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  #1  
Old 24 Oct 2011
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Question Average travel speeds in Mongolia

Can any of you help with my trip planning with estimates of travel speeds that people manage when in Mongolia?

I've heard wildly varying figures which are probably due to downtime eg local tourism and relaxation, breakdowns, etc. and how much actual riding was done in a day. The guys here seemed to average a huge 580 km/day by my calculations: Mongoolia 2005 -www.moposivut.com-. I doubt this is realistically or regularly achievable given the LWR guys getting so much less with a LOT of effort. (Yes I know what you all think of them, but it does provide an indication of how much it can vary). It's so hard to get info on how far people have gone in a day, and what they mean by a "day". 4 hours riding? 14 hours riding?

Knowing this stuff can really help with the eternal struggle of balancing a schedule that's not too hectic while still being able to cover lots of ground and see more of the country.

So what would be a good figure to use for trip planning then, if you took all these variables out as best you can? How far could you reasonably expect to travel in an hour, or in, say, a day with 8 hours of riding? Are there any areas in Mongolia where you'd allow a lot more (eg around UB) or a lot less (eg in the Gobi or in the mountains)?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 24 Oct 2011
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Talking Mongolian Maths

This definitely comes under the heading of how long is a piece of string
It's a tricky one as not only are there the variables you've mentioned but also the size of bike and whether you're travelling on your own or with others.
Also your off-road experience and confidence when riding off-road.
How comfortable are you riding in sand this is a major factor in the Gobi.

There are basically two roads with tarmac in Mongolia and you can do reasonable speeds on those as there usually isn't much traffic.

Once you're off those you can be on (or in) anything from gravel, hard piste, mud, rivers or sand.
As an example, leaving Ulan Bataar I took two and a half days to get down to Dalangadzad in southern Gobi (solo on an R80GS and with no GPS), it took me less time to get back to UB partly because I had got tired of riding slowly through all the sand, and was riding a lot faster (though I did get lost!)



On my own, I often tend to ride longish days, especially as I was camping and would look for places to stick my tent when the sun started to go down.
Have a think about how far you would travel in a normal day and calculate maybe on doing about a quarter to a third of that for the rougher conditions in Mongolia.

And remember that we are all very different in the way that we travel.
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Everyone travels at different speeds, and some do short hours, some like doing long hours.

Some people take 2 weeks to go from the western border to UB. Some do it in under 3 days.

If you will average 25 km/h in those conditions and only want to ride 5 or 6 hours a day, it will take 2 weeks.

If you can average 100 km/h in those conditions and do 12 hours a day, you will do it in 2 days. In reference to your original post, yes it is definitely possible to average 600 km a day in Mongolia if you are a reasonably aggressive rider, on a well sorted bike, who is comfortable doing 10 or more hours a day in the saddle. I am far from an expert rider yet averaged 600 km a day in Mongolia last year. A very good off road rider, with a light adventure bike and luggage, I would think could average closer to 1000 km a day. Someone who has never ridden off road before will find 200 km a day pretty tough - at least at the beginning Mongolia is a good place to improve quickly.

There are a lot of different style riders out there on a lot of different style bikes - all of which adapt differently to the challenges of Mongolia, so its impossible to generalise. It really depends on at what speed you enjoy riding, and how many hours in the day you enjoy riding. Keep focussed on enjoyment ..., and ride at the speed you enjoy and for as long as you enjoy.

If I had to guess, I would say the average adventure rider on the average adventure bike will take a week of riding ... averaging 300 km per day of actual riding to gt from the western border to UB. (excluding days off off the bike, rest days etc)

What I have recommended to a few people in the past is budget for 10 days, then you have a few days up your sleeve for relaxing and breakdowns etc and then try and do 300 km a day when you are in the saddle.









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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Really nice pictures. Makes me desperately want to be back there. Best place I've ever been on a bike, by far. More than that, the week and a half I spent there ranks very near the top of the list of greatest experiences of my life.

Back to the question about travel speed - whatever you decide to use in your planning, allow yourself as much time in Mongolia as you can!
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Originally Posted by todderz View Post
...the week and a half I spent there with my old mate Dave ranks very near the top of the list of greatest experiences of my life.
Echoes of "Brokeback Mountain" there mate. Its normally girls who say that about Kito
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  #6  
Old 25 Oct 2011
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Great pics as usual Walter. Are those from the southern route or northern route, or both?

Also, I've got a question for you Mongolia veterans--the roads generally look a little, er, undefined--do people usually just dead-reckon the general direction and take whatever roads you come across, or pick the roads which generally seem to going in the right direction, or ride cross-country, or what?

Not really used to navigating like this, so will be interested to hear...
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Loved it..

But..I wouldn't go back to Mongolia without 450-650cc in a proper offroad chassis.

If you have a GPS and a fast bike you can blast along without any worry about getting lost, steering your dot roughly along the red line (Garmin) and feeling like you're in an easier version of the Dakar rally!

Riding at speed in Mongolia is tiring and dangerous (potholes, hidden bumps and very easy to lose your concentration) but you can't beat the feeling!

Just remember your nearest proper medical facilities will be a plane ride away and probably in another country (e.g. Korea)...
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Northern route or neither ... Southern route is not the most scenic.

Mongolia is getting a mapped a lot better now on OSM which makes it a lot easier. Previously you just picked the wheelruts that pointed in the closest direction and cross check after 10, 20, 50 km that you are roughly where you tihnk you should be

Quote:
Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
Great pics as usual Walter. Are those from the southern route or northern route, or both?

