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Overland Bicycle Travel Overlanding questions for two wheels, no motor!
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  #1  
Old 13 Jul 2017
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Bicycle trip vs Motorcycle trip | Expenses Comparison

Hi fellas,

I am considering to start traveling on a push bike and at first i thought this was a stupid question to ask: a cycling trip must be cheaper than a motorcycle trip.

Or not?

A bike is surely cheaper than a motorcycle, which also requires an insurance, fuel, possibly the carnet and so on. Moreover, the motorcycle is more expensive to be shipped and has more spare parts to care of.

However, traveling the same distance with a bicycle will take longer, which means more money for accommodation (unless camping), more water and food needed. This may also end upon more visa extensions = more $.

Long story short, I am not sure anymore that traveling on a motorcycle is always cheaper than with a push bike, so I ask you more seasoned travellers.

Did any of you try to cover more or less the same distance both by motorcycle and bicycle?

How do the two means of transport compare in terms of expenses?


Cheers!
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  #2  
Old 13 Jul 2017
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Depends on the trip, as you say. If you want to cover a set distance that will take some time, a moto will take less time and therefore cost less for accommodation and food.

Personally I just find motorcycles a lot more fun than bicycles.
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  #3  
Old 13 Jul 2017
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I have done both and certainly in relation to time spent travelling bicycle travel is considerably cheaper and depending on how fast you like to cycle the distance can cost less as well, the running cost of a motorcycle can mount up. The middle ground is small motorcycle travel which I have also tried and could be the best compromise, if you are on something 125cc or under the savings are considerable but distance covered is not much less.
I would suggest you try bicycle travel and see how you get on with it, at the end of the day it is about enjoying the trip.
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  #4  
Old 13 Jul 2017
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Im shure traveling by bycicle or bus is way more expensive then by bike

With a bicycle you cant escape big citys and therefore have to pay for hotels

Same with a bus. Busses only go from city to city.

With a bike you can wildcamp anywere for free. Renting a bike in Asia is only $4 per day + 3 liters petrol for 100 km. Human work is more expensive. Buying a bike for $1000 and selling one year later for 500 in Africa or Southamerica is $500 per year loss of value: Offroad Motorrad Weltreisen - das letzte Abenteuer
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  #5  
Old 14 Jul 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ta-rider View Post
Im shure traveling by bycicle or bus is way more expensive then by bike
It would all depend on destination and distances and time available. On a day to day basis bicycle travel is usually cheaper than a motorcycle.

Quote:
With a bicycle you cant escape big citys and therefore have to pay for hotels
I've done many tours by bicycle and motorcycle and I've managed to "escape" big cities with both. I plan not to be in a city in the first place whenever possible, regardless of whether my two wheeler has a motor or not.

Quote:
Same with a bus. Busses only go from city to city.
Definitely agree.

Quote:
With a bike you can wildcamp anywere for free.
Same on a bicycle, plus there is a worldwide bicycle hosting network at www.warshowers.org. On top of it all, it's much easier to push a small bicycle into the forest to disappear from view and set up a nice quiet camp without being discovered. A motorcycle requires a road or a trail for access.

Quote:
Renting a bike in Asia is only $4 per day + 3 liters petrol for 100 km. Human work is more expensive.
Definitely some valid points here. In southeast Asia I would definitely consider the cost differences to be more negligible. I was recently in Indonesia where I rented a motorbike for 3 weeks and wouldn't have done it any other way.

Quote:
Buying a bike for $1000 and selling one year later for 500 in Africa or Southamerica is $500 per year loss of value:
Selling a motorcycle in Africa or South America would also incur a "loss of value", probably a much larger one given the way motorcycles sometimes have to be sold illegally due to import restrictions. Besides, there is absolutely no reason to sell a bicycle at the end. Wrap it up in cardboard and take it on the plane as on oversized piece of luggage for anywhere from $50 to $250. The same can't be said about motorcycles.

