Renting an Enfield in India – All you need to know

Rajasthan traffic - nothing quite like it...

Renting an Enfield in India is a fascinating way of getting to know the country. You get to see places other tourists won’t ever visit and meet locals that are completely unspoiled by tourism. If you decide for renting a motorbike in India, you should definitely ride the Indian way: On Royal Enfields. In short, Bullets! These bikes are beautiful, fairly reliable and an amazing experience altogether. Renting an Enfield in India is not too difficult. You just need to take a few things into account.

Renting an Enfield in India: Royal Enfield
Royal Enfield – Beautiful bikes!

Renting an Enfield in India: Preparations

Luggage

The best you can do is leave all your heavy luggage at your starting point. Most motorbike rentals require a return of the bike to the original spot, so you will come back at some point anyway. And come on, you don’t really need all those ten sets of clothes on a bike! If you don’t know anyone in the city where you rent, ask at a hostel. Many will keep your luggage for free when renting an Enfield in India. Add a little tip, and you can be sure that nothing is gonna happen to it in your absence.

Clothes

Depending on the time of renting an Enfield in India (and your destination, obviously) you will need to bring a few layers of clothes. If you are starting from Delhi, go to the markets and shops in the Karol Bhag area where you can find pretty much everything for a good price. We drove in February, one of the coldest months, so we bought long underwear, warm socks, face masks and scarves before we took off. In hindsight: A very reasonable decision! One of the best shops on the Main Bazaar Road  in Karol Bhag is a second-hand jacket dealer. You can find real gems here and nothing is more expensive than 500 rupees (€ 6). My friend John dug deep into the pile of jackets and found a North Face windbreaker for no more than 450 rupees! Coming from the train station, the shop is on your right-hand side, after about 400 meters.

The right rental place

Well, of course I might not be entirely right here, but at least this is what we’ve been told: Among the 50 or so places for renting an Enfield in Delhi, there are only about three which are OK. Go try the other ones and let me know your experiences, but don’t complain about getting ripped off later. But this decision is not only about getting ripped off, it is also about the safety of the bike you are getting. So basically, it is a decision which might affect your life.

Renting an Enfield in India: Truck at the side of the road
You don’t want to mess with him…

I can warmly recommend Tony Bike Centre. They have a great fleet, many years of experience, a well-equipped shop and they are generally very helpful. They have been recommended to us from all sides, even by other rental places, which I took as a very good sign. Make sure you talk to Rajesh, he knows everything!

Renting an Enfield in India: Royal Enfield bikes at the rental place
At Tony Bike Centre

Before you go – Checklist

  1. Ask the rental place to put a luggage rack onto the back of your bike. That way, not only won’t you have to carry anything on your back which can be very annoying. Also, you add a little crush zone in case you hit something sidewards. Just watch out though, you are a lot wider than you think now! You can buy bungees for securing your luggage inside the rack in the small shops of the motorbike area.
  2. Decide for a bike! If I were you, I would not save the € 3/day by taking a bike with a smaller engine. I’d go for the big machine, 500cc! Two main reasons: 1. In the madness that is Indian traffic, some extra horsepower can never harm. 2. It’s so much more fun! The 500cc Machismo (what a name!) will cost you about 1200 rupees (€15) a day. Don’t forget to bargain, especially in low season! But trust me, these bikes are worth every cent.
  3. Make sure to have enough cash with you. The rental place will ask you for about 40.000 rupees (€ 500) deposit for a big bike. Basically, they want to be sure to be reimbursed in case you do not come back for some reason – be it an accident or the sudden decision to drive the bike back to your hometown… There is an ATM not so far from Tony Bike Centre. But it only gives out 10 k at a time. So you will have to spend quite some time there. Important notice: You can also put the deposit down in any other currency!
  4. Very important: Thoroughly check the bike before you go and write down any damage you can find. Even better: Take a picture of the damage. It is India after all, so the likeliness of getting ripped off later is high (sorry for saying that, but that’s just the way it is). The only way you can avoid paying for a damage that you are not responsible for is to detect it before you go. We are also talking about minor scratches here.
  5. Even more important: Check if all important features work properly. You will have a test-drive before you go. Check: All lights, brakes (!), all cables, tire profile (!). Plus anything else you can imagine. Also: Check the rear chain ring. If there are any teeth missing or it looks very used, have them replace it! Anything that does not look safe, have them replace it or fix it before you go. It is your life that depends on it! Or, at least, your deposit…
  6. Make sure you have all the papers with you before you go. The papers basically state that you are the owner of the bike, very important for police checks. (However, police did not seem interested in us at all.)
  7. Take enough helmets. If you are not sure if you will take people along while renting an Enfield in India, just bring an additional one. They are easy to tie to the luggage rack and the rental place has plenty. Also: Check if the helmets are good!
Renting an Enfield in India: Indian bag strapped to a Royal Enfield
Always double-check if your luggage is tied up properly!

