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Old 5th January 2014, 12:28   #1
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Default Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

Hi Friends,
After 15 years in IT, I am looking forward to my first sabbatical for 6 months.. The plan is to go around India.. Explore lesser known or even unknown destinations in India. I might be travelling alone most of the time..

I might spend a lot of time in himalayas.. Even planning to go from Arunachal to Leh passing through Bhutan and Nepal.. I need your help to decide on the mode of conveyance for this trip. I am contemplating between the two:

Budget: 1.5L Max.

1. A second hand Maruti-800/Alto which is in good condition... Why??
- I have generally found it to be the most used vehicle in the mountains. Due to its decent ground clearance and low height and reasonable power/weight ratio, I have seen it passing through areas of bad road, non existent road.
- It can pass through narrow road..
- Most importantly, they have a service network literally everywhere in India..
- Economical in terms of mileage especially when you are not earning. .
- Gives me freedom to carry my tent, sleeping bag, food, more stuff for emergency...

2. A Bullet: Why?
- Simply because I never owned one.. So, should be good be have a companion which clams to cure "Male Menopause"..
- Falls in my budget.
- Powerful machine which should help me pass through bad himalayan roads and passes with ease.
- Make you feel more in touch with nature compared to a closed car..

Both the option seems to be falling in same range in terms of cost of buying and cost of using(Mileage)..

Whats your recommendation?... Any suggestions would be welcomed..

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Old 5th January 2014, 12:43   #2
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

I would chose the Alto simply because you can carry a lot of stuff, enjoy photography too without worrying about the gear and be safe in the cocoons of sheet metal.

A well maintained alto will take you through your 6 months without any problems at all.
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Old 5th January 2014, 13:10   #3
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

I would too vote for the car only because it will make life easier for you with all your luggage and emergency supplies and the ease of finding service stations almost everywhere. Also I am not comfortable with the idea of lone biker drive. In a group yes, but alone it might get tiring very soon. A car on the other hand will be much more comfortable.
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Old 5th January 2014, 13:11   #4
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

A car. Apart from the stuff you can carry & protection from the weather /elements,, you can always take a nap in it when ever you feel like/ need a break.
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Old 5th January 2014, 13:11   #5
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

Thanks Humyum, condor, Dr. Mohit..
Alto is a good car.. I used to have one long back and it served me pretty well for 5 years.. It may give extra comfort to be with a familiar car in a solo journey..
But I remember, ground clearance may be a problem in alto compared to M800..

Note from Mod : Please use proper punctuation (rather than .. .. ..). Do see point #2 in THIS THREAD before continuing. Thanks.

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th January 2014 at 16:22. Reason: .Please take a look at the mod note that has been added to the end of your post.
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Old 5th January 2014, 13:17   #6
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Originally Posted by recker_us View Post
Whats your recommendation?... Any suggestions would be welcomed..
First of all Wow !! I am amazed by your passion. I wish you good luck with fulfiling some of your dreams.

The rephrased question should be: Car or Bike ?
My answer would be Car.

Pros of Car, in comparision to a Bike:-
- You are safe from the harshness of mother nature and miscreants.
- You can practically carry a folding bed alongwith you. What I mean is, you can carry numerous small yet useful things with you, without a space crunch.
- You can keep a dashcam to capture beautiful moments of your journey.

Cons of Car in comparision to a Bike:-
- Mechanical issues. You can't just pull out a spark plug, clean it and drive away. A combination of small mechanical problems can leave you stranded. You can't even push the car unlike a bike.
- Fuel expenses compared to a bike would be higher.
- Tolls and permits would be higher and complex, compared to a bike's.

Overall I say that if you are travelling alone, travel in a car with all the amenities at hand.
Also, I would recommend you to get in touch with HVK (via FB HVK Forum, or TBHP Thread) who can guide you the best with the routes, road conditions and amenities enroute.
I again wish you good luck. Keep us posted with your travel plans and travellogues.
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Old 5th January 2014, 13:24   #7
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

why not get an indigo marina?
A station wagon means you have loads of space in the car itself. As its a TATA i don't think you will have problems with the mechanics anywhere in the country. It has a Good GC and if you can get a good diesel it will be light on your pocket.

If at all you are more inclined towards Alto/800. I would actually pick up a 800 because i found 800's with a full load better than alto when dealing with bad roads and big speed breakers. If you can get the older Alto 1.1 it would be a real good deal. We had one and it is one of the best cars we have owned so far. Very reliable and pleasurable to drive. You also should check out the Wagon-R it is one reliable mile cruncher. We recently got a used for 1.9 lakhs from It has a 6 month warranty, RSA ( all over india) and 3 free services.

