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  #1  
Old 15 Jul 2017
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Is RTW travel by motorcycle worth it?

Hi Folks,

Realize this posting might draw a variety of responses/reactions. Will try to clarify my question.

Background: I like motorcycling. I've ridden across/around North America several times, Western Europe, and Northern Thailand.

However, a RTW trip by motorcycle seems to add complexity and expense. Am thinking mainly of the extra paperwork (carnet) in the planning phase and border crossings during execution. Motorcycle travel limits when I can visit certain areas based on weather/temperature/road conditions. Also the risk of breakdowns, accidents, and theft.

Am curious to know how folks who've done RTW trips by motorcycle have dealt with these issues, particularly the additional paperwork and expense.

BTW - the alternative would be for me to fly to each continent and travel between towns via bus, train, etc.

Last edited by 6Strings; 17 Jul 2017 at 07:34.
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  #2  
Old 15 Jul 2017
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I have never met anyone who has done it and regretted it, I do know a couple of people who with the glories of hindsight think they would of prefered to of travelled every motorable continent over several shorter trips of a year or so rather than one lasting several years.
Your route and when you travel will be controlled to a certain extent by the seasons but that is all part of the trip as are border crossings which can sometimes be very stressful and other times involve interesting and pleasant encounters with customs and immigration officers.
Accidents and theft can happen however you travel but with caution, situational and cultural awareness can be kept to a minimum or avoided completely, breakdowns you just have to deal with and keep to a minimum with good bike maintenance and by not abusing it too much.
To answer your original question most definitely worth it.

Last edited by mark manley; 15 Jul 2017 at 20:51. Reason: Grammar correction, more info
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  #3  
Old 15 Jul 2017
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Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
Hi Folks,

Realize this posting might draw a variety of responses/reactions. Will try to clarify my question.

Background: I like motorcycling. I've ridden across/around North America several times, Western Europe, and Northern Thailand.

However, a RTW trip by motorcycle seems to add complexity and expense.

Yes, you will need some money to do a RTW trip, though it need not be super expensive.

Am thinking mainly of the extra paperwork (carnets) in the planning phase and border crossings during execution.

Carnet is a kind of one-off cost. Visas will cost you money. And shipping between continents. Very few borders require payment in my experience

Motorcycle travel limits when I can visit certain areas based on weather/temperature/road conditions.

Yes, motorcycles are not the most practical RTW vehicles, but you should be able to plan round the northern winter and the odd rainy season. Maybe you need to do more research on this.

Also the risk of breakdowns, accidents, and theft.

Yep, just like pretty much anywhere (including home) and with any mode of travel.

Am curious to know how folks who've done RTW trips by motorcycle have dealt with these issues, particularly the additional paperwork and expense.

Planning and money

BTW - the alternative would be for me to fly to each continent and travel between towns via bus, train, etc.

You cannot compare the two experiences, they are totally different ways to travel. I would never go back to backpacking, I can't think back to a single advantage other than being able to fly out of a place if I needed to. Not that it ever happened. Public transport sucks after the freedom to roam across continents with your own vehicle and your own place to sleep wherever you are.

Backpacking is not necessarily much cheaper; you still need visas and usual living costs plus money for arious means of travel. Certainly if you want to see a country in-depth and not just blat through it, you usually pay more without your own vehicle as you'll need to hire taxis / 4x4s to get to the most interesting places. Even worse is having to join mini tours with bunches of random other tourists.

TBH this is a bit of an odd question. It feels like you're putting up barriers which aren't really there. This is a good site to research people's trips, I suggest you look through some blogs and threads on here and see if a RTW trip is really what you want to do.

Unless you're really strapped for cash and want to go RTW on a shoestring, I would take a vehicle.
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  #4  
Old 16 Jul 2017
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I believe the answer to your question is 'yes'.
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  #5  
Old 16 Jul 2017
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Mark,

Thanks for your thoughtful response!

Maybe I'll give it a shot to Tierra del Fuego and up to Buenos Aires to see how that works out.