Renting an Enfield in India: Getting on the road

You are now ready to go! Go start the beast! Once you fire an Enfield up, you know immediately why you are doing all of this! The sound of these bikes is just amazing, evil and strong. Yet, they feel really smooth under your ass. Quite a good combination if you ask me.

Make sure you do a last check if you have everything important with you and if all your luggage is very tight (things easily come lose on the bad roads). Then, finally, become a part of Indian traffic!

Things to keep in mind on the road

Indian traffic is insane. Period. However, once you are inside of it, it somehow makes sense. Like some organic process. But you need to stay focussed if you want to survive. Seriously.

Renting an Enfield in India: Trucks on a wet road
Colorful, yes! Dangerous? A little, I’d say…
  1. Traffic lights are often ignored. So are pedestrian crossings. I’m not telling you to do the same, just be aware that there might be people coming from all directions, even if lights show a bright red…
  2. The stronger vehicle has the right of way. More important: The stronger is never you! Be prepared to leave the road in the worst case. I had to do so once when there were two busses heading towards me. Seriously, had I not driven into the ditch, I would not be writing this article right now.
  3. Our experience was that going a little faster than the rest actually helps not getting stuck in the traffic jams. It is also important to know that overtaking can be done on both sides.
  4. Always watch out for creatures of all kinds jumping onto the street: People, dogs, cats, cows, rats, monkeys, camels(!), elephants, …
  5. Renting an Enfield in India: Monkey in front of a column
    Monkeys – crazy and often vicious
  6. Speed bumps: Always watch out for signs on the road. You do not want to hit one of those concrete bumps full speed on a motorbike. Even on a bike as heavy as an Enfield. Trust me!
  7. Speaking of heavy: Do not let your bike fall to the side. There is zero chance you will be able to pick it up on your own! I had all the staff of a restaurant help me bring my bike back to straight position. A little embarrassing.
  8. Road toll does not apply for motorbikes! Just always go to the far left and you will find a small lane for bikes to pass by.
Renting an Enfield in India: Marco Buch on a Royal Enfield next to an Indian woman
Making friends along the smaller roads is one of the best experiences!

In general, it is a lot better to take smaller side roads instead of the so-called highway. The roads might be worse, but you will encounter a lot less traffic which makes up for everything. Plus, the chance of meeting locals is much higher.

Having wifi in even the remotest areas is not a phantasy anymore!


Renting an Enfield in India: Route suggestion

So if you start from Delhi like we did, obviously you have a multitude of options. Everything depends on the time you have and on what you would like to see while renting an Enfield in India. But I can only recommend the route we took, straight through my favorite Indian state of Rajasthan, and with quite a few amazing sights in a rather short amount of time and distance! This route took us five days, but can, of course, extended to more days.

Day 1: Delhi – Alwar

Try to survive Delhi’s traffic, then head Southwest. You can take the highway from here, but it is always packed. Besides, I need to quote a Delhi expat here: “Indians are really good at bad driving.” Nothing to be added.

