Sri Lanka may not feature on many riders’ bucket list for motorcycle travel, but after recently completing a 13-day ride with Extreme Bike Tours it comes highly recommend.
There is so much diversity in terrain in an island nation the size of Tasmania; just check out the video below!
However, my report on the first half of the trip gave only one side of the country.
I declared Sri Lanka a rider’s paradise with a wide variety of riding conditions and roads.
“There are billiard-table smooth asphalt roads that wind through the hills, dramatically tight hairpin turns that drop down a step at the apex, bumpy and gnarly mountain goat tracks and everything in between,” my report said.
Another side of the country
However, we then moved from the south-eastern beaches and mountains to the jungle plains and beaches of the west where the roads are flatter and straighter.
But we still faced many challenging surfaces while scanning the roadsides for jungle animals.
Of course, we also faced and conquered the intense challenges of dealing with hectic traffic in the popular centres.
These sections were actually very exciting, dicing with maverick bus drivers who didn’t seem to want to stop for any traffic.
Horns blaring constantly and rapid overtaking certainly get the blood pumping.
We also passed through three amazing national parks in search of elephants but didn’t see any. Instead, we saw a lot of other wildlife and birdlife.
The only elephants we saw were unexpectedly roadside and somehow that’s even more exciting than seeing them where you expect to see them.
Like the first part of the trip, the food was delicious, the people overtly friendly and the accommodation top quality.
Extreme Bike Tours runs a professional set-up, they own and maintain all the bikes rather than hiring them and the three owners live in the country.
Two are British expats and the third is Sri Lankan, so they are experienced local guides who know the best and most interesting routes, sights, restaurants and hotels.
As for the Royal Enfield Classic 350s we rode, they are perfect all-rounders for the island nation’s varied terrain and conditions.
They are low, stable, comfortable and easy to ride. They also attract a lot of attention from the locals as there are few in the country, even though they are made in nearby southern India.
Most of the time you will be riding between 60-80km/h on tight and twisting roads, up and down mountains and the 350 is plenty fast enough for these conditions.
The Enfield’s torquey single-cylinder engine pulls in any gear and the big flywheel makes them extremely stable for riding feet-up in heavy traffic or bouncing over rocky mountain trails.
On the rare and lonely four-lane highways they tapped out at almost 120km/h with the rider crouched over the fuel tank, downhill with a tail wind.
Yet they only needed refuelling every other day as they are so economical.
The retro bikes are so endearing, several of the riders on tour said they would consider buying one when they returned home.