#CEATxPlorer: Savouring all that Konkan has to offer!

#CEATxPlorer: Savouring all that Konkan has to offer!

And another awesome ride is done and dusted. I love motorcycling for many reasons. One of them is the respite that it brings me by freeing me from the shackles of the usual day-to-day life. But more importantly, whenever I can manage to do so, all I have to do is to pick up my bike and just ride. This was also that with just a small twist. This time I was riding for xBhp as a #CEATxPlorer and with that, also getting to review the CEAT Zoom RAD X1 tyres. My motorcycle: Bajaj Dominar 400. My destination(s): the best of Konkan. So let’s start! 

This is the second time that I am taking up a ride for xBhp. The first one was in the #LifeBeginsAt250Project. But that was on a Svartpilen 250. So when I got invited by xBhp and CEAT to be a #CEATxPlorer to test the CEAT Zoom Rad X1 tyres, I thought to myself that I’ll finally get a chance to take out my Dominar 400 for a ride since the tyres were compatible with it. It gets difficult to take out the time to ride my Dominar due to my office routine so I jump at opportunities like this. 

I chose to ride and explore Konkan because the landscape is simply mesmerizing and mystifying. But in addition to being that, my ride was also full of adventure. Why? Give it a try and watch the unending Ghats disappear in the mist, look at the deep valleys that create a scene of what I call beautiful chaos and let yourself get lost as the lack of network in some areas makes Google Maps betray you. Despite wandering the same piece of tarmac quite a few times due to waywardness, it was still a beautiful ride which I’ll take you through. 

CEAT Tyres sent me a set of tyres consisting of ZOOM RAD X1 F (110/70 R17) and ZOOM RAD X1 (150/60 R17); the perfect tyre size for the Dominar 400. I got them fitted at the nearest CEAT Shoppe 2 days before the ride because before starting, I wanted to get some kilometres into them and also, to get to know them a little. Another reason for it was that I had my better-half as my pillion for this ride so I had to rid myself of any sort of apprehension that one has regarding new tyres. 

My initial impressions of the tyres were really positive. I was not able to break them in or scrub them up properly in the 70-odd km I covered before the start of the ride but despite that, I had quite a lot of faith in them. First, I liked how the tyres looked. The bold and fluid treads gel very well with the imposing construction and profile of the tyres. Despite being brand new, I could instantly feel that the tyres were grippier than the ones that I replaced. Pretty impressive, I must say. Now, it was time to ride and shine! 

Day 1: Pune to Harihareshwar

We woke up around 7:30 AM and rid ourselves of the initial checks that one must always take care of before the start of any ride. Consumables in terms of the motorcycle (fuel, engine oil, brake pads etc). So motorcycle: check. Riding gears: check. Saddlebags: check. Pillion: … check. If I may, looking at my Dominar (2 Minar) all decked up like that made me think that I had turned it into Charminar (4Minar). My apologies for that. I can assure you that the travelogue is much, much better. 

Our destination for the first day was Harihareshwar. We checked Google Maps and it said 181 km and 5 hours. Not too bad. Our ride started with a lot of fun. Due to it being relatively early morning, the traffic was modest even in the main city. We reached the outskirts of the city within an hour. It was after leaving the confines of the city that the ride became that much more interesting. Due to the main route being under construction, we decided to take the roads less travelled. 

The state highway that we took was a mixed bag. It had everything from tarmac to white tops, broken patches to all-out off-road, and gravel to wet patches. While it may seem daunting at the outset, it is easier if you have faith in your motorcycle and, of course, the tyres. While I had gained a lot of confidence in the tyres in the km I had covered before the ride, I still took it easy in the beginning. 

See, with a pillion on board and the roads not being the best in the world, you have to understand that the tyres are really put to test. What I liked about the CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 tyres up to this point was how quickly they warm up and how grippy they become afterwards.

It took us around 5 hours to reach Harihareshwar and we could even squeeze a 20 min break in between (take that, Google Maps). The end of this riding day was befitting for the kind of scenery we had ridden through. The serene and unpopulated beach of Harihareshwar. Believe me, it was a place that is inherently beautiful but the fact that there were scarcely any people there made it that much more peaceful. 

Day 2: Harihareshwar to Ganpatipule

The next day, the alarm went off at 6 AM. I woke up with great excitement to start the ride… then snoozed to alarm to get 10 more mins of sleep. After those minutes, I woke up again, with even more excitement but fortunately, I did not snooze it this time around as we had a ferry to catch at 7 AM. 

The ferry was for crossing the Savitri River. There were 2 ways to reach Ganapatipule; one via the coastal route that had two water crossings (via ferry through River Savitri and RIver Vashishti) and the other one was one ferry across RIver Savitri and then some 200 km of ride on a National Highway through the Ghats. Both were to take about 5 hours. 