Renting an Enfield in India: Transport bicycle with driver
One of many different types of vehicle….

Riding on the smaller roads, you can take your time. This will get you to Alwar in the late afternoon. We stayed at Aravali Clarks Inn which was extremely good value. Rooms are nice, hot water takes a while though. But the staff is super-friendly and very funny. The food was great and, during dinner, there were two guys playing the sitar and tablas. Perfect!

Day 2: Alwar – Jaipur

Don’t miss Alwar’s spectacular Old Town! We found it by accident and it was maybe the highlight of the whole trip. There is an old palace with many impressive buildings surrounding it. The best about it: There is noone there but you! You will only meet local kids playing cricket, asking you to add them on Facebook (don’t, if you’re not a fan of ten messages per day…).

Renting an Enfield in India: Men in front of a temple in Alwar
Alwar – what a great place!

The road from Alwar is empty and mostly in alright condition. Just watch out for the thousands of monkeys living at the side of the road! People are throwing them carrot pieces from their cars and they sometimes run onto the street. Alternatively, you can take the highway. Less monkeys there, but a lot more cars. I don’t know which is worse.

If you have enough time, stop at the Tiger Reserve. Jeeps for tiger watching leave at around 2 PM. We have not done it, so I can’t say if it’s worth it or not. What is always good though is a stop along the road for something to eat or a chai and a beedee (a tea and an Indian cigarette) with the locals!

Renting an Enfield in India: Old man along the road in Rajasthan
Old man along the road in Rajasthan

For the last bit of the distance, enter the highway. Drive all the way to the incredible Amber Fort. If you get here by sunset, you won’t be able to enter the interior rooms. However, it is very well worth just walking around the yards between the high walls.

Renting an Enfield in India: Sunset at Amber Fort
Amber Fort

The last bit of the drive is quite bad, especially if you do it in the dark. Jaipur has the worst traffic I have ever seen! Watch out for idiot Tuk Tuk drivers. They won’t stop for you…

Find many hotels at Tonk Road. Definitely go for one with a roof terrace! We liked the Pink City Home Stay a lot.

Day 3: Jaipur – somewhere

Take your time to explore Jaipur. There is a lot to see. Temples, markets, the Pink City, Jantar Mantar, and much more. Jaipur also has a very special atmosphere. It is a place actually worth staying another night. So if you have the time, opt for that.

Renting an Enfield in India: Amber Fort in the sunset
Not Jaipur, but another picture of the amazing Amber Fort. If you haven’t seen it yet, backtrack the roughly 15 kilometers now!

Plan in some time for leaving Jaipur, as the traffic is probably even worse during the day. You want to head East from here, in the direction of Agra.

Just see how far you get, especially with some more forts and palaces along the way. I would definitely not go further than Fatehpur Sikhri, as this place is very worth visiting for a few hours.

Renting an Enfield in India: People playing music inside Fatehpur Sikri
Inside Fatehpur Sikri

We drove about half way and stayed at a quite nice hotel, the Umaid Lake Palace. I don’t believe it really did have 5 stars as it claimed, especially not the rooms they gave us. But as we were the only guests in this huge place, they let us park the bikes in the reception area! Dining alone in the huge hall was a great experience, too, and the waiters were extremely friendly. The night ended with all of us speaking on the phone with the wife of the main waiter who was a great guy.

You should definitely bring some good equipment when renting an Enfield in India:

Day 4: Somewhere – Agra – maybe Delhi

Drive on the highway here. There are not really any alternatives and the highway is not so busy here. Just watch out for people going the wrong way! And, once again, don’t miss out on spending time with very curious locals and sampling some of the best street food you can find!

Renting an Enfield in India: Pit-stop along the road
Pit-stop along the road

Make sure you stop at Fatehpur Sikhri. It is an amazing place and you can easily spend a few hours here. We especially liked entering from the backside which has no tourists at all.

