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  #1  
Old 9 Apr 2008
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Advice required: Trip through the Americas with a 200cc

Hi,
I need some advice on a trip I would like to do from the extreme south of America to Canada with a motorcycle. The trip would start from Patagonia, Argentina and end in Quebec, Canada.

First of all I'm a novice in motorcycle. I don't know anything about mechanic too.

I would like to buy a new bike (http://www.usmotos.com/usm%20eng/cruiser200.html) which is a chinese USM cruiser model. The motor is only 200cc. The main reason I'm buying that model is because it's cheap.

The closest similar example I've seen is the guy on this website who did the the US from west to east with a 50cc scooter. He did fine actually. If you have other examples let me know.

So I have three questions
- do you think it's realistic?
- how much time do you think it would take approximately?
- how can I get the motorcycle back in Canada in one piece?

I met a guy who had a 400cc moto and tried to do Brazil-Peru. His moto just fell apart. In my case the moto will be brand new, so maybe it's different

Thanks for any help!
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  #2  
Old 9 Apr 2008
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It's about the trip, not the bike. The trip can de done on ANY bike. It's more a question of can YOU do it? Can you endure a trip with a bike that may be unreliable? Can you cope and deal with what that entails? Are you resourceful, even if you can't fix it yourself? Everyone has done it on all sorts of bikes. It's more about the rider than the bike. Every bike is a compromise. A BMW may be reliable, but once something breaks, where do you find parts or tires? A chinese bike may be unreliable, but parts and tires are cheap and easily found or repaired. It's ultimately up to you.
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  #3  
Old 9 Apr 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gpothoven View Post
It's about the trip, not the bike. The trip can de done on ANY bike. It's more a question of can YOU do it? Can you endure a trip with a bike that may be unreliable? Can you cope and deal with what that entails? Are you resourceful, even if you can't fix it yourself? Everyone has done it on all sorts of bikes. It's more about the rider than the bike. Every bike is a compromise. A BMW may be reliable, but once something breaks, where do you find parts or tires? A chinese bike may be unreliable, but parts and tires are cheap and easily found or repaired. It's ultimately up to you.
Very, very well put gpothoven.

Hecate,
For reassurance about small engined bikes take a look through the "Which Bike" forum; there are examples/discussions of bikes much smaller, and even a bit bigger!, than 200cc. The latest one with a posting is here:-
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...a-250cc-4929-4

Time: it will take as long as you want it to take.
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  #4  
Old 9 Apr 2008
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I fully agree with gpotheven. It is more YOU than a bike.

Any bike will do anything, eventually and possibly after some 'encouragement'. I think preparation priorities, in order, should be - Self - Bike - Equipment/Spares - Route.

A thoroughly good read is "Lois on the Loose" by Lois Pryce (available through Amazon.co.uk - excuse the plug!). She rode from Alaska to Argentina on a 225cc Yamaha Serow. You may find her small bike pertinent. It's size was not really a problem, but she had thought things out well and was travelling light.
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  #5  
Old 10 Apr 2008
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The others are right, but I STILL wouldn't do it on one of those Chinese machines. I know the models, I've lived with them in Peru. As a teacher of Motorcycle Mechanics in a Peruvian vo-tech school in a city with 175,000 motorcycles, I know these bikes. They sell for 1/3 the price of the Honda that they are copying, but they only last 1/10th the time.. and you are doing a "long haul" trip........

Do you really want to spend half your time fixing or replacing half the machine every time you stop (not to mention breaking down in the middle of no-where)? Me, I'd rather ride a Honda 90 than ANYTHING Chinese!

Toby (charapa) Around the Block 2007 |
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  #6  
Old 10 Apr 2008
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Yes, very good advice. Try to go for something like a Honda CG125. The're found in very country in SA. I met 3 guys in Calafate that had ridden them from there to Venezuela and back. A little more $$$ up front, but you'll be on a more reliable bike.

Check this out this blog: simon gandolfi
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  #7  
Old 15 Apr 2008
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I belong to a Canadian-based forum group called ChinaRiders.net - Your online China Bike community The majority of us are from the US and Canada, with some from other places worldwide.

I don't think without mechanical skills, most Chinese bikes would be a good choice on such a trip. No, they are not as bad as the others have tried to tell you, at least not in the US--the companies have really started ramping up quality to the bikes coming here (Canada, too). I don't think a cruiser would be good.

If you really want a brand new bike with a lower price, I would suggest a Qingqi 200cc enduro or motard. The engine in them is Suzuki-based, and in fact, Qingqi OEM's the Suzuki DR200, so you essentially get a bargain-priced Suzuki that can be repaired at Suzuki dealers, and the parts interchange with Suzuki parts. I am not sure if Qingqi's are distributed in Argentina.

