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  #1  
Old 19 Aug 2014
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Questions about motorbike travel in America

Hey

I'm thinking about heading over to the states (I'm British) buying a bike and riding south till my cash runs out. Hopefully I'll get too see some of South America before I get too broke. I've got a few questions tho

Can I get some more details on taxes?
I know some states don't charge tax when buying a bike, does this tax get added on to used bike and private sales or just new bikes?

How much money would be "enough"?
I was thinking of just getting a used cheap small single (good fuel economy and I like smaller engine bikes) Maybe something like a Suzuki TU250X with not too many miles on it. I was hoping to spend around £2000 buying the bike ($3300). Would this be a sensible amount?
I'm only going to have £11000-12000 ($18000-20000) for the whole trip including visa, flights, bike, insurance and day to day living. That’s why I'm not setting too much of a destination as I want an adventure no a race against my money.

Is Wild camping legal in the US?
I'm assuming this will be a state by state thing. In England it’s illegal as all land is owned by someone Scotlands a little different. For the most part as long as you don’t make a nuisance of yourself and keep it low key and out of the way the law is largely overlooked. Are there any laws about pitching a tent/bivvy in a secluded spot? Could anyone point me towards any sites where the laws are explained?

What time of year should I set out?
I was thinking start somewhere in the Northern USA and head South but I would like to avoid the snow in the north but avoid any crazy hot weather in the south (also hurricanes although I plan to be further west). When would be a good time to head out, I’m hoping I’ll be able to squeeze 6 months out of my money.

Any other tips or info would be welcome

Cheers

Jay
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  #2  
Old 19 Aug 2014
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Good plan & I'm interested in the replies
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  #3  
Old 19 Aug 2014
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Hi Jay
Welcome to the hubb. Please don't take it the wrong way (some noobs do, unfortunately) but much of what you ask has already been asked previously. There's a great search function on the top right of every page. Or browse the relevant section like N, C and S America.

There's a really useful sticky thread at the top of the N America section about States where it's easier than others to buy and register a bike as a foreigner. From memory (can't look myself as I'm just on my phone) Arizona, New Mexico and Montana are more straight forward.

With ref to wild camping, National Forests might be easier as they're Federal land and not private property.
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Old 20 Aug 2014
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If you aren't in a hurry spend less on a bike and be sure to take food prep gear with your camping gear. Look for a bike that has a wide distribution in your planned area and learn before hand how to fix it. helena motorcycles/scooters - craigslist
I live in montana and it is pretty easy going as far as registering a vehicle. Also the license plate you get is permanent as long as you own the bike.
Best thing to do is take the money and hit the road.
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  #5  
Old 20 Aug 2014
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Heaps of places to free camp in a tent in the US. Most Forestry service land at least 1/4 mile from a main road can be used. Same with vast areas of BLM lands.

We use Map of Free Camping Areas | Go Camping for Free! a fair bit and we are in a 35' overwide motorhome so on a motorbike you should have even more choice.

BTW, you do know that while Australia has Great White sharks and Crocodiles so if you stay out of the water you are pretty safe - as long as you keep away from the snakes and spiders of course, but the US and Canada have Bears, and there is nowhere to hide.

Currently over 100F every day in south-western states bordering Mexico and has been that way for a couple of months or more.
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  #6  
Old 20 Aug 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Ryder View Post
If you aren't in a hurry spend less on a bike and be sure to take food prep gear with your camping gear. Look for a bike that has a wide distribution in your planned area and learn before hand how to fix it. helena motorcycles/scooters - craigslist
I live in montana and it is pretty easy going as far as registering a vehicle. Also the license plate you get is permanent as long as you own the bike.
Best thing to do is take the money and hit the road.
Hey, I already do a fair bit of hiking/camping so was planning on taking a mess kit with me and doing a fair bit of my own cooking. I've also had some experince with fixing up motorcycles although I've only ever had a 2 stoke completely apart but I feel I'd be up for the challenge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony LEE View Post
Heaps of places to free camp in a tent in the US. Most Forestry service land at least 1/4 mile from a main road can be used. Same with vast areas of BLM lands.

