Riding Tips FAQ

Compiled and edited by Kristian #562
Updated by jake #1758, 18 May 2005
Please read the Disclaimer before attempting any work in this FAQ.
Last Updated: 21 Feb 2007, by Winter #1935

There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes - Billy Connolly.

Luck & Experience: You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience.
The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.

Pilots have a saying that works just as well for motorcyclists:
A superior pilot uses his superior judgement to avoid having to use his superior skills.

For other things related to riding:


There are plenty opinions about how to ride your bike. This FAQ contains plenty of those hints and tips. Many riders often ask about how they can improve their riding. The most important investment you can make as a motorcycle rider is in a training course. There are courses on all sorts of things available, and in some countries you are required to complete a basic riders course before you are licensed to ride your bike. These courses are a long term investment in your safety - even if you have been riding for many decades, you can still learn from a course.

Section 1: Before You Start / When You Stop

Pre-Ride Checks

BradG 1002, N,CA '01GS

When I was commuting daily I did basically the same thing on my way out of the garage. These days I don't commute so I spend time after each ride going over the bike and focusing on all the usual suspects on these bikes. That way all I have to check when I fire up is that the tires haven't gone flat and the low fuel light isn't on.

Besides the obvious (oil, water, tires, lights) I now check these things between rides:

  1. Front and rear brake rotor bolts
  2. Rear sprocket bolts
  3. Front sprocket counter shaft nut
  4. Battery terminals* (mostly if I have a long ride coming up)
  5. Front and rear axle hardware
  6. Rear tail light attachment* (after seeing one fall off a bike a while back)
  7. Water pump weep hole and oil quality
  8. I also randomly inspect nuts and bolts when drying the bike after a wash

* - these are newly added after experiences I'd prefer not to see repeated.

Holding the Clutch at a Stop

Should I stay in gear or go into neutral when I'm at a stoplight? Neutral is recommened for automobiles to increase clutch life, but does it apply to motorcycles?

Kill Switch vs. Ignition

Accidents & Avoiding Them

by Davidhpark, #711

Most accidents statistically occur as they say in the business 5/5/5.

1. First five minutes of riding

You're not yet in the frame of mind of riding, you're slower to think and react (SIPDE) and you're likely close to surroundings (home/office) that make you 'comfortable' reducing your awareness factor.

2. Within five miles of home or destination

An expansion of #1. When you ride near your home and are "getting there" you reduce your awareness factor and start to think about what you need to do once you are home. But... you are not home just yet. Safe riding stops when you are in the driveway with the ignition switched off.

3. First 5 months of being a new rider or a rider on a new machine

When you don't know either (a) how to ride safely/well you're in the danger zone and even if you do when riding a different/new bike you're not familiar with how it reacts under panic or even normal situations. You make assumptions as to its performance which may be contrary to your own safety.

As far as clothing goes, sure some people may assume that they are just "running" around the block or somewhere close but that IMHO isn't any reason not to gear up (at least somewhat). I have all of my stuff arranged in the garage like Q would for Bond. I choose what I want to ride and the gear that I want based on my feelings and needs. Leaving with anything less than I should (given sometimes the obvious choice of less than ideal jeans instead of real pants) would be against my better judgement.

See also: Manuals & Books FAQ


The Art of Falling

by Werner

It is not natural for a bike to stand upright on its two rubbers, unless it is propped up by a third leg, or by speed and an operator. It is natural for a bike to lie horizontally on the ground, either at speed or at rest. We don't like the latter, but at times we have no choice. If and when that time arrives, it's good to be prepared, for we want to be able to walk away, or preferably, to ride away.

Falling, like counter-steering, can be learned, and should be practiced continuously. Wrestlers learn how to fall, judokis learn how to fall, hence bikers should also learn how to fall, lest they are living in a fool's paradise. Being the proverbial fall-guy myself, this is what I suggest:

(1) When falling is imminent, I hold onto the handlebars come h*ll or high water, and squeeze my legs around the bike, for I believe that I will be safest when staying with the bike. Once motion stops, before the dust settles, I can flip the kill switch, shut off the fuel valve, and can try to get the bugger upright as fast as possible, before doing a body check on myself. This I practice whenever possible.

(2) Bike preparation: My Jesse bags (2 mm aluminum and sturdy carriers) protect my legs during a fall, so does my BMW crash bar. These two items make me believe that I'll be saver hanging on to the bike than letting go and doing a cross-country slide. Another trick I have learned is, never tighten the hand grips on the handle bars. They should be only loosely attached and be able to give during a fall. Then you can just turn them back to normal without having to worry about broken mirrors, or broken brake/clutch levers.

(3) It is imperative that you upright the bike immediately. As soon as it lies on the ground the battery will drain through its overflow hole, and after a few falls you will no longer have any electrolyte in the cells, and no power. I learned this the hard way. In Africa I thought that the battery was losing an inordinate amount of water, and kept filling it up with distilled water. I should have topped it up with battery acid instead. Batteries don't function with water alone. Live and learn, or get a dry-cell battery.

How do I lift a Dropped Bike?

Andy #982, 07-Dec-01

Raising the Bike onto its Centerstand

I'm an owner of a 2002 F650GS and a 2003 Honda VFR800 and notice that I couldnt raise the bikes to their centerstand w/o someone assisting me. I'm a bit short, 5'5" tall (166cm) , and w/ average strength. Is there a special way or style to raise the stand? I usually use my right foot to step on the stand and use my body to lift the bike but I find it a bit difficult. Although w/ my scoot, an Italjet Dragster, I dont have any problems esp since its very light.

Riding Comfort

Wind Chill

Using this site, http://www.srh.noaa.gov/elp/wxcalc/windchill.html, I got the following: If it is 27 degress F outside, and I am riding 75mph, the calculator says it feels like it is 4 degrees F. I was happy with that until I tried another one... http://www-wwrc.uwyo.edu/wrds/wsc/reference/chill.html Same stuff, but this one says -10 degrees F. This one, http://javascript.internet.com/calculators/wind-chill.html, also says -10. But then this one, http://observe.arc.nasa.gov/nasa/earth/wind_chill/chill_wcscript.html, says 4.

So I did some research... and found this page explaining it: http://www.weather.gov/om/windchill/index.shtml They redid it... and provided the following explanation: The current formula uses advances in science, technology, and computer modeling to provide a more accurate, understandable, and useful formula for calculating the dangers from winter winds and freezing temperatures. So now I am confused. And does simply using a wind chill calculator even make sense when trying to figure out how cold it is when riding? billmallin #1629


Section 2: Specific Riding Skills

Riding in a Crosswind

by Flash#412, May '01

There seems to be some general confusion and disagreement about how to ride in crosswinds: go faster, go slower, hold tighter, be looser.

Years ago, I found THE ANSWER. It worked for me when I had an R75/5 with a full Avon fairing and Enduro bags, with a backpack strapped upright to the short sissy bar, with a passenger. (Maximum crosswind profile.) And it worked for me when I had a nekkid R80G/S, solo. (Minimum crosswind profile.) I have posted it occasionally on rec.motorcycles and gotten many favorable responses. Though, some folks, with some bikes, claim it doesn't work. YMMV. (It works on an F650, too.)

When riding in a crosswind, particularly a gusting one, all you need to do is stick your knee on the upwind side out as far as you can. The drawback is that if it is cold or rainy, you tend to scoop all the weather into your crotch. The reason it works, I *think*, is that with your knee out, you are putting your bike aerodynamically off-center and must compensate to get it to go straight. Now, when a gust comes along, your knee scoops up a bunch of the breeze, pulling you INTO the wind at the same time the wind is pushing the bike away. In any case, the effect of the gust is reduced by 90% or so.

Try it. It's free. If you don't like it, or it doesn't work, stop doing it. (Disclaimer: The suggestion assumes you are a licensed motorcyclist with enough sense not to fall off. If you try this and fall off, it is your own damn fault.)

"A really good imagination is almost as good as... hmmm I dunno."- E.Foote
David Braun - Flash@DeathStar.org - F650-412 - DoD # 412 - BMWMOA #18854 - VBMW #540

We got this from http://www.deathstar.org/~flash

Crosswind Feedback:

The F650 Off-Road - Riding Tips

Riding in Sand

David H. Park #711

See www.dhpmoto.com/jimmylewis for details.

Riding in Rain

Riding Tips - General

Performance vs. Longevity

by Ramey "Coach" Stroud, Cascade Endurance Center, Lyons, Oregon

Performance vs. longevity... sort of sounds like the Zen of motorcycles!

