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Old 16 Oct 2008
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USA bike options

I have the opportunity to visit the USA in 2009/10 for an extended period .

I would like to travel by bike, camping and using cheap motels to minimise costs.
I've read on the forum of the hassle it is to buy a bike in the States and so I'm considering hiring either for one long period or several shorter periods as I move around. Has anyone any experience/advice of such a thing? What are my options?

Also, is there an issue with camping in the States? Are facilities commonly available? Is 'wild' camping tolerated?
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Old 16 Oct 2008
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Question A bit more background, please!

To get the best response, I would start by specifying your wants and needs.

For example are you tall or short, ie a tall or low saddle height?
Are you happy with any size and weiht of bike, or do you want something light?
Do you have riding position requirements?
Do you care about it's fuel economy?
Do you want to stick to roads, or are tracks/full off-road an option/preference? I'm guessing tracks at least if "wild camping" takes your fancy...

Have a think about those and any other "musts/Must nots" that you have and iot will help narrow your choices down, otherwise you'll have a list as long as next week!!

Either way it sounds like a great crack!
Adventure: it's an experience, not a style!
(so ride what you like, but ride it somewhere new!)
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Old 16 Oct 2008
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Thanks for that. I would like to visit some off the beaten track areas so I'm thinking of a mid sized trail bike along the lines of XT660 or F650GS, I own a Pan European so I would be happy hiring something similar for the tarmac areas.

Is hiring a good option? As an alternative, is it possible to ship the Pan to say Canada and then cross the border? Or is it it too much hassle?
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Old 16 Oct 2008
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Finding a bike: This should be no problem, especially if you are looking to buy in a big city.
The US is huge so you want something that can cruise 75 easily. I would recommend a 500cc or bigger.

If you will be traveling off road/camping, the KLR650 is hard to beat for the price and support for them is great in the US. BMW is also a good choice. Craigslist is a good place to look.

Camping in the US: I usually plan at the begining of each day where I will spend that night.
A lot of areas that you ride though will have fences on both sides of the road blocking access to good camping spots, this can even be true in the more remote places like the Utah desert.
There are State Parks where you can pay anywhere from $5-$25/night to camp (yuck) but the best places are the National Forest areas where it's free and you can camp just about anywhere you like "wild camping."
If you can travel from National Forest to National Forest each day, you can save a lot of money.
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Old 16 Oct 2008
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When you say hiring a bike I take that to mean renting. If that is the case I think that you will find the cost of renting a motorcycle anywhere in North America to be scary. I don't think you can find much for less than $100 per day often with a mileage fee on top of that.

I would check further into purchasing if you plan to rent much as I don't think it is all that difficult if you can borrow an address to live at in the state you are buying in.

Either way have fun.
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Old 17 Oct 2008
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I'm confused. It's not a hassle for a foreigner to buy a vehicle in the US. Feel free to use my address to register a vehicle. I'm sure there's other people who post on here who don't mind either. I'm in California, so if you buy a new bike, you have to pay taxes.

This is a great spot to find bikes. It checks all of Craigslist and eBay:

for sale : : combined classified and auction listings
Not Ted Simon since 1970!
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Old 17 Oct 2008
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Thanks a lot guys - very helpful. I think I'll arrange to buy a bike prior to leaving to UK, then ride it for a year (or to the limit of any visa) and sell it at the end.
I am so intrigued by the US of A and plan to look up distant relatives who moved across the pond 250 years ago if I can! Trouble is, there is just so much I want to see.
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Old 18 Oct 2008
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Not hard at all to get a bike in the USA.
you need a address for paper work (and its how the insurance knows how much to charge)
a motorcycle endorsment on a driver licence (the UK one is fine)
and the money for it (or a down payment)

And that is all NO visa, carnet, internationl driving permit, background check, tax waver or any thing. And then the bike is all yours, sell it, ship it home, store it here and ride when ever.

As far camping you have a lot of choices privet campgrounds like KOA Camping Directory - KOA Campgrounds, RV Parks and Cabins in the USA I dont camp at them but some people must.

The National Parks National Park Service - Experience Your America
BLM DOI: BLM: National Home Page most free wild camping
National Forest US Forest Service - Caring for the land and serving people. like BLM but not.
The state parks are a mixed bag but most are nice, some county parks and fair grounds will let you camp a night. As will fier stations (police may but I never ask)

As far as true wild camping If no one sees you and you leve no trace no one will know or care. So far I have only been booted out of one wild camping spot. It was posted and in area where people have money LOTS and LOTS of money (and nothing better to than call the cops on me) dam Napa cops made me move along.

When wild camping dont start a fire its not a campground. dont leve any trash dont burn your trash you packed it in you pack it out. Try vary hard to leve no trace. Wach out for wild life bears are no joke.

As for bikes well the USA is big vary big alot of the roads boring a bike that can eat up the miles is called for a F650 gs (well its a 800) $10,500 new or DL650 $7,200 new will do you vary well. When kitted out they hold there own agest road bike dirt roads.
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Old 18 Oct 2008
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you should check advrider.com, most of your questions are answered there. have a great trip!
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Old 18 Oct 2008
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Camp grounds

One thought on the KOA campground chain. They are more expensive than free camping but they are available near interesting sites and always seem to have room for one more tent. They all seem to have hot showers, laundry facilities and a place to wash up cooking dishes. So that $25.00 camping fee can save the $5.00 shower fee at a truck stop and having someplace to cook and clean up can save several restaurant meals. After a rainy cold day on the road there is nothing as good as a sleeping bag fresh out of the dryer and a hot shower.
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