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Royal Enfield to set out for the South Pole

Two Himalayan bikes will take on the daunting expedition

Royal Enfield wants to go to the South Pole to prove that its bikes are durable. PHOTO FROM ROYAL ENFIELD

Despite its unassuming nature, the plucky Royal Enfield Himalayan has gained a loyal following among adventure riders who value its rugged simplicity and can-do attitude. This year, as part of the brand’s 120-year anniversary celebration, a pair of riders will attempt to reach the South Pole using the Himalayan.

While it will be a daunting undertaking, Royal Enfield is no stranger to challenging terrain. Its bikes have reached the Mount Everest base camp in Tibet, crossed the inaccessible mountain pass at Daulat Beg Oldi, Karakoram, and rode across the desert at Kutch, India.

The Himalayan units will have plenty of modifications to survive the cold. PHOTO FROM ROYAL ENFIELD

This November, the company will attempt a motorcycling expedition to reach the geographic South Pole from the Ross Ice Shelf via the Leverett Glacier in Antarctica. Dubbed 900 South-Quest for the Pole, it is a tribute to the brand’s commitment to pure motorcycling, and to the courage of numerous riders and explorers who have made history with their journeys.

The trip will start from Cape Town, South Africa on November 21. It will be led by two company employees: executive Santhosh Vijay Kumar and engineer Dean Coxson. It will be conducted in close partnership with Arctic Trucks, a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators and renowned for its expertise, having covered over 3,500,000km on the Antarctic Plateau.

The expedition will use two Himalayans that have been modified for subzero temperatures. Testing for the bikes was conducted at the Langjokull ice cap in Iceland. Some of the changes to the Himalayan include a smaller 13-tooth main drive sprocket, a tubeless wheel setup with studded tires that can be run at very low pressures, and a stronger alternator using rare-earth magnets to produce more current and run heated gear off the battery. The bikes will be ridden on a compacted snow track in order to reduce drag and limit emissions.

The riders will also have to prepare mentally and physically for the grueling journey. PHOTOS FROM ROYAL ENFIELD

Speaking about the milestone year for Royal Enfield and the expedition attempt, Siddhartha Lal, managing director of Eicher Motors Limited, said “120 years is a long legacy for the brand, and we are very happy to have made it count. Over these years, we have created and nurtured a thriving culture of riding and exploration around the world. This pursuit of exploration has been a quintessential part of our DNA, and 90° South is another chapter in our series of extraordinary, epic motorcycling rides. In the past, rides like Himalayan Odyssey have paved the way for motorcycling adventure in the Himalayas and an epic expedition like this to the South Pole will further inspire people to become adventurers again. A test of endurance and perseverance for man and machine, this expedition is the first of its kind attempt to traverse the 770km long route to the South Pole on a motorcycle.”

Andy Leuterio

Andy is both an avid cyclist and a car enthusiast who has finally made the shift to motorcycles. You've probably seen him on his bicycle or motorbike overtaking your crawling car. He is our Motorcycle Editor and the author of the ‘Quickshift’ column.