Flash #412's take on Performance vs. Longevity

Riding Twisties

Bill No.391 Las Vegas

Subject: Twisties

The October issue of the Chicago Region News---published by the Chicago Region BMW Owners Association, has a useful article that many of us can profit from.
Its exact title is: Flatlander's Ride Guide for Twisties--by Tom Brown.

  1. Panic is our enemy. Don't race. Don't show off. This is real life. You CAN get hurt bad. You can lose your bike, your license and, you know, other stuff. You can hurt others real bad too.

  2. Panic is our enemy. This is a public road with unknown hazards. Don't take corners at a race-track pace. Keep some cornering and braking ability in reserve for surprise situations. Radar, gravel, road kill, hidden driveways...

  3. Panic is our enemy. When turns start to get "blind", spread out and don't stagger. Use the whole lane.

  4. Panic is our enemy. Enter corners on the outside of the lane (where you can see and be seen early and make adjustments in time). Stay outside until you know where the corner ends unless there's good reason not to...bad camber, tar strips, oncoming car etc. Slow your pace if this happens.

  5. Panic is our enemy. Use a lower gear. This is not an economy run. Engine braking is the best way to adjust speed without upsetting the attitude of your bike in a turn. Enter unknown or blind turns at 1/2 to 3/4 of red- line.

  6. Panic is our enemy. If you loose the rider in front of you, just let her/him go. The ride leader will stop and gather the whole group before each turn-off. Just follow the route and you don't have to worry about losing the group. You're not expected to see them every second. We don't mind waiting for you.

  7. Panic is our enemy. If someone is holding you up pass carefully when there's room. Signal, flash lights and wait for the rider ahead to motion you by. Otherwise, back off and enjoy the day. Bear in mind the passee's experience level. No shame in caution. No glory in getting there first.

  8. Panic is our enemy. Leave plenty of distance. Don't fixate on the rider in front of you. Watch the road instead. If she's/he's a good rider, that's what she's/he's doing---watching the road! Try to take a different line from her/him so you can see around her/him better. Don't assume this rider is the "perfect rider." Don't assume you're "safe" following even the perfect rider's line blindly...everyone makes mistakes or encounters surprises and you want to avoid following the leader into a hazard.

  9. Panic is our enemy. Manage your adrenaline level. If you get "scared", slow down...There may be a good reason for it! It could be the setup on your bike is wrong for the road or load or maybe something's coming loose or it could be that oncoming cement mixer in your lane up ahead...listen to your instincts but don't let them take over. Never freeze...when you feel this starting to happen, slow down, let a couple of riders pass you if necessary. Breathe deeply a couple of times and regain your focus. You'll realize how "zoned out" you were. Survival reactions can cause muscles to freeze, eyes to fixate and put you in the ditch! You should be using your brain and not your "nerves."

  10. Panic is our enemy. Manage your hydration level. Drink water at every stop. When you're "in the wind" your fluids leave your body quickly. If you get even mildly dehydrated, your mental ability will suffer...and you'll be prone to panic and bad judgement. Too much sugar will cause low blood sugar fatigue (sugar coma) when your body pumps massive amounts of insulin into your blood. Ask a diabetic. This is especially prevalent 20 to 60 minutes after meals on the road. Eat light or at least be aware of this issue and deal with it when you feel it...again, be present and deal with your circumstances.

  11. Leader: Explain everything to each rider before each ride so there is no question.

River and Creek Crossings

Water In The Engine? (After a creek crossing?)

The following steps were provided by SScratch #1082 (who may just be an expert at this :-P ):

  1. First kill the engine. The starter won't have enough power to bend a rod if the cylinder is full of water but a running motor could do it.
  2. There's no need to turn the bike upside down or to remove the exhaust. If there is a small amount of water in the exhaust, it will blow out once you restart. If it is completely full, remove the oxygen sensor located at the lowest point in the head pipe and let it drain.
  3. The next thing to do is remove the air intake snorkle and filter, then drain and clean out the air box. Use the little sponge that you carry to clean your visor. Squeeze the filter (don't wring it out-it's paper) to get most of the water out then let it dry in the sun while you complete your repairs. If it's really nasty you might have to leave it out until you can replace it.
  4. Remove the spark plug, plug it back into the wire, then ground the base of it on the cylinder. Keep your fingers on the rubber parts. Turn on the key and kill switch and pray all the lights come on, then mash the starter button. Check to see that you still have good spark. Be sure to stand directly in front of the spark plug hole so you feel the full effect of the piston blowing the water out of the cylinder. Crank until it stops blowing water. It will continue to blow the fuel/air mixture after the water is gone so don't get confused and keep cranking until the battery is dead.
  5. It is possible that water/mud has gunked up your starter button and will have to be disassembled and cleaned to restore power.
  6. Put the plug back in and start it up. Put the filter back in after you start it. It might run rough for a while until the filter dries out. Let it idle while you put the rest of it back together, just don't let it overheat. Make sure you don't have mud obstructing the radiator and/or fan. Ride it like you stole it to dry out the filter, exhaust and your boots.


Wheelies (aka Naughtiness)

David H. Park, #711, Doug 781

All this talk of oil changes and S&M has me feeling naughty. So I'm going to ask a question this motorcycling novice knows will piss off the safety dandies. Bob #752

Wheelies on any (most) bikes are a simple matter of finding the point between throttle input and clutch output. I wheelie my Dakar all the time and my Schalber Rallye wheelies even easier. I have also wheelied the stock GS (which is a piece of cake).

More Wheelie Notes from DHP:


Green Light Trigger?

Long Distance Riding

Steep Downhill Dirt

Section 3: Problems While Riding

High Siding/Low Siding

Flash #412 & Crasher #1011

December '01

High Sided! What does that mean? You don't watch bike racing then!!

When travelling in a STRAIGHT LINE, you experience an unplanned dismount due to an inappropriate panic use of the rear brake.

a) Is your unplanned dismount a "high side" or a "low side"?

Answer to (a) is that it could be either, depending on (b).

b) How would you differentiate between the two?

Answer to (b) is... if you locked your rear brake and the back end came around and you did NOT release the brake, falling off the bike, behind the bike, you would have gone down on the low side, by virtue of the fact that the bike would have been leaning toward the direction from which you came. If just BEFORE this occurred, you released the brake and gained traction for an instant, and the bike suddenly rotated about the axis of the tire's contact point with the road, you'd have gone OVER the bike (high side).

Scraping sidestand

Ok, I've learned to keep my feet level on the footpegs and they don't touch the ground anymore when I turn. But the scraping sidestand irritates me. It's the loop on the sidestand that is doing the scraping. I don't have the sidestand switch disabled, so the scraping happens when riding with the sidestand "up". What does everyone else do?

  1. Just ignore it and keep scraping? -- (might actually be ok, doesn't happen that often for me)

  2. Take the loop off the stand? -- (I think it's useful finding the sidestand for parking)

  3. Bend it? -- (how much? does it break off?)

  4. Raise the clearance? -- (different rear shock? $$$?)


Fish Tails

Rear Wheel Fishtail

Q. Had my bike's rear tire start wobbling uncontrollably at a high speed coming down hill... what's that symptomatic of? Scared the bajeebeeze outta me! Thought the tire was gonna pop off and beat me down the hill. Any quick fix? Safe to ride into the shop? Thanks! Ty


Got air? Check the Tyre Pressure. Check the Rear Wheel Bearings. Check the Axle Bolts. Refer also Common Causes of Weaving

Front wheel Fishtail?

Q. A couple of weeks ago, going over Hwy 84 from San Gregorio to Alice's, I noticed a minor shimmy in the front wheel, that felt like a fishtail. There had been some improvements (black asphalt patches) to road surface. These may have been the cause? It was most noticeable there. My front tire was a little low (28 #, rear 33 #) and I had a little extra weight in a carryall bag clamped to the passenger seat, plus extra weight in the top case -- maybe 15-20 #'s each. This past week on Mines Road south of Livermore, with some fresh corn in the carryall bag, I adjust the dampening (black round knob, not the screw down low), and it seemed to be occurring less. No "road improvements" however. I'm wondering whether something in the front end needs some attention. Mileage 17,000. This had been a service loaner that I got it at 12,000 miles. I checked the FAQ and now wonder if wheel bearings might be culprit? Tire pressure this last weekend was 30/34, could that have been a factor? Trailwing tires. Back replaced at 12K, front at 15K. Many thanks! Chris 856

Got air? Check the Tyre Pressure. Check the Front Wheel Bearings. Check the Axle Bolts. Refer also Common Causes of Weaving

What's a Tank Slapper?

