Recently I did a ride to Belgavi from Pune. It’s a nice ride of approximately 342Km on the NH4 (National Highway 4). These roads I have been traveling since long time. The road has undergone many changes from single lane to double lanes and currently four lanes. The route includes two states, Maharashtra and Karnataka (India). The reason I mentioned this fact because there is a great difference in the roads and also the people on the road commuting.
The initial plan was to depart from work place but, i had forgotten my riding gloves at home so had to go collect them. This prevented me from leaving Pune early and was delayed by 45 minutes which I wanted to prevent completely. My plan was to leave early and cross Kolhapur before it got dark. Belgavi is approximately 90Km from Kolhapur and the highway is mind boggling awesome. I am exaggerating because never before I had gone done 170Km/hr (which happened on my way back).
As my stay was for two days and three night I had to pack my luggage, the first drawback I want to mention, the KTM Duke has no place to tie the luggage. The pillion handles are there but it’s a task to secure luggage with bungee-chords and also the paint ends up getting scratched. There are many options of saddle bags but as I had not purchased, rendering me to resort to the unfavorable procedure with my luggage.
Finally I departed and was on the road, I continued on the NH4. The journey from Pune to Satara is one of the most horrible roads I traveled on NH4. There are multiple diversions as there is work going on since ages. I do not understand how many years does it take and end up cursing the highway whenever NH4 is mentioned in any of the conversations. Through this patch I was all over the bike trying to recover the lost time; the bike did not disappoint me at all. After crossing this horrible path which is approximately 102Km I was relieved. After this there was nice road, patches of tar and cement paved roads which I could not complain a bit.
The journey from Satara to Kolhapur was great, during this period I started feeling discomfort on the seat. The seat is hard and could become discomforting on long continuous rides, but my RE also had hard seat but I never experienced any pain.
Before I reached Kolhapur, it had already become dark and the average speed reduced. This could be blamed on two things, one is that there was moderate moving traffic and secondly the lights of the bike. It is an inherent flaw in the KTM Duke that the headlight does not project sufficient light on road which limits the visibility and also the speed as I wanted to cover the distance quick.
The head light does not provide adequate visibility in dark even high beam is not adequate as it projects on the road side trees. Yes, I could adjust the head light projection angle but that would render the lower beam to project closed to the bike, further reducing visibility distance. There is no justification for the incompetent headlight of the KTM Duke; it’s absolutely useless in dark for long rides where one wants to cover up distance quick.
After I crossed the Maharashtra border in to Karnataka, the road just opens up to a six lane NH4. The road is amazing and the traffic (usually heavy vehicles come out at night) is well disciplined unlike elsewhere. Took couple of stops to clean my helmet glass smeared with insect internals as for some reason they were attracted to the helmet the reason was due to head light. The NH4 in the Karnataka state has lay-by spots with functional toilets and drinking water.
Through this journey I had become extremely uncomfortable on the bike due to hard seat and had decided to sit on the ground by the highway cleaning my helmet. The folded leg posture was like a blessing, so I continued to sit, later found myself lying down on the road side. The passersby may be wondering what is wrong with that fellow, as it was 11:00pm. I continued to Belgavi with a sore bum (friend of my at Belgavi suggested me to purchase gel shorts to prevent sore bum)and concluded that the head light is of no use so I updated my ‘to do’ list by adding auxiliary LED lights to illuminate the road and not the on-coming traffic. The same was experienced on the way back.