Ever since its launch, Mahindra has been talking up the Mojo’s touring capabilities. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we’ve just tasted it – in the wild!
Group rides are something that I’ve always dreaded, and have never really been a fan of. On most of these rides, half the time is spent anticipating the moves of the rider in front, while for the remaining part you’re constantly praying that the rider behind doesn’t nudge you into the nearest ditch. Of course, there are millions of “group riding tips” available on the Internet, but it hardly translates on the road – especially when you have a bunch of riders with different ‘techniques.’
So, when Mahindra invited us to ride along with the Mojo Tribe (their owners’ club) for the ‘Jungle Trail,’ it invariably put me in two minds. But, honestly, the itinerary was too tempting to turn down. And, if you’ve been following our long-term reports of the Mojo from preceding months, you may have read that I’ve been longing to take (and test) the Mojo on a long road-trip. So there was no chance that I was going to miss this one.
Bangalore – Chikmagaluru – Madikeri – Masinagudi – Bangalore; that was the travel plan for this wild sojourn. About 942 kilometres were to be covered in 4 days through some of the most breath-taking locales in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Around 30 riders were part of the trip, including current and prospective Mojo owners, along with a group of veterans as well as us journos.
After the flag off ceremony, our destination for the day was 286 kilometres away, perched on the top of a hilltop in Chikmagaluru. Getting out of Bangalore traffic proved to be a lot less hectic than I had thought. Once out of the city, we were soon cruising along the excellent four-lane Bangalore-Hassan highway. And this was the kind of stretch that, as I soon figured out, is perfect Mojo territory. It can cruise at 110-120km/h with ease all day-long – there are absolutely no vibrations whatsoever, and the upright seating posture allows you to clock mile-after-miles effortlessly. Maintaining constant three-digit speeds on this particular stretch is also thanks to other motorists in this area. Their astonishing ability to not jump or swerve between lanes unnecessarily is something that road-users in other parts of the country can definitely take a cue from. The only killjoy on what was an enjoyable ride was the weather – the mercury had reached 41-degrees! However, a light drizzle and the nice bit of twisty tarmac before our night stop completely turned the mood around.
The next day we headed towards our second destination – Kaddamakoli homestays in Madikeri, which was a roughly 260-kilometer ride. But, unlike on the day before, we couldn’t cover ground that quickly since there weren’t any arrow-straight highways on the way up. But you’d didn’t see anyone complaining since the vistas around only got better and the roads even more rewarding.
Compared with the first two days, the third day was quite relaxed – since we would only be riding for around 180 kilometres. However, we had to cross three borders that day – Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. While Karnataka and Kerala treated us with some of the most scenic back roads, the stretch between Pattavayal and Devershola in the Nilgiris districts of Tamil Nadu is a biker’s delight. The tarmac is racetrack-smooth and the mix of tight and long sweepers keeps you grinning from ear-to-ear. I’d also like to pause for a second and appreciate my steed for the way it performed that day. The Mojo, around these roads, was an absolute revelation. It turns in confidently into corners, maintains the desired line surefootedly, remains absolutely stable mid-corner, and thanks to its strong mid-range, you exit the corner without any signs of distress. I mean it’s no sports-bike around a bend, but it’s not a lousy handler either. Full marks to Mahindra engineers for getting the balance spot-on – it’s truly a versatile and genuinely likeable motorcycle.
I could have ridden the bike up and down the same stretch of road for hours, but there was no respite from the sun as it remained unapologetically torturous, and, secondly, we were now entering a wildlife area – Masinagudi National Park to be exact. Our night halt was in the middle of the wildlife area, too. After a fun and laughter filled barbeque session with fellow riders, it was time to prepare for the ride back to Bangalore the following day.
Before that, however, I went for a quick solo ride during the wee hours of the morning the next day. I rode farther up from our camp towards Ooty. This road comprises of the famous 36 hairpin bends – and what a joy it is to ride a motorcycle there.
By the end of the trip, the motorcycle’s odo read 1,233 kilometres on what was supposed to be a 942-kilometre ride. That, sort of, explains how much fun I was having during this trip – ahem, group ride!