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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 14 Jun 2010
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Crossing Russia to Vladivostok with a road bike

Hi guys

I am planing a trip crossing Russia to Vladivostok.

I heard that the Russian police likes to stops foreigners bikers to get some " extra cash " Can anyone to tell me if this is a usual practice or just some rumours?

Also I got a Fazer 600 year 02, are the roads ok for road bikes in the Russia federation

Thanks for your help in advance

Best regards and good trips

Alvar
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  #2  
Old 14 Jun 2010
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road conditions in russia

Adva

I was in south russia last month, and travelled from Rostov to Volgadonsk.
There wasnt many bikes that I saw on the road.
As you approach a large city or town you will see the Police check points. To avoid being pulled take your time. All this talk of police curruption and bribes is totally off the mark.
The roads between towns will be an adventure for you though. They tend to be good smooth tarmac that change every 20miles or so too some dangerous sections that are full of potholes. If you go into a town or city when the rain is heavy then expect extreamly flooded sections of the road.
The locals dont seem to have a problem driving these flooded roads at a fair speed, but bear in mind that there will be hidden potholes underneath the water.
If you get tired and want to call it a day. Just pull onto the other side of the Acacia trees that line most of the roads. You will come across trailers full of bee hives, with a definate buzz in the air. Dont worry about the bees, worry about the mozzies though. The quickest way to get rid of the mozzies is to light a fire from the acacia deadwood.

good luck

Ian
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  #3  
Old 14 Jun 2010
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Not being able to speak Russian also helps if you do get pulled over by the Russian traffic police.

Mark

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  #4  
Old 14 Jun 2010
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Russian police generally don't mess with you just for being foreign. They will pull you over if you break traffic laws, especially speeding or passing in a no passing zone. If you don't commit these offenses, you probably won't have any problem with police. I get pulled over every now and then, and usually don't have any problem at all, most of them that I meet are pretty professional. The one exception that I found was Bashkortostan, where they were greedy jerks. I also don't agree that you should not speak Russian with them, although I guess they get bored at some point if they can't communicate with you at all.

Last edited by motoreiter; 15 Jun 2010 at 03:22.
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  #5  
Old 15 Jun 2010
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Russian Police

Alcasi,

no personal experience (so far), but I had quite a few bikers come over here to Japan from Germany, crossing Russia and so on. The latest one will arrive on Thursday. So far I never heard any complaints whatsoever! I guess it also depends how you act and speak once (or if) you get stopped. Being polite, showing some respect should definitely proof to be an advantage. And, as mentioned before, follow the traffic rules!
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Old 15 Jun 2010
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Clarification - yes, be polite of course. But if you DO get caught speeding/overtaking (not difficult, given the level of police infestation on Russian roads), that's a good time not to speak Russian!
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Old 15 Jun 2010
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Originally Posted by ilesmark View Post
But if you DO get caught speeding/overtaking (not difficult, given the level of police infestation on Russian roads), that's a good time not to speak Russian!
I never understand this attitude--if you're breaking the law, and get caught, why not be prepared pay the consequences? In any event, I find it much more interesting to try to talk them out of giving me a fine...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it is almost always entertaining to a certain degree.
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Old 15 Jun 2010
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Very happy to pay the consequences if I commit a real crime eg stealing or killing someone. But getting caught by some traffic cop who is lying in wait for motorists in order to extract baksheesh for going a few kms over the speed limit, rather than spending his time catching muggers, isn't a crime at all - it's a petty offence and one I have no compunction whatsoever about avoiding paying for.
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Old 15 Jun 2010
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Originally Posted by ilesmark View Post
But getting caught by some traffic cop who is lying in wait for motorists in order to extract baksheesh for going a few kms over the speed limit, rather than spending his time catching muggers, isn't a crime at all - it's a petty offence and one I have no compunction whatsoever about avoiding paying for.
Uh, OK, you can justify it any way you want, but you realize that these guys are the TRAFFIC police, and their job is to, uh, "lie in wait for motorists" to make sure that people don't speed, pass illegally, etc. Presumably they don't try to catch muggers because it is not their job to do so. And generally you are more than welcome to pay the official fine rather than baksheesh, if you choose to do so, if that is what bothers you.

