Motorcycle Safety & Driveability/Touring

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Question
Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am planning a late 2014 trip on a motorcycle to South America (I live in Texas). Now, I do not as of yet own a motorcycle, nor have I ever. Actually, I don't have much experience on them, but I grew up riding dirtbikes (Honda CRF 250). I'd appreciate constructive feedback, even considering these odds.
I have five to seven thousand dollars budgeted for a bike to get comfortable with in the mean time. What would you recommend I buy? A used touring motorcycle? Cruiser? Listen I know this sounds dangerous/harebrained, but I'm 25, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Thanks again for any advice.

Answer
William,

I am back from my trip and can hopefully provide you with some advice on how to prepare for your trip. First, it is a very ambitious plan and preparation is essential in having a safe and enjoyable adventure. I'll take one subject at a time.

The motorcycle. I highly suggest a dual sport or adventure style motorcycle that is capable of handling a wide variety of roads. It is good that you have dirt bike experience because much of that can translate into street riding and riding on poorly maintained roads such as you are likely to encounter. It is a good idea to choose a motorcycle that feels comfortable is size and handling. You may need to retro fit items such as the seat to make it more suitable for long days of riding, the handlebars and tires may also need to be selected based on the route you choose. A brand that is either durable or one that parts can be readily obtained in the areas you will be riding is also an important consideration. Look at several bikes and ask for advice from people on the forums I am noting below but bikes that come to mind for me are the Suzuki DR650, Honda XR650, and some of the BMW 650GS style bikes. These are not too heavy or too light. Consider what you will be packing and determine if the bike suits your plan.

Training. You're young. Great. Get as physically fit as possible as you prepare. Also, once you get a motorcycle, ride it frequently and for reasonably long distances. Professional rider training is also essential. If you have an opportunity to watch reruns of a recent show on Speed channel called Neale Bayly Rides, Moto Cause. The first episode shows them preparing for the ride to Peru. Try to find an off road dual sport training school close to you in Texas.

There are some excellent source of additional information from experts who spend most of their lives doing exactly what you are planning. The first website I suggest you join and read the forum is Horizons Unlimited, the forum is called the HUBB. It is made up of people riding the world. http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/

Another website where you may find some local assistance is www.advrider.com But at times it can be the wild west of the internet so be sure the advice you receive is from a genuinely qualified rider and not a keyboard internet expert.

Plan to take a lot of pictures, check with the US State Department of safety warnings and keep a blog or diary.

Good luck. Please let me know if you have any further questions. I hope these resources I have provided will give you the information you need to determine your route and equipment.

Tom Wright


William,

As you realize this is an ambitious goal and it warrants obtaining some serious advice. I am on a motorcycle trip currently and am limited to my iPad for email. I will return home on Wednesday and will send you a more thorough reply.
Thank you for the question. You are wise to seek competent advice before setting out on a ride like this.

Tom Wright  

Motorcycle Safety & Driveability

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Tom Wright

Expertise

Motorcycle Safety, Motorcycle Rider Training, Motorcycle Driver Licensing and Inspections, Motorcycle Touring

Experience

Retired in 2008 from the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission where I held various positions, most notably as Director of Inspections and Licensing and the State Administrator for the Motorcycle Safety Education Program. During that time I served with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)as Region 1 Chair and Vice-Chair of the Engineering and Vehicle Inspection committee and member of the Task Force on Altered Height Vehicles and various other committees for 20 plus years. Currently, President of Central Jersey Rider Training, Inc. an MSF and NJMVC approved training provider. I starting riding at an early age and have been riding motorcycles for over 40 years.

Organizations
State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) Citizens Academy Alumni Association

Publications
Motorcycle Consumer News - March and April, 2009 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Technical Paper on The Effect of Tire Rolling Radius on Pedal Force Gain and Rollover Propensity of a Light-Duty Truck

Education/Credentials
Currently hold a MSF RiderCoach certification. Certified Public Manager certification from Rutgers University.

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