Richard #230, Marty #436, Noel, Iceman #975

December '01

Tank slapping refers to the wheel (and attached handlebars) swinging violently from side to side, due to a harmonic reaction to steering input or poor mechanical condition. Steering dampers were developed to prevent this problem (that can get you killed). I had a 1985 R80 that I converted to an R100RS. If the steering bearings got a bit loose and you hit a rock while leaned over, or if you took one hand off of the bars at around 40 mph to reach the reserve tap, it would result in a tank slapper. I thought I was going to die a couple of times. The front wheel left skid marks on the pavement, as the wheel turned at 45 degrees to the direction of travel, while the bike ploughed ahead. Fortunately, I was able to stop the bike without falling over, or getting hit by an oncoming car. I am now anal about steering bearing tension. (I also noted that my R80 rear shock was longer than the later R100RS bikes. I think BMW reduced the rake of the forks by lowering the rear of the bike, when they bolted the RS fairing to the single sided swingarm airheads. This would make the bike more stable.)

Tank slappers are a feedback reaction caused by something causing steering movement to be amplified rather than dampened (think here of a guitar feeding back...the note getting louder instead of dying out naturally). Like a guitar, certain notes (oscillations) tend to feedback better. So tank slappers tend to happen under certain set of conditions that amplify/feedback these oscillations (certain speed, crosswind, rain grooves, etc). Look for things that move that are moving incorrectly (steering head bearing, swingarm bearing, wheel bearing, suspension parts) or things that shouldn't move that are (loose saddlebags, trunk, fairing, cracked/bent frame).

I was following my wife when she went into a tank slapper on a highway-speed country sweeper (old /2 BMW). Not only did the handlebars get ripped out of her hands, but the rear wheel jumped up and down and side-to-side. She rode it to a stop (she said she pretended it was a horse and squeezed the tank with her knees to steer it). Tightened up the steering damper as a temporary fix. Took several years to finally track down the problem as a slightly bent frame, which reduced the trail of the leading link fork to the point of barely being stable. A replacement telescopic fork with more trail finally solved the problem.

A Tank Slapper very unlikely on f650 because of front fork rake angle, much wider than the average sport bike such as an R6 Yamaha which regularly beat up unsuspecting boy racers on a Sunday after noon. Thus the $200 steering damper often seen hanging off race replica hardware. From watching road racing such as the isle of man TT it can be seen that this usually happens when the front end leaves the ground due to a high speed bump. When the front end lands the front wheel may not be tracking straight and begins to fight to regain a straight line. Staying loose on the bars is said to be the best way to regain control. A tight grip on the bars will translate the shaking to your body and on through to the bike its self. For those who don't understand the slapper principle, think of how the shopping trolley wheel. As for Harleys, some are to heavy in the rear which make the front end bounce. membership fees in the mail.

Regarding tank slappers, I'd also make sure EVERYTHING on the chassis is tight. Engine mounts, swingarm, all fasteners. Tires are balanced, wheel bearings not worn out, just to mention a few things. I've never experienced a "high speed wobble" on my GSA, just a slight oscillation if the bars are twitched at speed. Normal, as far as I'm concerned.


What do I do in the event a Tank Slapper happens to me?

Marty #436

December '01



More info on tank slappers

Towing the F650

A quick question about towing the bike (f650 of course) along the road. Of course being in Neutral, other then tire / chain & sprockets, is there any other concerns on towing the bike this way????? liddell

Section 4: Rider to Rider Communication

Hand Signals?

Other Signals for Pairs or Groups

Section 5: Wisdom?

Why Ride? - The Mint

Contributed by Flash #412

From 'The Mint' by 352087 A/c Ross

A book by the late Mr. Ross, better known as T.E. Lawrence, who later lost his life whilst riding a Brough Superior.

"16: The Road

The extravagance in which my surplus emotion expressed itself lay on the road. So long as roads were tarred blue and straight; not hedged; and empty and dry, so long I was rich. Nightly I'd run up from the hanger, upon the last stroke of work, spurring my tired feet to be nimble. The very movement refreshed them, after the day-long restraint of service. In five minutes, my bed would be down, ready for the night: in four more I was in breeches and puttees, pulling on my gauntlets as I walked over to my bike, which lived in a garage-hut, opposite. Its tyres never wanted air, its engine had a habit of starting at second kick: a good habit, for only by frantic plunges upon the starting pedal could my puny weight force the engine over the seven atmospheres of its compression.

Boanerges' first glad roar at being alive again nightly jarred the huts of Cadet College into life. 'There he goes, the noisy @#$%#$,' someone would say enviously in every flight. It is part of an airman's profession to be knowing with engines: and a thoroughbred engine is our undying satisfaction. The camp wore the virtue of my Brough like a flower in its cap. Tonight Tug and Dusty came to the step of our hut to see me off. 'Running down to Smoke, perhaps?' jeered Dusty; hitting at my regular game of London and back for tea on fine Wednesday afternoons.

Boa is a top-gear machine, as sweet in that as most single-cylinders in middle. I chug lordily past the guard-room and through the speed limit at no more than sixteen. Round the bend, past the farm, and the way straightens. Now for it. The engine's final development is fifty-two horsepower. A miracle for this docile strength waits behind one tiny lever for the pleasure of my hand.

Another bend: and I have the honour of one of England's straightest and fastest roads. The burble of my exhaust unwound like a long cord behind me. Soon my speed snapped it, and I heard only the cry of the wind which my battering ram head split and fended aside. The cry rose with my speed to a shriek: while the air's coldness streamed like two jets of iced water into my dissolving eyes. I screwed them to slits, and focused my sight two hundred yards ahead of me on the empty mosaic of the tar's gravelled undulations.

Like arrows the tiny flies pricked my cheeks; and sometimes a heavier body, some house-fly or beetle, would crash into face or lips like a spent bullet. A glance at the speedometer: seventy-eight. Boanerges is warming up. I pull the throttle right open, on the top of the slope, and we swoop flying across the dip, and up-down up-down the switchback beyond: the weighty machine launching itself like a projectile with a whirr of wheels into the air at the take-off of each rise, to land lurchingly with such a snatch of the driving chain as jerks my spine like a rictus.

Once we so fled across the evening light, with the yellow sun on my left, when a huge shadow roared just overhead. A Bristol Fighter, from Whitewash Villas, our neighbour aerodrome, was banking sharply round. I checked speed at an instant to wave: and the slipstream of my impetus snapped my arm and elbow astern, like a raised flail. The pilot pointed down the road towards Lincoln. I sat hard in the saddle, folded back my ears and went away after him, like a dog after a hare. Quickly we drew abreast, as the impulse of his dive to my level exhausted itself.

The next mile of road was rough. I braced my feet into the rests, thrust with my arms, and clenched my knees on the tank till its rubber grips goggled under my thighs. Over the first pot-hole Boanerges screamed in surprise, its mud-guard bottoming with a yawp upon the rear tyre. Through the plunges of the next ten seconds I clung on, wedging my gloved hand in the throttle lever so that no bump should close it and spoil our speed. Then the bicycle wrenched sideways into three long ruts: it swayed dizzily, wagging its tail for thirty awful yards. Out came the clutch, the engine raced freely: Boa checked and straightened his head with a shake, as a Brough should.

The bad ground was passed and on the new road our flight became birdlike. My head was blown out with air so that my ears had failed and we seemed to whirl soundlessly between the sun-gilt stubble fields. I dared, on a rise, to slow imperceptibly and glance sideways into the sky. There the Bif was, two hundred yards and more back. Play with the fellow? Why not? I slowed to ninety: signalled with my hand for him to overtake. Slowed ten more: sat up. Over he rattled. His passenger, a helmeted and goggled grin, hung out of the cock-pit to pass me the 'Up yer' RAF randy greeting.

They were hoping I was a flash in the pan, giving them best. Open went my throttle again. Boa crept level, fifty feet below: held them: sailed ahead into the clean and level country. An approaching car pulled nearly into its ditch at the sight of our race. The Bif was zooming among the trees and telegraph poles, with my scurrying spot only eighty yards ahead. I gained though, gained steadily: was perhaps five miles an hour the faster. Down went my left hand to give the engine two extra dollops of oil, for fear that something was running hot: but the overhead JAP twin, super-tuned like this one, would carry on to the moon and back, unfaltering.

We drew near the settlement. A long mile before the first houses I closed down the and coasted to the cross-roads by the hospital. Bif caught up, banked, climbed and turned for home, waving to me as long as he was in sight. Fourteen miles from camp, we are, here: and fifteen minutes since I left Tug and Dusty at the hut door.

I let in the clutch again, and eased Boanerges down the hill, along the tram lines through the dirty streets and up-hill to the aloof cathedral, where it stood in frigid perfection above the cowering close. No message of mercy in Lincoln. Our God is a jealous God: and man's very best offering will fall disdainfully short of worthiness, in the sight of Saint Hugh and his angels.