PS: I'd love to know where one could get a proper touring bicycle for $1000 Mine cost me more like $2500 when all was said and done. Still a lot cheaper than the $15,000 I paid for my F650GS without factoring in the expensive tires and parts over the years.
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Old 14 Jul 2017
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Bicycle:
You do eat more! Energy to move yourself and the bicycle comes from the food you eat.
You can wild camp .. easier than on the motorcycle as there is less to see and be heard.
Distance travelled per day are, say, 1/10 of that by motorcycle ...
You see more - because of the lower speed it is easier to notice things and stop.

Motorcycle:
Faster - more comfortable and easier on the body.
You can take more stuff.
More expensive - purchase, depreciation, shipping, running, insurance and possible theft of the motorcycle.
Less expensive - food + accommodation .. as you spend less time travelling.

------------------
They are simply different. If I really want to know a road then the bicycle is best. If I want to get from A to B quickly or transport over large distances the motorcycle.
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  #7  
Old 14 Jul 2017
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Originally Posted by Scrabblebiker View Post
PS: I'd love to know where one could get a proper touring bicycle for $1000 Mine cost me more like $2500 when all was said and done.
I too have spent more than $1,000 on a touring bike and prefer hub gears but this one is good value and reasonable quality for under $1,000.

https://www.evanscycles.com/dawes-ga...FQ4R0wodSv4FTw
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Old 14 Jul 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrabblebiker View Post
A motorcycle requires a road or a trail for access.
No

Motorradreise durch Indien - die grosse Freiheit mit 110cc

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Originally Posted by Scrabblebiker View Post
Wrap it up in cardboard and take it on the plane as on oversized piece of luggage for anywhere from $50 to $250. The same can't be said about motorcycles.
Why shound you ship if you can just buy and sell?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrabblebiker View Post
PS: I'd love to know where one could get a proper touring bicycle for $1000 Mine cost me more like $2500 when all was said and done. Still a lot cheaper than the $15,000 I paid for my F650GS without factoring in the expensive tires and parts over the years.
Yes we need those kind of people to finance the corrupt government. Someone who dont want to waste his lifetime working in an office just buys used trustfull Hondas. My was just 700 Euro before i rode around Africa and still running fine with more then 250.000 km. My used bikcycle was $50 also perfect. Rather invest the money in petrol and time. My 3 years world trip was cheaper then what you payed just for equipment before you even start so its may be not bike or bicycle it depends on how people can deal with money

Offroad Motorrad Weltreisen - das letzte Abenteuer

Last edited by ta-rider; 14 Jul 2017 at 09:54.
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  #9  
Old 14 Jul 2017
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Guys, thanks for all your thoughts.

I see that no one mentioned the borders issue. Don't you think that can make quite a difference considering the time and money to spend at each border for bike clearance, local insurance and license plate (if required). Moreover, many countries have restrictions based on where the bike is coming from (now I am thinking about SE Asia where you carefully have to choose where to buy your bike if you want to be allowed the neighbouring countries).

I actually have no idea if there can be restrictions for bicycles too.


About the bicycle choice, I noticed the high prices on these touring bikes, but I am wondering if a good second hand MTB with racks wouldn't be enough?

I agree with people suggesting small (possibly second hand) bikes as the best compromise. In case of emergency, you just don't worry about leaving it where it is and lose that bunch of hundreds.

Probably a 125cc could be the best option for a trip in South America or Asia (purchased on the spot), while having bicycle as weapon of choice in Europe, where the climate is a bit more suitable and small displacement bikes are not that common as in 3rd world countries (not to mention the insane insurance prices, at least here in Italy).
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Old 14 Jul 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Popo View Post
I see that no one mentioned the borders issue. Don't you think that can make quite a difference considering the time and money to spend at each border for bike clearance, local insurance and license plate (if required). Moreover, many countries have restrictions based on where the bike is coming from (now I am thinking about SE Asia where you carefully have to choose where to buy your bike if you want to be allowed the neighbouring countries).
Because this is not an issue if you rent or buy and sell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Popo View Post
I am wondering if a good second hand MTB with racks wouldn't be enough?
Shure i did thousend if Kilometers with my $50 bicycle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Popo View Post
Probably a 125cc could be the best option for a trip in South America or Asia
True thats what people ride there so you dont look and will be treated as money on legs and all parts are easy to get if needet
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Old 14 Jul 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Popo View Post
Guys, thanks for all your thoughts.