We chose the one with two crossings as it would have saved us around 4 hours of extra travel and all for INR 73/- for the ferry. Thankfully, we made it on time for the ferry and we were on our way. It was after this point that cellular coverage dwindled and Google Maps was not reliable anymore. It was so bad that after crossing the river and starting our ride, it took us more than 50 km to realize that we were not on the coastal road that we intended to take! Did that change anything or make us any less excited? No. We were in Konkan and Konkan is always exciting. 

Being a motorcyclist, I can attest to the fact that there are not a lot of things better than riding the Ghats. If you have a capable motorcycle and an awesome set of tyres, it just serves as icing on the cake. We had a blast taming the corners throughout this route and it was all thanks to the phenomenal shoulder grip that the tyres offer. Also, the construction and profile of the tyres make it unbelievably easy to tip the bike into the corners. This also makes quick changes in direction much less hectic. 

So this day too was a blast as we munched miles and our ride full of the much-needed Sugarcane juice breaks. And one does need them considering the climate gets hot, really hot as the day progresses. We also encountered some bad roads but dispute that we reached our destination around 2 PM and ended the day with a visit to the beach and the temple at Ganapatipule.

Day 3: Ganapatipule to Malvan

For our next day’s destination, Malvan, we had two routes to choose from. One being the beautiful coastal route via Ratnagiri and another one being the NH66 via Rajapur and Kankavali which was 50kms longer but consumed more or less the same amount of time. We chose the coastal route which was around 148km and took 6 hours.

But this route came with three possibilities; Ghats that we loved, towns that let us explore more cultures and bad roads which were expected due to the cyclone that had hit the place last year right after the lockdown. 

We got a bit of all three but the tyres never let us down. During bad roads, they held their own. On good roads, they were absolutely flawless. But something peculiar that I noticed was the reduced braking distance. Panic braking is something that no one wants but almost everyone gets. But with the CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 tyres, braking was spot on and at no point did I lose my composure during those. So another plus these tyres brought with them was the marked improvement in braking. 

We reached Malvan by noon and due to something nostalgic that happened on our way, we were famished… while crossing Ratnagiri, the fragrance of Ratnagiri mangoes; it was just mesmerizing. Anyway, we ended our day with an authentic Malvani Thali and with the end of the ride approaching us, we decided to get some rest before starting our journey back home. 

Day 4: Malvan to Pune

Up to this point, we had some beautiful roads but proportionately some bad ones riddle with potholes as well. Anyway, we had around 400 km to cover to reach Pune. Ahead of us, we had the treacherous Ghats of Gaganbawda on our way to Kolhapur. Another interesting bit here was that it was a working day, so we could only start our ride post 5:30 PM. But hey, we were on a ride and at work too (perks of work-from-home) so I couldn’t complain. 

Due to a late start, by the time we reached Gaganbawda, the sun had set in the background and we had the dark of the night as our companion along with the dark of the tarmac. One plus here was that the humidity of the day had turned into a cool breeze as we zipped past the Konkan towns via Kankavli and reached Gaganbawda.

Upon reaching Kolhapur, we took a short break before making our way to Pune. It took us 8 hours but I’d say that the ride was an absolute joy. Even more so for the pillion as it was her first and I must appreciate the fact that she was able to hold her own despite the long jaunt. I would like to thank xBhp for giving me this opportunity to take up this ride. Last but not the least, a big thanks to CEAT Tyres for not only giving me the tyres but also for making awesome tyres like the CEAT ZOOM RAD X1. More about the tyres in the review. Till the next one…

CEAT ZOOM RAD X1: Tyre Review

First of all, I believe that the CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 is one of the best, if not the best, tyres you can get for your Dominar 400. The tyres gel perfectly with the sports touring credentials of the motorcycle. The very first thing that I want to talk about is the compound in use. CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 tyres are made from a softer compound that warms up quickly with which the grip increases to a great level. Whether you are braking hard in a straight line or tackling corners at considerable speeds, the tyres provide excellent feedback and grip continuously. Next up, the construction. CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 tyres feature a radial construction that makes them very sturdy and helps the tyres in maintaining a consistent contact patch with the tarmac by avoiding deformation. Finally, what impressed me the most was the versatility. In the wets, the tread design helps in efficient water channelling providing great grip. And even when the roads are less than ideal, they are more than up to the challenge. That is the reason why I believe this is one of the best sets of tyres one can get because you cannot always choose the terrain but you can always choose the tyres. In line with that, I recommend CEAT ZOOM RAD X1 wholeheartedly.

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