Driven by IMAGE DRIVERS (India)

Posts tagged “off road

ARAI You Ready?

In this article, we’ll briefly talk (and walk) you through the New 2017 Arai Tour X-4 Adventure Helmet in India.

Our review will help you understand whether this is the helmet you should go for!

Arai Tour X4 (Route White)Adventure Ready – Arai Tour X4 ADV Helmet

As part of our jobs here at TheNirvanaTeam, we often head out to lesser explored parts of the Indian countryside. “Recces”, as we like to call our photography and trail finding expeditions, sometimes expose our team to conditions less than adequate for a “safe” and comfortable experience. As they say, no great story ever starts with the words “it all went smoothly”.

Given the risks we take to get our clients the shots and images they deserve, our boys and girls deserve the very best of motoring protection out there when exposed to the elements. We pride ourselves on using the best equipment to get that epic shot every time and that’s the same philosophy we like to follow for the vehicles and gear that we use for our job.

2017 Arai Tour X4 Route WhiteHelmet Colourway – Route White

Over to our lead Photographer and resident adventurer, Nipun Srivastava, who is actually using the Arai Tour X4 (XD4) currently:-

“”Jesus, you want me to pay close to a thousand dollars for a helmet?! You must be crazy.”

The Arai Tour X4 ADV touring helmet costs exactly INR 57000/- here in India. That’s a lot of money, a hell of a lot. One can by a brand new scooter for that much cash or maybe go on a short luxury holiday even. Is there anything that justifies spending so much on a helmet? That’s the question to ask, I think.

There are helmets and there are helmets and then there are Arai Helmets. What’s so special?

Well, everything. Arai does everything humanly and scientifically possible to get us the lids we deserve. The impression one gets is that every freakin’ stone was turned before asking you to shell out the better part of a months take home for a lid that is so expensive, one may want to store it in a hermetically sealed container. At least that’s the treatment our Tour X-4 got when it landed up at our studio, flying in (first class, we assume) straight from Arai HQ, Netherlands.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot! Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

Studio images for the Arai Tour X4, shot at our in-house studio at TheNirvanaTeam HQ!

Arai only has one dealer in India. Moreover, there is no place where one can go, try out, have a look and then buy a lid of ones choice here in India. So, we’re more or less buying Arai products off of hear say or online reviews and in the rare case, having seen one a friend uses. This is something which should change, Arai, at least create one Pro Shop in India?

I met a couple of big shot looking riders once and saw them flaunt their Arai lids around like it was made of some special material. Showoffs. But that did get me thinking and I researched Arai and what they do. This was almost a decade ago. It’s taken almost a decade of touring and motorcycling for me to finally get my hands on an Arai Helmet. So as far as I’m concerned, each Arai is a saga. Less a fantastic piece of motoring gear, more a fantastical entity that every enthusiast must enjoy at least once for their type of motoring usage.

Mid trail with the Tour X4!Trail time!

Right from the start, my Tour X4 fit me like a glove. I was lucky that the helmet fit me perfectly and I didn’t need to fiddle with the peel away cheek pads for a better fit. The clear visor let me comfortably wear my Aviators inside while being closed and the air vents (on the visor) did their job very well in keeping the top of my head cool even at the peak of the Indian Summer. Right from our first ride with the Tour X4, the climate was very hot and humid. More over, we did the better part of our ride close to noon, when the temperatures were tickling the tropical 40 degrees. Add to that, we were riding to the coast (humidity for the win! Not.) .

To the West Coast of India!To the West Coast!

So, the Tour X4 had its job cut out for. Keep my head cool, don’t let it get too sweaty, keep noise low at high speeds and do not buffet in the wind.

Arai Tour X4 / X.D 4 Performance:

Ventilation: Very good. Kept me cool throughout the ride, didn’t feel the need to get it off my head at every stop.

Dealing with sweat: The Tour X4 is good here too but only just. Ultimately, with the Sun directly overhead, I needed to open the visor.

Noise:  Good. You will hear the wind at high speeds but it’s very manageable.

High Speed Dynamics: Sadly here, the Tour X4 is prone to buffeting in the wind at high speeds (with the peak on). Mind you, this happened even though we had a windscreen on our test motorcycle.

Visor Behaviour: Very good. Wide vision. Good clarity and very low on distortion. Locks down firmly. On-visor air intakes seal the deal for tourers.

Weight: 1620 gms.

Safety Ratings: ECE | SNELL

Emergency Release Tabs: Yes.

Accessories: Pinlock screen comes included in the box.

Looks: It looks very good. The paint finish is fantastic and the myriad colourways will satisfy everyone. Although, Arai charges extra for the smarter schemes.

Overall: I’ll cut this helmet a very good chit. It does everything a 50-50 on-road off-road helmet should do and does it very well.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!A feature rich and premium helmet!

