Should you bring your own bike to Ladakh or is it better to rent one? If this is one of the questions you have in mind about your upcoming Ladakh trip, then let me jot down a few points that you should consider before making a decision. Both of the situations have their own pros and cons and can be beneficial under different circumstances. The main deciding factors due to which people rent bike for Leh Ladakh Trip are cost and time but there can be others as well.
Ladakh is commonly referred to as a Biker’s paradise and quite rightly so. There are of course other modes of transport available as well but nothing compares to the joy of a motorcycle ride to Ladakh. The entire journey becomes an experience in itself; one that you are bound to cherish for years to come.
On any given day, bringing your own motorcycle for the ride is the preferred choice. The reason behind this is pretty simple. It is your own motorcycle and you are familiar with its pulse. You know its shortcomings and can get those taken care of specifically before the ride.
Self-Owned Bikes for Ladakh Trip
The biggest factor is that you will be riding on tough terrain and knowing the machine here helps a lot. I think everyone will agree to the fact that it takes a couple of days at least before you actually get well versed before riding a new motorcycle.
Another factor is of the condition of motorcycles available on rent. I am not saying that they are all in terrible state though. Depending on which rental you got the bike from, some of these can even be in a mint condition.
The fact however can still not be denied that most of these motorcycles are badly used by multiple people and always on steep and tough roads of Ladakh. There is no telling about the actual condition of the bike. They will all be properly washed and cleaned to give an upper image of a reliable motorcycle; but you cannot be sure of its engine performance until you start riding it.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh
Last but not the least is the cost factor. Depending on which motorcycle you chose, you will end up paying a daily rental of Rs. 1500 – 2500 per day. This will definitely cost you more than the total cost incurred if you brought your own bike.
Then there is also the hassle of returning it. If you rented a bike from Manali, you will have to bring it to Manali to return. If you left it at some other place, it will cost you another roughly Rs. 15000 more. This also becomes a problem while drafting your itinerary because then you are bound circle back to the same place and cannot exit via another route.
When to Rent Bike for Leh Ladakh Trip?
With the above being said, renting motorcycles is not really all that terrible either. It definitely has its own advantages as well and if you chose the bike right, the overall experience can really be a pleasant one. It can also save you a lot of time and hassle.
There can be a few situations when renting a bike will be much easier a task than bringing your own vehicle. Let me run down a few reasons.
I think this one goes without saying but still thought to add it here. If you do not own a motorcycle, do not even want to own one but want to ride one to Ladakh then what do you do? Do you buy a new motorcycle just for the trip? No, you rent one.
Distance and Time to reach Ladakh
This is the biggest reason when you should seriously consider renting a bike for the Ladakh trip. For people living in the northern part of India, it is a bit easier to kick start your motorcycle and start riding to Ladakh.
For people living in other parts of the country, a bike ride from home means riding for several days in the plains before you finally get to Ladakh. This may get boring, will be time-consuming, and add further cost to the trip.
To avoid this hassle, you can reach either Srinagar, Manali, or even Leh by other modes of transport and rent a bike there for the trip.
Also read: How to Obtain Inner Line Permit for Ladakh
Transporting the Motorcycle
If you were living far off, then a choice can be to transport your personal motorcycle by either train or personal movers and packers. This will again mean the hassle of making all those arrangements both while going to Ladakh and returning home. This also to some extent runs the risk of possible damage to the machine which can be avoided if you rented one.
Under-powered or Old Motorcycle
Do you own a 100CC motorcycle that already has over 50,00 kilometers on the odometer? Do you have a bike that you have been using for the last 12-13 years? Are you not really confident that your machine can last the trip? If the answer to either of these questions is yes then you are better off leaving your bike at home and renting one.
Short on Time
Do you want to ride to Ladakh but only have 4-5 days in hand? If this is the case then you do not really have time to ride your own bike from Leh. Your only option is to reach Leh by Air and rent a bike there for the trip.
Not Confident of your Riding Skills
I know, this will be the case even if you rented a bike. But if you were not sure of your riding skills but eager on a bike trip, then a way around this is to reach Leh directly by Air or other means of transport. Once you are there, you can rent a motorcycle and take a short ride to judge your riding skills. If you are confident, then rent the motorcycle for the entire sightseeing there.
How to rent a Bike for Ladakh Trip
Depending on your itinerary, you can rent a motorcycle from Manali, Leh, or Srinagar. As a ground rule, do not book the motorcycle in advance anywhere. Just reach your destination first. Ask around, take a look at a few motorcycles, go for a test ride and only rent it on the spot after you are sure of the bike.
No matter where you rent it from, ride the motorcycle around in the town before taking it to the hills. Check the condition of the chainset and ensure it is not worn out. If the motorcycle is electric start, try bringing it to life a couple of times, and ensure that it doesn’t cough or give trouble when you press the start switch.
If it is kick start, ensure that there is no starting problem, and the motorcycle is a single or at most two kick start. Check the condition of the tires if they are worn out. Sit down on the motorcycle to check that the seats are comfortable enough.
Do a thorough inspection of the motorcycle for any oil leakage, either from the engine or front shock absorbers. Check that the headlamp is bright enough and get it replaced if it is not. Also, check the tail light and that both the indicators are in working condition.
Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Ladakh with Children
Once you have decided to rent the bike, take photos of each and every part of the bike and some close-up ones as well. You are doing this to make sure that any existing damage to the bike cannot be later blamed on you. There have been instances where the rental agency refused that there was any damage to the bike previously and hassled the tourists to pay more. After you have taken the photographs, send them to the rental agency as well. Do not just keep them on your own phone.
When to Rent Bike for Leh Ladakh Trip – Conclusion
Without any doubt, a self-owned motorcycle will always win hands down because it will always be more maintained and better performing than a rental one. If you do not mind riding in the plains for a few days or the additional hassle or cost of transporting your bike, then, by all means, you must bring your own bike to Ladakh.
But if there are any of the above-mentioned reasons involved, then you must choose to rent a bike. I hope this information on when to rent bike for Leh Ladakh trip was of help. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum, and I will be glad to answer.