Renting an Enfield in India: Fatehpur Sikri
Just one little part of Fatehpur Sikri

Then focus and face the nightmare traffic of Agra. It might not be as bad as Jaipur, but it is very close!

Make your way to the West Gate of the Taj Mahal where you can park the bike for a few rupees. From there, the easiest is to take a horse cart or a rickshaw. Let them take you to the lockers where you can store all your luggage. From there, it’s not far to the entrance.

I personally preferred Fatehpur Sikri and Alwar Palace to the Taj, but don’t be silly: You do have to visit this place which is said to be the most beautiful building in the world! And even with the thousands of visitors at all times, it is definitely worth taking a look at.

Renting an Enfield in India: Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal

Now you will have to decide: You can stay in Agra and drive back the next day. There might be nice places, but we haven’t seen any. For all four of us, Agra looked like the worst shithole imaginable. That’s why we decided to drive straight back to Delhi. If you decide to do the same, have something to eat at the outskirts of town, then get back on the road.

Good news: There is a brand-new highway connecting Agra and Delhi, almost all the way. It is like any highway in the West, it has rules and people do actually follow the rules! Best of all: There is hardly anyone driving there at all (probably due to the rules). We were all alone for long stretches.

Day 5

If you stayed in Agra, drive the last bit now. If you are already in Delhi, use your new driving skills to drive through the city. In spite of 25 million people, Delhi will seem like a piece of cake to you compared to Jaipur or Agra!

Renting an Enfield in India: Horsekart with camel and passengers
Rajasthan traffic – nothing quite like it…

This 5-day-trip was certainly one of the highlights of my whole India trip! My buddy John and I are already thinking about taking two Bullets and driving them from Delhi to Bangkok

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have concerning a similar trip!

This post is also available in: German

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60 Comments

  • Dear Marco
    The article written by you is amazing !!!!!!!!
    You have given a very clear picture of how to rent a Bullet in India , what are the important points to be kept in mind before renting a bike and the details you have given of the places of Rajasthan and Agra is actually what a tourist or a rider needs while he visit these places.
    You have really worked hard to make this blog . It’s too good!!!!!!!!!!
    Your travel experience on the Royal Enfield Bullet will be of great help to many riders.
    We are also very thankful to you and are obliged as you have recommended our ‘TONY BIKE CENTRE’ as a Bullet rental place to other riders.
    It’s very kind of you.
    We wish to see you soon as our ‘Bullets’ will always be roaring to welcome you.
    Regards
    Rajesh Trehan

  • Do you need a special drive license to do this? or is the normal car license enough?

    Thanks in advance for the information

    • Hey Sam, you do need an international motorbike license. But it’s India after all, so all regulations are relative… But I believe that you’d be better off with an international license if it comes to an accident. Which is not so unlikely…

  • Just the info I needed Marco thank you ! Ill defiantly be visiting Rajesh and we will probably follow your route but its a 4 week-er so go further I think. scott

  • Great read, and writing! Thank you Marco for this helpful entry. Is it necessary to have a motorcycle licence in Delhi? Were they strict about that? Thanks and write/ride on bro.

  • Thanks for the article. Just wondering if you can recommend the three (or any of the) rental places you mentioned?

  • Hey Marco,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog, would you say an Enfield Bullet would be capable of the trip you did with a pillion plus luggage on the bike?
    Cheers
    Rob

  • Hi mate, today I start planning my 6 month in India during 2017 year
    This is the first site that attracted my attention
    My idea is to arrive @ your renting office to listen witch of them will open a direct connection with my central nervous system.
    Well… I hope it will be dynamite.
    Stay easy, I’m an old bickerz
    But leave the fog and let me ask something really impressed
    This is my dream: I will fly near you and after a little relax I will came to your office to conclude the contract.
    Only 2 questions
    Can I bring my girlfriend for 2 weeks?
    Can I leave the bike in a different place from where I took them?
    If everything will goes in the way I hope I need to have the motor for 6 months.
    So take your time and than send a quotation
    Thank.