Remigius, earthy old Remigius, looks with more charity on me and Boanerges. I stabled the steel magnificence of strength and speed at his west door and went in: to find the organist practising something slow and rhythmical, like a multiplication table in notes, on the organ. The fretted, unsatisfying and unsatisfied lace-work of choir screen and spandrels drank in the main sound. Its surplus spilled thoughtfully into my ears.

By them my belly had forgotten its lunch, my eyes smarted and steamed. Out again, to sluice my head under White Hart's yard-pump. A cup of real chocolate and a muffin at the teashop: and Boa and I took the Newark road for the last hour of daylight. He ambles at forty-five and when roaring his utmost, surpasses the hundred. A skittish motor-bike with a touch of blood in it is better than all the riding animals on earth, because of its logical extension of our faculties, and the hint, the provocation, to excess conferred by its honeyed untiring smoothness. Because Boa loves me, he gives me five more miles of speed than a stranger would get from him.

At Nottingham I added sausages from my wholesaler to the bacon which I'd bought at Lincoln: bacon so nicely sliced that each rasher meant a penny. The solid pannier-bags behind the saddle took all this and at my next stop (a farm) took also a felt-hammocked box of fifteen eggs. Home by Sleaford, our squalid, purse-proud, local village. Its butcher had six penn'orth of dripping ready for me. For months I have been making my evening round a marketing, twice a week, riding a hundred miles for the joy of it and picking up the best food cheapest, over half the country side."


"No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle." - Winston Churchill

The Pace

by Flash 412 (CO)

While perusing my archives looking for some stuff for another thread, I chanced upon this item. This is Good Reading for newbies and experienced bikers alike...

Nick Ienatsch's article on The Pace Reprinted w/o permission as originally published in Motorcyclist, Nov 91.

Racing involves speed, concentration and commitment; the results of a mistake are usually catastrophic because there's little room for error riding at 100 percent. Performance street riding is less intense and further from the absolute limit, but because circumstances are less controlled, mistakes and over-aggressiveness can be equally catastrophic.

Plenty of road-racers have sworn off street riding. "Too dangerous, too many variables and too easy to get carried away with too much speed," track specialists claim. Adrenaline-addled racers find themselves treating the street like the track, and not surprisingly, they get burned by the police, the laws of physics and the cold, harsh realities of an environment not groomed for ten tenths riding. But as many of us know, a swift ride down a favorite road may be the finest way to spend a few free hours with a bike we love. And these few hours are best enjoyed riding at The Pace.

A year after I joined the Motorcyclist staff in 1984, Mitch Boehm was hired. Six months later, The Pace came into being, and we perfected it during the next few months of road testing and weekend fun rides. Now The Pace is part of my life--and a part of the Sunday-morning riding group I frequent. The Pace is a street technique that not only keeps street riders alive, but thoroughly entertained as well.

The Pace

The Pace focuses on bike control and de-emphasizes outright speed.

Full-throttle acceleration and last minute braking aren't part of the program, effectively eliminating the two most common single-bike accident scenarios in sport riding. Cornering momentum is the name of the game, stressing strong, forceful inputs at the handlebar to place the bike correctly at the entrance of the turn and get it flicked in with little wasted time and distance. Since the throttle wasn't slammed open at the exit of the last corner, the next corner doesn't require much, if any, braking. It isn't uncommon to ride with our group and not see a brake light flash all morning.

If the brakes are required, the front lever gets squeezed smoothly, quickly and with a good deal of force to set entrance speed with minimum time. Running in on the brakes is tantamount to running off the road, a confession that you're pushing too hard and not getting your entrance speed set early enough because you stayed on the gas too long.

Running The Pace decreases your reliance on the throttle and brakes, the two easiest controls to abuse, and hones your ability to judge cornering speed, which is the most thrilling aspect of performance street riding.

Your Lane is Your Limit

Crossing the centerline at any time except during a passing maneuver is intolerable, another sign that you're pushing too hard to keep up. Even when you have a clean line of sight through a left-hand kink, stay to the right of the centerline. Staying on the right side of the centerline is much more challenging than simply straightening every slight corner, and when the whole group is committed to this intelligent practice, the temptation to cheat is eliminated through peer pressure and logic. Though street riding shouldn't be described in racing terms, you can think of your lane as the racetrack. Leaving your lane is tantamount to a crash.

Exact bike control has you using every inch of your lane if the circumstances permit it. In corners with a clear line of sight and no oncoming traffic, enter at the far outside of the corner, turn the bike relatively late in the corner to get a late apex at the far inside of your lane and accelerate out, just brushing the far outside of your lane as your bike stands up. Steer your bike forcefully but smoothly to minimize the transition time; don't hammer it down because the chassis will bobble slightly as it settles, possibly carrying you off line.

Since you haven't charged in on the brakes, you can get the throttle on early, before the apex, which balances and settles your bike for the drive out.

More often than not, circumstances do not permit the full use of your lane from yellow line to white line and back again. Blind corners, oncoming traffic and gravel on the road are a few criteria that dictate a more conservative approach, so leave yourself a three- or four-foot margin for error, especially at the left side of the lane where errant oncoming traffic could prove fatal. Simply narrow your entrance on a blind right-hander and move your apex into your lane three feet on blind left turns in order to stay free of unseen oncoming traffic hogging the centerline. Because you're running at The Pace and not flat out, your controlled entrances offer additional time to deal with unexpected gravel or other debris in your lane; the outside wheel track is usually the cleanest through a dirty corner since a car weights its outside tires most, scrubbing more dirt off the pavement in the process, so aim for that line.

A Good Leader, Willing Followers

The street is not a racing environment, and it takes humility, self assurance and self control to keep it that way. The leader sets the pace and monitors his mirrors for signs of raggedness in the ranks that follow, such as tucking in on straights, crossing over the yellow line and hanging off the motorcycle in corners. If the leader pulls away, he simply slows his straightaway speed slightly but continues to enjoy the corners, thus closing the ranks but missing none of the fun. The small group of three or four riders I ride with is so harmonious that the pace is identical no matter who's leading. The lead shifts occasionally with a quick hand sign, but there's never a pass for the lead with an ego on the sleeve. Make no mistake, the riding is spirited and quick--in the corners. Anyone with a right arm can hammer down the straights; it's the proficiency in the corners that makes The Pace come alive.

Following distances are relatively lengthy, with the straightaways---taken at more moderate speeds--the perfect opportunity to adjust the gaps. Keeping a good distance serves several purposes, besides being safer. Rock chips are minimized and the highway patrol won't suspect a race is in progress. The Pace's style of not hanging off in corners also reduces the appearance of pushing too hard and adds a degree of maturity and sensibility in the eyes of the public and the law. There's a definite challenge to cornering quickly while sitting sedately on your bike.

New rider indoctrination takes some time because The Pace develops very high cornering speeds and newcomers want to hammer the throttle on exits to make up for what they lose at the entrances. Our group slows drastically when a new rider joins the ranks because our technique of moderate straightaway speeds and no brakes can suck the unaware into a corner too fast, creating the most common single-bike accident. With a new rider learning The Pace behind you, tap your brake lightly well before the turn to alert him and make sure he understands there's no pressure to stay with the group.

There's plenty of ongoing communication during The Pace. A foot off the peg indicates debris on the road, and all slowing or turning intentions are signaled in advance with the left hand and arm. Turn signals are used for direction changes and passing, with a wave of the left hand to thank the cars that move right and make it easy for the motorcyclists to get past. Since you don't have a death grip on the handlebar, you left hand is also free to wave to oncoming riders, a fading courtesy that we'd like to see return. If you're getting the idea The Pace is a relaxing, non-competitive way to ride with a group, you are right.

Relax and Flick It

I'd rather spend a Sunday in the mountains riding at The Pace than a Sunday at the racetrack, it is that enjoyable. Countersteering is the name of the game, a smooth forceful steering input at the handlebar relayed to the tires contact patches through a rigid sport-bike frame.

Riding at The Pace is certainly what the bike manufacturers had in mind when sport bikes evolved to the street.

But the machine isn't the most important aspect of running The Pace because you can do it on anything capable of getting through a corner.

Attitude is The Pace's most important aspect; realizing the friend ahead of you isn't a competitor, respecting his right to lead the group occasionally and giving him credit for his riding skills. You must have the maturity to limit your straightaway speeds to allow the group to stay in touch and the sense to realize that racetrack tactics such as late braking and full throttle runs to redline will alienate the public and police and possibly introduce you to the unforgiving laws of gravity. When the group arrives at the destination after running The Pace, no one feels outgunned or is left with the feeling he must prove himself on the return run. If you've got something to prove, get on a racetrack.

