Royal Enfield 90 South Expedition: A deeper look with Santhosh Kumar
Royal Enfield would take the first-of-its-kind journey to the South Pole to celebrate its 120 years of existence as a motorcycle brand. HT Auto interacted with Santhosh Vijay Kumar, Lead - Rides Community, at Royal Enfield to know, what really goes behind the curtain and how the brand came with the idea to conquer the South Pole.
- What was the purpose of the expedition and choosing the South Pole as a destination?
Exploration has been a part of our DNA and 90 South expedition is another chapter in our epic series where we celebrate Royal Enfield’s resilience and history of motorcycling adventure over the last 120 years. This expedition will be a test of both man and machine to become the first motorcycle brand to traverse Antarctica on a 770 km ride in 39 days to reach the geographic South Pole, from the Ross Ice Shelf, via the Leverett Glacier, to the Amundsen-Scott Pole station on expedition-ready Royal Enfield Himalayan.
Also check these Vehicles
Traverse to the South Pole is the ultimate destination which hasn't been explored by us. As a brand, we have traversed across varied terrains and geographies and it was natural to test our machine and human endurance in one of the most inhospitable parts of the globe. We, as a consumer-centric brand are deeply invested in building a culture of motorcycling through marquee rides and epic rides. This ride is also a tribute to all the adventurers who have shown their resilience, perseverance and to overcome challenges.
- What goes into the preparation for such an epic ride?
For this expedition, two Himalayans have been modified in-house, with functional upgrades to be able to navigate snow and ice to ably function under extreme conditions in Antarctica. Given that the Himlayan in itself is a complete and proficient machine, minimal changes have been made to the motorcycle to make it ready for the terrain and weather conditions in Antarctica. For greater torque at the rear wheel, the main drive sprocket has been changed from a 15-teeth, to a 13-teeth unit. There is a tubeless wheel setup with studded tyres that allows the tyres to run at very low pressures, and to increase floatation on soft snow, while also providing adequate traction on hard ice. The team has introduced a stronger alternator using rare earth magnets, so as to enable the motorcycle to produce more current and enable the team to run heated gear off the battery.
The Himalayan was tested for this arduous and treacherous journey at the Langjokull glacier in Iceland, with an intention to mirror the conditions in Antarctica. Phase 1 of testing was held in September 2020 while phase 2 of testing concluded in July 2021.
The expedition will include two Royal Enfield riders - Santhosh Vijay Kumar, Lead - Rides & Community, Royal Enfield, and Dean Coxson, Senior Engineer- Product Development, Royal Enfield who will be accompanied by two polar experts from the Arctic Trucks team - Johannes Gudmundsson who fronts various expeditions for Arctic trucks with his deep understanding and knowledge of the continent and Arnar Gunnarsson has also worked for multiple divisions of Arctic Trucks along with the content duo who will shoot the entire experience of the riders - George Marshall, a well-known content creator who has worked with multiple established brands around the world and Will Evans, George’s assistant, and the ‘Google’ of the group because of his in-depth knowledge on most of the things. The entire team has been an integral part of the expedition since beginning right from the testing phase, hence, they have an in-depth understanding of the project.
- Message for fellow riders who wish to embark on a cross-continent ride such as this?
This is an unimaginable journey on two wheels through the roughest, toughest, most unforgiving terrain. But with any adventure comes the risks. Patience and perseverance coupled with commitment and a strong sense of dedication one should be able to achieve the goal. One needs to push the boundaries of possibility to achieve the unthinkable. As a leading motorcycle brand, we build motorcycles that are meant to be ridden in any kind of terrain, and especially with this expedition, we believe that everybody can draw some kind of inspiration on this and take their motorcycles wherever they want to.
- Why the Himalayan has been chosen over all RE bikes for this adventure?
Launched in 2016, the Royal Enfield Himalayan is a simple, extremely capable, and go-anywhere motorcycle. Inspired from the experience of decades of riding in the Himalayas, and traversing thousands of kilometers of challenging terrain, the Royal Enfield Himalayan was built to be a versatile motorcycle that is capable on the road, as well as off the beaten track. Its versatility instills a sense of confidence and complete control of the machine to the rider. Hence, the Himalayan is the perfect fit for such an epic expedition.