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Old 20th May 2016, 00:33   #1
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Default Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

Hello BHPians! I will be sharing one of the best one day off-roading expeditions I have been on till now. This one was the second instalment of the event organised by 8moto on the 30th of August 2015. The trail was the mountains behind the Panshet dam on the river Ambi, 50km south west of Pune. Most of the organisers are my biker buddies and that is how I found out about the outing. I had the option of the Fortuner or the Duke 200. I much preferred the bike and that is what I chose. Getting a bit of mud over oneself cannot be that bad.

This was going to be my first serious off-roading experience. I had been on short trips before and a few other in dry/rocky terrain. But none this long and in such swampy, wet and slushy conditions. I had to board a flight to the UK just a few days later and really wanted to return home in one piece. Like any petrolhead would do, I took the plunge anyway.
Ralco Speed Blaster button tyres and an off-road mudguard to accommodate the front tyre were all the modifications I got for the bike. I got a slightly wider 120/80 rear tyre than the stock 150/60.
I got the tyres from a famous dealer on J.M. road for 6k and the mudguard for 500 bucks (including all fitting attachments) in Nana Peth. The flying mudguard however broke on complete fork travel a few moments after I left my house. Barely kept it in place with lots of brown tape.

Getting new shoes
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The meeting point was set at the Panshet Boating Club at 7.30 a.m. Two of my friends were accompanying me on their brand new, super reliable (hardly) CD Dawn and Suzuki Samurai motorbikes respectively and we left Pune at 6.30 a.m. As soon as we got near the dam, well placed signboards guided us to the location. Full points to 8moto for attention to detail. We met loads of people on the way all going to the expedition. There was a large parking area to accommodate all the participant vehicles. Motorcyclists greatly outnumbered the two or three Thars, a Gypsy and a Fortuner. A rider full of spirit turned up on a R15.

R15! I don't think he undertook the expedition looking at the pristine condition of the bike
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A few were actually brave enough (or just stupid; not sure) to turn up on radial tyres like the Metzelers. They were already having troubles moving a few inches without pushing the bike forward with their feet. If you are ever going to go off-roading, please in the name of everything automotive, get a set of off-road tyres. Don't be the person whose car has to be winched out of a ditch.

The registration fee was Rs. 600 (1000 with pillion). Before registration, each rider was checked for proper riding gear and if they carried valid documents. Helmets, riding jackets, gloves, knee guards and riding boots were mandatory. It was good to see the event organisers paying attention to the safety and well-being of the participants. Breakfast and mineral water was provided as well. Riders with a wide range of skills were present. Rally drivers, motocross riders, enthusiasts and newbies. The rally was flagged off after the driver's briefing. The trail was 60km long with majority of it being muddy and submerged in water due to the severe rainfall in the past few days. Mostly the width of the track was about 3-4 feet with a valley on the other side. It really was a serious event.

Helmet Cam
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The fresh cold air, dense forest and the surrounding water body were rejuvenating to the soul. The rain added to the fun of off-roading. I am sure green peace activists will dismember me. The irony is hundreds of fossil fuel guzzling machines roaring through the ecosystem that I find rejuvenating. But it was - it was absolutely beautiful. For once, I was actually enjoying the joy of the machine between my legs rather than trying to blitz down the road to see who's fastest. For the first time in two years since buying this bike, I did not for one second have the intentions of going fast. The terrain forced me to slow down, concentrate well on the throttle and feel what the bike was doing. In several sections there were no fellow participants close by. It was me, the sweet sound of the exhaust and the humbling Sahyadris staring down at me. A bit overboard with the accelerator and the rear wheel spun in place splashing mud all over. I was connected to my bike. Everything from the brake lever pressure to the twist of throttle was managed with precision.

Try to go uphill too fast and the slush punishes you. You fall in the muck and then have to try and grip your riding boots and lift the bike. I hardly used any throttle on the downhill sections to make sure I did not fall. I had around 4 falls throughout the expedition. The professionals zooming past at seemingly impossible speeds on their two stroke dirt bikes was a common sight. Marshals were posted at an interval of every 10 kms to keep track of all the participants. Riders were going down in all ways and styles possible. I had hardly reached the last section when some motocross riders were already heading back in the opposite direction. The course was laden with several streams and water bodies which had to be crossed. The Duke managed to cross these without breaking a sweat thanks to KTM's well designed underbelly exhaust. I never complained about the Duke's seat too much before but it really caused a bum sore this time. It is just too hard and uncomfortable while off-roading.