Taking the bike does offer the possibility of taking more camera equipment. If I was just going to throw a pack over my shoulder and hop a plane, I'd probably bring just my smartphone and tablet to keep things light. No DSLR, lenses, tripod, and laptop. 8-0

Ed

Last edited by 6Strings; 16 Jul 2017 at 05:33.
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Old 16 Jul 2017
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Thanks, EurasiaOverland! You're right. It probably does seem like an odd question, especially for this forum of international riders. It's coming from someone who's preparing for his own RTW trip and wants to make sure he does it right.

I've viewed the HU video set, attended an HU Meeting in Ontario, trolled the HUBB site (though not for a while), and exchanged personal emails with some RTW riders.

I was ready to start my RTW ride last year when my boss offered me the opportunity to work while traveling. I got to ride across the US/Canada, spend a couple months in Alaska, before selling my DR650 and flying to Chiang Mai where I spent 6 months as a digital nomad, renting bikes there, and visiting neighboring countries along the way. I also lived/worked in Europe for 5 years. So I'm not going in completely blind.

When I reached out to Boomerang Carnets to obtain a CPD, I was told the deposit could range from the value of my bike to 8 times that amount for Egypt, and I'd get about 80% of that amount back if the bike left the country with me. For a new $25k fully equipped R1200GS that seems like a $200k deposit with $40k not getting returned to me. Hopefully I've got these numbers wrong. Because $40k could cover my first year of RTW travel and the $200k could cover the rest of my multi-year RTW trip.

Hope you now know what's got me reconsidering my bike for this trip. Thanks for any advice you can provide!
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Old 16 Jul 2017
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Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
When I reached out to Boomerang Carnets to obtain a CPD, I was told the deposit could range from the value of my bike to 8 times that amount for Egypt, and I'd get about 80% of that amount back if the bike left the country with me. For a new $25k fully equipped R1200GS that seems like a $200k deposit with $40k not getting returned to me. Hopefully I've got these numbers wrong. Because $40k could cover my first year of RTW travel and the $200k could cover the rest of my multi-year RTW trip.

Hope you now know what's got me reconsidering my bike for this trip. Thanks for any advice you can provide!
If you start your trip travelling in North and South America you will not need a CDP and by the time you need one your bike will of lost at least some of that value bringing the price down. It is possible to travel up through West Africa where a lower value carnet is enough, I am not sure but 400% springs to mind. If you have your heart set on doing it on a 1200GS then that is the bike for you but something smaller such as a DR or KLR650 is perfectly capable and if you are buying new require nothing more than some luggage and perhaps a bigger tank, that will bring the price of a carnet right down.
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Old 17 Jul 2017
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Mark Manley,

Re: bike selection. Yeah - it's the R1200GS for me. I originally bought a DR650 for this trip. I had a buddy from Touratech strip the bike and rebuild it from scratch for the trip. But after riding the bike from Seattle to Boston and then up to Alaska, I missed my R1200GS and bought another.

No doubt you're right about the bike losing value with wear. It should have 30k miles by the time I get to Tierra del Fuego. Not much by RTW standards but perhaps enough to reduce its value for the carnet. Wonder if I can wait 'til then to get the carnet? Thought I might need to take care of the CDP paperwork while still in the States?
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  #9  
Old 17 Jul 2017
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Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
Wonder if I can wait 'til then to get the carnet? Thought I might need to take care of the CDP paperwork while still in the States?
A carnet is only valid for a year, you can specify a start date for its validity but on a long trip like that plans can change and departure/arrival dates can vary by months, I would suggest keeping the money in your bank account and getting one when you know you will need it.
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Old 17 Jul 2017
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Hello

If you like travelling by bike, go for it.