The racetrack measures your speed with a stopwatch and direct competition, welcoming your aggression and gritty resolve to be the best. Performance street riding's only yardstick is the amount of enjoyment gained, not lap times, finishing position or competitors beaten. The differences are huge but not always remembered by riders who haven't discovered The Pace's cornering pureness and group involvement. Hammer on the racetrack. Pace yourself on the street.

I want to read more about the Pace.............well then here is some more...

Nick Ienatsch's Pace Philosophy Reprinted w/o permission from 06/93 Sport Rider

Pace Yourself

The street is not the track - It's a place to Pace Two weeks go a rider died when he and his bike tumbled off a cliff paralleling our favorite road. No gravel in the lane, no oncoming car pushing him wide, no ice. The guy screwed up. Rider error. Too much enthusiasm with too little skill, and this fatality wasn't the first on this road this year. As with most single-bike accidents, the rider entered the corner at a speed his brain told him was too fast, stood the bike up and nailed the rear brake. Goodbye.
On the racetrack the rider would have tumbled into the hay bales, visited the ambulance for a strip of gauze and headed back to the pits to straighten his handlebars and think about his mistake. But let's get one thing perfectly clear: the street is not the racetrack. Using it as such will shorten your riding career and keep you from discovering the Pace. The Pace is far from street racing - and a lot more fun.

The Pace places the motorcycle in its proper role as the controlled vehicle, not the controlling vehicle. Too many riders of sport bikes become baggage when the throttle gets twisted - the ensuing speed is so overwhelming they are carried along in the rush. The Pace ignores outright speed and can be as much fun on a Ninja 250 as on a ZX-11, emphasizing rider skill over right-wrist bravado. A fool can twist the grip, but a fool has no idea how to stop or turn. Learning to stop will save your life; learning to turn will enrich it. What feels better than banking a motorcycle over into a corner?

The mechanics of turning a motorcycle involve pushing and/or pulling on the handlebars; while this isn't new information for most sport riders, realize that the force at the handlebar affects the motorcycle's rate of turn-in. Shove hard on the bars, and the bike snaps over; gently push the bars, and the bike lazily banks in. Different corners require different techniques, but as you begin to think about lines, late entrances and late apexes, turning your bike at the exact moment and reaching he precise lean angle will require firm, forceful inputs ant the handlebars. If you take less time to turn your motorcycle, you can use that time to brake more effectively or run deeper into the corner, affording yourself more time to judge the corner and a better look at any hidden surprises. It's important to look as far into the corner as possible and remember the adage, "You go where you look."

Don't Rush

The number-one survival skill, after mastering emergency braking, is setting your corner-entrance speed early, or as Kenny Roberts says, "Slow in, fast out." Street riders may get away with rushing into 99 out of 100 corners, but that last one will have gravel, mud or a trespassing car. Setting entrance speed early will allow you to adjust your speed and cornering line, giving you every opportunity to handle the surprise.

We've all rushed into a corner too fast and experienced not just the terror but the lack of control when trying to herd the bike into the bend. If you're fighting the brakes and trying to turn the bike, any surprise will be impossible to deal with. Setting your entrance speed early and looking into the corner allows you to determine what type of corner you're facing. Does the radius decrease? Is the turn off-camber?

Is there an embankment that may have contributed some dirt to the corner?

Racers talk constantly about late braking, yet that technique is used only to pass for position during a race, not to turn a quicker lap time. Hard braking blurs the ability to judge cornering speed accurately, and most racers who rely too heavily on the brakes find themselves passed at the corner exits because they scrubbed off too much cornering speed. Additionally, braking late often forces you to trail the brakes or turn the motorcycle while still braking. While light trail braking is an excellent and useful technique to master, understand that your front tire has only a certain amount of traction to give.

If you use a majority of the front tire's traction for braking and then ask it to provide maximum cornering traction as well, a typical low-side crash will result. Also consider that your motorcycle won't steer as well with the fork fully compressed under braking. If you're constantly fighting the motorcycle while turning, it may be because you're braking too far into the corner. All these problems can be eliminated by setting your entrance speed early, an important component of running the Pace.

Since you aren't hammering the brakes at every corner entrance, your enjoyment of pure cornering will increase tremendously. You'll relish the feeling of snapping your bike into the corner and opening the throttle as early as possible. Racers talk about getting the drive started, and that's just as important on the street. Notice how the motorcycle settles down and simply works better when the throttle is open? Use a smooth, light touch on the throttle and try to get the bike driving as soon as possible in the corner, even before the apex, the tightest point of the corner. If you find yourself on the throttle ridiculously early, it's an indication you can increase your entrance speed slightly be releasing the brakes earlier.

As you sweep past the apex, you can begin to stand the bike up out of the corner. This is best done by smoothly accelerating, which will help stand the bike up. As the rear tire comes off full lean, it puts more rubber on the road, and the forces previously used for cornering traction can be converted to acceleration traction. The throttle can be rolled open as the bike stands up.

This magazine won't tell you how fast is safe; we will tell you how to go fast safely. How fast you go is your decision, but it's one that requires reflection and commitment. High speed on an empty four-lane freeway is against the law, but it's fairly safe. Fifty-five miles per hour in a canyon may be legal, but it may also be dangerous. Get together with your friends and talk about speed. Set a reasonable maximum and stick to it. Done right, the Pace is addicting without high straightaway speeds.

The group I ride with couldn't care less about outright speed between corners; any gomer can twist a throttle. If you routinely go 100 mph, we hope you routinely practice emergency stops from that speed. Keep in mind outright speed will earn a ticket that is tough to fight and painful to pay; cruising the easy straight stuff doesn't attract as much attention from the authorities and sets your speed perfectly for the next sweeper.

Group Mentality

Straights are the time to reset the ranks. The leader needs to set a pace that won't bunch up the followers, especially while leaving a stop sign or passing a car on a two-lane road. The leader must use the throttle hard to get around the car and give the rest of the group room to make the pass, yet he or she can't speed blindly along and earn a ticket for the whole group. With sane speeds on the straights, the gaps can be adjusted easily; the bikes should be spaced about two seconds apart for maximum visibility of surface hazards.

It's the group aspect of the Pace I enjoy most, watching the bikes in front of me click into a corner like a row of dominoes, or looking in my mirror as my friends slip through the same set of corners I just emerged from.

Because there's a leader and a set of rules to follow, the competitive aspect of sport riding is eliminated and that removes a tremendous amount of pressure from a young rider's ego - or even an old rider's ego. We've all felt the tug of racing while riding with friends or strangers, but the Pace takes that away and saves it for where it belongs: the racetrack. The racetrack is where you prove your speed and take chances to best your friends and rivals.

I've spend a considerable amount of time writing about the Pace (see Motorcyclist, Nov. '91) for several reasons, not the least of which being the fun I've had researching it (continuous and ongoing). But I have motivations that aren't so fun. I got scared a few years ago when Senator Danforth decided to save us from ourselves by trying to ban Superbikes, soon followed by insurance companies blacklisting a variety of sport bikes. I've seen Mulholland Highway shut down because riders insisted on racing (and crashing) over a short section of it. I've seen heavy police patrols on roads that riders insist on throwing themselves off of. I've heard the term "murder-cycles" a dozen times too many.

When we consider the abilities of a modern sport bike, it becomes clear that rider techniques is sorely lacking.

The Pace emphasizes intelligent, rational riding techniques that ignore racetrack heroics without sacrificing fun. The skills needed to excel on the racetrack make up the basic precepts of the Pace, excluding the mind-numbing speeds and leaving the substantially larger margin for error needed to allow for unknowns and immovable objects. Our sport faces unwanted legislation from outsiders, but a bit of throttle management from within will guarantee our future.

The Pace Principles

Nick Ienatsch Sport Rider Magazine June 1993

Section 6: Riding Around the World

Bikeshare across the World?


Spakur in Sweden #1117, '95F

Here is some info about Iceland...if you want some more info just ask some specific questions.

Getting there and away:
You can get there either by ferry from Norway, Denmark or Scotland. See Smyril-Line.fo for more info. Another choice is shipping your bike to Iceland with (I think) Eimskip or Samskip and then take the plane yourself. A German (Living in Hamburg) I met on Iceland did this and he said that it only cost him $75 more than taking the ferry. The next time I go I probably will ship the bike.

