Need to Know Yamaha FZ25

Bike India - - TRAVELOGUE -

Price: Rs 1.18 lakh (ex-Pune)

En­gine: 249 cc, SOHC, two-valve, air-cooled, sin­gle cylin­der

Out­put: 20.9 PS @ 8,000 rpm, 20.0 Nm @ 6,000 rpm

Trans­mis­sion: Five-speed, chain drive Brakes: 282-mm disc (F), 220-mm drum (R) Tyres: 100/80-17 (F), 140/70-17 (R), tube­less Weight: 148 kg (kerb)

The ab­so­lute best part of spend­ing the night in Sarchu is the night sky. and the sheer num­ber and bright­ness of the stars

Ro­htang pass, and you need a per­mit from the Green Tri­bunal, cost­ing Rs 50 and ac­quired on­line, be­fore you are al­lowed to pro­ceed. The check post opens at 6.00 am and we had al­ready ar­rived a good 10 min­utes be­fore that. After wait­ing im­pa­tiently and grin­ning wryly at the irony of need­ing a hard copy of a “Green Tri­bunal” per­mit, we were through to the other side. Our Hi­malayan ad­ven­ture was well un­der way.

As the mostly ex­cel­lent road (lit­tle patches of deep and sticky mud not­with­stand­ing) wound higher and higher, the sunkissed and snow-capped peaks, but a hazy sil­hou­ette in the dis­tance as we left Manali, came into sharper fo­cus. Cruis­ing above the pearly clouds was ut­terly fas­ci­nat­ing, and Anosh, who had wrested the FZ’s keys from me ear­lier that morn­ing, was grin­ning from ear to ear. By the time we made it to Tandi, and the last fuel sta­tion till just out­side Leh, the urge to get back in the sad­dle was too strong to re­sist.

Back in the sad­dle, I fur­rowed through two size­able water cross­ings with­out break­ing into a fig­u­ra­tive sweat (it was far too cold out­side for any lit­eral sweat­ing), the FZ’s com­pe­tent

On a clear night (if you can brave the cold), the heav­ens open up, that drape the inky black leave you spell­bound

sus­pen­sion tak­ing on the rocky un­du­la­tions with great aplomb. As the ver­dant green­ery of Ro­htang gave way to the bleak, yet no less im­pres­sive, bare cliffs of Bar­alacha La, the FZ and I were smoothly tran­si­tion­ing from left to right through the bends, its ride and han­dling al­low­ing me to push on where other bikes were slow­ing down.

After a patch of un­der-con­struc­tion road that re­quired a lot more stand­ing on the pegs than I was ex­pect­ing, we fi­nally ar­rived at our camp­site in Sarchu. Liv­ing in tents at four­teen and a half thou­sand feet above sea level can sound daunt­ing, but the camp­sites are typ­i­cally well-equipped, and our fancy Swiss tent was very good at keep­ing the cold at bay and even came with an at­tached bath­room! The ab­so­lute best part of spend­ing the night in Sarchu is the night sky, though. On a clear night (if you can brave the cold), the heav­ens open up, and the sheer num­ber and bright­ness of the stars that drape the inky black leave you spell­bound.

Of course, I couldn’t daw­dle un­der­neath the stars for too long, as we were headed to Leh early the next morn­ing.

The Gata Loops and a cou­ple of more moun­tain passes were left be­hind with­out any drama be­fore we ar­rived at the More Plains. The lush, ex­pan­sive val­ley will skew your sense of per­spec­tive, and leads to the last pass be­fore Leh, Taglang La. The road sur­face on Taglang La is ex­cel­lent, and the qual­ity of the tar­mac was pretty amaz­ing over­all, ma­jor props to our bros at BRO (Border Roads Or­gan­i­sa­tion) for their re­lent­less ef­fort to keep the passes open and the roads smooth. From there, it was but a short ride to our ho­tel in Leh.

The next morn­ing, we ac­quired our in­ner line per­mits at 10.00 am from the district com­mis­sioner’s of­fice via a travel agent, and the piv­otal mo­ment fi­nally ar­rived. The big one: scal­ing Khardung La. The tar­mac is smooth and even all the way to the South Pullu check post about half way up. From there it’s all one big mud path bro­ken by pud­dles and slushy bits. De­spite the height and the un­for­giv­ing road, the FZ25 ploughed on like a champ and ar­rived un­scathed at the top of the pass. As I took a bit of a breather (the bike didn’t need one) I re­flected back on what we had achieved with a great sense of pride and af­fec­tion to­wards the FZ25. It had proved its ca­pa­bil­i­ties and how! Bound­ing up the moun­tain with­out show­ing any signs of strain or ef­fort, and calmly deal­ing with all the havoc the jour­ney threw at us.

My only re­gret is that I have to hand the keys back to Yamaha. This epic jour­ney, as I said be­fore, forges a bond be­tween bike and biker, and the FZ25 sure has won me over with its power and grace on one of the most chal­leng­ing roads in the coun­try.

The fa­mous Taglang La was a blast to ride on

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