Another Chinese choice for an enduro, cheaper than most, but more expensive than other Chinese brands is Skyteam. They might be sold under the UM brand.
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  #8  
Old 10 May 2008
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Although I agree with the general concept that "size doesn't matter" and "It's about the trip, not the bike", I think that when it comes to cross-continent touring, there is such a thing as a realistic minimum engine size, and 200 cc isn't sufficient.

I can recall riding across Canada in the 1970s on a Honda CB 360 - that bike was barely big enough to allow me to safely keep up with highway traffic, and barely big enough to carry me (150 lbs) and the gear I carried.

I think that we are doing Hecate a disservice by not pointing out that a 200 cc bike just won't be able to get him and his kit up a hill on a hot day at high altitude, even if it is the most robust and sturdy 200 cc motorcycle in the world.

For a trip of the length he is proposing, over the route he is proposing, I think 350 cc is really the minimum realistic size. Sure, you could tour some regions on a 200 cc... but not Terra del Fuego to Canada. There's too many hills along the way - the moto would be constantly short on power, and this would affect its reliability and service life.
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  #9  
Old 10 May 2008
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Man and M/C are a combo

Hi all,

to set the scene...
I have just arrived in Montevideo after doing this trip the other way around. landed in Halifax,NS,Canada, rode to the Rockies then south through USA,Mexico, blah,blah, Colombia, Ecudor, Peru, Bolivia..arghhhh, Chile, Argentina and now Uruguay. 10months and about 30,000 miles. can't be sure -speedo broke.
I am riding a 1995 BMWf650, and just to remind you, this model does not have injectors, but does have a vacuum compensator in the carb.

I often wondered about the size of my bike when seeing locals 4 up on their Chinese 125s. I also wondered where I could get spares from if something broke. (several bits did) But on reflection I realise that it is more about the type of person you are than the bike. If you can figure that out then you may be able to make a correct choice. I travelled through several countries with Fast Freddie, (Hi Fred if you are reading) and he needed a GS1200 because he likes to travel fast, enjoys overtaking going up steep mountains, and wants his luggage to be safe and dry. Me, I have had no problem with doing a few miles at 40mph behind a 40ft lorry hauling a 20ft trailer!!! but when they start belching black smoke or the stench of red hot brake linings fills the air I want out.
Then again, the endless miles of flat, dreary landscape in East Patagonia or the Peruvian desert is easier to take at 60 or 70mph than 40 or 50. Can you put up with long days of following a truck across endless pampas?
What time of year are you going, will you take a tent, that makes for a more enjoyable trip but adds kilos to your weight, and, like me, you may not be able to use it as much as you thought. It is freezing cold at night at the moment and Bolivia, Peru, Ecudor, Colombia and most of Central America have no, or very few, campsites. In the countryside of Peru 3 guys helped me out, but showed me their identity cards first! 'Anyone who doesn't may rob you' was the answer when I asked why. 'And you must not be here after dark.' Little did they know but I was just about to get my tent out, after that I didn't. So can you be confident of getting to a town with a hotel, not all towns have one.
Breaking down is not so bad, 99% of people are friendly, despite what I just said, and will stop and aid you, it's when you are in the high mountains doing 15mph because your bike won't go any faster due to the altitude (also read Lois Price on that, brilliant book, changed my life) and with the daylight going, that's when you will need the balls required, because people will see you are still moving and assume you know what you are doing, when the only thing that keeps going through your head is, 'Where the f*** is that town?' (Against that I can say I had hundreds of WOW moments too)
Also make sure the air intake is high, most of us who have been through South America this year will have ridden through rivers where the road used to be.
Now if you are resiliant enough, (I don't mind admitting that some of my journey was exciting but it scared the crap out of me), and you are ok with hours of wondering 'just what is that noise?' then you can choose anything from a skateboard to a scooter with no trouble. If, like me, you need a bit more reassurence, then you will take a bike that is reliable and sturdy. The only thing I would really like to have changed on my f650 was to have injectors for better thottle control above 8000ft - for a month I forgot I had a top gear, as I couldn't get enough revs to make it stick!!
As you are not a mechanic, take a few lessons on basics - any offers guys? - and definately get some Spanish lingo, the more the better.
Phew, after all of that it may look as if I am trying to put you off, I'm not. What I really am pointing out is that if you do not have to worry about your equipment, then you can settle back and enjoy the view.

So it's up to you, good Spanish, and laid back, take the Chinese.
No Spanish and need to know what is going to happen next, get a Beemer or Honda, or head for the bike forums on the HUBB, and by the way my BMW cost me £1600 on ebay so you don't have to rob a bank.

