And just like that, another ride is done. What’s amazing about motorcycling is that while riding, minutes, hours, and days pass in a matter of seconds. It has the power to bend time within your mind and perhaps that is why it is so calming. I took up this ride for xBhp and their #CEATxPlorer program. I wanted to ride with them during the #roadTripUnited2021 but missed out due to COVID-19 restrictions. But I am glad that I got to make up for that with this ride.
Travelling was predictably short in the recent past because of the pandemic and the restrictions that followed. But now that things are looking up, it is time to get back to doing what I love again. I own a 2018 KTM 250 Duke which is the steed for most of my rides including this one. But it was in dire need of new tyres. Even more so, because mine is a non-ABS model and therefore, I always need my bike tyres to be in top working order.
For this ride, CEAT sent me their Zoom Rad X1 tyres and I have heard a lot of good things about them. As expected, they did not disappoint but more on that later. My destination for this ride? The Queen of Western Ghats- Ooty. It is a fantastic place to ride not only because of the beauty of the place but also the journey. The serpentine roads are a treat for any biker worth their salt and the connection with nature that one can establish in Ooty is barely possible anywhere else in the region.
So, the destination was decided and it was time to get the tyres installed. I got it done at the CEAT Shoppe near my home. The CEAT Zoom RAD X1s were a perfect match for the KTM 250 Duke tyre size as well. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive of the wet grip that the tyres had on offer because of the tread pattern. It was an important metric since I was expecting a decent amount of rain on this ride. So I decided to give them a go before the ride to scrub the tyres in as well.
Before setting out on this ride, I rode on CEAT Zoom Rad X1 tyres for around 100 km. I am someone who is not big on cornering unless I have complete faith in the bike and the tyres. And trust me on this, these tyres will give you just that and then some. Even during the run-in of the tyres, I could feel how good the tyres were in both wet and dry conditions.
Now that everything was in place, it was time to start the ride. My ride started from my hometown, Arakkonam. For every ride, I like to start early in the morning and it was the same for this one. I was saddled up and ready to go at 5 AM. The route I had planned was to take me from Arakkonam to Ooty via Vellore, Krishnagiri, Salem, and Mettupalayam. Since my town does not have petrol bunks open at 5 AM, I had refuelled my bike the previous day and got the chain lubed as well.
My destination, Ooty, was around 500 km away which translates to around 11 hours of riding time. For the most part, the route consisted of highways which meant less traffic but more trucks, lorries and heavy vehicles. Regardless, the ride was beautiful and more so because of the greenery that takes over during the monsoon season.
I planned to reach Krishnagiri by 6:30 or 7 in the morning where my first break was planned. But only after riding 60 km, I decided to take a coffee break which somehow got extended to an hour. So, it was already 6:30 and I was nowhere near Krishnagiri. It happens to me all the time. But then, I needed the caffeine to stay sharper and more focused.
Krishnagiri was around 120 km away from here and since I was ready to roll now, I decided to maintain a decent pace to reach Krishnagiri as soon as possible. I was also buoyed by the confidence that the Zoom Rad X1 tyres instilled in me. I already felt an improvement over my previous set of tyres. This was in the dry conditions though and the weather had a surprise ready for me soon.
Since it was monsoon, I expected rain and had my rain gear with me. Seeing some clouds gathering up, I decided to take a quick halt to equip my rain riding gear. After covering around 80 more km, it happened. The rain showed up and though it was moderate, wet roads can still be a challenge for motorcyclists. Again, the intelligently designed fluid treads in the tyres showed their prowess in the rain. And so, after getting used to their mannerisms, I could push the pace progressively.
While the ride to Ooty is picturesque, there is one thing that every rider needs to be wary of- animals. The roads are generally well-built and that is why one tends to up the pace significantly and that is where animals crossing the road can be a nightmare for riders. During this ride, it happened to me twice and it was full-on panic braking. Riding without ABS has wired me to be good with the brakes but that does not take anything away from the phenomenal grip that these tyres provide. It was even more surprising considering the tyres were only run for 170 km up to this point.
So all in all, my ride to Krishnagiri was a happening one. After a short break in Krishnagiri, I decided to keep moving as Ooty was still waiting for me. During the 55 km of Ghats that I rode on my way to Ooty, I took a lot of breaks. The place was just so majestic that every bend seemed like a photo opportunity. And needless to say, I capitalized on them all.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was sure of reaching Ooty before 6 PM. Why? Despite not being a big fan of cornering on new tyres, I was able to do a lot of it because of the brilliant edge grip I had. This continued all the way to Ooty and after every corner, my confidence was steadily going up and I could push a lot more than I had planned to. This was one of my most intense experiences in the ghats to date as I am not a fan of cornering generally either.
As I had predicted, I reached Ooty around 6 PM and upon reaching there, I was already in love with the tyres. My motorcycle is my love and I call it White Horse because it was Black/ White when I got the delivery of it. The colour kept changing but the name stuck. And for my White Horse, I had found the perfect horseshoes in the form of CEAT Zoom Rad X1.
The next day was a casual one and the only agenda for the day was to roam around Ooty, enjoy the beauty, and take some good photos in the process. Apart from that, I also rode on one of the most dangerous ghat roads in the region- Masinagudi. That experience served as an explanation for why car companies choose to test their cars on that very road. After roaming around a little more, I decided to head back to my hotel and be well-rested for the next day’s journey back home.
This ride was a short one but refreshing nonetheless. Ooty is beautiful and it helped me rejuvenate but the most important role in that happening was that of the ride itself. That is why motorcycles are sacred to me. Whether it’s a month’s journey or a day’s, if I have my motorcycle with me, I know that I am going to enjoy it to the fullest. The same applied to this rather short ride as well which ended with the 500 km that I rode on my way back home. There will be more to come, I am sure of it. But for now, I would just like to thank xBhp and CEAT Tyres for this opportunity to become a #CEATxPlorer.
Tyre Review: CEAT ZOOM RAD X1
Now, the review of the tyres. The first and foremost thing that I’d like to mention is that CEAT Zoom Rad X1 is the best pair of tyres you can get for your KTMs. Their profile, their compound, their grip in both dry and wet, and the design- everything is just awesome. Despite being meant for sports touring and therefore being balanced in terms of longevity and performance, they provide such great grip that their sportier side is on display more often. These are radial tyres and therefore, the rigid construction resists deformation and provides consistent and predictable grip levels in both ghats and highways. The edge grip is almost intoxicating and if your motorcycle can take it, you can really push it hard in the corners without breaking a sweat. In the dry, the compound helps quick warm-up that aids better grip. But despite all their greatness in the dry, their wet performance surprised me the most. The beautiful tread design is a functional marvel too which channels water away from the contact patch and the road providing phenomenal grip even in wet conditions. Due to their fantastic design and great performance, I can easily say that CEAT Zoom RAD X1 are perhaps the best tyres for KTM 250 Duke.