    • Hey Lorenzo,
      glad you liked the article! However, I am just a writer, not a tour or rental company. Just use the link to Tony Bike Centre in the text.
      One thing I can answer right now: You can not return the bike in a different place, it has to be returned where you picked it up.
      Good luck and have a great trip!
      Marco

  • Nice article By the way If anyone plan to visit Northeast India; you can hire bikes **Royal Enfield Bullet **in Guwahati to travel whole Northeast or even to travel neighbouring countries like Bhutan from ‘**Northeast Wheelers**’. Excellent Bikes conditions and Services!!
    **Contact **.: Gulshan on mobile** 094358 25344**
    Style4u Silpukhuri Guwahati 3, Assam

  • Hi we want bikes from Pune can you arrange for bikes around month of september hopefully around the 9th to the 13th

    • Hi there, I don’t know why you get the feeling I am a motorbike rental company. I am not.
      Please refer to the company mentioned in the article.
      Thanks,
      Marco

  • Hey Marco, very cool blog. I’m thinking of doing golden triangle in March 2017 with a buddy, do you recommend a guide? How did you build itinerary?

    Thanks,

    Andreas

    • Thanks, Andreas!
      Well, the Golden Triangle can be a little tricky as you will have to book a guide in Myanmar. I don’t know how it works exactly as we did not go there with the bikes.
      We basically just drove until we got tired or it rained, then we stopped. We made the itinerary up as we went.
      I hope that helps.
      Have fun!
      Marco

  • Thanks for this informative article, I’m heading out to Delhi in three weeks for a five week adventure, this has given me plenty of advice!

    • Hi Anthony, no, that was no problem at all. We had big locks with us. But most of the time, the hotels would give us a special spot for parking. One time, we were even allowed to drive the bikes all the way into the lobby! ;-)

      • Hi Marco, were the locks provided by the rental company? and I’ve read that sometimes there can be a lot of trouble crossing state lines with rental vehicles due to rego, did you have any experience with this?

        • Hey Patrick, yes, the locks were provided. The rental company has everything you might need for a bike trip.
          We crossed two state lines and had no trouble at all. Haven’t heard anything about this issue either.

  • Hi all,

    Congratulations Marco for the great article and the website. I have rented RoyalEnfields a couple of times in India ,Goa and Kerala, and agree with everything you say. Riding a RE in India is great fun, an unforgettable experience, and not as difficult as it seems.
    I would only recommend to take with you a GPS/Iphone or map holder to see where you are heading to at all times without having to take your eyes off the road even for a millisecond! Road directions are few and far bertween, at least in the southern states. Of course the locals will help, but that means stopping the bike frequently and stopping a heavy enfield to ask for directions is not always easy. Take the wrong turn at a crossroad, and you may end up driving a lot longer than anticipated.
    Also , do not expect the GPS app to be as accurate as it is in Europe. I have used Waze around Kochi and it worked really well. The app took me around really interesting routes and shortcuts while allowing me to enjoy the riding without worrying about getting lost.

  • If you starting your journey from the south, you could always rent bikes from Sfa motorcycle rentals. They have 60 plus models, 200 plus bikes and multiple branches across Chennai and Trichy. No deposit. Just rental has to be paid in advance. And yes you could do one way trip. They would pick the bike from anywhere in India. For further details you may visit http://www.chennaimotorcyclerental.com

  • Hello,
    I loved reading all about your trip. However, could you give me an approximate idea (excluding flights) of how much the trip cost in total? I am planning on a similar trip (solo) and was wondering what an appropriate comfort zone would be. Again, thanks for sharing, its been insightful! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • Hi there,
      believe the bike rental added up to something like 50$ per day. Everything else in India is very cheap so this can easily be done on a budget.
      Have fun!
      Marco

  • Your website is really interesting, but why it is on 18th place in google’s search results. It deserves to be in top 5. Many webmasters think that seo is dead in 2016, but it’s not true. There is sneaky method to reach google’s top 5 that not many people know. Simply search for: pandatsor’s tools

  • Hi Marco,

    I need some advice on renting bikes in Delhi. Which way would you advice me to do; a) Pre book the bike online before coming to India. or b) Get to Delhi and rent the bike on the spot.