The new Tour x4 feels like a solid high quality piece of gear in your hand. No loose trim, nothing hanging out anywhere and immaculate paint schemes all around. Even the moisture ‘wicking’ inner fabric is soft enough for rugged use. The double D ring fasteners are relatively easy to use with just enough space to loop the strap through and finally button it down. Buttoning down the strap ensures no flapping in the wind or at higher speed. So the attention to detail and build quality on this Arai is truly extraordinary.

Where living with the helmet is concerned, it’s not too difficult. As we mentioned, Arai has just one dealer in India but they do a good job of suggesting the right sizing etc and are open to questions. Moreover, ordering replacement parts (like the inner liner, visors etc) should be relatively easy in the long run. What that means is, you don’t need to be over protective about the helmet. Use it like you would any other piece of good riding gear, store it relatively well and it should last. Arai recommends using the helmet for 5 years and then replacing it, which seems reasonable.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!A premium helmet that’s easy to live with, in India!

The Arai Tour X4 Adventure Helmet is the way to go if you’re used to this kind of thing. If you’re an adventure tourer worth your salt and often put yourself in situations where you may get lost without a road, you should consider this Arai. You know that Indian motorcycling conditions are very challenging. Our extreme traffic scenarios, bad road surfaces and unpredictable conditions demand that we get ourselves the best in personnel protection we can afford. There are only a few helmets that make the cut for on-road & off-road touring and the Arai Tour X4 sits at the top.

On the other hand, if you’re an occasional motorcycle adventurer looking for a premium lid, there are options like KLIM’s Krios or AGV’s AX 8 (DS) which are good and hurt the wallet less.

Even if you’re not used to the moto-x shape of this helmet, Arai has done everything they could to make the helmet behave like a regular helmet. If you’re new to ADV riding and don’t mind shelling out the dough, this is a very good bet.

The competition: AGV’s AX-8 DS EVO, ICON’s Variant, KLIM’s Krios, SHOEI’s Hornet X2 and the likes.

The competitors come with similar issues, not many dealers, nowhere to test these lids out in India and sizing is a big fat $500 guess (at least).

.

Finally then, is the Arai Tour X4 price justified?

The answer – Yes, if you value the research and development it takes to develop these top of the line products.

When you buy an Arai, inside, you know you’re getting the best that the world has to offer. Quality seldom comes cheap.”

— Nipun Srivastava

. Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

There it is then, If you are confused between what’s good and what’s arguably the best, go for the Arai Tour X 4 (XD4).

We see the Tour X4 as very good adventure touring helmet which can protect you as far as your wit will take you.

So head out and blaze trails.

Arai Tour X4 Photo-Shoot!

The Nirvana Team


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All views represented are personal opinions of the writer based on his experience with the product showcased.

Product: Arai Tour X4 Adventure Helmet. Also known as the X-D4 in the American Markets.

Photography for this piece has been delivered by our Lead Photographer – Nipun Srivastava.

Model: Our resident adventurer, Nipun Srivastava.

Vehicle: The Versys 650 ABS.

We would like to thank Kaustubh Khare Photography and Vaishali Chandan for assisting on shoot.


Note: Mounting any helmet on rear view mirror stalks may harm the inner linings of the helmet.



Nepal Nirvana

Nepal Nirvana
Every motorcycle ride is a collection of small stories. Experiences, bundled up into fond memories for a lifetime.

Nepal is an enigma. When thinking about this country, what comes to mind are the mighty Himalayas and heroic feats of men and women who have set foot on some of the tallest mountains in the world. There’s more to Nepal than just mountaineering though.

Adventure in Nepal is a way of life. Once here, the ideal ingredients for adrenaline gushing, heart rate increasing and mind altering travel are found in every corner. It was time we took the Nirvana tread to Nepal!

Nepal is a neighbour to India and a mystery to everyone who hasn’t been to this country of concoctions. One of the smallest countries in the world is a window into some of the the biggest mountain ranges in the world. Not to mention the downright dumbfounding natural beauty that is routine here.

Dumbfounding Beauty, Nepal.

 Breathtaking landscapes at every turn.

For this rumble through the mountains Team Nirvana would like to thank the Firelords Royal Enfield Owners’ Club and its members who we rode with. Motorcycling is a different ballgame when it comes to international travel. There’s a lot of boring stuff involved before one can actually get to the ‘two wheels moving the soul’ part. Paperwork, permits, hotel bookings and (when you’re riding Royal Enfield bikes) mechanic finding are just some of the things we had to put in place before we left home.

Making plans for such trips is very exciting, mostly because in the heart every biker knows, nothing ever goes to plan. It’s when things do go wrong, that the motorcycling life lessons begin their hallowed teachings.

Distances are small in the mountains but it’s the intensity of roads and conditions that pose the real challenge here. Nepal just about manages to have a road network. It also has some of the worst roads (paths/tracks) we’ve ever ridden on. On our 17 day journey through this country, we rode on everything that this terrain could throw at us.

Nepal Nirvana
Ridin’ through a landslide!

