It is said that “The wild is suited in the wilderness & infants in the lap of their mothers.” Likewise, to a biker, the open highways, the gusting winds and the roar of the engine is their natural habitat rather than being imprisoned within the four walls of a house! The ongoing pandemic has jolted the entire world and sent us all back indoors with the lockdown, which has lasted for three months straight.
Now that the ‘Unlock’ has begun, many have started to venture out, mainly for essential activities. Some of us who are used to riding our two-wheeler for leisure, have been longing to return to the saddle. The ‘Unlock 3.0’ had me wondering, “Why shouldn’t I also have a piece of the pie?”
I got myself back on the saddle of my beast which had been waiting to be unleashed for the past 5 months in my garage. As always, thanks to xBhp and team for yet another ride. While I have tried quite a few set of tyres on my KTM RC 390, I went with CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 radial tyres this time as I had heard quite a lot about their all-round performance
Bike Prep – Optimus was already at the service centre after 5 longs months and Optimus was waiting to be uncaged to rule the roads with the CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 tyres on it.
Total Distance Covered – ~1,000kms
Also, for some fluid visuals, here’s the vlog of this ride:
Day 1: Kolkata – Chandipur – Talsari – Mandarmani
After 5 long and arduous months, I was about to load the saddle and get a taste of that sweet biker rush. Although the initial 7 am target was delayed to 8:30 am due to a shoot, I didn’t let the derailment get in the way of my excitement. Now let me shamelessly tell you that in the first 50kms, I was unbearably cranky. My body had gotten too used to the lazy lockdown routine and riding Optimus wasn’t easy especially after so long, with my inner voice chiding me, “Sagar, you are getting old! You won’t be able to ride Optimus.”
It was daunting at first, with doubts creeping up but they vanished as soon as the city roads did. The beautiful highway and the lavish green scenery made me realise I just needed a little visual motivation. Soon, I started cruising at good speeds and the tyres, CEAT ZOOM RAD X1, put me in a good mood. They were absolutely terrific on the highways. On highway speeds, you need stability and reassurance from your tyres and the tyres had plenty of that to give.
Here’s a little something about the benefits of using radial tyres. First and foremost, radial tyres have an overall tougher construction which makes them durable. Also, radial construction insures that the sidewall flexes, which makes for a smoother ride, but that flex does not deform the tyre which ensures a steady and consistent contact patch. Radial tyres also have a wider footprint which not only ensures more grip, it also translates to power being efficiently put down on the ground. All that said, I can confidently say that CEAT radial bike tyres are one of the best tyres for RC 390.
In virtually no time, we reached Panskura where Renove (David), a brother from the riding fraternity, was waiting for me with a much-needed GoPro mount, thanks to which, I was able to vlog the entire ride. After a quick breakfast with him, I rolled on towards Chandipur, Odisha.
Now before entering Kharagpur city, there is a beautiful flyover with some wonderful corners, so we got to test the tyres again through the corners. I was slightly wary at first because new tyres take some time and a little wear and tear before they are fully road-ready but to my pleasant surprise, these tyres did not need a lot of time to settle in. I could ditch the Driving Miss Daisy for Fast and Furious.
It was about 2:30 pm, and before I could realize, we were already in Odisha. People who have traversed these roads will connect with me when I use the term greenery- these roads have stunning views of green flora on either side. Being an off-road maniac, as soon as I spotted a patch for a short off-road spin, I went for it but that impulsive action came with a lesson which I learned the hard way, of course!
Biker tip time! The clay on the ground here can be tricky- from the top it will look dry, but as soon as you take that leap of faith, it will get stuck in your tyres, begging to come along for the ride. What was supposed to be a quick detour ended up costing me a lot more time. The wet clay, due to the front mud flap of an RC being very close to the tyres, got stuck like cement, jamming the front tyre. Thanks to some locals, I was able to get my bike out unscratched.
In addition to this little adventure, I encountered a lot of stretches that were more off-road than road with rain making it worse. But the tyres held their own even in conditions like those. And because of the confidence inspired by the tyres, mud, slush or patches of broken tarmac, there was nothing that could stop us!
After a well-deserved, extended non-lunch break, I soon hit the road again and reached Chandipur. With a quick photography session involving me and Optimus, I straight away started for Talsari and it was already early evening. People close to me know of my admiration for sunsets and the need to capture that through my photography. A lot more photos were added to my personal folder that day.