In the end it's all only metal, rubber and plastic, so I can think of no logical reason why you should not get on the bloody thing and ride, because that is where the joy is, the freedom to go this way or that; the number of backpackers I have met who wished they were on a bike was incredible, and many had never riden a bike in their lives, but being stuck on a coach for 12 hours is not much fun either, especially when you see something out of the window that you really, really would have liked a closer look at, on a bike you can.
I'm not up to date by any means, but you can read about my preparations and the easy part of my journey in http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/fairless/
I will try and update the prep section to indicate what worked and what didn't, and I truly hope you get to make your trip, because to quote an old 60's song, even the bad times were good.
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  #10  
Old 11 May 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stagbeetle View Post
Then again, the endless miles of flat, dreary landscape in East Patagonia or the Peruvian desert is easier to take at 60 or 70mph than 40 or 50.
70?

I was bored at 125 mph.
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  #11  
Old 11 May 2008
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Nice one

Ha ha,

125mph, nice one Jock, at that speed you must have flown straight across the pot holes, but the roads are quite good there in the desert, and you can see for miles ahead to the horizon for trouble ahead. I don't think my old f650 could have stood up to speeds over 80mph for long though, even if I could concentrate for that long. Just think what it would have been like on a 125. A friend of mine did from Singapore to Antwerp on a Suzy125 and the worst bit for him was crossing through Iran flat out at 50mph for 12hrs a day, 'It was like riding a chain saw.' he said. But the bike was no trouble at all if I remember correctly.
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Old 12 May 2008
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Crappy slow bikes are so much more fun than fast bikes, if you are into that kind of traveling.

You will see more. Meet more people (you may be forced to stop in odd little towns for repairs) and have a good time if you have patience.

For me the slower bikes are so much more what motorcycle adventuring is about than big bikes.
Hell, anyone can buy a big GS and a BMW suit and call themselves "motorcycle adventurers" but the true adventure is in yourself and a quirky choise of bike will bring memorable experiences.

Personally I drove Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia on a 125 Minsk and it was so much more fun than the KLR 650 trip from LA to BA I have just completed now.

Big bikes have little personality, small bikes have lots. Sometimes at least. And always on sundays...


Driving long boring distances on a small bike makes you feel the distances. When you just crank the handle on your big bike to "make the distance go away" you also cheat yourself a bit.

So bottomline is:

Buy whatever you find that looks good to you and GO RIDING!
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  #13  
Old 12 May 2008
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Right on and ride on

Quote:
Originally Posted by peter-denmark View Post
So bottomline is:

Buy whatever you find that looks good to you and GO RIDING!
I think that is what I was trying to say Peter, but be aware of the strengths and weaknesses first. Put Jock on a 125cc and he would probably not have enjoyed his trip. For me, I wanted reliability first, everything else came after.

If you can remain calm and focused if your bike has just fallen apart in the rush hour traffic of Quito, it doesn't matter what you ride, you will handle the situation. Same applies if you are on RN40 in the middle of nowhere. But if those scenarios give you nightmares you may need the extra comfort that a trustier steed brings. However things will go wrong whatever you ride and that is when boys become men, even old boys like me!

Remember though that Hecate says he (she?) is a novice rider and no mechanic, so needs to think a bit harder than those of us who have been riding for years.

In your situation Hecate, I think I would look for a friend to come along, you can support each other in times of crisis, and there will be times of crises no matter what you ride. My friend Roger was riding a brand new Buell and a pot hole wiped out his front wheel and rear subframe, so as I said don't matter what's under your bum really, it's what's in your head that matters.

Oh and the bad moments turn into great stories afterwards, it's just at the time that they look hopless, and the good times are 99.999999% of the ride.

You won't know if you are right until you do it, but let us know how it works out, you could teach us all a thing or two in the end. Good Luck
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Old 12 May 2008
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Originally Posted by peter-denmark View Post
the true adventure is in yourself and a quirky choise of bike will bring memorable experiences.
My last quirky ride was Ural. Purchased new in Moscow, wanted the military model but Saddam had bought them all. Settled for the "tourist".

It had alot of personality. So much so, it was abandoned in Uzbekistan after much misery...and some good stories.

I would point out that my VSTROM has provided me with literally an order of magnitude more distance than the quirky machine with very little trouble.

I want a bike that is on my side, that works with me not against me.



Quote:
Originally Posted by peter-denmark View Post
Driving long boring distances on a small bike makes you feel the distances. When you just crank the handle on your big bike to "make the distance go away" you also cheat yourself a bit.
The Strom is programmed to retard timing at 130 mph. Tried that, and neither Southern Patagonia nor the Atacama desert "went away".

They in fact lingered for a painfully long time.
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  #15  
Old 12 May 2008
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Back to the subject at hand.

Forget the Chinese bike unless you just love breaking down. Even a good bike will do that for you now and then.

If you want to ride something small but cheap go with a used but mechanically sound Japanese bike.

I recently bought an 1986 XT600 for $600 and would far rather ride that than a new Chinese machine.

Sounds like a fun ride. A smaller machine will shine on the backroads.
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