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Old 30 May 2009
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Posts: 13
Top 14 Riding Tips for China

I posted this on another forum, but I will repost it here for any would-be China riders.

My Chinese ZS 150GY.

1. Dirt Bike. Dirt Bike. Dirt Bike. China has the WORST roads I've seen yet. The "National roads" are often in wretched condition. But, if you can find a dirt-bike with the high suspension etc., you will be able to fly over the potholes etc. This may be tough to find in the eastern half of China- but it's worth looking for.

2. Full-face helmet with reflective visor. Keeps the cops off your case. You want to avoid the police because they can put a dent in your fun. If you do get pulled over then insist in speaking only in English and speak very fast. This worked for me 2 out of 3 times. Finally, don't offer up registration or license until they ask you in English - they will probably give up and wave you on.

3. Stay out of city centers - bikes are banned.

4. Get the ownership documents for the bike- get a letter written by the chinese seller stating that it is yours to own and use. Get a copy of his ID card if you can.

5. Plan your stays along the way in medium-sized cities or larger cities. Some small hamlets cannot host foreigners and it might leave you stranded.

6. Travel light. Forget all that damned baggage. I've done just fine with a gym-style sports bag and some bunjee cord. Don't weigh your bike down with a bunch of crap you dont need.

7. BUY IT THERE. Whatever it is, it is made in China, so just take cash and buy it when you need it. Don't be that guy who prepares for everything. If you need a flashlight, stop and buy one. Don't worry about bike repairs - tons of shops in every town can do quick mends to brakes, chain etc. No need to carry all the stuff - repair is cheap too!

8. Avoid hotels, use guesthouses, hostels etc. Try Couchsurfing.com to find places to stay for free.

9. Do not pay tolls. Bikes can circumvent toll booths - just go around them.

High mountain pass in Northern Yunnan.

10. Yunnan - You will love it! It was the BEST of everything, including roads. Get to Kunming and stay at the Hump hostel. Then, dart out Dali (enjoy some herbal use there..) and then to touristy Lijiang. But don't end it there - You have to go north to Shangrila - it is awesome.

11. Gas - use #93 octane.

12. Don't let someone con you into buying an expensive japanese bike. I got my Zongshen for only $600 and it is a workhorse bike.

13. Bring your own, good bike lock. I've gone through 3 Chinese ones already.

14. Don't worry too much about the (il)legalities etc. You will be fine - just do it and keep your head low. I got caught 6 times and I'm still rolling now! (in Cambodia) Find a tentative route - one that will take you through some cool sites. Then, use a local map for the rest.

Hope these tips help. there is more on my website, ChrisOn2Wheels.com and my book, "Southeast Asia on 2 Wheels."

Chris Maupin
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