I see that no one mentioned the borders issue. Don't you think that can make quite a difference considering the time and money to spend at each border for bike clearance, local insurance and license plate (if required). Moreover, many countries have restrictions based on where the bike is coming from (now I am thinking about SE Asia where you carefully have to choose where to buy your bike if you want to be allowed the neighbouring countries).
There is no doubt that crossing borders with a bicycle involves a lot less hassle and expense in many places. But the actual total added costs for the motorcycle trip will vary depending on the number of borders and the red tape and delays involved at each border. Some are easy, some are difficult. Hard to answer that one without knowing specific details of your trip or trips.

Quote:
I actually have no idea if there can be restrictions for bicycles too.
I haven't come across any so far and I have never heard of any through the cycle touring community but there could be some. One never knows.

My experience with the motorcycle from Canada to Panama was that every country except the USA (for Canadian registered motorcycles) required a temporary import permit and locally purchased liability insurance was required for Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama before I was allowed to proceed. Most of it was actually quite inexpensive. The motorcycle itself remained uninsured and any damage would have been at my own expense, including import duties if I was unable to remove it from the country. Some countries stamped the vehicle entry into my passport, others didn't.


Quote:
About the bicycle choice, I noticed the high prices on these touring bikes, but I am wondering if a good second hand MTB with racks wouldn't be enough?
Yes it would be. It's a matter of personal choice. I started touring on a dedicated touring bicycle with all the "bells and whistles" for local and European/Moroccan tours. Next I fitted out my mountain bike and toured locally as well as in Cuba, Mexico (Baja), Guatemala and Belize. Then I opted for the Surly Disc Trucker with 26" wheels for Cuba, Europe and local tours. On the road I've encountered everything from top end $3000+ touring rigs to reclaimed junkyard bicycles. There was even one fellow crossing Canada on a unicycle. In the USA there are even homeless people towing trailers across the countryside with their old bicycles. There is no single touring bike for everyone and there's absolutely no need to buy the most expensive rig out there. Any old bike will do but each one has pros and cons worthy of an entire new thread. You will get as many opinions as in the threads about the "ideal" travel motorcycle.

A mountain bike will generally be less efficient than a road touring bicycle (such as the Trek 520) and an "expedition" touring bike (for example Surly LHT) will be somewhat less efficient than the road touring bicycle. But they'll all get you there anyway. Just about any bicycle can be made "touring friendly" by changing tires, adding racks and setting it up ergonomically.

Quote:
I agree with people suggesting small (possibly second hand) bikes as the best compromise. In case of emergency, you just don't worry about leaving it where it is and lose that bunch of hundreds.
This is a good option in some places and I've considered it as well. The tricky part is knowing where a foreigner can legally buy and register a bike. Once bought and registered you'd also have to find out which countries would allow you in with that particular registration and your nationality.

Quote:
Probably a 125cc could be the best option for a trip in South America or Asia (purchased on the spot), while having bicycle as weapon of choice in Europe, where the climate is a bit more suitable and small displacement bikes are not that common as in 3rd world countries (not to mention the insane insurance prices, at least here in Italy).
I think you just answered your own original question
Europe is full of marked bicycle routes and paths and has a very well established bicycle culture. I would add parts of the USA and Canada, along with Japan, Australia and New Zealand to the bicycle options even though the bicycle culture here isn't quite as mature as in western Europe. The Oregon coast is stunning on a bicycle, albeit very hilly. There's even a 600km network of bicycle paths in South Korea.

