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ADV NewsRoyal Enfield Himalayan Riders Successfully Reach South Pole

Royal Enfield Himalayan Riders Successfully Reach South Pole

South Pole conquered in 15 days on lightly-modified Himalayans.

Published on 12.29.2021
After years of planning and testing, the intrepid duo of Santhosh Vijay Kumar and Dean Coxson have reached the geographic South Pole by motorcycle — finally making their ambitious dream a reality on December 16th, 2021. The attempt, announced only a couple of months ago, saw their two modified Himalayan motorcycles battle extreme temperatures, ice and snow, before reaching the farthest point south on the planet in 15 days. 

The Royal Enfield sponsored riders began their journey arriving at Novo in Antarctica from Cape Town for four days of acclimatization. From Novo, Kumar and Coxson covered an overland distance of 3200 km (1988 miles) over the next 9 days by truck, just to reach the starting point of their ride. Enroute to the Ross Ice Shelf, the team braved extreme weather conditions while camping in temperatures between -30° to -25°C (-22° to -13°F) and wind speeds of 60 km/h (37 mph).

Himalayan adventure to the South Pole
Two lightly-modified Himalayan models were chosen for the expedition to the South Pole.

The Ross Ice Shelf had been designated as the starting point for the riders, however, an unexpected blizzard forced the team to alter their course. Instead of starting the ride from 86 degrees South, the team started the 400-km (250-mile) ride from 87 degrees South. Despite a few initial roadblocks and a slight detour, the expedition team completed the quest of reaching the South Pole by motorcycle in 15 days, 3 days longer than originally planned.

How Did They Do It? 

Changes included smaller countershaft sprockets (15- to 13-tooth) to increase low-end torque and stronger alternators to support heated gear.

For this expedition, two Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycles were modified in-house, with functional upgrades to enable them to navigate snow and ice, and operate in the high altitude and extreme cold of Antarctica. In order to ensure the Himalayans were mission-ready, each bike was put through extensive “real world testing” on the Langjokull Glacier in Iceland in September 2020 and July 2021. Modifications and final adjustments were made based on the feedback of the testing team before setting off for the Antarctic.

Himalayan adventure to the South Pole
Studded tires, a tubeless setup and low tire pressure can only do so much while riding in snow.

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Minimal changes consisted of a smaller countershaft sprocket (15- to 13-tooth) to increase low-end torque and a stronger alternator to enable the team to run heated gear. Studded tires were also used with a tubeless setup and low tire pressure to increase floatation on soft snow and traction on hard ice. For situations where the snow becomes too deep to traverse, the team also brought along an adjustable ski that bolts onto the front forks.

To shed excess weight, the center stand and headlamp unit (Antarctica has 24-hour sunlight in summers) of the motorcycle were removed. The side stand was fitted with a large ‘foot’ to avoid it sinking in the snow, while the rear brake pedal was moved back to allow easier access with heavy off-road boots. For safety, all electricals were waterproofed with silicone grease and shrink sealed with heat. 

Himalayan adventure to the South Pole

To reduce drag and fuel consumption, the motorcycles were ridden on a compacted snow track laid out by a support vehicle from the Ross Ice Shelf to the South Pole. As part of their #LeaveEveryPlaceBetter initiative, Royal Enfield also wanted to ensure no footprint was left behind on this pristine landscape other than the bikes’ wheel tracks, which will quickly disappear in the snow. All waste including human waste is brought back for appropriate disposal.

The Final Stretch

Himalayan adventure to the South Pole
The team completed their journey across Antarctica, reaching the south pole by motorcycle on December 16th.

After successfully planting their flag on the South Pole and sending word via satellite phone, the team has continued trekking through the snow towards the western part of Antarctica to Union Glacier. From there they will fly to Punta Arenas, Chile and eventually home.

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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4 thoughts on “Royal Enfield Himalayan Riders Successfully Reach South Pole

  1. this gives me hope for the hardiness of my himalayan! this is an awesome trip, congratulations on a job well done!!!

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