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  #1  
Old 11 Nov 2008
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Chile and Argentina, 2 up, 2 months – looking for input on a last minute trip!

Dear Hubb’ers

First, members of this board, thank you; I’m learning lots here!

Work is shutting down for a couple months this winter and there is finally time to go on an new adventure! Top of my list is a motorcycle trip with my girlfriend in South America . With little time to prepare, and little knowledge of the area, we need some help please to figure this out . Posters with similar questions about “which route?” and “which bike?” are often asked to provide more specifics about their plans. Here is where our plans and thoughts have got to – I hope this is not too long or boring. We appreciate any pointers that we may receive; with any luck, this will soon turn into a ride report!


THE ROUTE

We are thinking about a loop from Santiago to TDF and back, beginning in early January. Thinking about down the Carretera Austral, back up Ruta 40, on to BA, then back through Mendoza to Santiago. We would like to keep planning, preparations, and luggage simple and so we are thinking about not carry full camping gear – maybe sleeping bags and pads for occasional nights out (like at hot springs), emergencies., etc.

Based on ride reports here and other reading, these are some things we would really like to do along the way:

A. Cross the Andes several times (the passes like the San Francisco Pass sounds amazing)

B. Spend a week or so exploring the Lakes District

C. Generally see lots of Patagonia (ideally find some cool places to stay for several days and explore from – maybe some hiking)

D. If time permits, make it to TDF

E. Spend 1-2 weeks really getting to know Buenos Aires

F. Find a nice spot in or around Mendoza and explore.


Our preferred style of traveling is finding a handful of fun base camps (hostels or B+Bs) and then using them to really get to know several areas, rather than just spending a couple of nights in many different places, leaving with just a brief taste of each area. We like to start with a rough plan but be VERY flexible.

First questions are:

1. Is this sort of trip doable in the time frame that is available, two months, or would it make more sense to bite off a smaller area?

2. What other areas should we also think about including in such a trip?

3. Is it possible to link together accommodation across some of the long distances in Chile and Argentina, or is full camping gear required?


THE BIKE

I am finding this to be a tough decision. I am trying to figure out the best way to sort out a bike for this trip in terms of cost, convenience, safety, comfort, etc. I know that there is no perfect answer, and that whatever we end up doing will be a compromise, but I value the thoughts, comments, and suggestions from those that have been on this type of trip before. Our touring experience has been limited to Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, and BC - the longest trip was about two weeks.

I have been going back and forth on whether to bring a bike down with us or to sort it out once we are there? Thoughts so far...

Option 1 – Fly a bike down with us. What I like about this option is that I can go over the bike and more easily put together the spares, tools, and other bits and pieces here at home (Nevada/British Columbia – don’t ask J ). Also, it seems that it would result in less time mucking about with paperwork etc. once we get there – with only two months, we really don’t want to spend too much time mucking about. The major negative here is obviously the cost to fly a bike down and back – i figure at least $3,000. If we choose to fly a bike down, we need to decide which bike?

A Use my current bike – 2002 FZ1 well set-up for two up sport touring with suspension, hard luggage, seat. I know this bike well and can work on it. As much as I like the idea of taking the bike I know well, I don’t know if a street oriented bike is the right bike for 1,000’s of kms of gravel or the more remote, rugged passes we hope to cross. It does not generate much low end torque and it is geared quite high, also I know from experience that dropping it messes up the fancy plastic. Also, I have no experience taking this bike off road - I have a wonderful 07 WR250F for getting off the beaten path, but it is definitely not the right bike for long distances or two up.

B Purchase a bike for the trip. I have been keeping an eye open for some good deals on bikes for the trip and have found several. The one that has most caught my eye is a 1993 BMW r100gs with about 50k miles for a good price. Reading other posts here, it seems like a good bike for such a trip. Big enough for two, fairly simple to work on, already has hard luggage, good protection for the inevitable lay downs, proven off road tourer, and low centre of gravity. I am concerned however that this BMW is basically getting to an age when things generally start to need to be rebuilt and/or replaced. My wrenching experience to date has been exclusively on Japanese bikes – perhaps a trip to South America is not the place to learn how to work on and find parts for an older BMW. Admittedly, the r100gs has a cool factor. I can justify the cost of actually owning this bike and thus actually keep the bike after the trip. The seller is a nice guy and lives very close to a well known BMW shop in Chico (you may know it) – I think it would at least be worth taking it in to have them give it a once over. After all, I don’t know the first thing about these airheads and wouldn’t know what to look for.

I have also looked at a very well set up KLR650 – F&R suspension, brakes, seat, beefed up frame, crash bars, etc., but after seeing it, I think we might end up being cramped and uncomfortable for long distance two-up. But... it was very well set up for such a trip and cheap.

