand, to protect the bike in case of a fall, it is absolutely necessary. You could also save a few bucks on the bill thereafter. OEM as well as aftermarket parts are available for the Ninja 300.

Ninja 300

Ninja 300 at the press launch

4. Wheel rim tapes and Tank pad

Accessories, not just for protection, but also for styling are worth spending money on. The tank pad and rim tapes have little safety feature attached to them but they are great products to add some shine and spark to the motorcycle. My personal take? White rim tapes go nicely with the Ninja 300 Green while the red ones suit the White 300.  As for the tank pad, you have a couple of options with the Ninja theme. A simple carbon black still looks best.

5. Front mud guard fender extension

Very few people know about this accessory. Only Kawasaki Ninja riders know that there is not much protection given to the radiator of the bike. The dirt and debris which fly off the front tyre hit the radiator grill head on, eventually damaging the pattern of the grill on the radiator. As per Kawasaki, it is not a threat but taking into consideration the Indian road conditions, you may even see a rock flying off and racing towards your bike.

‘Pyramid Plastics Kawasaki Ninja 250R 08-11 Fender Extender’ is available for the Ninja 250R and the same fits on the new Ninja 300 as well. It is a must have for all Indian riders who intend to buy the new Ninja 300.

Kawasaki Ninja 300 Accessories

Vital accessories for the new Kawasaki Ninja 300

Most products and accessories for the Kawasaki Ninja 300 are available on Amazon.com but now, with the launch of the bike in India, some of them will be available in biking accessory stores across India in less than a month.