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Old 16 Jul 2010
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Hi There
I wonder if anyone can give me some information for a motorcycle trip that I am considering taking? I have no real motorcycle experience (apart from an unfortunate crash in Vietnam) but I am no stranger to travel and have always wanted to go on a motorcycle adventure. The problem is that I have no idea how much a trip will cost me…and I am not looking to spend a fortune.
The plan at present is to ride from Chile to Canada. How much will a trip like this cost realistically for fuel, visas etc? Just an average figure will suffice…and hopefully give me an idea of what kind of money to save.
What Kind of Bike would be good for this type of Journey, preferably a bike which is good on fuel but can handle the varying South American roads and is reasonably priced?
Should I buy a bike in South America or buy one from the UK and customize it here and send it to south America?
Is it possible to travel from South America to Canada without a Carnet?
Any answers and advice will be greatly appreciated
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Old 18 Jul 2010
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Americas Advice


My Fiancee and I are planning a similar trip, starting late this year. I haven't done it before, so this advice is based on advice that I have had after a few months of trawling around the web and asking questions.

Regarding what bike to take, almost anything will do it, it is very much a question of personal preference and budget. Lots of people use dual sport/adventure sport bikes, many more use lightweight trail bikes, many use standard touring/all purpose bikes and some use more unusual bikes, from 50cc scooters to Yamaha R1s to HD Electra Glides. All have their pros and cons.

If you are on your own, and don't have to worry about a pillion than a small to mid size trail or dual sport bike will be robust and capable, and easier to pick up when you drop it than a large tourer, not to mention cheaper. If you don't mind going slowly and pack light then the smaller the better, if you want to make good progress when the roads allow then a larger bike will give you the extra power, and may also be more comfortable for long days in the saddle.

Then you come to age of bike. Some take the view that a newer bike will be more reliable and less prone to breakdown, others that any bike will break down so take an older one that is simpler and cheaper to fix. Very much up to you and your budget.

Buying a bike in South America registered in the country that you are buying can often be a bit complex it seems, and also import taxes can make them surprisingly expensive from what I can gather. However, there are always lots of bikes for sale on this forum, located all over South America, many of which have already been kitted out and are well suited to travelling, and often pretty cheap. Seemingly buying a foreign bike can sometimes be less hassle.

We took the view that we wanted to get used to our bikes and test our setup first, so we have bought bikes here that we will ship out, but that is also largely because we wanted two of the same bike, which might be difficult to find at the right time in the right place.

As for budget - how long is a piece of string, it will depend entirely on your attitude to travel. Fuel will be cheaper than the UK (there are petrol prices available on the internet, I think we reckoned that a little under a dollar a litre would be a reasonable average) work out what your bike will do (probably 50 - 80mpg depending on size) and how long your route is allowing for detours, there's your rough fuel cost. Visas in general seem not to be too expensive, and you don't need a carnet. Food is mostly relatively cheap, if you eat in modest places, as is accommodation, if you don't mind roughing it a bit. You'll have to factor in taking you and the bike across the darien gap (likely to be from 500 - 1000 dollars as far as I can tell, depending if you take a ship, yacht or fly). You could do the trip over several months for a few thousand, plus a thousand or so for a cheap and cheerful bike bought from a fellow traveller in SA, or you could spend 15k on buying and shipping a brand new bike from the UK, and another 30k on luxury hotels. Both have been done!

Good luck!

PS We recently did a day of off road training at Desert Rose Adventure Academy, great day, learnt really useful new skills, loads more confidence, and great fun. Recommended for building experience and confidence off road.
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Old 18 Jul 2010
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Location: Onalaska, Washington, USA
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Many posts on this subject so spend a rainy day or two checking thread on this site and you will find much more info than I can put here.

Costs? from $35 a day to $200 a day (USD) The biggest variable is how much time you have, the faster you travel the more it will cost. If you have the time to find the cheap spots and not be on the road everyday (burning fuel) it will cost less.

If you can find someone wanting to sell there UK registered bike in SA that may be the best option. Otherwise it is cheaper to ship one in than pay local import fees (60% to %100 of value).

Or you could do as an Italian did and buy a Cerio (China junk) for $1200 and see how far you can get. He made it 12000k and it was totally worn out and falling apart. also had to sneak it out of Argentina, not recommended.

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