The last bike I looked at was a lovely 2001 GS1150. Very nice bike but I am hesitant to jump on a bike with so many electronics that I am not familiar with and it seems very heavy. It’s also expensive – I can’t justify adding such an expensive bike to the fleet right now and would have to sell the GS1150 after the trip)

Option 2 – Find a bike out down there. What I like about this option is that there is less to prepare before leaving and there is not the $3,000 plane ticket for the bike. What I am concerned about though is the hassle to find a suitable bike and then get it set up. Some possibilities:

A Renting. It would be very convenient. There are several places that can provide bikes for the trip; however, it looks like it would be expensive. It would probably cost $6,000 to rent a something like a Honda Transalp for 2 months, but this would probably give us the most time to just enjoy ourselves. Not sure I can wrap my head around dropping all that money on renting instead of putting it towards another bike to keep!!

B Purchase a bike down there and sell it at the end of trip. This could work– although bikes are very expensive down there, which would result in much higher upfront costs, at the end of the day, this could ultimately be the cheapest option. It sounds like Chile is the easiest place to buy a bike as a foreigner and then ride it out of the country. Bikes are expensive, but seem to hold their value well. For about $7,000 we could buy something like a 2005 Transalp in Santiago and go. We could take the hard Givi luggage off my FZ1 and then just look for the correct rack to fit them to the bike. I like this option because the bike would still be quite new and presumably reliable. I do enough maintenance on my current Jap bikes to know what to look for when buying a used bike. At the end of the day, we could likely recoup much of what we paid for the bike and my guess is that as long as we don’t trash the bike, I expect we’d be out of pocket by less than the cost to fly a bike down and back. One concern here is that we would be committed to returning to Chile to sell the bike – not the end of the world unless we have to cut the trip short unexpectedly or if we can find a way to stay longer and go further.



So, at this point, is this rough route a good/sensible way to spend January and February two up on a bike in South America, and with six weeks to prepare, and without an unlimited budget, which bike strategy makes the most sense?


I am grateful for any and all words of wisdom.

JB
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Last edited by jimbee; 13 Nov 2008 at 01:51.
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  #2  
Old 12 Nov 2008
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Hi JB, check your private messages.
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  #3  
Old 12 Nov 2008
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email sent...
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  #4  
Old 12 Nov 2008
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The Bike !!!

Having just gone through the same process I can understand the dilemma you are facing. Just for back ground purposes I am an Aussie who lives in the USA but am currently on a 4-5 month project based out of Santiago. I just bought a bike from a guy who travelled down from the USA.

Buy or Freight In

Bikes in Chile are expensive (locally registered ones that is). For example 2nd hand Africa Twin 75,000 KLMS $10,000 USD. 1997 F650 Funduro with BMW cases $7500 USD and rough, 1997 KLR 650 50,000 KLMS $5000 USD) plus there is the hassle of registering etc. (Note there is a posting on the HUBB about someone who is moving here and is willing to help). I am sure there are better deals out there but without good spanish you will be paying a foreigner tax/penalty.

Airfreighting a bike is expensive (should be getting a little cheaper as the fuel prices fall and the fuel surcharge goes down). If you are able to come out of Canada instead of the USA it would be less hassle. But you will get a bike you know when you need it without most of the hassles associated with purchasing in country.

You could look at airfreight down and sea freight back. As long as you are not dependent on having the bike for transport when you return as it will take some time.

Another alternative is to buy a bike freight it down and then sell it on to another traveller when you are finished (some people have been able to sell their bikes to locals??). If you factor in the cost of freighting it home if unable to sell it then you are covered either way.

Bikes.

I agree with your assessment of the FZ1. It would limit the places you could go and probably prove fairly expensive in plastic replacement parts.

The KLR is not suitable for 2 up long distance travel. I have a 2008 and took the previous owner up to the border to change the import permit. After 4 hours as a pillion he could hardly get off the bike. And that is a guy who had just ridden the same bike from San Francisco down to Santiago.

BMW's are my favorites so I will be biased!!!!! My preference for these conditions would of been an R80 G/S PD. (with upgraded brakes). A R100GS would be a good reliable bike as long as the well known issues are checked (charging system, drive shaft, brakes). The oilhead GS's would also be suitable (ABS would be especially handy). Again there are know issues you could have checked before you ship it. The electronics do add a level of complexity but are inherently reliable (you could always replace the hall effect sensor before shipping or carry a spare, the fuel pump is another potential failure point).

Route, Accommodations etc.

I will leave it up to others to suggest routing and what to see as I have no personal experience in that area.

Without personal experience in the area you are thinking of traveling to I will venture a my .02 c on tents etc. I would suggest you probably do not need a tent and will be able to find accommodation indoors. While I do have a tent with me here in Chile my travels are based on getting away from the towns etc so it is/will be used when on the back country trips. In Jan I will be following the Dakar for a couple of weeks. Again it is not my intention to actually carry a tent with me but I will have my basic swag (Aussie for bedroll) for rough camping. This is just a Big Agnes sleeping pad, down sleeping bag and a cover (bivey bag). I also carry very basic cooking gear just in case. In the case of traveling 2 up the size and weight of 2 bivey bags may go close enough to a tent that there is not any advantage to not having the tent.

PM me if there is anything I can help you with.
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  #5  
Old 13 Nov 2008
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RE: The bike

Thank you Ozrockrat for sharing your thoughts.