In my personal opinion it comes down to the experience you want to have, not the cost of the trip, as long as it's within the budget you've set for yourself. There are simply way too many variables to properly answer your original question. The only way to do a proper analysis is to research and calculate a specific trip you have in mind. If you're working to earn a living and you can't do your work on the road then the answer is actually quite clear. Taking unpaid leave from your work for 1 year vs 2 years, for example, would very clearly make the motorcycle option a lot cheaper if you're intent on covering a certain route vs covering a certain time span for your trip.

Get some cheap bicycle, add a few things to it and just start doing it to see if you like it
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Old 14 Jul 2017
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I have only heard rumour of a border problem in one SE Asian country but never had it confirmed by someone who has experienced it so it might not be true or avoidable and yes you generally do save on local insurance and in a few countries a local number plate and or registration fee.
I bought a $100 bicycle in Hawaii and it was a useless piece of crap, cheap secondhand bikes can work out but I prefer to buy something a little better and have more reliability. A good MTB with luggage will be fine, look out for something on Ebay that someone has had sat around for a while and had little use or if you can afford it last years model in a shop that sells them off cheap.
My experience of rented bicycles is like many rented motorbikes, that they are often abused and worn out, I prefer to take my own. By choosing the right airline with a larger luggage allowance you can sometimes fly a bicycle for nothing, I have done this a few times or I prefer to pay for my own to be flown which has never cost a lot.
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Old 16 Jul 2017
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Thumbs down

I will start looking for a good second hand MTB I think and here the old discussion about what tyres, what this and that could go on forever.

I just give you my ideas from my researches and little chats with more seasoned cyclists:

1. Wheels the can allow 26" tyres, possibly with more spokes and heavy duty tyres if doing a lot of off road

2. Racks that allow to keep the weight as low as possible. I see that many actually choose forks that are already preset with holes for front racks mounting.

4. Material: steel (easier to repair)

5. Handlebar:no real idea here, I guess a flyer (same shape as a endure bike) would do.

6. Seat: tobe tested, not too foamy in order to avoid rashes after long runs

7. Suspensions: only on the front (forks)


What do you guys think?
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Old 16 Jul 2017
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There is a reason you seldom see a long distance bicycle tourer riding a mountain bike. These bikes are not designed for touring. You want a bike which is designed for touring, perhaps shaded toward rougher tracks or off-road.

The reasons for the infinite iterations of frame materials, geometry, sizing, and attachments (brakes, wheels, tires, shifters, pedals, gearing, etc. Etc. Etc.) are worthy of extensive debate, but probably not here. If you don't think these things make a difference, certainly do a trial tour and see how it works for you. Discounting conventional wisdom can be great fun, and sometimes liberating, but it comes with real risks--in this case to your abilities, comfort, and enjoyment.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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Old 16 Jul 2017
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I use Schwalbe Marathons which are a road tyre and popular with touring cyclists, they are tough as old boots, fairly puncture resistant and last a long time. They have taken me along all sorts of dirt and gravel roads and tracks, so far they have done nearly 8,000 miles and are still going. I have 26" wheels which are also fairly strong and have survived some rough roads with full luggage.

You can get lowrider front pannier racks but these need the mounting on the front forks, also make sure you buy a bike with rear lugs for a rack, not all MTBs have them.

Try different handlebars and take the most comfortable for you, this really is a matter of personal choice. I also like Ergon grips which spread weight across your palms and there are cheaper alternatives which are just as good.

Brooks saddles are popular but if you do use one make sure it is broken in and comfortable before setting off as some of them never brake in, alternatively try a gel seat.

Steel frames have a little more give in them than aluminium and some think that makes them more comfortable and as you say repairable. Google expedition bicycle to get an idea what others are using, hub gears are also popular as they are fully enclosed and not as vulnerable to damage as a derailleur but have a smaller range of gears.

I like front suspension and have it on my touring bike but it does mean you cannot use lowrider pannier frames, a higher pannier rack is available and if you do go for front suspension make sure they have a lockout for climbing hills.

Last edited by mark manley; 16 Jul 2017 at 20:09. Reason: more info
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