"Why do we fall Master Wayne? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up"
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The end of the trail was a large flatland with a wide fast flowing stream. This was the moment for the Thars and the Fortuner. They crossed the stream with ease and engaged in a donut battle on the other side. The Fortuner almost slided off the slope and into the stream - almost. A few riders followed suite. Some failed, the ones who managed to cross and come back attained a bit of phallic glory. The national biscuit of India, Parle-G and mineral water bottles were handed out by the marshals.

Break before heading back
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On the way back, an alternative, slightly shorter but a more scenic route was chosen. The trail was narrow, and went along the mountains to the absolute peak. A couple "villages" with a handful of huts were along the way. These were areas hardly touched by human intervention. Several of the mountain ranges could now be seen. The thick fog was like riding through the clouds. It was simply mesmerising. There was a massive cliff drop on one side and the soil had sunk in a few places. The crevices were a bit deep and 2-3 feet wide. Jumping these was immense fun.

Riding up the mountain on the way back
Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam-67297.jpg

The whole expedition took about 5.5 - 6 hours to complete including the break. This was a fairly good time and most folks took the same. Hot food was awaiting back at the Boating Club, which we then proceeded to eat as if we had never seen cooked food before. The whole event was very well planned out and organised by both 8moto and Adivenoo KTM. Credit where due.

Clicked!
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There is an inherent feeling of pride and satisfaction in conquering treacherous terrain, especially with a machine you love. Its a feeling of teamwork and survival. People might not understand the point of injecting mud into every crevice of your bike or car and then ending up wallowing like a pig. The detailers probably abhor off-roading to the core. For me, it was an experience of rekindling the love for my bike. Realising that going slow can be fun sometimes and testing the reliability of the machine. Even after several falls, all due to my own incompetence and fatigue, the bike kept on going without a single problem. A big thanks to all those people who put this magnificent machine together!

Home in one piece
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While riding home on Sinhagad Road, a man on a motorcycle actually stopped and asked us if we were shooting for an advertisement. He was taken aback by the three men in riding gear and the shear amount of mud we were covered in

Here is the official video of the event. I have wandered into in several shots.


This is a small clip from my GoPro.

Last edited by Meccanico : 21st May 2016 at 07:28.
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Old 21st May 2016, 14:54   #2
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorcycle Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st May 2016, 15:40   #3
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Beautiful experience! This is where a lighter bike like the ktm twins will shine. True dual sporting stuff! I am not sure if I will dare take a versys 650 through this kind of terrain. Unless ofcourse there isn't any choice... In which case I will

Would you mind telling us what kind of motorbikes participated in this event, apart from the R15 ofcourse.
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Old 21st May 2016, 15:55   #4
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

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Originally Posted by Red Liner View Post
Beautiful experience! This is where a lighter bike like the ktm twins will shine. True dual sporting stuff! I am not sure if I will dare take a versys 650 through this kind of terrain. Unless ofcourse there isn't any choice... In which case I will

Would you mind telling us what kind of motorbikes participated in this event, apart from the R15 ofcourse.
That was one of the reasons I bought the duke! I did not want an all out track racer. The light weight does come in handy, but I think you ought to give the Versys a try in similar conditions. The wider tyres and beefier forks got to handle the weight just fine

If I remember correctly, I think there were only two high end bikes like the BMW R800 GS. Most of the participants were youngsters with Duke's, 200 NS and 150cc's. A couple of Royal Enfields too. I hope that helps
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Old 21st May 2016, 16:43   #5
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

Good to see even two-wheelers now starting off in the off-road scene.

I think this is the first two-wheeler off-road experience here on the forum. Please post more pics/videos if available.

I would say, Meccanico, that was a day well spent.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 12:15   #6
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

Superb stuff! Thoroughly enjoyed reading through it

The Duke is really well put together, I admit it might not be the best offroad but considering how well it does on the road, the off road prowess is respectable. Nonetheless, there is a serious dearth of off road mudguards for the duke.

The one you used is what i like to call a "mudflop" lol. Many of my friends have tried fitting it but its the same outcome for all, it breaks within the first 15 minutes.

However, a couple of bhpians seem to have found a way past it, check:
1. HERE (The KTM Duke 390 Ownership Experience Thread)
2. The diagram mentioned in the post (The KTM Duke 390 Ownership Experience Thread)

Do check these out, and post back if you try them in your next offroading session. I'll be trying too.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 15:18   #7
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeantownThinker View Post
Good to see even two-wheelers now starting off in the off-road scene.

I think this is the first two-wheeler off-road experience here on the forum. Please post more pics/videos if available.

