Thrills

These Bikes Go the Distance, Where Others Refuse

What kind of bikes do you need to journey across the world? TheVibe asked an expert cross-continent biker to find out. The world of motorbikes is vibrant and fascinating. There are bikes that can handle rough terrain and those which can glide over sleet and snow. Some bikes make you feel like you’re testing the limits of speed itself. But cross-continent biking is a game that can toss toughest contenders straight out the ring.

Rather than rely on hearsay and conjecture, TheVibe decided to ask Jay Kannaiyan about five bikes he’s used on his travels around the world. Here’s what he had to say:

SANDRINA, 1998 SUZUKI DR650

This was the bike that I rode on my journey from the US to India, and she’s still running strong. The DR650 is a very capable off-road bike so it can handle rough terrain, but it can also cruise at 100 mph on the highways, and that’s enough.

It’s a very simple bike, to maintain by yourself, without too many electronic parts. I spent a few years learning about the DR before setting off on the journey.

I bought her used with 20,000 km already on the dial and put on another 100,000 km. She’s just a machine and with proper and regular care, she’ll keep on thumping along.

MYRA, 2004 SUZUKI GSX-R600

This was my first sports bike that I travelled on around the US and also did track days with. It’s a race-replica bike, but I put 80,000 km on Myra in four years.

It was heavenly to have such a precise motorcycle for the twisty roads of the Rockies, and surprisingly she was comfortable enough for the highway.

It goes to show that it doesn’t matter what bike you have – you can travel on anything.

NADYA, 2003 ROYAL ENFIELD BULLET MACHISMO 500

Dressed in Desert Storm livery; this bike was perfect for the expedition from Delhi heading through the Northeast and then onwards across Myanmar and into Thailand and Laos. It felt very royal indeed when we thundered through these small villages and struck awe in the locals who were amazed to see the legendary Royal Enfield.

Nadya was a kick start and kick-starting a 500cc bike is like trying to tame a bull. One wrong move and she kicked me back! I felt very proud to be one of the first to ride a Royal Enfield out of India and into South-East Asia.

KASI, 2008 KAWASAKI KLR 650

When I went back to Kenya with a tour group in tow, we rode the indomitable KLR650. My bike, Kasi, was all black, and as we railed on the dirt roads heading to the Masai Mara she got well covered in brown dust.

The KLR is an excellent Dual Sport motorcycle, just like the DR650. However, I feel the KLR is set up a little softer on the brakes and suspension – which means she’s a very forgiving bike in the rough stuff.

She won’t buck you off, and she’ll keep chugging onward. Everyone in our group fell in love with the KLR at the end of the trip.

CANZAM, 2012 HONDA CRF250

I picked up Canzam in Laos, and we rode from Luang Prabang in the north to Phonsavan in the east, down to Vientiane. The CRF250 is easily available in South-East Asia, and I think it would be a perfect bike for India. It has enough grunt for the highway, and with its large front wheel, it’s a great setup for bumpy and off-road riding. Canzam is also quite the looker, a beautifully designed bike.

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