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Old 4 Sep 2010
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Talking Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to France on a stolen proto Yam XT250X.

Title: Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to her house in Normandy, France with a stolen Yamaha XT250X prototype crossing the middle east on the way.
Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to France on a stolen proto Yam XT250X.-me.jpg

Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to France on a stolen proto Yam XT250X.-you.gif

Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to France on a stolen proto Yam XT250X.-itinerary.jpg
The Itinerary.
Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to France on a stolen proto Yam XT250X.-over-loaded-bike.jpg
The Bike.

Ok folks, here is the thing, one year ago, I went from China to France on a Japanese imported Yamaha XT250X and never got to make a report on that! I did this journey for the challenge, the pleasure, the experience and following my instinct.
Now, on a sleepless night in Buenos Aires, 4th September 2010 ; I decided to start the report of that trip which started the 1st of July 2009.
It was a very very very (very?) special trip for me. Before starting long sentences and stuff I’ll just tell you some facts about the journey:
- Distance: 17,000 kms
- Duration: 3 months
- Countries crossed: China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Italy and France.
- Bike: Yamaha XT250X Prototype/concept bike (that’s how they call it in Wikipedia)

What made this trip so particular for me? Well, I had only 3 months “holidays” and I was working in China, in a city called Qingdao and after riding in India and Cambodia a few years before, I fell in love with bike travels.

So, the plan was to make a big trip for those 3 months.
What could be better than going home from my work in China to my house in France?

Laws in China are very restrictive and this is why very few foreigners can ride through China and if they do, they most of the time have guides with them. The trick was to buy the bike there.

So I decided to take a big jump forward and make it happen, it was not easy to prepare a trip like this while being in China with not too much money and a very tight schedule.

Some intense moments of the trip in a random order:

- Crossing one meter high floods in remote parts of China with a 90kilos Canadian, Max Le Gros, (in the back of the bike (total load approx: (Me: 67) + (Canada: 90) + (Luggage: 40) = 195Kgs load for a 130Kgs bike!)

- Flying trough shit roads on the side of highways with a Chinese friend in the back of the bike. Sights: on the right the Great Wall of China; under us: bumps which made my rear tire explode.

- Hanging out with Russian bikers in Kazakhstan, including a 15 years old riding a Kawasaki Ninja and others showing off their guns.

- Riding through Chinese streets at high speed sounding horn and flashing lights, looking like scenes out of the GTA video game.

- Getting escorted by the Jordan army on the way to the Israeli border.

- Buying the brand new Yamaha in a small shop in China, which came parted in several wooden boxes!

- Coming to my father’s apartment in Paris, flashing through the crazy traffic in Paris with my Chinese plates and a great feeling of victory!

- Crossing Turkish mountains full of snow while wearing all the clothes I could find.

- Getting from Italy to France in the middle of December without proper protection against the cold. Crossing the Alps. Had to buy any kind of clothes, put gardening gloves to be less cold, stop every 30 minutes to warm my hands on the exhaust. Tougher than you think.

- Saving the bike from being stolen just a few days before the trip started. Including: moving two vans with a French friend (Matthieu) by pushing them (lucky the ground was a little wet); punching their tires with the decorative Katanas of my apartment; a lot of laughing while thinking at the robbers’ face when they discover all that.

- Apparently being the first motorcycle with Chinese plates to enter Israel -please tell me if it is not the case-. (And almost having an orgasm after going through Israel immigration but maybe you do not really appreciate knowing that)

- Riding a Chinese highway on the wrong side to find some gas for a Chinese friend who stalled on the highway (oh yeah and he was also a policeman).

- Hiding behind trucks to pass the highway tolls in China (forbidden for motorcycles)

- Arriving at my mom’s country house in the western part of France with a brand new looking bike and Chinese plates on it, epic.

- Discovering that the Chassis number written on the bike was not the same than the one in the Chinese papers, all this while talking to the customs officer of Azerbaijan and trying to look cool. Huh.

- Doing the whole trip with only a fake Chinese driving license bought for 20euros (sorry Mom).

And well for people who might say that it was crazy to do it without a proper driving license, without insurance, with fake papers, etc. I will say: TRUE but this adventure would never have happened if I had not decided to do that (and well, I didn’t know it was a stolen bike until I got out of China J). I was going to write everything without telling about all these details but I finally realized it was part of it and decided to tell all the truth mom, and well this was the greatest journey of my very long and experienced life of 24 years so it was risky but worth it!

The next episodes are coming soon, I decided to write one every week to report on the whole trip.