When to go:
The mountain roads in Iceland usually don't open until late June early July and stay open until early September. In July the water in the rivers is generally a little bit higher than in August. The weather on the other hand is usually a bit warmer and brighter (=light 24 hours) in July. Icelanders usually take vacation in July, which means that you'll have plenty of opportunity to meat them on the camping places a.s.o. In august it is mostly Europeans travelling around Iceland. I spent 4 weeks on Iceland this year from late July 25 to August 22 which worked out quite well, except that some mornings in late august was very cold.

How long:
Most bikers I met (there wasn't that many travelling in Iceland) stayed between 1 and 3 weeks. Most 2 weeks.

What to visit:
Buy a guidebook and don't be afraid to take the minor mountain roads - on theses roads it will take hours before you meet someone J.

Offroad Driving in Iceland:
The weather in Iceland is very changeable and windy. The temperature will normally vary between +5 to +20. Expect to get some showers almost every day and if lucky some sun. If you're near the cost, it will be windy (remember no trees in Iceland). The Offroad roads range from gravel with hard surface to gravel with loose surface. Gravel with hard surface usually has a lot of holes or stones. The loose gravel is usually small stones or in the mt. Askja region sand. Additional to this you will have river crossings ranging from nothing to a lot. There are 2 types of rivers in Iceland glacier and nonglacier. If it has been raining a lot both of the rivers will be high for a day or two, but if it has been sunny the glacier rivers (sun melts glaciers) will be high in the late afternoon and low in the early mornings. The only problem you will have is driving in sand near the Askja region and crossing some rivers. I managed to cross all rivers I planed to, but had occasionally to select another way than the normal.

River crossing:
Use first gear. Never let the engine die - keep the revs up. Always try to walk or at least check the river before crossing. Watch up for big rocks or holes. I always sat down when I crossed so I could use my feet when I hit stones (many times my feet got wet). The rest you'll figure out for yourself. The river crossings was actually the most thrilling of it all J.
Don't forget that every year some motorcycles take a dive in the river. If it's to deep go back and find another way.

My MC Clothing:
Rukka Gore-Tex Jacket/pants
Alpinestars Gore-tex boots.
Wool sweater
T-shirt (long)
Long underwear (wool)
1 pair of (hiker) socks (inner)
1 pair of (hiker) woolsocks (outer)
Thick scarf
Gore-Tex gloves (warm)
Leather gloves (not so warm)

Extra equipment:
Sump guard
Front Lamp protection
All tools I could imagine
Spare tubes
Anti-Fog (a must have)
Extra fuel can (5L)
Map - Landmaelingar Island 1:500 000 of Iceland is a good map with gas stations (very important) , camping grounds a s o marked.

Extra equipment that would have been nice to have:
Protection for the Radiator
Acerbis handguards
Bigger tank
Spare oil in case of dropping your bike in a river.

Camping gear:
Mountain tent (should hold for a snowstorm - YES! it can happen even in the middle of summer)
Sleeping Bag (for winter use. Mine was to cold, but I spoke with some other guys and they used sleeping bags that where rated -20 degrees Celsius)


Have fun! Spakur


by Chris & Erin Ratay

DO NOT SHIP YOUR BIKE BY BOAT TO AUSTRALIA -- THEY HAVE THE HIGHEST PORT CHARGES IN THE WORLD!!!! We shipped 2 bikes by sea from Malaysia to Sydney in 2000. Cost us US$450 for crating and shipping, then another US$400 to get the bikes from the boat (out in the Harbor) back into our hot little hands!!!!

Would recommend flying the bike with Qantas. They may require you to crate the bike, or at least put it on a pallet (remove front wheel and strap to pallet to lower volume weight). Write to us at bmw@UltimateJourney.com for more info.

WHEN YOU ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA -- You will need to pay 12.5% of the value of the bike in duties which you will get back when the bike leaves Aus. (unless you have a carnet, but not worth getting just for a trip to Aus)

Officially, you will also have to get a temp. permit/insurance to ride around Aus, but Customs won't ask you for this. You can not buy insurance from a local provider for a non-Aussie registered bike. Go to Motor Vehicle's Dept (I forget what they are called there) and you will pay about Aus$250 for 6 months (less for less time) liability insurance, and Aus$14 for the road permit.

Don't worry about changing your head light -- you are a temporary import, and not required to alter your bike.

If you want to save money, wait until you get to Queensland to buy the Insurance-Permit as it is a lot cheaper, and valid in all of Aus. If you tell them you will always ride alone, you will only pay Aus$50 for 6 month insurance, and no fee for the permit -- but if you get stopped before you get to Queensland.....

SHIPPING Los Angeles to Dunedin, New Zealand = NZ$600 per bike (Less than US$300), including ALL fees, by boat. Contact Robert Stevens: imperialfreight@msn.com

Chris & Erin Ratay


Aleksander in Dubai 98ST

I am a very skilled 4x4 desert driver, but I don't ride the bike off-road yet, so I'm not the best fellow to ask. Off-roading in 4x4's is extremely popular and there's basically the whole darn desert for you to trash your vehicle in. The entire UAE peninsula is open, and going to Oman (through the desert, or on the road) is quite common, too. Some serious types looking for stupendous dunes go the Empty Quarter (marked on most maps, the part where the UAE peninsula meets the main Arabian peninsula), where you need special gear for safety and survival. The vegetation varies from scrubland to pure sand, but is mostly something in between. The dune height varies from 2-5 meters to more ocean-going 5-40 meters, with a few ridges of 100-300 meter dunes. Been on lots of that, tons of fun. Needs some skill and bravado; timid folks get stuck, though I've had my share of being perched with all 4 wheels in the air. There's also the mountains, which are a bit spooky, since they look more like the moon than Switzerland. They're old, so there's lots of rubble, making them good for twisting ankles and dropping bikes, though some people still go. The UAE east coast mountains have only fairly straight roads, peculiarity of the Municipality. The Masandam Peninsula, which is the tip at Hormuz, is also mountainous, and spectacular, in an arid sort of way. I plan to take the bike up once it cools. It's an extraterritorial part of Oman, so there's a border post and a fee (~$8) in one of the wadis. It's the only place where there's twisties; all roads in UAE are deadly straight. To get to work, I ride 25 minutes covering 15km, and drive exclusively in straight lines (8 of them), yawn. There's 70 BMWs on the road, though I've not met any, since it's still too hot, and all bikes here are owned for weekend fun (except mine). The weather's cooling down now, and by November it will be tolerable for visitors. April is starting to be too hot for visitors. The winter is superb for being outside.

The whole country is criss-crossed with roads, which means that although you can see only desert to the horizon, you are actually not from from a highway, and a petrol station, so you can get the remote feeling, but safely.

For bike riding, I can only guess: the sand is frequently soft (depends on many factors e.g. dew, rain, other traffic, angle to wind, etc) so it's low pressure and knobbies only. You may do okay with DP tires on the tracks (which is what I will be trying), of which there are hundreds, mostly for the farms. A little bizarre, but the desert is littered with farms, mostly camels and goats. I have heard there is a bike rental place, but never been able to track it down, so you can't bank on it. Plenty of 4x4 rentals, though; you can get a LandCruiser, which is the best 4x4 aside from a Hummer, for 600 Dirhams a day (US$164), and plenty of other 4x4 for less (Wranglers and Cherokees are popular).

Hazards include other vehicles, camels, goats, scrub, rocks, and mostly the locals on the asphalt from your home to your desert entry point (which is just about anywhere you like).

South America

Trip to South America #1
by sleddog1

Two friends and myself have just returned from a 9,500 trip on 3 2001 F650 Dakars. We rode from our homes in Massachusetts on November 2nd and finished the ride on the 9th of Dec. in Uruguay. We flew home on the ninth and shipped our bikes to New York to be picked up shortly. The engines were flawless as well as the suspension. The chassis however including the wheels just plain didn't hold up to the many Topes or speedbumps as we know them and the constant barrage of potholes, bumps, and cracks in the road surface. Even with blue LocTite on most of the fasteners we lost 22 screws, 1 motor mount bolt with NyLoc nut, a complete rear fender , two chainguard /mudflap thingies , 2 expandable saddlebags due to 4 crashes by one individual in soft sand, 2 headlights that popped out of thier mounts, 2 spokes in the rear wheel of one bike and a heavily dented front rim from a pothole. For the most part all of this happened in a space of about 200 miles in the Atacama desert which virtually shook the bolts and screws right off the bikes in front of our eyes. I had to retighten the windshield screws 3 times in that distance. We visited 12 countries and paid bribes in 10 of them . Some as small as a few bucks and 250.00 to get our bikes out of Customs in Ecuador. If I had to do it again for free I would pass up entirely Central America and start in Argentina. We had planned to go to Tierra Del Fuego but simply ran out of time. Customs took anywhere from an hour and a half to 12 hours in the case of Quito Ecuador which is by far the stinkiest , filthiest place we visited. We flew the bikes from Panama city to Quito Ecuador to avoid Columbia. I n retrospect I think Lima Peru would have been the better choice. We used Copa airlines who subcontracted Avianca . Avianca tore our fork boots, one reflector, one torn seat, 6 crushed expandable saddlebags and mounts and generally beat the h*ll out of the bikes . When we tried to show them what had been damaged they took a totally defensive stance and denied everything. For the riding portion of which there was plenty , I would say 75 % was boring as h*ll and 15% had decent twisties and the remainder was excellent. Food was very good and the gasoline excellent. We used the excellent washable oil filters and we used the Metzeler ME 880 front and rear which are still quite usable. If you have any questions I will be happy to answer anyone.