As I headed towards Talsari, I got a call from a friend informing me that the very next day was a complete lockdown day for West Bengal. It was quite a setback to my earlier plan of entering Bengal the next day through Mandarmani. I made a quick stop and did a reroute of the entire plan. Without much options left, I started for Mandarmani, knowing that I was about to waste one whole day because of the lockdown.
Reaching by 10:30 pm, as soon as I checked in, I took a quick shower and made a bee-line for the beach. Not a lot of people know this but I love the sea and after a rather eventful day, I really needed something as calm and serene as that. Quite apt for someone named Sagar, eh?
Gazing through the night sky and the sound of the water splashing from the waves just worked some magic, my mood was fixed, and the day ended on a good note.
CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 Tyre Review
As a testament to that, the tyres are rated H (for speed) and therefore, they can handle speeds up to 210 km/h, much higher than what is achievable by the motorcycles in the segment. The compound used ensures that the tyres get up to the temperature really quick and the ease with which these tyres deal with corners is unbelievable.
In wet conditions as well, the tyres are more than up to the task of providing similar performance. Overall, CEAT Zoom RAD X1s are one of the best tyres for KTM. And I say KTM and not KTM RC 390 because these tyres are suitable for all the Dukes (125, 250, and 390) and for the RCs (RC 200 and RC 390). You can know more about these tyres here.
Day 2: Mandarmani
Owing to the midnight adventure, I slept in till late in the morning. Didn’t matter much as we weren’t even allowed out of the hotel. However, I made up my mind and refused to waste even a single precious day. With a few calls to get the permissions rolling, by evening 4 pm I was cleared for a shoot at the beach.
And my Lord, what a shoot it was! A beautiful sunset and some wonderful sea waves worked in tandem and all the frustration dissipated. I was riding on the sea bed, tearing the waves apart and the child in me just kicked in. Just to be clear, all shoots were done taking full safety precautions in mind and with proper permission from the authorities.
All too soon it was dark but I made the best of that too and with that, I wrapped up the shoot. Sitting by the beachside, all I could do was marvel at God’s creation with my eyes if not the camera’s. Now, the biggest task was to decide the next destination. The initial plan was to ride to Joypur forest, stay a night there, and ride back to Kolkata the next day with some shoots on the way.
But where’s the fun in following the plan? I heard about this place called Belpahari, which not only has forest ranges, but some beautiful off-road sections, and it doesn’t take more than that to lure me. Belpahari it was, for the next and final day.
Day 3: Mandarmani – Belpahari – Kolkata
Given the long riding day ahead, I started out early to ensure I don’t have to cut back on the shooting time. I had to empty the fuel tank and fill up the camera. The entire ride for the day was mostly through single- lane, beautiful, scenic village roads. Just as I was beginning to enjoy myself again, black clouds with thunderstorms rained all over.
I reached Kharagpur by 1 pm and then started the superb six-lane road which goes till Mumbai. I was able to cruise at some good speeds and test the tyre limits again, this time in wet conditions. I’ve used a lot of tyres for my bike but to be very frank, I was never happy with the wet sections on any of those. To my surprise, the CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 tyres were nothing like that. Not once in the entire ride did I doubt the tyres or felt that they weren’t good enough.
We reached the Jharkhand border and had to refuel. There were no petrol pumps for the last 20 odd kms on the West Bengal side, so I had to enter Jharkhand just to get refuelled and boy, did this turn out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.
Rough off-roading and riding through slush with Optimus is when I’m at my happiest and it was a tad better than that. I got some wonderful photos too, probably the best bunch of the ride. After a quick lunch at a roadside Dhaba, I hopped onto the bike and started for Belpahari which was 50kms away and the last destination for this ride.
I rode through some beautiful village roads again, the conditions of which were pure bliss to ride on. Reaching by 5 pm, I was delighted to know that Belpahari turned out to be every bit the joy I expected it to be and the next hour was fully utilised in shooting and soaking in the beauty of the place.
It was 6:30 pm when I started for home, which was still 230 kms away. Night riding is certainly something I am not comfortable with but with a cautious riding style and good tyres that I trusted, it wasn’t so bad. I was home by 11 pm and was welcomed by my 16 month- old daughter (Bebo) waiting for me eagerly at the parking. What better sight to come home to!
This is where this ride ends but as I always say, there is no end to travelling and exploring It just starts where it ends. So many more rides are coming up and stay tuned for more!