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Old 11th August 2008, 15:25   #1
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Default Off-Road Adventures: How to get started without a 4x4

These days many folks are showing keen interest in off-roading but at the same time do not know where to start. Quite a few T-BHPians have asked me on how to get started with off-roading and here are my tips for the same (Based on my experiences and mostly w.r.t Bangalore/nearby places).
  • Join the various 4x4 groups and take active interest in the happenings. Don't be a lurker but ask questions and seek to learn. No one will tell you anything until you ask and there will be quite a lot of people helping you once you ask. Do your self study also and at the minimum it will help if you know what terms like 4WD, 4H/4L mean.
Some of the 4x4 groups (apart from T-BHP) are:
Jeep Thrills
Suzuki Gypsy India
  • Build a rapport with the fellow off-roaders and get to know them. It helps when there is an OTR and you express your interest in joining for the OTR. Believe me, the jeepers and 4x4 enthusiasts are very friendly people and would gladly take you along for an OTR session. However, if there are 5 requests for joining and only 3 spots available and your name doesn't even ring a bell then..!!!!
  • Most probably you will hop-on with someone for your first OTR. I would advise that you don't bring your family/kids etc for the first OTR. After all, it is not a picnic that you are going to. However, this depends from OTR to OTR and the best way is to ask your host about it.
  • Ask your host on what to wear and bring along. Food/Snacks, Water, Cap, Cigarettes, Camera etc etc. At times the terrain can be tough and wearing shorts in thorny bushes may not be the best idea :-) so it helps to know in advance. Also, if you haven't been in the sun/harsh conditions for a long time now and are mostly used to the A/C confines of your home/office/car, chances are that you will end up with a headache at the end of an OTR. It will help if you carry appropriate pain relievers (do consult your doctor before taking any medicines )
  • If you want to bring along your car/SUV, let the jeepers know in advance and they will be able to tell you if you can bring it along or not. Most times jeepers go in and come out of the OTR trail the same way and you can park your car/SUV at some safe place and drive back. At times where the start and exit of the OTR trail are different then taking your SUV/car to the OTR spot is an issue.
  • In your first OTR, decide what you want to achieve. Are you there to experience the thrill or are there for for shooting pictures or for the nature/surroundings or for learning more about OTR? Nothing wrong with any of these but having clarity helps.
  • Again, let your host/jeeper know you will like to learn more and will be asking questions about the terrain, vehicles, how did your host tackle the terrain, etc. He can then answer them after or before tacking each terrain. Also, switch jeeps/4x4's and hop on and off of different 4x4's in the OTR. This way you will get an opportunity to meet different jeepers and an opportunity to learn and know more.
  • Avoid driving You will be tempted to drive a 4x4 yourself on an OTR stretch. Avoid asking your host/jeeper to lend his vehicle for you to try out. It can be risky and dangerous. If your host knows you well and knows very well that you can tackle the OTR stretch, he may offer you a drive but in my opinion don't try to drive.
  • Be Safe: The first OTR can be lots of excitement and it is easy to get carried away and hurt yourself. Always respect the terrain and surroundings and don't rush/risk yourself to see vehicles in action or take that great picture. I have seen people getting hurt/slipping and twisting their ankles in a hurry to shoot pictures.
DON'T stand in front or rear of a 4x4 that is traversing a terrain. You can SERIOUSLY hurt yourself. Also, read this brilliant post by DKG on safety tips on an OTR

Some Myths (for first timers):

Off-roading is glamorous:
Depends on what one's definition of glamorous is. It is serious sweat and mucky business and requires getting hands dirty and at times very very dirty. Many a time the elements will be harsh, rains, or extreme sun and no water/food nearby etc.

Fast & Furious:
The pictures and posts often hide the fact, that for Off-roading one needs heaps of patience. Things happen at a leisurely pace in off-roading and one has to be mentally prepared to just wait and do nothing and chit cat, soak up the nature while some one's 4x4 is being tended to or folks ahead are attempting an obstacle. Also, it may appear that after a while things become monotonous and repetitive.

A Boys day out: In almost every OTR I have been to (at least in Bangalore), a number of families/friends join in for the OTR (Though must say that an OTR is usually harsh for small kids). Also we had a very very talented lady jeeper doing extreme 4x4 terrains.


This post is primarily targeted towards people who don't have a 4x4 and would like to get involved with off-roading (before buying a 4x4 for off-roading).

These tips are by no means exhaustive. Please feel free to add/refine these tips and may the 4x4 tribe grow.

Last edited by khan_sultan : 11th August 2008 at 15:35.
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Old 11th August 2008, 15:32   #2
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Shahnawaz bhai! Excellent writeup and it does help newbies like me interested in OTR. Very informative and will surely abide by the tips as i would like to experience once for sure.
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Old 11th August 2008, 15:32   #3
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I am just having my eye on a gypsy a 2002 1.3L in immaculate condition,these tips will all be usefull for us,Thanks Khan_sultan,i'll be closely watching this thread,any more queries i will suerly ask you about it...cheers

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Old 11th August 2008, 15:44   #4
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Hmm, a simpler/cheaper option is to take your bike and do a good portion of the same terrain TILL you can afford a 4x4. To see and observe in the backseat in the meanwhile.

/I personally am completely against trying someone elses' vehicles given how it can cost a bundle for someone else.
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Old 11th August 2008, 15:47   #5
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Nice set of tips for a newbie like me. Will certianly follow them on OTR. Tips like these increase the urge in me for OTRs.