We decided against any carnet as we were advised it was unnecessary. It was unnecessary. The only country that required insurance was Mexico. We got it in Brownsville Texas at a company called Sanborns for 35.00. We were required to get a tourist visa at each border crossing. with an entrance stamp and an exit stamp in our passports as well as form that was supposed to cover everything from Guatemala to Panama but did not. From Panama to Quito Ecuador the cost was 560.00 Us. dollars and the individual airfare came to 330.00 0n Copa airlines which is actually Continental owned. The gasoline companies included Esso, Texaco, YPV, Repsol , Agip , Shell and almost every station had Eco gas which is high octane no lead. Approximately 4.00 us per gallon. I prepared all the bikes identically with Acerbis Handguards. factory engine guards, Scott washable oil filters and street Metzeler tires model ME 880 . They were totally reliable and we still have a tons of usable front with the rears still viable as well. We carried 1 liter fuel bottles with us that we sometimes filled but by and large were not required. We went 232 miles on 1 tank as our furthest distance between normal fillups. We each had about 1.5 liters left at that point. We planned this trip for 1 and a half years but because of circumstances with the hassles in border crossings adding a lot more time than we thought even in worse case .I must ad that one of the members spoke fluent Spanish as he is a native of Uruguay. I can't imagine how far we would have gotten if he hadn't been able to communicate. Our biggest hassle by far was created by the governments of Central and to a lesser degree South America. The way they have the system setup so that it is required to hire a Tramidore ( Termite ) and make the system so disorganised with the required rubber stamps, Tax stamps , Bribes, payoffs to officials in several locations and no clear define method that for me I became totally resentful and hateful in fact. A tramidore btw is an assistant to supposedly speed up the process and in fact we would very occasionally find one. For the most part however they were part of the system and really just another hand to be fed money. One thing that we always found odd was that there were always money changers at each border but the Aduanas or customs wanted and would accept for the most part U.S. Dollars even though we carried their local currency. We avoided Columbia because of it's reputation .During the 6 days it took for us to get our bikes back from Copa/ Avianca / customs / warehouse at 45.00 per day even when closed on Sundays we took a van trip some 7 hours to the Nabo River valley 250 Clicks from Quito. Ecuador. This trip showed a beautiful side of Ecuador unknown in the filthy stinking city of Quito . Therefore I can only speak of the reputation of Columbia and in fact know a couple who taught school in Columbia and rode his K-1 all over without incident.

Trip to South America #2
by y_kiwi

I have had a different set of experiences in Central and South America.

The fees at Central America frontiers are not bribes but legitimate fees with official receipts and you can check them in places like www.horizonsunlimited.com. Usually a few bucks only. Although I was asked for bribes several times in Central America I did not pay*. I have been in 13 countries on this trip, been asked for many bribes and paid just one. All up I have been in 40 or 50 countries and only one bribe paid. Others have been in many more and never paid. I found the tramidores in CA to be useful at the more complicated borders. The going rate was $1 but you didn't have to use them if you had time. Those borders are nice compared to Africa and turkey-India.

Sounds like you had a bad run in Quito, Ecuador. Bummer. We (there were 3 of us) managed to get our bikes out very easily and paid only standard fees which frankly I cannot remember how much they were but not that much. No damage to the bikes. We didn't use an agent as she (whom everybody recommended) wanted far too much money. Did you talk to Ricardo Rocco? - he is a local guy that helps motorcyclists transiting Ecuador, and knows the customs process inside out.

Damage to Bikes:
It's related to the speed - travel fast over topes/speed-bumps and any vehicle will get wrecked. Same with potholes. After 35,000 miles I've busted one set of fork seals and just replaced the steering bearings - I do tend to go a bit fast though.
The only bolts I lost were from the stupid plastic chain-guard thingy en route to Alaska - which I abandoned for a touratech model (also busted now..).
Plan to drop the bike - well at least have luggage that will bend and not break when you fall in mud or sand - this is a common enough occurrence.

One of my favorite cities on this trip. Very picturesque, mountains all around, combination of west and Latin buildings, great accommodation options and a Gringoville to chill in. Maybe we stayed in different parts of town.

Decent roads:
The pan-American is boring and generally full of trucks - especially in Central America. To paraphrase Chris Scott's excellent Adventure Motorcycling Handbook - "the Pan-American is useful only for riding between the interesting roads." Take longer in each country and the really great roads appear.

These guys went really fast - perhaps they didn't realize just how bad some of the roads are and how slow border crossings with a vehicle can be. I budget a day for each crossing - any time less is a bonus. I also, in a strange city, in a strange language, I target doing just one thing each day - and actually clearing a bike from a warehouse in one day surprises me when it happens. I also need days off, just chilling, to recover from tough roads or "over travel". If you are reading this and are contemplating a big trip, my advice is to pad that time budget with lots of room for rest days, bad weather days and bike broken days. Better yet have an open time agenda and a fixed (unless you are jim rogers) budget.

The great thing about meeting other motorcyclists on the road and sites like this and horizonsunlimited.com is that it shows that adventure motorcycling can be done in different ways, with different budgets, time and money agendas, bikes and setups of the bike. It really does not matter which bike, luggage or system - the hardest (and easiest) thing to do is to get on the bike and leave home. Once I decided to take this trip, it took me just two weeks to buy the bike, luggage and set out... never looked back


*(ok I did pay once to get my bike out of Costa Rica when it was two months past its permisso date - but legally (and I had checked and checked again) I was up for $500 and I paid far less than that.)


This isn't supposed to be a complete FAQ on Towing a bike. Just some good advice on towing OUR bike.

