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

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Old 29 Mar 2012
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Mexico, central & south america - Yamaha 650 Classic

Hello adventurers,
I am in need of some expert insights & advice. I turn 40 next year and as a present to myself, I plan to ride from Canada to Ushuaia. I have saved about 2 months worth of time off for the trip. I have been reading this forum extensively and have been very interested. I have gained so much knowledge reading posts but I have some questions that I will like to hear some expert feedback from folks who have done this sort of thing.

I have a Yamaha 650 classic edition. So the question/s is

1 - Is the trip doable on the bike I have? I don't have a dual purpose and unless I sell my Yamaha ( I like the bike ), I don't have money to buy a dual purpose.

2- What are some route suggestions from Lethbridge, Canada to Ushuaia to do on my bike?

3- What time of the year to do it? I guess there summer is our winter so is Jan/Feb the best time to go?

4- Is it possible to sell the bike somewhere in SA after the trip and fly back?

I hope to hear from some of the seasoned adventurers on here on their thoughts about this.

Kinds Regards,
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Old 26 Jun 2012
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Your trip

Hi Bob,
I haven't done this trip but I am in the middle of planning my ride to South America.
My question to you is, if you are planning to sell the bike when you are done, why wouldn't you sell it now and get a dual sport for the trip? That being said, if you really want to take your bike and its in go shape, of course it is capable of getting you there. It may be more work in some parts but comfortable on other parts.
Either way, have a great and safe trip.
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Old 26 Jun 2012
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Hi Bob,

Two months isn't realistically enough time to ride to Ushuaia and back, so you will be trying to sell your big cruiser in South America with that time constraint. In fact riding roughly 25,000 kilometers one way anywhere in the world in 60 days is an average daily riding distance of over 400 kilometers/day with no days off. Not to mention the time it takes for border crossings and time to arrange passage from Panama to Colombia across the Darien gap.

One idea is to divide your trip into segments. Round trip from Lethbridge to Panama and back would be a nice two month trip. It wouldn't involve any expense crossing the Darien and is easily do-able on a Yamaha cruiser. That way you could leave in March/April during the dry season in Mexico and Central America and ride back to Alberta instead of having to trailer your bike back through snow storms.

This would allow more time to explore the countries and visit interesting sites along the way.

Just a thought.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076
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Old 28 Jun 2012
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Can-do...or..should do??

CAN it be done? Maybe. Hey!, I met a guy who did Canada-Ushuaia-Canada on a Honda CT-90! He did it, but I wouldn't want to BE him!

I agree with those above. The IDEA of riding a classic all the way is great! But there are realities involved:

(1) With that bike you will have to stick to the Panam. That means: BOOORING thru Peru and northern Chile as it is ALL desert. That happens to be where the corrupt cops are too! You will miss all the best parts of Peru (except Cuzco).

(2) You will kill yourself and/or the bike trying to do it. It will be no fun and you will look back and wonder what the point was, as you hardly had time to take a picture, much less experience the culture and meet people.

The rule is (with a new bike): 400km/day pavement (or 250km/day gravel), rest/work on bike every 3rd day. Count on losing a day at every border even if everything is in order. Count on losing an average of one day per week due to public strikes, etc. Even with that you barely will have time to visit anything or experience the culture!

So, now do the math. How many days will it take? Change to an on-off bike and double the necessary days if you want to SEE South America.

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Old 28 Jun 2012
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Two months simply isn't realistic if you want to have any time to see anything. I did a trip from Victoria, BC to Yaviza, Panama and back (25,500km's) in just under 3 months. The time was way too short and I missed a lot. In most of Mexico (unless you take the expensive toll roads) and Central America 400km's can be considered a good day because of traffic, ubiquitous speed bumps, trucks and two lane roads.

You should be able to pick paved roads pretty much anywhere, except the last part towards Ushuaia. But keep in mind that when the first motorbikes where built most roads weren't paved. I used to ride a 1985 Yamaha Maxim X 750 on BC's logging roads before I "knew" that a dual purpose bike was "required" for that type of road.

My personal recommendation is to pick something more realistic to make your 40th memorable in a good way. But we're all different and maybe you're the go-getter type who thrives on long days in the saddle. If so, go for it and have a blast.

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Old 29 Jun 2012
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You could easily spend two months just riding down into southern Mexico and back.
Bruce Clarke --- 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 250R (black)
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Old 4 Jul 2012
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Ride Mexico and CA

I agree, ride Central America with your cruiser. Spend quality time instead of trying to cover too many countries without enough time.

In 2008-09 I rode CA with a BMW K75, a street bike, and only had problems getting to the hotels where my wife chose to meet me...miles and miles of rough dirt road with an overloaded bike and insufficient suspension. If you are content to stay on or close to the tarmac, you'll do fine.

In general, leave in the mid-fall, so you arrive in southern Mexico just after hurricane season. This way you'll be riding the dry season along the western coast of CA. Leaving later makes for a cold first leg of the trip. A short trip means you'll be braving the cold on the return leg. I picked up a one piece riding suit and heated vest on the road for the last leg of my return trip (think February in New Jersey...)

If you make it to South America there are all sorts of weather conditions and wet seasons to sort out. While January is the dry season in Central America, it is the rainy season in the Amazon. Few ride through central Brazil, but that is my plan. Most motorcycle trip go along the western coast of South America, where the rain is usually light. I was speaking to a Peruvian tour operator at a rally recently and he was saying in Peru there is a rainy season in January or February (I'm not 100% sure, so Google and find the websites that provide annual rain fall and temperature.)

My next trip will take roughly 4-6 months and I will be hustling through much of Mexico and Central America on my way south to get to Amazon between the dry and wet season (I can't leave earlier, but would if I could.)

Selling a motorcycle in a foreign country could prove to be a challenge, one that you don't want to do with limited time (you might end up giving the bike away...)

I think some of the mileage estimates shared in this thread are high, but this is something I am currently adding up, using route segments entered into BaseCamp. It is important to know your route and minimum mileage in order to calculate number of days on the road, hotels, meals, gallons/liters of gas, insurance, oil changes, tire changes... Or course be open to change when you hit the road. Over plan and be ready to adapt. =)

Final words of advice, take two months and ride Mexico, and maybe dip into a few Central American countries. Gather some experience riding in Latin America, then go to South America when you have more time and funds saved. No sense rushing through landscape and running low on funds, its no fun, unless you are trying to set a record.
Peter B
NYC to Tierra del Fuego (and back!) 2012/2013

Blogs: Peter's Ride
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