Oh and if you are doing any similar trip and need some precise advise feel very free to e-mail me, it will be a pleasure to help you.

Here are a few introduction shots made with the pocket camera I had for the trip. The shots are not of great quality because I suck at photography and my good Canon G7 camera sunk after a few water crossing in China so I more or less bought a cheap and small camera with the money I got from robbing a Chinese grandma not.
Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to France on a stolen proto Yam XT250X.-snow-in-turkey.jpg
What uh? Max 5 files uploading? OK, then more pictures in next articles

Frederic Shiffer.
4th of September 2010.
PS: Here is a link to a video I made of the loading of the bike, while still on the road in China, with a Chinese friend on the back for 2 weeks!

YouTube - RobertoCarlosCarlito's Channel
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Old 4 Sep 2010
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Great story!


just read your great story! WOuld be nice if you are in France one day to visit our HU Germany Meeting and give a little presentation about your trip... what do you think?

Next Meeting end of october or next year end of May???

See you there and good luck!!!

Jens, right now in Chile, going into Peru next days....
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Old 4 Sep 2010
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hey Fresch2

nice story.. my mom doens't know any of my ridings (to the uk to morocco) and she doesn't even know that i had a bike. any way. my wasn't as big as you.

so looking forward to hear the rest of the story.
ozhan u.
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Old 5 Sep 2010
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Old 5 Sep 2010
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Cool! I am so looking forward to reading more about this...
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Old 6 Sep 2010
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Sounds like you had a great adventure. Subscribed and looking forward to your updates.

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Old 6 Sep 2010
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Fantastic! What a ride!!!
Nick and his 2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré
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Old 12 Sep 2010
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Talking Episode 1: Getting ready for the start of the trip.

Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to her house in Normandy, France with a stolen Yamaha XT250X prototype crossing the middle east on the way.

Episode 1 : Getting ready for the start of the trip. The weeks before the 1st of July 2009.

2 months before 1st of July 2009.

Alriiiiiiight, so at that time I am working in Qingdao, in a German company.

View from my office.


At that time, my scooter is rocking the streets of the city. We bought it with my great british friend Lance for 40 euros. However I need something more trustworthy to go back to Paris.


Me and my scooter.

For this, I started looking for a Bike. An american friend named Ric helped me on that (I am going to give you guys a lot of names in those articles, most of you probably do not care but I see it as a way to thank all these people who were a big part of my journey!).
So how do you get a Japanese prototype in China? Well at the beginning I was looking for a 250cc-400cc bike, trail style because it seemed to me that it was the best way to get back home to me!
So Ric and me were looking through different bikes that “Ric’s connections” were sending us pictures of by e-mail. One sunny day (or not), the pictures of this beautiful new black Yamaha show up in my e-mail inbox.

Here is the e-mail “28,000 RMB. We buy papers and plates and then all is well. Few bikes af outside origin are "legal" but they pass for cops. You want real legal. open the wallet and have shipped from Japan. Usually they are torn down and brought in in parts to a factory down South. No they do not want many inspecting, or the price goes up. »
Okkkkkkkkkk, 28,000 RMB = 3,000euros, worth the money, I go for it ! I get the bike about 1 month before the start of the trip.
Time to buy some basic equipment:

Ok, here I am wearing this equipment

Let’s add a pair of trousers, a shirt and well, it’s not good protection but ready to go

The guy on this picture is Thomas, incredible French friend. He came to visit me in China and we went to try the bike around Qingdao in different terrain. The bike lost a few bolts on the way, seems the Chinese who assembled all the parts of the bike out of the wooden boxes it came in were quite tired this day.

On the picture above, it is the first stop in a local mechanic out in the mountains to put some bolts back. Nice garage.

Ok, so now, I am ready to leave, itinerary undecided. We are one week before the 1st of July 2009, the day when I finish work in the German company in Qingdao and plan to set out of Qingdao, driving west, direction France.

See you next article.

Upcoming Episode: Katanas and robbers and the first thousand kilometers!


Frederic Shiffer, writing from Buenos Aires, 12th September 2010.
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Old 12 Sep 2010
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Thumbs up

Nice! More please......

Cheers bloke

Nigel in NZ
The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with . -- 2200 BC Egyptian inscription
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Old 12 Sep 2010
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nice one..

looking forward for episode 2!!!
ozhan u.
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Old 12 Sep 2010
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Super, j'attends la suite avec impatience, je vais me faire une crêpe pour patienter!!!
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Old 20 Sep 2010
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Talking Episode 2: Katanas, Chine post and Ignition!