I badly need a JEEP now.
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Old 11th August 2008, 16:14   #6
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Brilliant writeup Shahnawaz. This is going to be very useful to people interested in getting started in off-roading.
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Old 11th August 2008, 16:53   #7
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Very good sum up. I dont know about others, but I learnt a lot during the first experiance.

One good lesson was, I was always thinking of taking / avoiding the bumps but trying to take the wheels ways from the bumps and make sure its in between the 2 wheels. But in OTR its diff. You need to take the wheel on the bump so you get good clearance of the hinderance from the underbody and hence avoid any damage.

Hearing this would be different than actually sitting and watching the fellow riders guiding the drivers on those terrain. Inspite of this, I had seen one or two that get hit in the under body.

keep it coming K_S. Seems there is a teacher coming out to answer our quesitons. Good inituative. I wish one day I will full-fill my sons dreams of owning a Gypsy
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Old 11th August 2008, 17:03   #8
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Excellent tips for guys like me who would love to go OTR but need to get introduced to it first. Thanks a lot Shahnawaz, will look forward to more tips and learnings from you and other experienced off roaders.
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Old 11th August 2008, 17:09   #9
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Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
...I dont know about others, but I learnt a lot during the first experiance...
I am sure you had a good time in that OTR. Can't say the same about your friend who had also come. That poor fellow, in this excitement to take a good picture, slipped badly and hurt/twisted his wrists & hand big time. He for sure was in a very somber mood for the rest of the OTR. I hope he is fine now.

Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
I wish one day I will full-fill my sons dreams of owning a Gypsy
Boss, Gypsy is an affordable 4x4. Buy it for him before he sets his eyes on those 'fancy' 4x4's
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Old 11th August 2008, 17:11   #10
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thanks a lot sultan
such initiatives by the veterans provide much needed insight for us amateurs.
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Old 11th August 2008, 17:29   #11
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Originally Posted by khan_sultan View Post
Boss, Gypsy is an affordable 4x4. Buy it for him before he sets his eyes on those 'fancy' 4x4's
U know what? He was never a Gypsy fan, but Safari. He was so sad for almost 3 days when I cancelled my Safari booking. I am happy that Dadu did not try any off-roading that day , else he would be again starting for Safari. Good that you made him love a affordable 4x4
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Old 11th August 2008, 18:01   #12
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Default Excellent writeup !

This is excellent writeup for novice like me. We already saw some of your OTR activity in Bangalore meet.

Many drivers feel that, OTR is nothing they can do that but after reading this they should get to know the reality behind this.

Keep it adding, coz I also have some aspirations to own a Jeep in some point of life.
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Old 11th August 2008, 19:26   #13
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Great write up Shahnawaz. Perfect for people like myself, who would like to join in the off road escapades but dont know a thing about it.
I for one will gain tremendously reading the posts in this thread and please be ready to answer all my questions once my Jeep is ready
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Old 11th August 2008, 20:38   #14
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Ok, this write up is pushing me to look for a 4X4. Great stuff Shahnawaz!!
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Old 11th August 2008, 22:27   #15
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Nice writeup. Help a lot for people getting into the 4x4 scene.

ive actually gone a couple of times with these hardcore Enthusiasts to lonavala(Rajmachi).

Its a lot of fun. But 1st timers have to be very very carefull also. You do get carried away sometimes knowing little that one wrong step could be really fatal for you and the others.

A few important thing to have and really necessary tools are
1) A winch
This really helps in pulling your own car out of a tight situation. Will post a video of Adervesh(Bhpian) getting his car out of the muck. To an extent you can also use to to pull out another vehicle on trouble.
This mechanism is usually bolted on to the front end of the car and can be controlled via a remote.

2) A shovel
Very necessary to dig your sellf out if your car sinks into the mud.

3)Differential Guards.
These act as a protective cup for your axles. Since these are probably the lowest points of your offroading vehicle. It could if damaged leave you stranded.

3)Spare tire and puncture kit.

Expect alot of punctures if going off road. Sharp rocks, trees etc can easily puncture your tires. Dont be suprised to have 2 or 3 punctures in a day.

4) Hooks
The ones where your car gets towed away with by traffic cops. Make sure to have atleast one at both ends of the vehicle. This helps in pulling your jeep out or even pulling or towing others out. Also see that they arent weak. The last thing you want is a hook breaking, the only thing that can help you to remove your car from the muck.

5) Ropes or iron wires.

These help too again to tow or hook one gypsy to another to get pulled out.


Very important to have the right psi and a good set of tires.
Stock tires would send you skidding all over the place. Once covered in muck even though you steer right you would go against that or in the direction of where the cars momentum is.

7) Your basic First Aid kit.

8) A jerry can.
Filled with or with out the most wanted liquid. Its up to you want you think is most important. Water or petrol.You decide

Looks funny but true. The last time we went for a trip at least two cars had there Clutch plates fried. then you'll need to carry a mech too. to get the job done.

10) A few other important items..

Set of spanners,Jacks, Screwdrivers, Battery jumper leads incse your car gets cold fast or battery get weak.WD40 etc.


If your trip does get delayed and your forced to turn into the night then FOGS and Hi Beam headlights are an absolute must.

12) Bull bars and Grab rails.

So we at the back can hang on for our dear lives and enjoy the ride.

Thats all i can think of with my litte experience going off road.
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