    I’ve done some research and quotation online to compare and review bike rental centres in Delhi. But somehow i feel it is better to check the place out there before making any bookings.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story and i hope to hear from you soon.

    Regards,
    Muzaimi

  • Hi Marco,

    Need your advice. Im having trouble deciding if i should get the bookings done for the bike online or booking the bike when i reach Delhi. Thanks for sharing your adventure and tips with us, and i hope to hear from you soon!

    Cheers,
    Muzz

    • Hey Muzz,
      I would do it on the spot. The rental place I recommended always has enough bikes there. You could also just call them ahead and see if everything is cool.
      Have fun on this trip, it’s amazing!
      Best,
      Marco

  • Hi Marco,
    A superb insight. I have fond memories of a 2 week trip on a 350 Bullet with a tour company called Blazing Trails in 2005 starting from Goa.
    Advice I would add (1) Not to drink anything other than sealed drinks (bottled water etc) (2) Take a basic first aid kit including antiseptic wipes, you could bath in the pot holes ! (3) Remember that a Bullet gear change is on the opposite side, as is the brake pedal.
    I’d love to do another and will probably go down the self hire route.
    Kind regards,
    Andy in England

  • Marco and others — this has been informative. I rode the 350cc Bullets till I left in 1985. In upcoming summer I will try the 500 cc Machisimo bike and write about it here later on. If I enjoy it, aim to buy the bike — I am in California and there are dealerships here who will certify the bike in USA.
    I am writing this to extend a hello and ask you folks to contact me if you are around SanFrancisco, Lake Tahoe region. Likewise as and when we travel through other parts of the world it would be nice to meet and greet you community members.
    Thanks
    Dr Raj
    PS: My family will be in a rental car with a driver which serves as my guide and ice breaker to follow! We are doing a 8 day Uttarakhad trip from Delhi.

    • Thanks for your input, Dr. Raj! Your trip sounds great!
      And yes, it would be nice to meet other Bullet riders somewhere in the world. I am still planning to ride Delhi-Bangkok at some point.
      Safe driving and all the best!
      Marco

  • Hi Marco,

    I’m going to India next Tuesday 13th March. I arrive on the 14th. Would it be possible to rent a motorbike and drive to Jaipur then Agra then back to Delhi within 4 days as I have a flight to Mumbai on Sunday 18th from Delhi. ME and my friend drove from the North to the South of Vietnam last year so want to drive a motorbike in India as well.

    Also did you and your friend drive from Delhi to Bangkok in the end?

    Thanks,
    Dean

    • Hey Dean,
      yes, 4 days is enough for this trip. I believe we also took exactly 4 days.
      Delhi to Bangkok is still on the list, I can’t wait!
      Have fun on the bike!
      Marco

  • Hi Marco, your trip sounds great and I’m deeply considering doing a similar route. I was wondering though, I plan to go for a month, if you knew whether it be cost effective to buy a motorbike, and then sell it at the end of my trip? Also, do you know how easy it is to volunteer over in India spontaneously? Lastly, how easy is it to meet other travellers out in India?
    Thanks,
    Will

    • Hey Will, I believe it’s cheaper to buy if you go for a month. But: You will have to take care of the selling which could take some time.
      I don’t know much about volunteering in India, unfortunately.
      And yes, it is very easy to meet people in India! It’s a special bunch of people going there, I always met great folks!
      Enjoy, mate!
      Marco

  • hi,
    thank you for the great blog. my friends i are planning a similar trip in 2019. we are expats living in Taiwan. please come visit Taiwan, it is a lovely safe country to travel . I own a small car and bike rental company cheapcartaiwan.com ,cheap and easy all in english. i would love to offer you a car or bike to say thank you for all your hard work on this blog.

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