Tips for planning your motorcyle trip to Leh


  • Read and research. Start here:…-travel-guide/…ate-guide.html See lot of photos, will keep you excited

  • You can ride solo, however I would highly recommend against it. Form a group on Bangalore Bikers or BMC Touring. Ride with experienced bikers. Newbies will find it daunting to ride everyday. I had a guy in my group who had slowed down everyone.
  • Consider taking your own bike if it is in good condition. If you own a bike that an engine more than 200cc then you may not have to do any adjustment. Otherwise you need to get air fuel mixture adjusted so that you can get more power out of your bike. This can get this done in Manali. Rental bikes may not be reliable and if they break down it will cost you in money and time. Carry spare keys.
  • AMS may or may not affect you. Diamox is good to use as a precaution against AMS. If you are allegic to Sulphur, you should consult a physician. Start taking one tablet everyday from at least 2 days before you reach Manali. It takes 12-24 hours to show effect.
  • Purchase plastic sheets, rubber/gum boots, petrol cans, bungee cords and rain coats. These things can be bought in Manali. Rubber boots cost only Rs 250, it will save your feet from getting wet. Carrying extra bungee cords and plastic sheets is advisable. You can buy rain coats in Bangalore itself.
  • Try to reach Manali on a Saturday. Market is closed on Sunday. Road to Rohtang Pass is closed on Tuesday morning (you should verify this from a local guy, call up some rental).
  • Buy thermal inners both top and bottoms. Dont carry lots of clothes, you will anyways have to wear thermal inners. But carry enough warm clothes. It becomes too cold after sun set.
  • Buy thick balaclava, thick muffler, 3 pairs of woolen socks.
  • If carrying mesh jacket, carry rain liner and additional jacket to wear inside. I had a DSG Nero, which saved me from cold. It is water proof also (if you close all the zips properly). Wear inner inside gloves. Gloves should not have air vents.
  • Try to find out if you can prevent fogging on the helmet visor. I had keep it open for the most part.
  • Learn how to fix a puncture and clean/change spark plug. That is the least you should know.

During the ride:

  • Always start early. The roads are terrible and it becomes extremely cold once it is dark.
  • Once you cross Keylong, switch off the phone. You won’t get signal in case of prepaid sim. Only postpaid Airtel and BSNL work in after than in some areas. You will get access to network once you are close to Leh. Charge your batteries whenever you get the opportunity. A small spike buster will come handy, we had one.
  • I will advise not listening to songs during ride since most of the roads are on moutains, you should be able to hear any sound of incoming vehicle.
  • Stay alert all the time. You can not make errors there and it can be fatal. There are no hospital facilities.
  • Do not stuff yourself during meals. Take frequent breaks, eat light. This will give you some rest during bad sections of road. You will find tents or eateries every 60-70 kms.
  • NO liqour or smoking!
  • Carry at least 6-8k in cash. Keylong has the last ATM on the route. If you get stuck money will be really handy. If you are carrying multiple luggage, split your money in them.
  • Wave to all the riders. Foreigners may not respond but Indians certainly will

Places between Manali to Leh:

  1. Koksar – 75 km from Manali – Home stay

  2. Tandi – 108 km from Manali – Last petrol pump, bike repair

  3. Keylong – 115 km from Manali – Hotels and Home stay, ATM, bike repair

  4. Jispa – 140 km from manali – Hotels and tents

  5. Zing-Zing Bar – ~180 km from Manali – only tents – don’t halt here for the night

  6. Sarchu – ~ 250km from Manali – Only tents

  7. Pang – 170 km to Leh, only tents – dont halt here for the night

  8. Rumtse – 80 km to Leh – Homestay available

  9. In some villages approx, 15 km from Rumtse, I noticed designated camping spots, could not see any home stay though.

You will find eateries in all these places. If you are a hygine-freak prepare to live on chips and water

Road Condition:

  1. Manali to Rohtang – Good

  2. Rohtang to Koksar – Bad, if it has not rained otherwise pathetic as it will be extremely muddy. Streams of water flowing on road.

  3. Koksar to Keylong – Half of the road is good. Then there are potholes and sometimes gravel. Streams of water flowing on road.

  4. Keylong – Baralacha – Good. Streams of water flowing on road.

  5. Baralacha to Sarchu – Pathetic

  6. Sarchu to Pang – Good till you reach the bottom of Gata loops, then pathetic to Pang.

  7. Pang to Leh – Bad for a few kilometres then very good. Then a bad stretch of 15 km till you reach Taglang la. After that very good roads till Leh.

Almost 60% of road is bad. This should help in you planning. They are making a tunnel under Rohtang Pass which is scheduled to open in 2017. Go before that happens, Rohtang top is beautiful

In my opinion riding to Leh in 3 days makes sense. You can take break at Keylong or Jispa, Sarchu and then Leh. It is not a race, try to enjoy the trip. Also three weeks seems apt for this ride because there is so much to see.

Best Season:

Avoid monsoon season. Ride in May-June or September. It will be less crowded but colder in September. Stays will be cheaper and easier to find. Always negotiate the price. If you are renting bikes also you may be able to get some good deal.

Checklist for motorcyle preparation:…rcycle-ladakh/

This is strictly my opinion:

If you would like to enjoy the view, motorcycles are certainly not the best way to explore this region since roads are not in very good condition. Car will be a good option. There are lot of taxi services to Leh from Manali. You can get taxis from Leh also. There are lot of tour operators also.

But then we all love to ride!






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