While we're itching for those long hot summer days, Royal Enfield has a different plan on the cards to celebrate its 120th birthday by sending two Himalayans to cross the South Pole.
While it might seem like the worst possible idea in the history of riding motorcycles with very little appeal to us, Royal Enfield says it wants to push the boundaries of what is possible with a motorcycle with its attempt to reach the geographic South Pole. That's one way to describe the madness of riding that far south...
The expedition will see two specially prepared Royal Enfield Himalayans, which have been upgraded in-house by Royal Enfield with functional upgrades including revised gearing for more torque at the rear wheel (13 tooth front sprocket vs 15 tooth standard), tubeless wheels using studded tyres and a more powerful alternator to allow the riders to run heated clothing without putting too much demand on the battery.
The bikes were tested for the journey at the Langjokull glacier in Iceland, with an intention to mirror the conditions in Antarctica. Phase 1 of testing was held in September 2020 while phase 2 of testing concluded in July 2021.
The expedition itself has been dubbed "90° SOUTH - Quest for the Pole" by the marketers and will be an ambitious attempt to go where no motorcycle has gone before. Starting from Cape Town, South Africa, on 26 November 2021, the expedition will witness two Royal Enfield riders – Santhosh Vijay Kumar and Dean Coxson, both Royal Enfield Employees – attempting to reach the geographic South Pole, from the Ross Ice Shelf, via the Leverett Glacier, to the Amundsen-Scott Pole station.
Speaking about the brand’s purpose of encouraging explorations, and wishing the expedition great success, Vimal Sumbly, International Business Head for Asia Pacific region, Royal Enfield remarked, “It has been an unbroken legacy of 120 years, of fueling and pushing the boundaries of human exploration, and being an ally to many explorers. It is their journeys and adventures that have inspired us to attempt this first of its kind motorcycle expedition. This bold and ambitious attempt to ride to the very end of the earth summarizes the resilience of the human spirit, and we hope to complete it successfully as an ode to all Royal Enfield riders and their own inspiring expeditions.”
To be conducted in close partnership with Arctic Trucks, 90° South will be attempted on two, purpose-built Royal Enfield Himalayans. Arctic Trucks, a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, are renowned for their deep expertise in the field and have covered over 3,500,000 kms on the Antarctic Plateau. They have supported and serviced several scientific expeditions and activities, as well as commercial and NGO expeditions in the past.
The route itself will see the bikes travel on a compacted snow track from the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole. Royal Enfield says this will reduce motorcycle drag and limit emissions to an absolute minimum, while also making the journey a lot easier on the riders compared to going cross country.
The company is also conscious of the unique Antarctic environment despite the obvious drawbacks to taking two motorcycles to the continent. The company assures us that in line with our #LeaveEveryPlaceBetter initiative, the team will ensure all waste including human waste is brought back for appropriate disposal with only tyre tracks being left behind.
Despite riding in the antarctic wastes being a hard pass from us, it is still an awesome idea to do something new on motorcycles and we look forward to seeing if the Himalayans successfully complete the journey in a month's time.