On what we thought would be a short sprint from one destination to another, we came across a five kilometer stretch where one entire face of a mountain had slipped into the valley below. A landslide. Five kilometers of track took two hours to cover on our aging Enfields. Because of the toll that two hour stretch took on our bikes (and us!), our entire schedule went out of whack. This is when our motorcycle ride truly started with all its intensity. This is the charm of Nepal and its terrain, nothing is ever what you expect yet, everything is beautiful.

In Nepal, expect the unexpected!
Water crossings!

We learned pretty quickly that a ‘good road’ in Nepal is merely a dirt track all the way to one’s destination. If to our surprise we found good tarmac, we worshiped it with both our wheels! The value of smooth roads is understood only when constant off-roading becomes an everyday routine. Sheer tenacity and the ability to take it slow come in handy on endless rocky sections of the roads here. Beyond every challenging road section though, lay the best prize of them all, unhindered beauty.

Reverberating to the sounds of our thumping engines were the stunning Himalayan valleys through which we rode all across this country.

Nepal Nirvana

KATHMANDU

Kathmandu!

The Capital of Nepal, Kathmandu is hard core. The traffic here is MAD! The pollution is literally sky high and the dust, oh god the dust is everywhere!

Nothing could have prepared us for the onslaught that was Kathmandu. KTM is a concoction of sorts with its touristy yet formal ethos. Formal mainly because of the host of embassies present here, security is tight. Roaming the streets of Kathmandu, one can find adventurers and tourists of many nationalities. A melting pot, not of cultures but of people – in pursuit of their next big experience.

Kathmandu is a gateway into Nepal. A crash course in how to get around in the rest of the country. Hotels here are generally soft on the pocket, memorabilia on the other hand is not, we got ripped off a lot here! Evenings are lively in KTM and the cuisine too is varied and up to the mark. No matter where you’re from, you will find your food here.

The people of Kathmandu are slightly different from the rest of Nepal (we say this largely because of our hotel manager & shop keepers who we encountered). Although they treat everyone the same, when it comes to money, one needs to be careful. The streets are safe and most importantly, fuel is available 24/7.

Nepal Nirvana
Boudhnath Stupa – Kathmandu

We, as usual, made the mistake of trying to do too much in time that was better suited to explore rather than endure. Here, we discovered another trait of the mountains.

No matter how much one tries to hurry, the mountains will slow you down. Someone somewhere has rightly said, “you never cross the Himalayas, these mountains merely let you through”. We had a motorcycle issue on the day we rode out of Kathmandu. Although we did reach our destination for the day, it wasn’t before we’d crossed an entire landslide. This stretch took a lot from us mentally, our machines were fine though.

Never underestimate the rigours of mountain motorcycling, ever. We realised here, that even trying to anticipate what the road ahead would bring was futile. Instead, it was best that we slept well, ate well and rode hard.

Nepal Nirvana

Photography on this motorcycle road trip was kept to an absolute minimum. We only shot when we had the energy and will to do it. Many a times, we let million dollar scenes pass by just because motorcycling was our first priority. It had to be, for us to keep to our schedule, we couldn’t spare a moot minute. Lesson learnt.

We were now making our way across mainland Nepal. Riding through the lush countryside, we were met with beauty beyond comprehension. The toil we had been through was worth every minute. The views were overwhelming!

Nepal Nirvana

 POKHRA

Nepal Nirvana

 Goa of Nepal! Pokhra!

The beach town vibe of Pokhra is inescapable. Chilled out people, good music and great food made Pokhra our favourite place to ditch the motorbikes (for once!) and plonk ourselves for some R&R.

Nestled within the Annapurna valley, Pokhra is where everyone comes to start their journey into the Annapurna mountain range. These are treks which, according to your taste, can stretch from one day to about 20 days. Safe to say, we were not up for THAT much walking, we love our bikes too much! 😛

Instead we chose to sit back, relax and wake up freakishly early to watch the first light fall on the Annapurna Mountain Range.

Nepal Nirvana

First Light

Watching the first rays of Sunlight fall on these mountains was such a gripping experience for all of us that we hardly even spoke to each other while watching the Sun rise.

It was a very cold morning and we were all very sleepy but as soon as the light-show began, it was like mountain magic. We just sat there in the cold wind, sipping one chai after another, looking.

Nepal Nirvana

Himalayan Sunrise

And that was that. Fifteen days had gone by without us even thinking about going back home. Yet, we had to turn the handle, twist the throttle and push back into India. Nepal as an experience was over. Or was it?

On our way back from Pokhra to Lumbini, we rode our bikes on the most spectacular mountain roads of the entire trip! More than a hundred kilometers of silk-smooth roads, twisting through the Himalayan foothills, it was like Nepal had saved the best for last. This was the cherry on the icing for our motoring heartbeats. We were a happy bunch by the end of this ride.

Nepal Nirvana

Divine Motoring!

Secretly, we were all in love with Nepal and its antics. Here, some met their limits, others pushed theirs and for some it was just another day on the road to Nirvana :).

We are yet to have our fill of this wonderful country. It is our promise, we will go back.

Nepal Nirvana

“The kiss of the mountain air is everlasting.”

Motorcycles & Mountains!

Check out our video from this motorcycle trip!