There was a time when Kashmir to Kanyakumari was considered to be a major achievement, not just for the driver/rider but also for the product. However with a hugely improved road network and the rising biking culture in the country, the feat is more achievable than ever. We look at top budget motorcycles that will fit the bill without making you spend unnecessarily.
But before we look at the list, here’s a quick lowdown on the route. A quick Google Maps search reveals that the distance from Srinagar to Kanyakumari is about 3,700 km. You can of course choose the GQ and enjoy what’s one of the best road networks in the country, or stick to the NH route as Google suggests.
Since the roads are well-laden, we’ll be looking at cruisers and tourers, but not adventure tourers per se. Also, while it might have become easier thanks to good roads and better bikes, we’ll also refrain from including street fighters and even track-focussed motorcycles, too.
Starting with the small engined ones,
Bajaj Pulsar AS
Bajaj has consistently catered to a wide range of audience, with the Pulsar range. The new models are more refined than before, and the AS is clearly our pick of the lot for the job at hand. Available in both 150 cc and 200 cc versions, the Pulsar AS is a sports tourer — it doesn’t have a long travel suspension but comes with a fairing (for wind protection) and a comfortable, upright riding position.
Now available in two styles — Street and Cruise — the Avenger can also be bought in a 150 cc avatar. The Avenger 220 is better for handling highways and long distance cruising. It’s rather fitting that the company offers the Cruise version (spoke wheels and windscreen visor) only in the more powerful guise. Easy to ride and comfortable, too, the Avenger also happens to be one of the least expensive yet desirable cruisers on sale in the country.
Bajaj Pulsar 220F
While it might be on its way out — considering the RS 200 takes care of the sports segment while the AS covers the touring aspect — the 220F happens to be one bike that almost does it all in the segment. And it has a lot of character — you’ll need to make a bit more effort to turn it, but there’s no doubting its long distance cruising capabilities, either. The engine is very strong in terms of everyday performance, and the bike is as comfortable on city roads as it is on the highway.
Royal Enfield Thunderbird
It’s no secret that REs are great at munching miles, and while we’ll leave the lesser (or call them more urban oriented, if you will) versions, and go straight to the Thunderbird. The seating is comfortable for long journeys, and the wide handlebars offer decent control, too. Installing panniers isn’t an issue, and if you want a lower handlebar, that won’t be a problem, either. Both the 350 and the 500 have enough grunt in their engines, but it’s easy to pick the latter for added power.
Royal Enfield Bullet 500
It might not get a fuel injected engine, but as far as REs go, this one is the closest to its roots. Like others, it too uses the rather new (okay, comparatively new) UCE powertrain but with a carb. Styling is proper old-school but simple, and the 499 cc engine ensures that you are at ease covering long distances at a stretch. Also unlike the others it gets a longer and more comfortable — albeit less stylish — full-size seat.
Thunderbird’ pic source