It had been a while since I was itching to go for a ride. A proper long and arduous ride to the mountains to scratch that itch and to soothe my soul. To my luck, I got a call from xBhp and they asked me to be a CEAT xPlorer!
I sort of lost my mind during the call but I was sane enough to be able to answer when they asked me where I planned to ride to. Munsiyari had been on my mind for a while and my Interceptor 650 resonated with my thoughts as well. I could almost feel it revving in joy when I shared my plans with her.
But before we could start, my Interceptor 650 was desperately in need of new tyres. Thanks to CEAT, I got exactly what I was looking for. On the day the ride was supposed to begin, I went to the CEAT Shoppe in my city to get the tyres fitted. The tyres were CEAT ZOOM CRUZ that are also the OEM tyres for the Interceptor 650 now.
100/90/18 at the front and 130/70/18 at the rear and I was ready to roll! The CEAT Shoppe experience was a great one too as the personnel at the shop knew what they were doing and in no time, my Interceptor 650 was looking pretty and ready to go with her new shoes.
Even before I could ever 100 km or so to break the tyres in, I could feel the increased traction and grip I was getting from both the front and the rear end. Immediately, I was more confident to deal with the twists and turns and the rugged terrains of the mountains. So, I had my luggage packed and mounted, I was ready with my gear, and it was time to go.
Lucknow to Munsiyari is a distance of around 560 km and during this distance, you can count on encountering all the diversity in the terrain that you need to test yourself, your motorcycle, and your tyres. The beginning of my ride wasn’t too easy either as the day I started, the sun had decided to stay hidden. It was quite cold and got me thinking about what it was going to be like in the mountains.
Anyway, as the day went on, things improved and the temperature became a little more bearable. It did not take me long to reach Sitapur and it was an enjoyable experience till now. On the highways, the CEAT ZOOM CRUZ tyres performed beyond my expectations. The stability, the grip under braking, the traction under hard acceleration- everything was on point and I was completely satisfied.
After reaching Sitapur, I already expected to deal with some bad roads. I am not a mystic or a seer and yet, my prediction was spot on. Why? Because it has always been this way. Anyway, you deal with whatever is thrown at you. That’s the part and parcel of motorcycling. Moving on, from the Lucknow-Shahjahanpur road onwards, you have a choice to either take the inner road or the outer periphery road.
I went with the outer periphery road as despite the distance being slightly more, it is better built and less congested too. And since I was enjoying the performance of both the bike and the tyres, I only cared about the experience and not the distance. It is after this part that the real fun was about to begin. As I inched closed to Pilibhit, the boring straight roads were starting to give way to infinitely more fun twisties.
I like riding in the twisties because they keep you engaged and engrossed. Corners are where you feel the much-talked-about oneness with the motorcycle. Riding through Pilibhit Tiger Reserve was a lot of fun because the roads are nice and the views are breathtaking. Since the tyres were new for me, I started my cornering madness with a little caution.
To my surprise, I quickly found out that I could really easily push the motorcycle further and further into the corners and the tyres just did not seem to run out of performance. I had phenomenal grip even when the bike was fairly leaned over and accelerating out of a corner. Now one can tell why the Interceptor 650 comes with CEAT ZOOM CRUZ tyres- it is a match made in heaven!
As I stitched those corners together having a truckload of fun in the process, it was nearly dark and I had reached Champawat. I had done close to 400 km till now and Munisyari was still around 200 km away. In the mountains, that is around 6-7 hours of riding time. So, I decided to stay the night in Champawat and make my way to my destination the next day.
Champawat is a beautiful city and surprisingly, the warm sunlight welcomed the daybreak and it was not that cold. I thought Lucknow would be warm and the mountains would be cold. Instead, it was the other way around. Anyway, I had to reach Munsiyari today so I packed my stuff and got ready to ride out of Champawat.
Now, I have to tell you how wonderful the roads are for around 50% of the journey between Champawat and Munisyari. For around 100 km, you have at your disposal a smooth blacktop that snakes its way around the mountains. Generally, I do not expect mountains to have very good roads but this- this was heaven!
