At its core, adventure touring is visiting destinations that you’ve probably seen photos of on the internet or on the National Geographic, on a two or a four wheeler. And with the growing income levels of people in Nepal, this allows them to afford such trips, which can range from a few days to even months. One could argue that it would be easier and faster to take a plane but not all locations are accessible by plane.
Where the road ends, a vehicle that is capable of handling roads without a road is the optimal choice.
Even automobile companies are looking to get in on the action and are promoting their vehicles as ‘touring’ capable. For example, Renault advertises their Duster as ‘Designed for Adventure’ while Fiat boasts of their Avventura with the slogan, ‘Boring is dead. Adventure comes calling.’ And according to global automotive trends, these type of vehicles (SUVs and CUVs) are becoming more popular among drivers as they offer a combination of features associated with sedans and trucks such as high seating position, high ground clearance, plush ride, optional four-wheel drive and more. More companies are even making ‘mini’ adventure vehicles such as the Toyota Etios Cross, Ford Freestyle, Hyundai i20 Active and more, highlighting the growth of adventure touring. Such vehicles can be used to go for a mini vacation or even a full blown trip across Nepal.
Touring on a four-wheeler also offers one the ability to carry as much luggage as they want or as much as the car can carry instead of being granted a tiny amount by most airlines.
So it is no surprise that the vehicles such as Tata Sumo Gold and Mahindra Bolero are prevalent outside the Valley, ferrying passengers and cargo alike. These vehicles offer so much utility and can be adapted to be a mobile ambulance and more. Such vehicles are work horses for most people living in remote places across Nepal. Companies see the demand for such vehicles and are even offering premium versions such as Tata Storme, Mahindra Scorpio and Toyota Land Cruiser.
This trend of making ‘touring-capable’ machines is also prevalent in the two-wheeler segment. When one thinks of touring Nepal on a motorcycle, the first brand to come to mind is Royal Enfield. Countless Hindi movies feature the male protagonist riding a Royal Enfield motorcycle across panoramic vistas with a beautiful actress in tow. This has reinforced the idea that the company makes solid motorcycles. Even the Indian army has been using Royal Enfield motorcycles for over 60 years, claiming that only Royal Enfield motorcycles are suitable for going in all terrains in the Himalayas and all the border areas of India.
The venerable brand has timeless products such as the Classic, Standard and Thunderbird that have proved capable of traversing even the harshest of landscapes. And it is no surprise that most motorcycle rental shops in Kathmandu have a stable of Royal Enfield motorcycles.
Even the latest motorcycle from Royal Enfield, the Himalayan, is an acknowledgement of the importance of adventure touring. The Himalayan is billed as Royal Enfield’s most versatile motorcycle, able to take riders almost everywhere they want to go, on road or off road. It features similar characteristics found on ‘touring’ capable four-wheelers such as long-travel suspension, high ground clearance and comfortable ride quality. The company boasts that the motorcycle is adventure ready, thanks to features such as a massive 21-inch front tyre, upright riding position and optimised handlebar, seat and footpeg positioning which allows the rider to adjust from a sitting position to a stand and ride position when going over a rough patch.
Combined with the torquey nature and the simple mechanics of Royal Enfield motorcycles, it is no surprise that such motorcycles can handle some of the toughest terrains and across varied climatic conditions. But other competitors are snapping at Royal Enfield’s heels. Motorcycles from KTM, Mahindra and Honda are looking to reshape the adventure touring landscape in Nepal.
The KTM 390 Duke is one of the best motorcycles in its segment. With a boatload of power and torque in a lightweight package, it is the first choice for speed demons. But it is slowly gaining a reputation for being a capable tourer among riders in Nepal, according to SandeshPoudel, sales officer at the KTM showroom in Naxal.
The motorcycle features a laundry list of features that aid in adventure touring, from dual-channel ABS that is switchable, sticky Metzelertyres, best in class headlights and not forgetting the immense power on tap with a twist of the throttle that uses fly-by-wire technology.
Another motorcycle that is looking to carve out a niche as an adventure tourer is the Mahindra Mojo. Aside from its quirky styling which grows on you, the Mojo ticks all the right boxes as a touring capable motorcycle. It has a comfortable ride quality with USD forks on the front and a mono-shock at the rear. It is also one of the few motorcycles in Nepal that comes with super sticky Pirelli tyres as standard and a massive 21 litre fuel tank. While the KTM shines in terms of raw power and features set, the Mojo has something not many motorcycles possess, sheer road presence. Swing a leg over and thumb the starter, one will have perhaps the most aural experience, with deep bassy notes emanating from the dual exhausts. People will actually see and hear you coming and give way to you.
While the KTM Duke 390 offers a power packed ride and the Mahindra Mojo an exceptional ride quality, Honda’s CRF 250L goes in a completely different direction. The CRF 250L is basically a dirt bike with a preppy engine but without the uncouth exhaust. Dirt trails, gravel roads, city streets, open highways, the CRF 250L will conquer all of them. Add to the equation, Honda’s bullet proof quality and the CRF 250L is a solid contender as a touring motorcycle. The only flaw is its relatively puny fuel tank capacity of 7.8 litres.
There are even high end motorcycles that are targeted as adventure tourers in Nepal such as the Ducati Multistrada, Benelli TRK 502, CF Moto 650MT and Honda Africa Twin.
Most of these motorcycles come with luggage cases already mounted, massive ground clearance, stately road presence and big fuel tanks.
So pack up your bags and explore the vastness of Nepal, taking breaks to take photos and sipping tea at idyllic road stalls while you make memories for a lifetime.
What to look for in an adventure tourer