If you've travelled at all in Russia, you will have seen the remnants of horrible wrecks all over the place, often the result of speeding or illegal passing, and you would appreciate that there is some check, however flawed, on unsafe driving.

And don't get me wrong, I would much rather not pay a fine as well, but I'm not willing to lie (ie, act like I don't speak Russian) to do so...
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Old 16 Jun 2010
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And don't get me wrong, I would much rather not pay a fine as well, but I'm not willing to lie (ie, act like I don't speak Russian) to do so...
Good one - fully agree!!
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Old 16 Jun 2010
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With me, it wasn't a lie. My Russian vocabulary consisted of about 15 words. Made my diet and social life a bit restricted!
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Old 16 Jun 2010
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Travelled from Rostov to Volgagrad and back many times in two weeks and never got stopped by the police, or witnessed any serious accident. Maybe the road conditions are worse further north.
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Old 16 Jun 2010
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Good one - fully agree!!
While i would generally agree paying bribes is bad (even if the government at the top-level is corrupt itself), you have to also remember that the traffic police have a ridiculously low salary per month which they have to take bribes to survive on, and also that none of them would ever be able to afford to travel the world, let alone on a bike..
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Old 17 Jun 2010
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On the occasions I got stopped by police in Russia I insisted they give me a formal legal ticket and I would pay the fine according to the legal procedure (at the local Sber bank).

This happened twice during my time in Russia and the police were not interested in doing this the correct way - they simply wanted me to pay cash directly (which most locals are prepared to do because the cash payment is less than the proper fine and also avoids having their vehicle impounded until the fine is paid).

Eventually (after more than one hour) the police gave up and literally threw me out of their office and told "the stupid foreigner" to never blight their doorstep again.
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Old 4 Jul 2010
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Russian traffic police are definitely a mixed bag. Like most public servants in most CIS countries, they have low salaries and expect to supplement their incomes by taking 'tips' from motorists. The most important factor in considering how corrupt the local gendarmerie is going to be is where you are in Russia.

I have found the most decent police to be in Siberia, and the worst, by far, in the Caucasus. There are also specific stretches of road where the police know there are easy pickings - on roads near international border crossings, roads popular with holidaymakers etc. Moscow - Orel and Rostov - Krasnodar are famous.

My experiences range from professional (though rarely very friendly), to ridiculous (cops threatening big things for putting a wheel on a solid line at the side of the road, I couldn't help but laugh), to outright hostile and out of control (traffic police pulling a gun on me and asking me to take my trousers down - I didn't) in Ingushetia. Never have I given these guys any money. Sometimes, the traffic police may report you to the KGB as a foreigner (in the Caucasus too), which is nice.

The good thing with the real cowboys is that they have absolutely NO interest in enforcing the law. Once they know you're not paying out, they soon get bored and let you go on. Just don't let them think you're scared - laugh off their offences (real or imagined) or start shouting back. I've never met a cop who can be bothered to fill out the dreaded 'protocol' or police report, and I've been caught accidentally runing red lights, being over the limit for alcohol (I still think the meter was dodgy, I hadn't had a drink for about 16 hours), and being in an unmarked border zone etc etc. It sounds stupid, but it's difficult not to break the traffic rules occasionally (e.g. traffic lights hidden behind trees) and be sure the cops know exactly where people f***-up and they'll be there waiting.

NOT speaking Russian definitely helps if you've done something wrong. Pretending to be an idiot is also good. Combining both is highly effective.

Overall, stick to the rules, even if nobody else is, and sit tight for those bad apples.

Daniel
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Last edited by danielsprague; 5 Jul 2010 at 04:39.
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