2 of my relatives recently travelled to Leh. One of them had a Fazer and the other one had a Pulsar180. They were a group of 8 people and had 2 RE's with them (bullet and TB350). He said the RE's gave them the most of the trouble followed by the avenger and the pulsar. They had 3 breakdowns with the RE and 7+ punctures. The bike is very heavy and it gets difficult to remove the punctures. Not only that but the breakdowns were real bad. As they were in a group they could handle the issues with an ease. You are going alone why take a risk?
If you really want a comfortable bike for touring. I would recommend the following options-
1. Honda CBR250R
2. Hero Karizma R
3. Bajaj Avenger
4. Yamaha Fz16/Fazer.
All the best


Last edited by asit.kulkarni93 : 5th January 2014 at 13:26.
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Old 5th January 2014, 14:11   #8
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

@Soumyajit, Thanks for your kind words. I am just thankful to mother nature for bringing up such an opportunity.

Looks like we may have to seriously consider using the car.

@Asit, thanks for your insights on the cars to use. Great feedback from the Leh tour experience of the bikes.

I might be wrong, but I haven't received good reviews in the past about old Diesel cars. Off late the diesel technology has matured a lot. But Marina seems to be from 2006-07. Would you still recommend it?

Alto-1.1 may be a good option. Not sure if there are many available though. Else will the Old Zen be good enough?

Last edited by GTO : 9th January 2014 at 17:08. Reason: Poorly typed post
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Old 5th January 2014, 14:17   #9
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

Your choice is too contrasting. The Alto is a good car for you as a runabout for not six months but more. If a fairly good used Alto can be grabbed then it would be sort of fill it forget it stuff.
But come to think of it, a Bullet is some thing different and is in a special league and is for keeps.
Therefore my advice is to buy an Alto for six months and a Bullet can be bought at any point later.
Wishing the best for the trips and expecting many travelogues and road experiences.

Last edited by rajeev k : 5th January 2014 at 14:18.
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Old 5th January 2014, 14:40   #10
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

You might want to check Santro. It's efficient, reliable, and the bottom-end torque is extremely useful in hilly terrain. My Santro Xing is approaching 11 years and I have done some long distance solo-drives in it. It has never let me down.

Whichever vehicle you choose, all the best for your travel plans!!! Look forward to reading your travelogues.
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Old 5th January 2014, 14:58   #11
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

@rajeev.. Sorry for making your job difficult with the contrasting options..
Whatever I buy(bike or car), is going to stay with for long..

I just need to stick to a small, compact and low ceiling car, especially when I plan to use it in hilly terrains.. During my drive from Bangalore to Pahalgam with my family in 2012, there was a day of heavy snowfall in Pahalgam.. I drove from Pahalgam towards chandanwadi on the Amarnath route.. At one point we had to retreat.. and it was not because our Safari was not able to pull through.. But it was rather because the roads and the bend were getting so narrow, that I was worried that that Safari wont get enough space to turn back in case we need to... The height of Safari was a matter of fear especially when there was snow on the mountain side causing it tilt uncomfortably on the deep valley side.

That's why I was thinking of a low height M800/Alto. This can stay as a second in addition to our primary car. Alto-V1.1 is a good option but I see that the ground clearance is just 150mm. Any thoughts on it?

Same way, if I go for bullet, its going going to be for long term..
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Old 5th January 2014, 15:22   #12
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

If you find a well maintained M800 or alto, go for it. I would stay away from the old zen, only because of the ground clearence. Santro is a good option too. If your aim is mainly the himalayas..why not a gypsy? Its a proven vehicle, a mountain goat, maruti backup and quite reliable. You can make a bed out of the rear and sleep in it. Only issues as I see it, would be the thirsty petrol engine and the lack of comfort.
Anyway, cheers to your spirit of adventure !
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Old 5th January 2014, 15:47   #13
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

I would suggest you to look for a Santro or Wagon-R. As you had mentioned that you would be driving extensively all over it is important that you buy a car which gives you a comfortable seating as well. You may soon start finding Alto crammed and the car runs out of breath on highways in case you are opting the 800cc variant.

The lower seats of Alto will stretch your back over long distance driving.

A Royal Enfield (Bullet) will be a big No, A solo drive is not advisable. Moreover, not safe on overcrowded highways where most of the bus drivers and truckers don't drive properly.
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Old 5th January 2014, 15:51   #14
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

Originally Posted by recker_us View Post
.... Old Zen be good enough?
Zen had poor low end torque but it will be more fun to drive than the Alto/800. See if you can find a MPFI one in good condition.

But why not look for the old WagonR. It has good low end toque and also had reclining seats. You can comfortably sleep in it also if situation demands.
Note that the facelifted WagonR which last came with the F10D engine did not had these reclining seats, so look for the old one only. Plus, it will easily be within your budget.

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Last edited by Sherlocked : 5th January 2014 at 15:59.
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Old 5th January 2014, 16:43   #15
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Default re: Cheap Car...or a Bullet?

The Royal Enfield, I ride has been awesome.
But if I was in your shoes I would do neither. I would travel by general or second class in trains to every place in India.
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