I didn't think too much about the non-spanish speaking tax - good point and another reason to look at sending a bike down.

After some calling around, and thanks to Road Hog's suggestion in another post, it sounds like shipping by sea could be as cheap as $750 + landing fees. This could work, but they said to expect the shipping from Vancouver to Chile to take 40 days, so in order to make this happen by the begining of January, the bike needs to be ready to go in the next two weeks or so. This presents a pretty good, but not impossible, challenge: find, buy, equip, and crate a mechanically sound bike in two weeks.

I am still going to look more into air frieght - air down, sea home is a good idea. This would leave us with less $$$ but give us lots more time to sort out the bike!

The r100gs I've been considering is in good shape but has not had any of the well known issues delt with. It has 50,000 miles on it. Would it make sense to replace driveshaft, new alternator brushes, and add stainless steel front brake line? Is 50,000m with original clutch and no tranny work too much before big trip? The bike is only $3,500 so I'd still have some $$$ for repairs, but perhaps not the time.

Also found a good looking 2001 r1150gs with only 12,000 miles for $6,000. Perhaps the extra $$$ would be worth not having to muck about. The bike needs its 12,000 mile service, so good chance to go over bike and get to know everything.


Anyone have any comments on the route we are considering - too much for two months? Do not want to feel rushed!

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. James
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  #6  
Old 17 Nov 2008
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chile/ argentinia

hello john!

may be you want to contact me, i think we can be helpfull for you
about shipping rates and time you are as i see not well informed, amount will be higher, time much less, app 22 days from vancouver here.

you may find recomandations on this and other sides about us.

my e- mail: villakunterbuntvalpo@yahoo.de

cheers

martina
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Old 18 Nov 2008
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Hello Everyone,

Good news - found a bike . Bought the r100gs - now just have to set it up! I will post a picture in case anyone is interested.

Martina, thank you for your reply. In case it might help someone else, I though that I would reply to you here. Yes, I don’t speak much Spanish, and would definitely be interested in some help getting my bike from Vancouver to Chile, especially when receiving the bike in Chile.

Why do you think that it will cost more? The shipping agent in Vancouver, Marwan at Baseline Forwarding, has been very helpful and pleasant - he gave me a quote of about $750.

Marwan figures it could take 40 to 45 days, especially around the holidays, but you said that it could take as little as 22 days. That would be great, but it would definately change things in terms of when to ship the bike and when to fly down to meet it.

Many thanks! James
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Old 19 Nov 2008
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The extra cost is on the receiving port end.

Port charges can add up quickly. When I shipped my bike UK to USA the port charges without customs clearance was about an additional 50% ($400 USD) of the shipping cost. You will also only get a few days of storage included in the shipping/port costs. Bonded (prior to clearing customs) storage is very expensive. If you get the bike down early it may be more economical to pay someone to clear it through customs and then put it into unbonded storage until you get here to pick it up.

My experience is limited and based on main shipping routes, friends in the business and knowing the culture / language at both ends so I am sure there are others on this board who can give you better advice for transporting to this continent.
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Old 19 Nov 2008
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Hey Jim,

Just sent you a pm. Cheers.
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Old 27 Nov 2008
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Jim
My bike is on the way (at least I got it to the warehouse). Final cost to Baseline forwarding was $849 (shipping increased and a little bit bigger crate than I expected). I expect it to cost m/l $300 for port charges down there. In looking at it now I think I should have went with Martina. Just was getting nervous last week and she had not got back to me with a final quote so I went ahead with Baseline. Ship that is it going on will go to Miami then to San Antonio, Chile. This is why Baseline wants the bike 40 days before you want it there, I delivered to warehouse on the 25th and it is hopefully going to be there the 30th.
When I have my bike there I will put a post in the shipping section for all to know if it worked out.

Bob
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Old 2 Dec 2008
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Thank you Bob - I look forward to hearing about your experience in San Antonio! JB
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Old 26 Jan 2009
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Change of Plan

Hello All! I just thought I should cap this thread off with a final note to thank those that offered their insight here. Special thanks to Maja for the words of wisdom over a curry on your way through Reno.

For several reasons this particular trip is not going to happen for a while yet. Instead, we are heading to Central America - hoping to depart next week! Over the last two months, I bought an R100GS and have completed a thourough get-to-know-the-bike rebuild. We're very excited and have lots of questions, but it is probably more appropriate to start a new thread... CHEERS!!!! James
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Old 26 Jan 2009
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... so act accordingly and you will be fine.

Best

Last edited by mollydog; 24 Mar 2009 at 21:08.
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Old 29 Jan 2009
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Mollydog you have a good memory and a sharp eye!! Yes, I'm going to work on figuring out a ride report and also another report on how I went about setting up the bike and ultimatley how it works out!

Thank you for the Steve in Mulege contact - I will do my best to track him down if I make it to Baja, as I hope to.

Cheers! James
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Old 29 Jan 2009
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Hey mate I think 2 months is plenty of time so I also think you should include Bolivia, Bolivia rocks! It's very cheap and not full of tourists and the riding is amazing
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