ADV Pulse

NEWSLETTER
Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Newsletter

Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Connect With Us

Follow On Facebook:

ADV NewsRoyal Enfield Riders Attempting To Reach South Pole On Himalayans

Royal Enfield Riders Attempting To Reach South Pole On Himalayans

With the Himalayan Mtns conquered, it's on to the Antarctic for Royal Enfield.

Published on 10.18.2021

Have you ever considered riding your motorcycle to the South Pole? Most likely not! It’s a crazy idea, and that’s exactly what makes Royal Enfield’s attempt to ride Himalayans across Antarctica to the Geographic South Pole so intriguing. 

Called 90° South — Quest for the Pole, the Royal Enfield-sponsored expedition will see two employee riders, Santhosh Vijay Kumar, head of Rides and Community, and Brit, Dean Coxson, a senior engineer who works in Product Development, trek for 39 days to reach one of earth’s most isolated destinations. 

Royal Enfield Himalayans riding to South Pole

Santhosh, Dean and their Himalayans will arrive from Cape Town, South Africa, to Novo in Antarctica on the edge of what’s called the Schirmacher Oasis, an emergent landmass surrounded on all sides by ice, on November 26th. After three days of acclimatization, the team will drive southward for 12 days with the help of vehicles supplied by the expedition’s support team, just to reach the starting point of their ride. 


ADVERTISEMENT

And while, yeah, the bikes are being trucked to the beginning of the 478-mile (770 km) quest for the actual ride to the Pole, the crew will have to traverse nearly 2000 miles of ice, setting up camp and preparing meals each day in temps that can reach -31°F (- 35 °C) and lower. After nearly two weeks of crossing mountainous, crevasse-laden territory in the trucks, the team will finally arrive at India’s Arctic Research Station on Ross Ice Shelf to begin their week-long journey on two wheels to the Terrestrial South Pole. 

Royal Enfield Himalayans riding to South Pole

Santhosh says plans to ride in Antarctica were initially sparked back in 2014 when he and some colleagues were attempting to ride in the Himalayan mountains during winter. The ride turned out to be a disaster due to very deep snow, but during the ordeal a Japanese tour member told him about Shinji Kazama, the first Japanese national to finish the Paris-Dakar race (1982) and who went on to win Dakar’s 500cc class in 1984. But the feat Shinji is best known for is successfully piloting a motorcycle to the North Pole, and also to the South Pole, which he reached in 1992. 

The logistics would take years to organize, as well as sorting out and testing necessary modifications to the Himalayan bikes, which, of course, were not designed to run in conditions cold enough to solidify wheel bearing grease, harden tires and rubber seals and thicken engine oil viscosity. 

Royal Enfield Himalayans riding to South Pole

In the end, modifications were minimal and included changing the countershaft sprocket from a 15- to a 13-tooth unit for improved torque at the rear wheel. A tubeless wheel setup is necessary to enable the low air pressures that allow the bike to float on softer snow, while studs help with traction on the ice. A stronger alternator using rare earth magnets was also incorporated, enabling the Himalayans to produce more current so the team can run heated gear full time. 

Shakedown tests were performed in 2020 and 2021 on Iceland’s Langjokull Glacier to see how both bikes and riders would perform in the extreme conditions, but all agree, nothing could prepare the riders for what awaits them in Antarctica. 

Royal Enfield Himalayans riding to South Pole

The route Santhosh and Dean will take sees them depart from the Ross Ice Shelf on December 14th, crossing the “South Pole Traverse,” a route created by the United States to bring fuel to research stations at the Pole. That means there are some tracks for the riders to follow if they are able to stay on the route.  And unlike Shinji’s expedition in 1992, it appears they will be attempting the journey without any kind of skis on their front wheels.  

If all goes as planned, Santhosh and Dean will arrive at the Amundsen-Scott Station at the Geographic South Pole on December 21st, the first people to ever ride on two wheels from that particular direction. Of course things going as planned is unlikely, and that’s what makes this an adventure to keep your eye on. 

Royal Enfield Himalayans riding to South Pole

As Santhosh says on a promotional podcast, so much can go wrong. Aside from the challenges posed by the high altitude and thinner atmosphere, spills are inevitable, and even a sprained ankle or broken finger can affect the whole expedition. Not to mention the risk of hypothermia, frostbite or a serious injury when you’re thousands of miles from the nearest hospital.

Despite all the risks and the inevitable discomfort of the journey, Santhosh and Dean couldn’t be more excited for the challenge. “There are two ways to go about your time on this Earth,” says Santhosh. “One is to exist…the other is to live. Attempting to reach the Pole on a motorcycle is living.”

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
ADVERTISEMENT

Related Stories

Related Stories

Comments
 4

Leave a Reply

4 thoughts on “Royal Enfield Riders Attempting To Reach South Pole On Himalayans

  1. Go for it guys I’m very proud that I own a 2021 BS6 Himalayan I smile every time I ride it over 44 years of biking I have owned 46 motorcycles ranging from 50cc to 1731cc sportsbikes trail bikes cruisers etc and my Himalayan named Neville is one of the most enjoyable of them all
    My thoughts and prayers go with you all GOOD LUCK

  2. If they make it , or get close to it , human endurance and ingenuity will be thoroughly proven . Also will be proven that a simple machine is best than a sofisticated one for long range endeavors. For more reference on Royal Enfield performance , look up the world traveling adventures of a woman on the YouTube channel ” Itchy boots” . Mudos to the People Who developed built and distribuye this amazing machine.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Seeker 2: Pol Tarres Defies Gravity Once Again On His Tenere 700

Watching trials champ and extreme enduro rider Pol Tarres do impossible-seemi...

Watch: A Himalayan Adventure in America's Last Frontier

Camaraderie can be a powerful component of adventure riding, something Royal ...

Yamaha Tenere 700 ‘Special BDR Edition’ Up For Grabs!

Adventure motorcycling non profit, Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR) i...