RTW, where do you want to go, how long can you manage to get off the grid?
RTW, that's from 3-4 month the "Ewan and Charley Way" up to 3-5 years if you want every continent in the right season.
Has it to be a RTW in one trip or can you manage to go every year on 3-4 month trips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
I originally bought a DR650 for this trip. I had a buddy from Touratech strip the bike and rebuild it from scratch for the trip. But after riding the bike from Seattle to Boston and then up to Alaska, I missed my R1200GS and bought another.
For the US/CND roads, I understand the upgrade.
Did it on a XT660Z and whished I had bought the 1200.
BUT, once I crossed the border to Mexico, I was glad I didn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
No doubt you're right about the bike losing value with wear. It should have 30k miles by the time I get to Tierra del Fuego. Not much by RTW standards but perhaps enough to reduce its value for the carnet. Wonder if I can wait 'til then to get the carnet? Thought I might need to take care of the CDP paperwork while still in the States?
The CDP is a pain in the ass, only get one when you have to.
(The only accurate info if you need it or not, you'll find here on the HUBB, gouverment and automobile club info is often outdated)
For the actual value at time, get a quote from the dealer/insurace based on miles/age, not craigslist.


have fun planning
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  #11  
Old 17 Jul 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
However, a RTW trip by motorcycle seems to add complexity and expense. Am thinking mainly of the extra paperwork (carnet) in the planning phase and border crossings during execution. Motorcycle travel limits when I can visit certain areas based on weather/temperature/road conditions. Also the risk of breakdowns, accidents, and theft.

MC travel does add complexity/expense, especially travel to continents that require CDP. Some insist shipping their $25K R1200GS from one continent to the next. $$$$ Huge money wasted, IMO, but some still do it.... But fewer now than 10-15 years ago.

But you can't overlook the HUGE plusses of MC travel that counter many of the negatives (see comments from earlier posts). Nothing can match travel on a bike, IMHO. (preaching to choir here! )

Weather is a factor; on bike, a car, bus or bicycle. Deal with it. My solution? Settle down, stay somewhere nice until weather is best where you want to go. Bad weather? Stop, settle down again. Leave bike if you have to.

Many travelers have approached RTW travel in different ways and ones I like best don't ship their bikes RTW anymore.

Dr. Greg Frasier keep bikes in various places, done this 20 years. IIRC, at one time he kept bike(s) in EU, USA, Thailand. No Carnet issues, no border hassles.

For me, if doing African continent, maybe buy/rent in S. Africa? Go from there. A hassle to find a good bike, but if you rode a LOOP you may be able to RE-SELL your bike in S. Africa after traveling the continent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
Am curious to know how folks who've done RTW trips by motorcycle have dealt with these issues, particularly the additional paperwork and expense.
BTW - the alternative would be for me to fly to each continent and travel between towns via bus, train, etc.
Yes, all good As mentioned above, many alternatives. For a EU trip, bought a bike in UK, rode it round 2 months, stored it, came back a year later, did another ride all round EU 2 months. Not RTW, but covered quite a bit. Re-sold bike ... lost just 600 UKP on the deal after 18K miles and 3 years. Not bad.

For Asia, importing personal bike is, IMO, madness. IMO, foolish to put up with this major PITA to get your own bike imported. Many stories here on this. Headache!

Solution? Buy or Rent locally as needed. You can rent/buy bikes all over Asia, some pretty nice ones for not too much money. You can buy if you figure out how to fill in the forms and have a local address. Local help recommended.

I rented bikes several times in Thailand & Vietnam. Fantastic. No, it's not a R12GS, but fact is, in Asia little bikes are easier, safer ... and MORE FUN on those roads, easier in traffic madness, easier in MUD!

For USA, Canada, Mex, Cent. America, S. America, best (IMO) have your own bike. Some here on HUBB ship bikes to USA (from EU or Aus) cost several Thousand $$$$.

Many want to be able to prep their bike at home, then take their special stuff with them. Fact is, that's all good, but will cost you and IMO, a wasteful and expensive move, still, many do exactly this.

More experienced (and sane?) travelers buy locally. So they buy USA bike locally, register it, prep it and GO, having saved a bundle on shipping, bike cost and gear. $$$$$ ... and when if they come back to UsA they can sell off the old travel bike, thus re-coupling some of their initial outlay.

Plus Points:
Bikes are: #1 cheaper in USA than UK, Aus, or EU #2 easy to buy, insure and Prep #3 Can be re-sold legally at trips end in ANY US state. #4 Every sort of rack or luggage available here and many good speciality shops if you need help doing custom prep ... and likely cheaper than "at home".