We use Map of Free Camping Areas | Go Camping for Free! a fair bit and we are in a 35' overwide motorhome so on a motorbike you should have even more choice.

BTW, you do know that while Australia has Great White sharks and Crocodiles so if you stay out of the water you are pretty safe - as long as you keep away from the snakes and spiders of course, but the US and Canada have Bears, and there is nowhere to hide.

Currently over 100F every day in south-western states bordering Mexico and has been that way for a couple of months or more.
Thanks for the link will come in handy as I start to actually get down to actually planning the trip. Bears are the only thing that really concerns me I'm hoping with senisble precautions (food sealed away and stored outside of camp and no food/anything that smell foody in the tent) i'll be OK.

As for camping on federally owned land I had read something about that but I also read your not suppose to take you vehicle with you, not sure how I would feel about being so far from my bike, also I read on another forum that camping on such land might only apply to US citizens. Which is why I was asking seems a bit of a weird situation legally.

I feel I should clear something up, the term "wild camping" in the UK basically means camping anywhere outside that isn't an offical campsite whether its the top of a mountain or just off a busy road outside of a town.
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  #7  
Old 20 Aug 2014
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Buying the bike or registering it, is not so much of a problem, its staying legal by having insurance that is the problem. Many states require you to be a resident to get insurance, which I find amusing giving the high number of illegal immigrants in the US.

I have found that those states that allow non residents to get insurance hike their rates. On the same bike I was quoted $400 in Maryland or $1000 in Arizona using Progressive online system.

progressive is good for foreigners requiring insurance and you can do it all online. Just need an address.

I gave up trying to buy a bike and shipped mine instead. Remember that taking your own bike, its all ready with everything you need. Panniers, sat nav, electrics etc.
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  #8  
Old 20 Aug 2014
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All sounds very sensible and doable to me. 6 months and £10,000, certainly possible.

I bought my bike in Alaska and started in July (2010) I was in Baja California by November and Panama by January. Many people moved faster than me, few slower.

You'd need to be south of Canada by October at the latest. If I was you I'd think of starting in August in California/Oregon do the western third of the US (amazing scenery and National Parks.)Get to Mexico around late Oct/ November. It's cooler then. You''ll probably get rain but be at the end of the hurricane season. You don't want to be in Central America before October.

If you're planning on going south of Panama into Colombia etc then the latest you can get a boat is December I think ( although you can always fly)

Many people cover the US all the way down to Argentina in 6 months. personally I think that's too quick. You'll miss a lot. Why not go slower, see more and leave South America for another time?.

If you can be bothered scrolling through my blog then all my details are there. Www.thedomwayround.blogspot.com. Or better still buy my book from my website and I'll personally sign and send you a copy so you can get planning! - Gone Riding - | Motorcycling and Volunteering across two continents
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  #9  
Old 10 Oct 2014
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US and Canada

Hi I spent most of June July and part of August riding around in BC and then south to Montana North Dakota Oregon Idaho California and back to BC. Yes you can camp in the wild but I found camping grounds the best bet. More people to talk to and better security. A good KLR can be had in the US for $3-4,000. I purchased a bike in BC and it was easy to register to a local address. Just showed my New Zealand passport and licence. The downside is the insurance in BC is ridiculously expensive. My no claim letter from my NZ insurer was useless as I don't have a BC drivers licence. The bike is in storage in Vancouver for CAD50.00 a month and I am going to pick it up in March and head south. Lots of good rides and friendly people.
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  #10  
Old 10 Oct 2014
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Jay:

You posted your question in late August, it's now early October, so I'm not sure if this reply is too late for you or not.

It's getting pretty darn cold at night here in North America now - I'm in Toronto, and the temperatures have been reaching down to about 5°C at night, with daytime highs no more than 15°.

The two images below show present temperature forecasts at ground level for the same day (October 10) in both North America and Europe. Note carefully the amount of blue and dark green colour in the North American image. Blue is below freezing, dark green is below 10°. I honestly don't think you would want to be camping outside in those temperatures, which means you would be confined to travelling pretty far south in the USA.

Note that the only area in continental Europe that is showing the same dark green is up in the Alps or Central Massif of France.