I would say, Meccanico, that was a day well spent.
The bike community is much bigger in Pune than dare I say anywhere in India. It is actually the car scene which is now just developing. Royal Enfield owners from Pune have been off-roading for years and now KTM owners are matching up the numbers in a shorter period of time! I am happy I shared something new. I will post some more videos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashwin1224 View Post
Superb stuff! Thoroughly enjoyed reading through it

The Duke is really well put together, I admit it might not be the best offroad but considering how well it does on the road, the off road prowess is respectable. Nonetheless, there is a serious dearth of off road mudguards for the duke.

The one you used is what i like to call a "mudflop" lol. Many of my friends have tried fitting it but its the same outcome for all, it breaks within the first 15 minutes.

However, a couple of bhpians seem to have found a way past it, check:
1. HERE (The KTM Duke 390 Ownership Experience Thread)
2. The diagram mentioned in the post (The KTM Duke 390 Ownership Experience Thread)

Do check these out, and post back if you try them in your next offroading session. I'll be trying too.
I am very glad you enjoyed reading.Thanks for the help with the mudguards. As you can see in the thread you've linked, I had already asked Thar4x4 for the design in that same post. So the next time I will use that mudguard design. Mudflop is a nice name
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Old 22nd May 2016, 16:32   #8
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

What an experience there, Meccanico! Absolutely wonderful!

You've got some pretty amazing landscape in the vicinity of Pune to enjoy such things right in nature's lap. And you simply enjoyed it & the bike to the core! Loved it thorough your words.
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Old 22nd May 2016, 18:21   #9
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

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What an experience there, Meccanico! Absolutely wonderful!

You've got some pretty amazing landscape in the vicinity of Pune to enjoy such things right in nature's lap. And you simply enjoyed it & the bike to the core! Loved it thorough your words.
Thank you for the kind words. It's great to share such experiences on team bhp!

Here's some more videos:

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Old 22nd May 2016, 22:00   #10
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

WOW !!! .. Expecting some more pictures while motorcycles were in action
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Old 22nd May 2016, 23:50   #11
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

This looks absolutely amazing. I definitely want to do this, maybe post monsoon. Wonderful write up and nice pictures.. Did any R15s manage to complete it? I'm asking as I own a CBR 250 which isn't built for this, so I probably might have to remove the fairing and try making it suitable for offroading. Do these guys rent out bikes ?
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Old 23rd May 2016, 01:30   #12
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

What an event! And by the looks of it; not easy at all. Slick Mud everywhere!!!

Nice vid too. Some of the guys in the official video looked like they were really booking it. Was fun to watch

On a sidenote, Pune is the absolutely positively the best city for a biker to live in. It has the terrain, the nearby locations, beautiful winding roads and not to forget, that lovely mellow weather. The only thing missing is a proper race track but even then, its near perfect

I will be in Pune next week and hopefully will have access to a Duke 390. Intend to make full use of this opportunity

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Old 23rd May 2016, 03:10   #13
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

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Originally Posted by Urban_Nomad View Post
What an event! And by the looks of it; not easy at all. Slick Mud everywhere!!!

Nice vid too. Some of the guys in the official video looked like they were really booking it. Was fun to watch

On a sidenote, Pune is the absolutely positively the best city for a biker to live in. It has the terrain, the nearby locations, beautiful winding roads and not to forget, that lovely mellow weather. The only thing missing is a proper race track but even then, its near perfect

I will be in Pune next week and hopefully will have access to a Duke 390. Intend to make full use of this opportunity


Yeah, they're pros! Lavasa is Pune's racetrack! I wish I was in Pune. Would have loved to meet up. If you are going to be in Pune later, do ping me. Would love to ride/drive together.
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Old 23rd May 2016, 10:24   #14
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

Awesome stuff Meccanico mate. I remember encountering such slush and off road trails during our monsoon rides. However I didn't use to hit those offroad trails on purpose it was just by a sheer coincidence I used to come across them and used to take them on purpose.

I see a lot of RE AVL engine models modded for offroading and see one in your pics as well. I too prefer the AVL motor as it seldom heats up and can take the abuse. I remember doing off roading with my Standards and it is awesome fun and cannot be described in words. Do tell us more about how the motorcycles behaved like traction, handling, torque behaviour, etc.

You Pune'ites have a lot of options for hitting the mountains for offroading unlike us Bombay'ites.
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Old 23rd May 2016, 14:14   #15
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Default Re: Pune Offroad Experience: Motorcycle Trail near Panshet Dam

good stuff mate.

slightly offtopic query - though you purchased the Ralco tyres last year, can you let me know the shop name in JM road. I am looking around for AT tyres for the duke 390, but not finding many options.

thanks in advance
Regards
Ronald
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