Can a novice motorbike rider take on the roads in Ladakh?

#1 Jul 31st, 2017, 00:32
Join Date:
Jul 2017
  • glow1984 is offline
Specifically, I'm still pretty new in riding motorbikes, but I have a proper license and enough training. I'm planning many trips from Leh to Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Nubra Valley, either by bus or taxi. One option though may be renting a motorbike from Leh.

Does anyone have experience doing this journey and can give me an idea if any of these 3 destinations are actually possible by a novice rider (decent roads, not too winding etc)?
#2 Jul 31st, 2017, 01:56
Join Date:
Dec 2008
In the land of awesomeness
  • aarosh is offline
Why not see a few videos on YouTube to see how the road conditions are like and then decide.

I would not try to do it if I had recently learned how to ride a bike.
#3 Jul 31st, 2017, 02:01
Join Date:
Jun 2007
  • captain bruce is offline

The roads are a lot better tarmacked than they were and there are a lot of bikers up there but given bends/slopes etc I wouldn't do it unless you are confident.

should answer most queries
#4 Jul 31st, 2017, 04:12
Join Date:
Jun 2008
Wales UK
  • Mike Cork is offline

This is not the place to ride as a novice rider. There are still many sections of road that are no more than rocks mud and river crossings. Experience is necessary.
Faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death... (Hunter S. Thompson)
#5 Jul 31st, 2017, 04:53
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Sep 2005
White Plains, New York
  • nadreg is offline
Looks like you have a resounding No!
It's always darkest before it goes completely black.
#6 Jul 31st, 2017, 17:04
Join Date:
Feb 2009
Bangalore, India
  • amitmanikoth is offline


Oh man, no!

I've done Ladakh on my motorbike twice, once in 2007 and again last year. It's challenging enough after riding for a long time. As a new rider, please no.

Apart from the terrain and the altitude, if you're going to be renting a bike do you know enough about bikes yet to figure out if the bike you're renting is in good shape? Do you know enough yet to figure out what to do if your bike stalls suddenly in the middle of the More Plains with no one else around for kilometers?

Rentals are usually abused by riders and those in Ladakh are abused even more. I was hanging out at Tashi's (he's one of the established Bullet mechanics in Leh) last July, getting my bike serviced after riding down from Delhi and before going on to Pangong and Khardung. A couple of rentals were there for parts replacement and the horror stories I heard about how customers used the bikes from the owners were enough to put me off renting a bike anywhere in Ladakh!

Not trying to discourage you by any means. The Ladakh circuit is one of the most rewarding trips for any motorcyclist. Just take your time and get some more riding experience before attempting it.
#7 Aug 1st, 2017, 00:02
Join Date:
Jul 2017
  • glow1984 is offline
Thanks for the advice everyone. I hear your concerns, and I agree too. Looks like I'll have to find some taxis to share when I'm there:-)
#8 Aug 5th, 2017, 06:02
Join Date:
Mar 2011
Wyoming, US
  • WyoFly is offline


I had never touched a motorcycle except in India.

Did a few short rentals and then the next year bought a Yamaha FZ and have been traveling by bike only ever since.

56,000km so far from Himalayas to Kanyakumari back and forth many times and most everywhere in between.

The basic issue is shifting ones mindset to match to Indian driving methods
#9 Aug 5th, 2017, 06:29
Join Date:
Sep 2009
melbourne australia
  • redninja is offline
If you really want to ride, even for a novice, do it with an organised tour group.
A support vehicle full of tools, mechanic to sort your problems, even a spare rider to ride your bike if the going gets tough or you get tired.
Having lots of time is very advantageous when touring in the mountains, rent a bike in Leh and ride around town and small day trips whilst you get to know your bike, will enable you to sort out any potential mechanical problems, get a bit of a feeling for the road conditions and general acclimatizations.
If you plan your trip in high season, breaking down in remote areas is not such a problem as someone will eventually come along to help you out.
The two most important things apart from a reliable bike and riding skills is Time and money -- or at least have lots of spare time and enough money, then the mountains can become your friend.
#10 Oct 23rd, 2017, 00:34
Join Date:
Apr 2012
  • enjoythetrip is offline
You can make a informed decision on your own by making a dry run when you reach leh. Rent out the bike after acclimitization for a day and then decide for yourself.

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