But you have to be wary. The roads may be stellar but some of the corners can be intense. Hairpins and decreasing radius corners are especially tricky. For the former, you have to have braked properly before entering the corner which is manageable to some extent but for the latter, some mid-corner speed-shaving may be needed. But if you ease yourself and your motorcycle into it and get a good grip from the tyres, it is an extremely enjoyable and gratifying experience.
This is where the CEAT ZOOM CRUZ tyres impressed me the most. It may have been a warm day but it was still chilly. And then, in the mountains, you cannot rely on riding hard to get your tyres up to temperature. These tyres though are warmed up and ready within a few km of riding and after that, they just grip whether you wring the throttle, chomp on the brakes, or drag your knees through the corners.
As my ride progressed, the temperature started to drop. I reached Pithoragarh but Munisyari was still around 120 km away. And this is where the troubles began. The roads from here on were in less than ideal condition as construction was going on in various places. And while that made things a little difficult, the scenic view of the mountains kept me engaged.
But the best, and the worst was yet to come. Best in terms of the views and worst in terms of the roads. The last 20 km to Munsiyari were absolutely diabolical. There were virtually no roads, large rocks lying around here and on top of that water-crossings too. I decided to saddle my way out of this mess but even that proved to be a challenge.
You see, en route Munsiyari, you have some steep climbs and some steep descents. Both of which are made worse by the lack of roads. It was so bad that whenever I took a halt, I simply thanked my bike and the tyres for keeping me safe. Lower gears while ascending and engine braking while descending is the call of the day when you are about to reach Munsiyari.
Good traction is paramount in conditions like that and the CEAT ZOOM CRUZ tyres provided me enough to reach Munisyari in one piece. By the time I reached Munsiyari, it was pitch dark and I was tired senseless. As beautiful as the place looked at night, I simply wanted to retire and get some sleep.
The next day, after some much-needed rest, I woke up to 0 degrees Celsius and a mesmerizing view. The plan for the day was to explore Munisyari for a bit and then heading to Khaliya Top- one of the most challenging treks that you can take up. And then, to Zero Point which some locals told me about.
The thing about this trek is that it is not only steep but also snowy along the way. It is hard to be surefooted and if you are not, it could spell disaster. But somehow, I made my way to the top and I could easily say that the hard work and the risk were worth it. The view from the top was simply breathtaking and if my soul wasn’t soothed by what I witnessed up to this point, the clouds that I could almost touch surely did.
After reaching Khaliya Dwar, I made my way back down and back to my hotel. During this CEAT xPlorer journey, I collected enough memories to last me a lifetime. Anyway, the trip was not over yet and the next day was an even bigger challenge, though in a different sense.
The challenge was that it was the 25th of January and I had an invite for a ride on the 26th of January. So the journey that I covered in two days, was to be done in one. But it had to be done and I was off. As expected, the progress was slow from Munisyari to Pithoragarh but from then on, I was able to amp it up and keep it that way till home.
I made it back to Lucknow at around 3 AM after around 18 hours of riding. In all this, I have to thank my Interceptor 650 for being up to the challenge and more importantly, to the CEAT ZOOM CRUZ tyres that took everything this ride could throw at them and came out on top. And so, my itch was scratched and my soul was soothed… till the next time!
Tyre Review: CEAT ZOOM CRUZ
When a motorcycle brand chooses an OEM tyre, they have to be careful. Tyres are a critical component of a motorcycle and they can make or break the riding experience. So when Royal Enfield decided to go for CEAT ZOOM CRUZ tyres for the Interceptor 650, I had no doubts about their performance. During the course of this journey, I found out that they were even better! On the highways, you get supreme stability and that’s crucial because the Interceptor 650 is capable of some serious pace. Moreover, the tyres are sturdy enough to bear the compression brunt of hard braking or immediate acceleration. So, they mitigate deformation that can compromise grip. The compound is also spot on because the amount of torque from the Interceptor 650’s twin-engine can degrade a tyre quickly. So while the compound is hard enough for longevity, it is also soft enough to provide impressive grip in corners. I did not get a chance to ride in the rain per se but I did encounter some wet patches. Because of their clever tread design, I can vouch for the CEAT ZOOM CRUZ in wet conditions as well. All in all, if you have an Interceptor 650 in need of new shoes, these are the ones you must get.