India finally has some good cross country roads that could be ridden on from state to state. A lack of good roads, as well as good motorcycles, meant that long distancing touring was only done by a select few ultra enthusiasts who were ready to risk their lives on the Indian roads. Now however with improvement in road infrastructure and availability of budget touring motorcycle means that anyone with Rs 3 lakhs and a decent riding experience could do it. In this article, we will look at the best long-distance cruiser motorcycles in the country at the moment.
Royal Enfield Himalayan
The Himalayan is a purpose-made motorcycle for offroading- something that is not very prevalent in India as a culture as it’s in the west. The upside for this however is that we get a motorcycle that is best suited to our uneven roads. The Himalayan has a long suspension travel that makes the ride plush even on bad roads. It also has a wind deflator which is a must on speeds above 80kmph. A good luggage carrying setup with a 15L fuel tank makes it the best long-distance tourer in India.
Power : 24.3 bhp, 32 NM, 411 CC Single
Price: Rs 1,91, 000
BMW G310 GS
The G310 GS made by BMW is among the best quality motorcycle in its price range. It has all the tools that a tourer needs such as an 11L tank, luggage racks, long suspension travel and good headlights. The price is a bit on the expensive side but if money is not that big of an issue, BMW G310 GS is a top long-distance tourer in the country.
Power: 33.5 bhp, 28 NM, 313 CC Single
Price: Rs 2,85,000
KTM Duke 250/390 Adventure
KTM enjoys a cult-like following among motorcycle enthusiasts in India. They have transformed the whole motorcycling landscape of the country with their KTM Duke 200. With the Duke 390 Adventure, KTM is trying to have a shot at the market share of Royal Enfield and have found some success. The 390 Adventure has not set the country on fire as the Duke 200 did, but it is certainly a decent disrupter in this segment.
Power (390): 42.3 bhp, 37 NM, 373 Single (390 adv),
Power(250): 29.5 bhp, 24 NM, 248 Single
Price(390): Rs 3,04,000
Price(250): Rs 2,48,000
Royal Enfield Meteor
The newly launched Royal Enfield Meteor is the best cruiser currently sold in India, but that is all on paper. The motorcycle is still new and it is still to be seen how it fares in the long run. Remember the first-gen Himalayan? It was plagued with all sorts of issues when it was launched. Now however all those problems have been rectified and the current-gen Himalayan is among the best bikes on Indian roads.
Meteor has the potential to be the best long-distance motorcycle under Rs 5 Lakhs if it remains vibration free for a long time. This motorcycle is not very different from the Thunderbird 350, a cruiser that did not sell in as many numbers as Royal Enfield expected. The only reason for it being its migraine-inducing motor. The bike had perfect geometry for a laid back long-distance cruiser but it was failed by an engine that didn’t produce much power on top of being full of vibrations. The Thunderbird 350 vibrated so much that it was impossible to see in its mirrors. If the Meteor rectifies all those problems it has a sure shot on glory.
Power: 20.2 bhp, 27 NM, 349 Single
Price: Rs 1,75, 755
Honda has jumped into the retro-styled motorcycle segment in India with its Honda H’ness. Not only will this move provide the Indian motorcycle enthusiasts with more options but also push the other companies to up their game. The Honda H’ness despite a slightly weird name is a very classy looking motorcycle. The marriage of a retro design and modern technology seems to work the best in the case of H’ness. This motorcycle is fairly new and we cannot keep it at the top without it going through at least a year of Indian roads.
Power: 20.78 bhp, 30 NM, 348 Single
Price: Rs 1,96,000
Jawa made a huge comeback in 2018 with its 3 new bikes. All three the Jawa, 42 and Perak and aimed at rekindling today’s youth with old school nostalgia. Though it hasn’t set the Indian motorcycling scene on fire it has indeed found a special niche among Indians. This motorcycle has a really good riding geometry, something that is very important for long-distance touring.
Power: 27 bhp, 28 NM, 293 CC Single
Price: Rs 1,62,000
Benelli the Chinese Italian motorcycle brand is among the most confused motorcycle companies in the country. You could never be sure if Benelli is a good motorcycle brand or a bad one. Some of its bikes like the TNT 600 and the TNT 300 have the sweetest sounding inline fours and twin cylinders around. But the company seems to always be in financial turmoil. You never know when the company decides to shut down and leave the country. Under new management, Benelli has opened up again and launched the Imperiale 400. It is a retro bike but the riding geometry makes it usable for a long-distance trip.
Power: 20.7 bhp, 29 NM, 374 CC Single
Price: Rs 1,99, 427
Royal Enfield Classic / Bullet
The Bullet is the motorcycle that started it all. Being produced since 1931 the Bullet 350 was the motorcycle of choice for whoever wanted to go a long distance in India. It has a big engine, the ability to go over bad roads and a good riding posture, making it the go-to among our elders. The fact that there were very few motorcycles like it was also a big reason for its success. It gave birth to the classic 350 in 2009 which has a similar design, engine and everything else. It’s just the younger flashier brother to the BUllet 350. It is still a good motorcycle for a long-distance tour, but the arrival of newer and better options move it down the pecking order.
Power: 19.1 bhp, 28 NM, 346 CC Single
Price: Rs 1, 61,650 (Classic 350), Rs 1,26, 900 (Bullet 350)