Some even ship their bikes out from Australia.
(They must love to waste money? ... then some want to PAY AGAIN ... and ship that worn out,, nearly worthless bike back home, having some crazy sentimental attachment to the loyal Old Nail. We see all kinds and of course, to each his own in this case.
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Old 18 Jul 2017
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Thanks, Sushi!

This is to be a multi-year trip. Retirement. I sold my home last July to start my RTW trip. It changed at the 11th hour to a digital nomad stint. Figured it would be easier to sustain a traveling lifestyle with a steady income. After a year, I'm ready to get back to the original RTW concept.

Expect I'll take my bike from Boston to Tierra del Fuego and then decide what to do from there. I went on a trip w/Motodiscovery to Copper Canyon and Baja California on a DR650. There was a mix of 650cc and 1200cc bikes on the trip. On pavement the big bikes ruled. On dirt it was the opposite.

Thanks for the advice on the CDP! I'd much prefer to keep the money in my investment accounts where it can grow as long as possible. Figure I'll deal with it on my way to Africa or back to Asia. Thanks for your suggestion about getting the appraisal from a dealer. That should drop the original price down by half.

Cheers!
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Old 18 Jul 2017
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Mollydog,

Haha! Humorous and solid advice! Thanks much!

I've heard of folks keeping bikes in different parts of the world. Places they visit annually, for instance. Never considered how much money it could save. I rented an R12 in Switzerland for an Alps trip, and it certainly wasn't cheap.

By comparison I rented a scooter for $1USD/day in Chiang Mai for 6 months last year. You're right. It was just the right size for that area. Anything bigger seemed out of place. I occasionally rented 300-650cc bikes for longer weekend trips. They were considerably more expensive though not by Europe or US standards.

I'll give some serious thought to buying a bike abroad rather than transporting mine across the ocean. Would love to have one stored in Thailand. A second home. Hmm...

Many thanks to you, Mark Manley, Sushi2831, EurAsiaOverland, and BRClarke! You've been very generous with your experience and advice. Much appreciated.

Last edited by 6Strings; 18 Jul 2017 at 06:23.
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Old 18 Jul 2017
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Originally Posted by 6Strings View Post
However, a RTW trip by motorcycle seems to add complexity and expense. Am thinking mainly of the extra paperwork (carnet) in the planning phase and border crossings during execution.
Only if you ship your own bike arond the world. Thats stupid, expensive and complex. If you just fly and rent/buy local bikes motorcycles give you a lot more freedom and make you independent from public transport who only stopps inside of citys. Wild camping is not possible if you travel by public transport so a motorcycle also saves hotel costs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
For Asia, importing personal bike is, IMO, madness. IMO, foolish to put up with this major PITA to get your own bike imported. Many stories here on this. Headache!

Solution? Buy or Rent locally as needed. You can rent/buy bikes all over Asia
So true. You can waste a lot of money while traveling but dont have to

I have never regret something if done or a destination if traveled too...just regret the chances i have not taken. Travelling makes addiktiv to and motorcycles are just cheap tools to get around with

http://afrikamotorrad.de

Last edited by ta-rider; 27 Feb 2018 at 11:02.
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Old 19 Jul 2017
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6Strings, sound to me like you've a lot of travel experience and a good plan!

I'm guessing you'll have no problem on the road ... and your R12GS should be fine for a Latin America trip.

Common situation I found was many other travelers much younger than myself. It's mostly kids out there traveling ... and good for them!

But they kind of bunch together ... don't always want "the old guy" hanging around. So for me, when I would come across someone over 40, it was a nice change.

I did the same as the kids when I was young and traveling (1970's) ... but the old guys always had the best stories!

I like your idea of living somewhere a while. I did this in a few places during my
7 years in Latin America. Settle in for a while, then move on when things felt right. Only thing that brought me home was a good job offer ... which involved travel.

Good luck, hope you can post up dates and ride reports when on the road!
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