Don’t tell my Mom I rode 17,000kms from China to her house in Normandy, France with a stolen Yamaha XT250X prototype crossing the middle east on the way.

Episode 2 : Katanas, Chinese post and Ignition.

Here we are, back in Qingdao, China, in June 2009.

My German boss, who was scared to death of me driving a scooter to work, had no idea I was test-riding my Yamaha XT250X whenever I could to get ready for the first large scale motorcycle trip of my life.

I did not have many ideas of what to expect, actually my gear was very basic, a HJC Cross Helmet, bags with clothes, bungee ropes, some tools, some oil and good North Face trekking shoes.

The only thing I was sure to expect was a lot of attention for the bike. I got my 200euros scooter stolen in 15minutes in China with a U-Lock on, in a very busy parking lot. So if the thieves can and are willing to do that, I guess they could be interested in a shiny new Yamaha!

Therefore I was moving the bike from place to place in the city so it doesn’t get too much attention, covering it up and using a proper U-lock (Xena) with a lot of other (actually useless) Chinese locks on it.

25th of June 2009 : A very good French friend, Matthieu B., just landed in China to come with me for the first two weeks of the trip, on the back of the motorcycle. It was going to be a « heavy » start for the little 130kg motorcycle. The Yamaha was going to carry more than 160kilos for its first 2 weeks, everyday, all day long.

26th of June 2009 : Last day at work, bye bye. They had no idea that my main occupation for the upcoming months was going to be riding a motorcycle direction France.

Saturday 27th of June 2009 : After coming back in the middle of the night with my friend, I just thought about having a look at the motorcycle to see if everything was fine. We walked to the place it was parked and:

One Chinese Van is blocking the bike from moving! Another one is just parked next to it.

The bike has been there for more than one week and apparently got noticed. Now the situation is bad, it is exactly the kind of set up the thieves use to steal scooters and motorcycles.

No one can see the bike from the street; it is hidden by the first Van. It is very easy to use tools there; no one will see you, especially at 3am.
It is time to act very fast; they were probably going to come back in a few hours to do the job.

We ran to my house to pick up the keys of the bike + some Japanese decorative swords hanging on the wall.

We started removing the locks and then we made the first van slide on the right by pulling it from the rear bumper.

We got the bike out, hide it somewhere else and came back to punch the Van’s tires with the Katanas!

We ran out laughing after this great burst of adrenalin.

1st of July 2009: First day of the trip from China to France.

I go to the post office to send all the stuff that matters that was in my apartment, 80 Euros to ship a 25 kilos suitcase to France, niiiiiiiice. There is chance that my suitcase will not reach France but well there was no option!

We get on the bike, IGNITION !!!!!!

After a few luggage adjustments, the feeling is greaaaaat, it is summer, wearing tee-shirts, going west with no precise itinerary, we are having a lot of fun.

We do not know where we will stop at night, how many kilometers we will do, just enjoying the ride every day!

My daily job: scaring the Chinese waitresses

Wow, I had to take that picture: this cleaning lady was holding her broom, then fell asleep against the wall in 2 seconds.

First stop at the mechanic to clean the carburetor.

Matt B. chilling out with dragons or tigers or whatever.

China is under construction for sure.

We were not the only one with carburetor problems. These guys are literally taking a bath in their truck’s oil.

Electric scooters rock man.

Here are the cities we crossed for those first hundred kilometers.

We did some couchsurfing on the way (CouchSurfing - Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch At A Time, for those who are not familiar with the system) and I therefore would like to thank the people who hosted us on this Episode2 : Anje S., Colombe L., Renato G.

Next episode: Kung-fu and stone soldiers !

Heyyyya, I will now answer the comments at the end of the articles, so here we go:

ust read your great story! WOuld be nice if you are in France one day to visit our HU Germany Meeting and give a little presentation about your trip... what do you think?

Next Meeting end of october or next year end of May???

See you there and good luck!!!

Jens, right now in Chile, going into Peru next days....
Oh I'll maybe be in Paris at that time, we'll see

See ya all,

hi from Argentina.

Frederic Shiffer.
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Old 20 Sep 2010
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LOVE IT! Can't wait to read more, keep it coming
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting GERONIMO!"
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Old 21 Sep 2010
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I love your story. It all sounds so spontaneous and whacky!
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Old 28 Sep 2010
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Yep, I have done the hands on the exhaust thing more than a few times! Works nice, even will dry out your gloves if you do it right. (basically keep them on there until you can't stand it anymore, wait a few minutes, and repeat until dry! haha)
Brian C, -Traveler Relations,
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