I have always been fond of motorcycling. Ever since I got to swing a leg over one, I have been hooked. Riding a motorcycle is something I liken to freedom and exploration. Being in nature and being one with it, I feel that is best done on a motorcycle. As I steadily dived deeper and deeper into this world, the thirst for more kept growing. More kilometres, more people, more places, and more motorcycling.
To that end, when it came time for me to buy a motorcycle properly for touring, I went with the Bajaj Dominar 400. Since owning it, I have ridden extensively. The past couple of years though have been a bit strange. With COVID and the ensuing restrictions, it became difficult to travel. Even if I could not travel, that is all I could think about. That is when I made a plan for a ride that I christened 3 States ride.
The plan was simple; explore Valparai, perhaps one of the most beautiful rides one can conceive. So now that the restrictions were lifted and there is some semblance of normality, it was time to put the plan into action. As I was going over this plan, I came across CEATxPlorer by xBhp. It seemed like a great platform and so I shared my ride plan. Not long after, I got a positive response and the ride was a go.
There was just one thing left to do- getting the tyres changed. My Dominar 400’s current tyres had seen a lot and I was starting to lose faith in them a bit. The new set I got for it was CEAT Zoom RAD X1. I got the tyres changed from a nearby CEAT Shoppe. After a short while, my Dominar was ready to go with her new shoes. Also, I really liked the profile and tread design of the CEAT Zoom RAD X1 tyres. They went well with my beloved Dominar 400.
And now, it was time to begin.
Day 1 (Bangalore – Valparai)
My ride started from Bangalore and the destination for the day was Valparai. It was planned as a solo ride but at the very last minute, I was joined by two more riders; Hemendra, who rode a KTM 390 Adventure and Nandakumar who rode a KTM 250 Duke. It was my first ride with them. In fact, I did not know them that well either.
But that is why you just have to love motorcycling. The excitement of riding to one of the most beautiful places in South India and getting to know two unknown people with the only thing binding you is your love for motorcycling. We started at around 5 AM and the ride was smooth. Starting this early meant we beat the traffic and hit the highways. All of us maintained a decent pace and we had covered quite a bit of distance even before it was time for breakfast. It was important to do that too since we had around 450 km to cover.
I was already in love with the CEAT Zoom Rad X1 tyres. They were absolutely stellar on the highways. Steady and grippy, just the way you want your tyres to be. Braking hard or accelerating quickly, these tyres simply never miss a beat. And just like that, we reached the spot for our breakfast break, Salem. After breakfast, we started on our way to Coimbatore.
Not long after, there was a mishap. An elderly gentleman had been in an accident on the road. Since we all were carrying first-aid kits, we decided to help the gentleman out. And that is why one must always carry a first-aid kit because you never know when it proves itself very useful. We gave the gentleman first-aid and once he had regained his composure, we asked him to visit a nearby hospital for further treatment. Post that, we were back on our way.
As the day progressed and as we inched closer to Tamil Nadu, the temperature was starting to creep up. We made sure that we took ample breaks and kept ourselves hydrated. The ride went on and we were getting closer and closer to the hill station. Unexpectedly though, the rain gods decided to unfurl their wrath upon us. It was raining cats and dogs and it was a proper thunderstorm. It is evident from the fact that it did not take us more than a minute out there to get completely drenched. The conditions were not fit for riding so all of us agreed that we must take a break.
After the rain had simmered down a bit, we were back on our way. Despite this little hiccup, I was still very excited for the 40 hairpin bends that were waiting for us. I had seen these tyres perform really well on the highways so I was eager to check them out in the corners. And boy oh boy, CEAT Zoom Rad X1 is certainly one of the best tyres I have owned. They were so grippy in the corners and it is so easy to stick to your intended line. Even in some really rough ones, you still have enough grip in your back pocket to make corrections if need be. I was left really impressed by their performance.
As we continued on our way and the elevation rose, the views we had got better and better. And after the hairpin bends gave way to tea estates and gardens, I understood why Valparai is known as one of the most beautiful places in south India. This place has an aura like no other and no number of words and photos can do justice to the kind of experience that this place offers. If you love nature, Valparai is no less than therapy.
Another thing that added to the beauty of the place was the time at which we made it to Valparai, sunset. It was simply epic. After covering nearly 500 km, it was time to get some rest and recharge for the next day.
Day 2 (Valparai – Athirapally Falls)
The second day of our ride was more about exploring and less about covering long distances. After a traditional breakfast in Valparai, we decided to explore some nearby places including a few viewpoints. After that, we unanimously decided to head to Athirapally Falls in Kerala. Throughout the ride, we were surrounded by greenery; lush tea estates and gardens. It was simply breathtaking.
We also visited the Sholayar Dam before entering Kerala as it was situated quite close to the state border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. As we entered Kerala, we were joined by two more riders; Premil SK on his KTM 250 Adventure and Dhabaswin KB on his KTM 390 Adventure. As we started towards Athirapally Falls the road conditions got worse. Even in less than ideal road conditions, the CEAT Zoom Rad X1 tyres held their own and I was convinced that these tyres are your best bet if you tour a lot with a dash of spirited riding every now and then.
We managed to make it to Athirapally Falls safely. Now, it is known as the Niagara of South India as it is the largest waterfall in Kerala. 80-feet high, this waterfall is located on the Chalakudy river. Reaching it though is a bit of an effort as you have to climb down a few hundred steps. But in the end, it is all worth it. Utterly beautiful and so relaxing; we were glad that we made the decision to visit this place. After enjoying the beauty of the place for a while, we rode on to our destination for the day- Kochi. After riding for about 150 km, we made it to our destination for the day.
Day 3 (Kochi)
The day started with Kerala’s authentic seafood place called Hotel Seagull. Adding to the occasion was the direct view of the Cochin Fort that we had from the place. In the last two days, we had seen hill stations and waterfalls and so, this day was dedicated to exploring the beaches and backwaters in Kerala.
After breakfast, we rode down to at least three to four beaches. It was all wonderful and the day got even better as we ended it on a high note. We went to Elamkunnapuzha Beach for an epic sunset which was, in simple words, magical. We could not have ended our ride on a better note. This also made me feel that one day was nowhere near enough to explore Kochi properly. But even then, I had some really good memories from this ride along with a wish to ride in Kerala again.
The next day was a straight jaunt from Kochi to Bangalore and that was it for this ride. I am really thankful to xBhp and CEAT for making this ride possible. It is amazing how a solo ride ended with four more people that I did know but who are really good friends now. It was a memorable ride and I am definitely looking forward to more of these. Till then, ride safe.
Tyre Review: CEAT ZOOM RAD X1
About the tyres, I am very, very happy with the CEAT Zoom Rad X1 tyres. Right from the moment I got them fitted, I loved the profile and the tread design a lot. On the highways, you get absolute stability and minimal noise even at triple-digit speeds. In the corners, you get all the edge grip you can use and then some. These tyres can easily saturate my skill level and my Dominar’s prowess and still have some grip left in the store. Quite a bit of the phenomenal grip these tyres offer is down to the radial construction and the compound used. But the most impressive aspect of these tyres is their wet grip. I mentioned that at one point, we were blown away by the rain. Even when the roads were drenched, these tyres worked flawlessly. The tread design channels the water away from under the tyres so that the contact patch of the tyre with the tarmac remains intact. The only reason why we stopped and let the rain simmer down was because of the visibility issues we were having. So if you’re looking for a new pair of tyres for your Dominar 400, CEAT Zoom Rad X1s are more than worth a look!