Literally anyone can get stuck in slush. Here’s a video that shows a Harley Davidson and multiple Royal Enfield motorcycles all attempting to cross a slushy path, which probably is some mountain pass in the Himalayas. What happens next might surprise you.
What’s happening here?
The Harley Davidson gets stuck in slush, and the rider needs to be pushed out to clear that section. On the other hand, multiple Royal Enfields with 350/500 cc engines clear the slush comfortably. What gives? Well, a lot of factors can influence the outcome.
Weight and slush don’t go together. The heavier the bike, the easier it is for it to get bogged down in slush. The lightest Harley Davidson is still about 50-60 kilograms heavier than a Royal Enfield. You then have a lot of luggage that bikers carry on their motorcycles, especially on Ladakh rides.
In this case, weight could have played a major part in the Harley Davidson getting bogged down while multiple Royal Enfields ride through the same section quite easily. This section could have been even easier to handle on lighter bikes such as the Hero Impulse or even a Yamaha FZ.
Almost-all Harley Davidsons sold in India have a riding position that needs the rider to stretch out her/his legs ahead. It’s almost like sitting on an arm chair. While this riding position is very comfortable for cruising on highways, it can be the source of a major headache off the road, especially in situations where the rider needs to stand on the pegs and ride on. Royal Enfields have a much more upright riding position, allowing riders to easily stand on the pegs while negotiating dirt roads and slush.
Too much torque
Traction is everything in slush. Too much torque delivered low down, as in the case of the Harley Davidson here, will only result in wheelspin, bogging down the bike further in slush. Slipping the clutch is often the only alternative in case of bikes that deliver a lot of torque at low rpms.
In such situations, you want mild but just enough torque flowing at low rpm. Royal Enfields have this ability of chugging along at low rpms, and maybe this is why they managed to ride through the slush so effortlessly. In bigger bikes, traction control is crucial while handling slushy terrain.
While we can’t really see the kind of tyres this particular Harley Davidson is on, having off road tyres help in slushy conditions. Road-focused tyres often don’t provide enough grip when the going gets slippery. A pair of on-off road tyres should be on the shopping list of every biker attempting Ladakh. This is even more critical in case of bigger bikes.
Rider skill matters, especially when the going gets tough. An experienced rider who’s ridden across multiple terrains and conditions will generally fare better than an inexperienced rider when faced with slush. In this particular case, it’ll be unfair to call the Harley rider inexperienced or unskilled. It’s more likely that the weight of the Harley made it very hard to cross that slushy section.