Michael



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  #11  
Old 16 Oct 2014
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If you buy a used bike from a individual there is no tax. The tax is imposed when you register the bike. I'm not sure how a tourist/visitor goes about registering a bike and obtaining a license plate. If you buy from a dealer, there may or may not be taxes on a used bike. Seems every states has their own rules about that.

Wild camping is hit and miss, some National Parks allow it others don't. State Parks the same, but there is a lot of open land still in the US, think Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Arizona and the Mid-West.

You will make out very well buying here, the Pound is at 1.60 today, so your money will go further.

Good Luck on your adventure.
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  #12  
Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Can I get some more details on taxes?
I can't help much, it does very state to state, but most will require residency (Or at least an address). Some states are less rigorous about it, people here might be able to help with that. Here in WI as a foreign visitor you would have a hard time buying and registering, which you would need to do in order to leave the country with it. You might have an easier time in Canada (being British), but that is a guess - I don't really know. Also check the market here and on ADVrider, someone might be able to get you set up.

How much money would be "enough"?
As much as you want or as little as you have. On my 250 I can travel for around $40 a day in the USA, but that is pretty thrifty. On a small bike, with extra money for fun stuff and not traveling to quickly, you can probably do only on 60-70 in the USA and about 2/3s of that in Central America. Of course, you can also spend way more than that - its your trip. Don't skip stuff just because you are pretending to be broke.

Is Wild camping legal in the US?
The USA and Canada have lands set aside for public use (BLM land in the USA, provincial land in Canada). In Canada it's mostly north and west, in the USA its mostly west. In the Midwest and east you are going to probably have to pay to camp, but don't forget things like HU communities, couchsurfing.org and motostays. They can be less expensive than camping and allow you to stay in cities without breaking the bank (cities are good for food, museums, and laundry).

What time of year should I set out?
Spring or fall for the south. I'd suggest a loop. Start in the south in the spring, ride as far north as you wanted to go (Alaska? You didn't really say) then loops south as the weather turns. I wouldn't worry about South American, just wandering around North and Central America could keep you busy for years and it avoids the need to get across the Darian Gap.

Have fun, and relax. And make sure you check in when you get here, I know where the good is.
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  #13  
Old 2 Days Ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayCee View Post
Hey

I'm thinking about heading over to the states (I'm British) buying a bike and riding south till my cash runs out. Hopefully I'll get too see some of South America before I get too broke. I've got a few questions tho

Can I get some more details on taxes?
I know some states don't charge tax when buying a bike, does this tax get added on to used bike and private sales or just new bikes?

How much money would be "enough"?
I was thinking of just getting a used cheap small single (good fuel economy and I like smaller engine bikes) Maybe something like a Suzuki TU250X with not too many miles on it. I was hoping to spend around £2000 buying the bike ($3300). Would this be a sensible amount?
I'm only going to have £11000-12000 ($18000-20000) for the whole trip including visa, flights, bike, insurance and day to day living. That’s why I'm not setting too much of a destination as I want an adventure no a race against my money.

Is Wild camping legal in the US?
I'm assuming this will be a state by state thing. In England it’s illegal as all land is owned by someone Scotlands a little different. For the most part as long as you don’t make a nuisance of yourself and keep it low key and out of the way the law is largely overlooked. Are there any laws about pitching a tent/bivvy in a secluded spot? Could anyone point me towards any sites where the laws are explained?

What time of year should I set out?
I was thinking start somewhere in the Northern USA and head South but I would like to avoid the snow in the north but avoid any crazy hot weather in the south (also hurricanes although I plan to be further west). When would be a good time to head out, I’m hoping I’ll be able to squeeze 6 months out of my money.

Any other tips or info would be welcome

Cheers

Jay
Free camping is available in a lot of National Forests and western BLM lands. They also have some pretty reasonable and handy campgrounds nationwide (42 or so states). Every state has federal or state lands so just pick a state and query it. I start thinking I would prefer to be more southerly about September or October, I try to be south before any of the winter snows, but that is beautiful too, just tougher to appreciate on a bike. Either Oregon or Washington state doesn't have any sales tax on purchases, not sure how that works on a bike purchase. Nice riding down either coast heading south in the fall too! Florida in October is fine!
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