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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  • 1 Post By McCrankpin
  • 1 Post By markharf

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Old 15 Jul 2012
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Cool Best road route between Montreal & Vancouver

Have to collect a not so new bike( Norton Commando,first Norton any tips?) in Montreal end of July and ride to Vancouver in approx ten days(all the time off I could get).
Suggest routes welcome.
Note only ridden in BC so rest of Canada is virgin territory before but have crossed USA 20,000 km in 6 weeks on a harley ultra glide and western europe 5 weeks 8800 km on Kawasaki 650.
Will ride anything anywhere anytime.
Many years of riding experience.
Limited mechanical knowledge.
PS any bike events/races/place to visit on the way?Would you suggest going via Sturgis?


Last edited by ridefree2012; 19 Jul 2012 at 01:01. Reason: add ps
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Old 16 Jul 2012
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A van!

Wow, and no replies yet.

I make that about 300miles/day, every single day. Is that right?

I used to race one of those in the 70s, and based on breakdowns on the track in those days, and work required between meetings, I'd say that Montreal-Vancouver should be measured in months(!!!!)

You might already have done all this, but I'd have a long chat with the present owner/rider/maintainer and find out as much as you can about past reliability/breakdowns/servicing/state of wear etc.
Of course, modern parts might be a lot more reliable now than back in the 70s, but somehow I still think I'd put it in a van to achieve 10 days.

And, you may be an up-to-date connoisseur of the Commando, in which case I'm speaking completely out of turn. (I've not touched one for 35+ years).

My daughter and son-in-law drove from Toronto-Vancouver and back in 2008, for a honeymoon! In a comfortable car.
They said "Never again! Terminal boredom!" (Except the Rockies of course).
So take a passenger in that van, to talk to across the plains.

Maybe someone with experience of up-to-date Commandoes with modern re-builds could give an opinion, but they're my first thoughts when I read your post.

Whatever you do, have a good journey.
TTR250 - London to Cape Town

Last edited by McCrankpin; 17 Jul 2012 at 07:50.
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Old 16 Jul 2012
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"Suggested routes" might not make much sense unless you say something about what you're interested in seeing and doing and how you like to ride. Regardless of anything else, you're looking at long days in the saddle, and at least half of your mileage is going to consist of maintaining a straight course through rather featureless plains while thinking of England.

For speed and a bit of a break on gasoline prices, head down the 401 through Toronto, London, Windsor and into the American Midwest. Once past Chicago, choose a place to start angling northwest-ish again. Don't expect the scenery to perk up until you hit the Rockies, although there are moments of the sublime here and there along the way.

For better scenery, stick with the Trans-Canada to Ottawa, then direct to North Bay, Sudbury, Sault St. Marie, Thunder Bay and onwards. Things get pretty boring when you run out of lakes just before Winnipeg, but a few days later you'll hit the Canadian Rockies and life will brighten considerably. If you have an extra day (sorry, but you probably won't), spend it on the Icefields Highway. After that you're on familiar ground, with just a couple of obvious possibilities to Vancouver. Don't miss the turnoff to the Coquihalla Highway, since by this time you'll be late for work and won't want to get slowed by construction traffic and RV's on Rt. 1.

10 days on the Canadian route qualifies as a very, very speedy trip. 10 days on US interstate highways will numb your brain. Your choice.

I don't know anything about Norton reliability, but if the previous poster's view is in any way related to reality, you'd better have a Plan B ready.

Hope that's helpful.

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Old 1 Aug 2012
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Gently Bentley ...

The whole plan predicates on the condition of the bike. If it's not tip top, then put it in a van. By tip top I mean in terms of servicing not looks. Plenty of very pretty Brit classics which break down at the first bend. If it's fully serviced, not smoking or rattling too much and has not done over 50,000 miles since the last full engine 'work up', then there's every chance the bike will be just fine for the trip. All the above said, there are characters still riding the planet on battered 1950s singles and doing just fine. Give the electrics a once over before you start the ride. I'd need to know the exact model and year before advising re parts and tools to take.

300 miles a day on an old Brit can be hard work. But also enjoying and fulfilling - I love my old Triumph twins and my BSA A10 and use them a lot. But if you try and thrash 300 miles off before 2pm every day, bits may shake off, and you'll risk other kinds of mechanical destruction. And the vibration will tire you out. Plan for early starts and long days, gently bentley riding and focus on sparing the bike while cruising (stick to about 60-70 mph) and avoid hard acceleration, so that it will make it fine. No matter how good it is, this Norton is at least 35 years old, made of engine components with at least 35 years of stresses, strains and metal fatigue behind them, particularly the crank and conrods - it ain't gonna be the same roadburner that rolled off the production line in Redditch or Andover. If the weather is very hot, start at first light each day.

Regarding routes, staying in Canada will give you better scenery I feel, plus avoid border hassles, money changing etc. After Thunder Bay, there's a nice ride if you go via Fort Francis and head north to Kenora through the lakes and resort towns. After leaving Ontario, immediately take the old pioneer trail to the right of the Trans Can, a lovely route which will take you through to Winnepeg. Use the same philsophy as you cross the plains. there are a number of routes which shadow the Trans Can, slower, but a slightly more interesting ride than chewing the dust of semi-trailer rigs as they roar past. The great plains can't be avoided, but the journey can be made more interesting. I've visited a few quirky old towns by doing this and there's less pressure from other traffic.

Ten days is a push alright, but plan well, spare the bike and you've every chance of making it OK. Get breakdown cover though!

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Old 25 Aug 2012
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arrived Vancouver on time

thanks for the advice arrived on time,due to time limitations went thru the US as it is shorter.
It is a true Canadian bike ran perfectly from Montreal to Windsor but once is US the usual Norton things happened.Main issue threads going on exhaust ports.
Every Canadian motorcyclist was friendly however not so in US but going by the huge number of trailers with bikes they appear to be mainly posers who cant ride well,give them space they are an accident waiting to happen.
If you break down in US do not expect fellow riders to stop.
Stopped outside Sturgis(some nice roads) for broken Harley,rider said the brother/sister hood of the road is gone despite numerous bikes on road I was first to stop!
No old bikes on the road a 1979 Harley being the oldest.
So the bike did approx 5500km.
Travelling with an old bike is always an adventure.

Keep those old bikes on the road!

Ride Free Mark
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Old 25 Aug 2012
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Well done!
Glad it worked out OK.

Looks like you've got a pretty good Commando there. As you say - keep those old bikes running!

Any chance of a little write-up of your journey? Must have been some interesting times! Or maybe a photo or two?

TTR250 - London to Cape Town
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Old 28 Aug 2012
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Glad that you had a successful trip. Interesting to read how US riders have changed though.

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canada road trip, norton road trip, norton tips

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