Also, I've got a question for you Mongolia veterans--the roads generally look a little, er, undefined--do people usually just dead-reckon the general direction and take whatever roads you come across, or pick the roads which generally seem to going in the right direction, or ride cross-country, or what?

Not really used to navigating like this, so will be interested to hear...
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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There is a nice french guy crossing Mongolia right now, not afraid of low temperatures and snow:

Check his travel-speed here:

vagabondagesautourdumonde

The blog is in french, but even if this is not your language - see
his pictures.

You can also find some videos on youtube, search for maxautourdumonde.

Enjoy!
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Old 25 Oct 2011
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Thanks for the helpful replies and AWESOME photos folks!

We had been originally banking on about 150km/day (overall average, not just per day of riding). My friend and I are planning on spending about 6 weeks total, broken down into 4-5 weeks of riding and sightseeing and an extra week or two for travel and contingencies. So going off what you guys say that means that we can have effectively 1 day of contingencies/sightseeing/relaxation/fishing etc for every day of riding if we can make 300km in a day without any trouble and even more if we can get further. What this really means is that with the time we've allowed we can really get to know the country and its people and perhaps travel to parts we wouldn't have otherwise gone.

We'll be using either DR-Z400s or DR650s, depending which we think will be more suitable after trying them both out. Dunno if a 400 will be happy at 100km/h all day long when fully loaded?

The current plan is to start in UB then head to Khovsgol Nuur for a couple of days, across to Olgii, spend a day or three exploring the area, perhaps going into the Altai mountains a bit to the south then east taking the southern route via Altai and Bayanhongor, across the Khangai range to Tsetserleg, to Kharkorin then south to Arvayheer, across the Gobi to Dalandzandgad, a few days there then depending on how much time and how confident we are we might either (a) continue east all the way to Choibalsan and back to UB either skirting or going through the Hentii range (depending whether permits are still required) maybe following the Onon or (b) go straight back to UB from Dalandzandgad via Mandalgovi. In between we'd spend a couple of days here and there and maybe take some detours off the main roads - some planned, some probably unplanned!

To do all this in four or five weeks would allow time for lots of enjoyable things on the way by the sound of it.

Thanks for the link bubbla, I'll go through it. Google's English translation is quite good. The guy must be crazy doing that at this time of year, but good luck to him!

Last edited by Chinggis; 25 Oct 2011 at 22:42.
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Old 26 Oct 2011
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Originally Posted by Chinggis View Post
We'll be using either DR-Z400s or DR650s, depending which we think will be more suitable after trying them both out. Dunno if a 400 will be happy at 100km/h all day long when fully loaded?
Then dont fully load it
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Old 28 Oct 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
Also, I've got a question for you Mongolia veterans--the roads generally look a little, er, undefined--do people usually just dead-reckon the general direction and take whatever roads you come across, or pick the roads which generally seem to going in the right direction, or ride cross-country, or what?

Not really used to navigating like this, so will be interested to hear...
From my experiences, the links between province capitals were fairly easy to follow, consisting of several tracks weaving among themselves in the same general direction. When away from those, yes, it becomes a guessing game, and a few times I had to make a course correction by going cross-country, following a compass heading. Doing this nearly bit me back once: I found myself on a lakebed that had a thin crust of dried mud on top, and pasty mud underneath. My RPMs were going up, but I was slowing down! Stayed on the gas and made it, but it could have gotten "interesting".

Obligatory Mongolia photos:






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Old 26 Dec 2011
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Hi Chinggis,
If you are planning to go to Lake Khuvsgul, it's a day and half's ride now as quite a bit of road has been built in the recent past. And if you need any info/help on traveling/riding through Mongolia, you can ask me either here or contact me at info@adventuresmongolia.mn I run my own small adventure travel company.
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Old 4 Jan 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinggis View Post
Can any of you help with my trip planning with estimates of travel speeds that people manage when in Mongolia?
.
Hi Chinggis,

I would say that a reasonable speed to maintain would be about 50km / hour.

It will be quite tiring, and the going will be heavy in places.

I would say a 3 hour ride before lunch break, then a 3 hour ride after lunch break.

If you can get 6 hours riding in, then I say you would be around 250 km to 300 km a day.

Don't overexpect to do huge distances, any thing more than 250 km a day is a bonus. I would be quite happy if I could maintain 50km per hour.

On a recent trip down the full length of Vietnam, we were lucky to do 200 km a day,

250 km or even 300 km is a big distance in Mongolia, believe me.

Vette
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Old 5 Jan 2012
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Ulaanbaatar south to China?

We're playing with a few ideas and one that has come up is riding to Ulaanbaatar from the west as discussed and then instead of heading north to Russia we turn right towards China. A tour company in China indicates that it is possible to join a group going from Erlynhot on the Mongolian border to Beijing and on south to Shanghai where we would catch a boat and the remainder continue on to Laos.

I haven't had much luck finding information on the road south in Mongolia. I notice that Walter's waypoints (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...aypoints-50860) don't show anything down that way either. So that means it is either easy to find fuel and accommodation or no-one has done it and reported waypoints. Does anyone have any information on this road? Is it similar to the "road" west or is it a truck route full of tractor-trailer rigs blasting along a paved road?

In our planning we have also budgeted about 10 days to cross from the west to Ulaanbaatar.
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