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Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar 

Royal Enfield goes to the South Pole! It was a few days ago that these words made headlines as the brand decided to prove its motorcycles' mettle by riding them in one of the harshest environments on the globe - Antarctica.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

To many, Antarctica is just one of the continents on the globe and not much thought is given to it. To those in the know though, Antarctica is much more than a mostly-barren continent. It is the site for countless scientific experiments and research projects and has also been the prime spot for the space race.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

For adventure junkies and explorers though, Antarctica is like heaven on earth. It is the coldest, driest and windiest continent and always has an element of surprise. There are no roads and exploring Antarctica has always been an adventure. Heading to the South Pole of the earth gives an adrenaline rush like none other.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

Given the harsh environment on the continent, it is the best proving ground for any vehicle and getting to the South Pole is a huge achievement. Hence, two Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycles are heading to the South Pole, piloted by Dean Coxson, senior engineer of Product Development for RE in the UK, and Santhosh Vijay Kumar, head of rides and community.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

We had an in-detail conversation with Santhosh Vijay Kumar just a couple of days before the expeditionary team landed in Antarctica, and here are excerpts from the conversation.

Q. A little about yourself?

A. I am from Bangalore, and I used to be a software engineer a long time ago. But then, In 2009, I joined Royal Enfield. I’ve been handling rides and events for Royal Enfield and we’ve been exploring places since 2009. We have ridden from the Himalayas to Bhutan, Tibet, Mustang, etc.

While we’ve been doing all of this, at the back of the mind, we always wanted to do something really epic. So, here we are.

Q. How did this entire South Pole Expedition plan come up?

A. In about 2014, there were a couple of us who wanted to do a ride in the Himalayas during the winter. So, we were there and there was a decent snowfall. We took whatever motorcycles Royal Enfield had at the time, and strapped on snow chains and rode. One of the riders told me about a Japanese gentleman who had reached the South Pole on a different route.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

So I started digging up on it and I saw that there wasn’t a lot of information on it as it wasn’t very well documented. And I did a little more research on it and figured out that there is a US South Pole station that is used to supply space. And this is basically a compacted ice track.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

Then I came across Arctic Trucks, which is the only firm in the world that knows the continent inside-out. They have crossed the continent 140 times, so they are very well experienced in the terrain. We started talking to them and started figuring out how to ride a motorcycle across the continent.

We then ended up going to Iceland to test the motorcycles in similar conditions. Over a year and a half, we tested the motorcycles and managed to figure out a setup for the motorcycle and now we’re hoping to get to the South Pole.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

Q. How many months has this been in the planning?

A. We’ve been planning for this since April, 2020. We’ve been planning this and working towards it. The logistics were a nightmare with the conditions around the world. So we couldn’t travel all the time to test, so we had to find those windows when the travel restrictions and we managed to somehow get this going.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

Q. Talk to us about the motorcycles! What are you riding?

A. We’re riding a Royal Himalayan. It is pretty much a stock motorcycle in terms of what it is. We’ve just done a few minor modifications. We’ve dropped two teeth on the front sprocket because we want more torque. We weren’t looking at very high cruising speeds.

We also had to test about eight different combinations of tyres and studs to find the right setup. The right setup itself is about three different types of tyres and studs. The entire continent looks white, but the texture can change, the hardness can change and we needed to be able to adapt.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

We also had to get a slightly more powerful alternator in order to get more electricity out of it to power our heated gear. We removed the centre stand and disconnected the oil-cooler, because the engine certainly isn’t going to overheat amidst all the ice!

The rest of the motorcycle is stock. It is in-fact a motorcycle that we can bring back to India and ride.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

Q. What sort of distances are we looking at, across the ride?

Q. What sort of a backup team do you have?

Q. When is the ride starting and when will it be completed?

Q. What part of this ride excites you the most

To know the answers to these questions, and for more details, check out the full-length interview video with Santhosh Vijay Kumar.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

Q. What sort of distances are we looking at, across the ride?

Q. What sort of a backup team do you have?

Q. When is the ride starting and when will it be completed?

Q. What part of this ride excites you the most

To know the answers to these questions, and for more details, check out the full-length interview video with Santhosh Vijay Kumar.

Royal Enfield’s Expedition To The South Pole: In Conversation With The Rider Santhosh Vijay Kumar

Thoughts On Royal Enfield Expedition To The South Pole & Conversation With Santhosh Vijay Kumar

It takes a lot of time, effort and so much more research for an expedition like this to even begin. The two Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycles are already on the ice and are underway to create history. We for one cannot wait to have a look at the motorcycles once they are back from the expedition. Kudos to Royal Enfield, and more power to the team undertaking this journey.

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Read more on: #royal enfield
Article Published On: Saturday, December 4, 2021, 12:13 [IST]
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