I'm writing this log sitting at a roadside tent that is around 15,000ft above my usual place of work - our cozy office in Mumbai. As I sip on a glass of warm ginger-honey-lemon-tea, it is getting quite cold on the outside. I'm in Leh, again, and the weather is changing. The season is about to get over. It reminds me of last year when Ashok and I rode up in a similar conditions and the Ladakhi region overpowered our ambitions with its unpredictable and unforgiving weather. Having stared at amputation in face, if not death, I had promised myself to not do this ever again. But here I'm, sitting in a more deserted location of this region with no help in sight if I need it. Motorcycles surely know how to lure you in...
Until now, I have either come to Ladakh with a test vehicle or a rented Bullet. But I have always longed to ride my own motorcycle up to Leh - take it to the fabled passes, or chill with it at one of those lakes, or simply park it on the edge of a cliff and laze around taking in the silence of the valley. All of it finally happened. Partner in crime - a Triumph Tiger 800 XRx. It joins the Daytona 675 and the RC390 in my garage and fills into the void that Fiona (my Ninja 650) left after I traded in the sport-tourer for the 675cc supersport.
I was contemplating between the Versys 650 and the Tiger XR. They are in two different price segments altogether but essentially serve the same purpose. The Kwacker certainly offered more value for the money, but I wasn't entirely happy with its dynamics and braking despite the inclusion of ABS. The Tiger is significantly better at both. Also, I'm not ignorant to the benefits of electronic aids like traction control on our roads, and that extra kit made the Triumph more attractive. In fact, the Tiger XRx I have procured isn't a brand-new motorcycle and is therefore only marginally pricier than a brand-new XR. Choosing the higher variant got me riding modes, two 12V sockets and programmable ABS -- all of which made a lot of difference in Ladakh -- but more on that later.
This bike had done around 10,000-odd kilometres, but that number was only evident on the odometer, the price and the tyres. The bike was still running the original set of Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres that it shipped with, and despite the wear it looked like they would do the Ladakh trip before giving up. So far, it's all good. Before my trip, I got the bike serviced from the skilled blokes at Shaman Triumph in Mumbai. The unscheduled service cost me around Rs 5,000 and just to be on the safer side, I changed the rear brake pads, which cost me an additional Rs 2,500.
I'm calling it 'Wall-E' and the name comes from the bike's ability and eagerness to explore - be it in the wilderness or the concrete jungles. Hope I find enough time to complement that eagerness. For now, it's time for a quick omelette and daal-chawal and a rapid descent to civilisation, before the snowfall kicks in.
Date acquired: Aug 2016
Inducted at: 10,200km
Total mileage: 13,346km
Fuel: 132 litres