Shipping Overseas

Websites of people riding the world

Stupid Human Tricks

Joeg #1102 -Fremont, CA

1 Putting your foot into a hole when stopping.
2 Putting your foot down on something slippery when stopping.
3 Locking the front wheel during overenthusiastic braking.
4 Missing the driveway and sliding on the grass.
5 Not putting the kickstand down when getting off.
6 Make a turn from stop in gravel or sand at high throttle.
7 Not putting a board ('foot')under the kickstand on asphalt on a hot day.
8 Letting overenthusiastic people sit on your bike who have never been on a bike.
9 Forgetting the bike's in gear when you jump on the kickstarter.
10 Revving the engine, releasing clutch, and putting feet on pegs when the light turns green, but the bike's in neutral.
11 Not putting your foot down when stopping at red light.
12 Losing balance when putting it on the centerstand.
13 Take an hour ride in 30 degree weather with no gloves, stop at a stop sign and pop the clutch when you start because you've lost feeling in your hands.
14 Putting your foot down at a toll booth on the thick layer of grease that builds up when cars stop.
15 Using too much power when you pull out of a greasy toll booth.
16 Ignoring the sand that builds up in the spring at the side of the road (in places where roads are sanded and salted in winter.)
17 Kicking your kickstand in a cool fashion and having it bounce back up instead of staying down.
18 Getting off your bike while it is running and forgetting that is in gear.
19 Trying to kick start your first bike over and over because you didn't realize that it was really out of fuel, and getting the goofy metal ring on the side of your boot caught in the kickstarter, causing you (and the bike) to go over on the right side.
20 Starting your brand-new electric-start trail-bike, riding around an ornamental shrub on full left lock, throwing it to the right and accelerating to wheelie over the curb onto the street and _then_ discovering that you hadn't unlocked the steering-lock...
21 On same bike, getting the dual-range lever caught inside your jeans as you come to a stop...
22 Having your boot/jeans catch the gear-lever and putting your running bike into first gear whilst reaching for the side-stand (which is why I now automatically pull in the clutch whenever deploying or retracting the stand.)
23 Having "green" racing linings which have much higher coefficient of friction on the slight rust that forms on the polished drum when you've not ridden for a few hours, and lose the front-end holding the brakes on against the throttle to wear off the rust.
24 Having a three-cylinder two-stroke that's so smooth you think you're in second when you're actually in first, so you spin out when the undercarriage touches down in a tight corner passing a car and you think, "just a bit more throttle will help here..."
25 Revving bike in impressive squidly fashion at red light, thinking it's in neutral; dropping clutch and standing in place while bike wheelies and backflips into intersection.
26 Having your fat-ass brother (as a pillion) lean waaay over to the side to look at something on the ground while at a stop sign.
27 Wife gets foot caught on saddlebag while getting on before you.
28 Rebuild carbs and treat bike like it still needs full gas away from a stop.
29 Bald tires, and a smatter of rain.
30 Look at the sand at the edge of the exit ramp rather than through the turn.
31 Neither you nor your dad watching while he's backing his car up to the woodpile to unload wood.
32 Not putting the pin that holds the center stand all the way in and then trying to put the bike on the center stand.
33 Trying to hold the bike upright before deploying the center stand only to find your knees are too weak from riding.
34 Park behind friend's mom's minivan figuring "If anybody goes anywhere, they'll surely see it. 'specially since there'll be 5 of them getting into the van.
35 After getting fuel at gas station and holding the bike level with your legs in order to fill it completely, jumping off forgetting that your legs were holding it upright not the kickstand.
36 Entering a DR ("decreasing radius") turn too fast. This is especially dangerous when making a right turn where if you attempt to straighten up and brake, you'll plow into oncoming traffic.
37 Trying to countersteer (or wheelie) your shaft driven bike? [Obviously the person who posted this doesn't have a clue.]
38 Getting your boot/ shoelace caught on the gearshift. (I wear laceless boots now.)
39 Attempting to kick start a cantankerous '84 CR500, whilst standing on a picnic table bench, and she *kicks* back!
40 Getting pissed off for dropping it in the first place, yanking it vigorously off the ground, only to have it drop to the _other_ side.
41 Pulling out the swing arm stand, and forgetting to put the sidestand down first.
42 Backing down an inclined driveway, turning to either side with a full tank of gas.
43 Taking the bike off the centerstand and forgetting the sidestand.
44 Riding on wet grass with street tires (Almost as bad as ice!!)
45 Riding on wet asphalt with dirt tires (Almost as bad as ice!!)
46 *Thinking* the kick stand was down when it wasn't.
47 Kick stand slowly burying itself in hot asphalt.
48 Kick stand slowly burying itself in soft ground.
49 Backing up perpendicular to a steeply sloped driveway and attempting to put your foot down on the downhill side while on a large bike with a high seat. (By the time your foot reaches the ground the bike is so far off center balance you won't be able to hold it up.)
50 Backing your bike down a plank, by yourself, from the bed of a pickup truck. Works great as long as you remember that once you start moving, stopping for any correction is out of the question. Get two people to stand on each side of you and the bike.
51 Losing your balance when coming to a stop because of fatigue from a long trip. The wind and the buzz of the bike induces an unexpected case of vertigo. Stop often and rest.
52 Riding beyond your limits while trying to keep up with someone who is probably riding beyond their own. Always a temptation. The best riders/racers understand and use discipline when riding.
53 Not paying attention. Always strive to anticipate what could possibly go wrong and be planning what you're going to do when it happens, eventually it will - and you'll be ready, instead of surprised when you're much more likely to do something stupid and reactionary.
54 Assuming that all wet roads are created equal. They are much more slippery when it first starts to rain - until the oil and dirt are washed away.
55 Assuming that the condition of a blind corner is the same as it was the last time you rode it. Instead you find sticks, road kill, oil, rain wash, stones, pot holes, garbage, etc.
56 Not understanding how to get set-up for a corner when pushing the limits. In most cases the bike could have made the corner but the rider decided it couldn't and while in a panic attempted to correct the situation with the brake. WRONG! MSF course will discuss this at length.
57 Riding without all of the protective equipment because I forgot to bring it and after all it was just this one time. Turned out to be the wrong time! I forgot my MX boots and fell on a steeply banked corner and the foot peg attempted to drill into the back of my right calf. On crutches for 3 weeks with a deep bruise.
58 Using a little too much power turning the first corner after you've put on new tires (with that nice slippery release compound on them).
59 Being too short for the bike you're riding, and coming to a stop sign.
60 Your rider hops on before you are ready.
61 Pushing your bike into the garage and letting it get leaned just a little away from you, pulling you on top of it to the ground.
62 Pulling off both fork caps while the bike is on its centerstand.
64 Park pointing downhill, don't leave it in gear.
65 Park with sidestand facing up hill, sidestand is too long.
66 Allow friend to ride bike that has either no riding experience, or only tiny dirt bike riding experience (they will wheelie out of control, fly straight at the nearest object, or drop it attempting to stop suddenly.)
67 Pulling into Dairy Queen and slipping on a spilt chocolate malt.
68 Sitting on your bike on an inclined driveway talking to a very pretty girl, forgetting where in the hell your mind is and then noticing that it's already too close to the ground to stop.
69 Change rear-end oil on a shaft drive bike, spill 90w on tire, don't clean it up and then make a really sharp turn out of the driveway. *Splat*
70 Parking your bike so that it stands upright with the kickstand down and then having a slow leak in the rear tire which causes the kickstand to push the bike over.
71 Running into a bus after a 120mph+ high speed chase where there is helicopter pursuit and you are being taped by 5 local news stations.
72 Spending 3 hours washing and waxing your bike and then stepping back to admire it with some buddies and then watch it fall right off its side stand while it was warming up.
73 Pushing it over.
74 Covering it with a windsail (aka canvas cover) and letting the wind push it over.
75 Unbolting too many components from the back so that the bike falls off the jack.
76 Having an internally rusted CX500 center stand come apart whilst putting the bike onto it.
77 Discovering when you stop and try to put your foot down that the kickstart lever is up your pant leg.
78 Letting your wife drive the bike and having her stall it on an inclined driveway while in a 45 degree angle to the incline.
79 Entering a banked freeway onramp with a stoplight at the end, and realizing a little too late that the downside is just a _little_ steeper than you thought.
80 Whacking the throttle open on the highway when you think there's no cop around then slowing to normal speed again only to realize that a trooper has been trying to catch up with you for two miles and he's pissed so he decides to run you off the road because he thinks you were trying to run away from him, even though you explain to him that if you were trying to run that he wouldn't have caught you then getting out of any ticjet because *@!!$#, uh I mean cop, felt bad even though he never said "I'm sorry" . . . .but I'm not bitter.
81 While pushing your bike in an attempt to start it by compression, jumping on side-saddle with excessive vigor.
82 Successfully compression starting your bike while running along side, only to find out that you'd held a BIT too much throttle!
83 Deploying the centre-stand without noticing that the ground falls away on the other side.
84 Taking the wife on a ride on your brand new, first bike in 20+ years and making a slow, tight, turn on gravel.
85 Riding in stilettos and getting stuck on the footrest.
86 Swinging your legs too enthusiastically over the bike with tight trousers on and kicking it over.
87 Dismounting while trying not to wet yourself (cold weather..tuh!)
88 Riding short distances side-saddle fashion.
89 Pulling off with a blood alcohol level exceeding the stated limit.
90 Reaching down to pick up your gloves/keys/glasses.
91 Paying too much attention to the tiltometer on your valkarie.
92 Dropping your dirtbike on the side of a steep hill covered in pine humus, then while getting it righted go over the down side because it's too far of an angle to get a foot down.
93 Trying to ride away on the side of a steep hill covered in pine humus which is slipperier than sand.
94 Bopping down the freshly-oiled farm lane to see the neighbor kid with my brother on the back, cautiously toeing the rear brake, feeling the rear wheel slide as we headed straight for the barn, grabbing a panicky handful of front brake, doing a slow highside despite dabbing mightily, sliding right up to the barn door prone on the well-oiled bike with my brother on top of the pile, and hearing the neighbor say "Didn't that thing used to be orange?"
95 kill the bike while leaned over trying to make a slow, sharp turn in a parking lot.
96 Forgetting to remove the disc lock and taking off from the curb with haste...Tends to break the front caliper, too.
97 Falling asleep.
98 Getting help from a neighbor in pushing your 750 up a steep ramp into a moving truck. Though he might assure you that he used to ride a motorcycle, it turns out it was a 125 in Bombay. He gets 2/3 of the way up the ramp, looks panicked, and his knees buckle. Crunch.
99 Looking at the pretty curb to your left on a right-hand bank.
100 Trying to get a wasp or bee out of your jacket while sitting on the bike.
101 Trying to start out in a quick turn (leaning in anticipation of giving it throttle) and stalling it out because the engine hasn't warmed yet - it's a nice, slow drop...
102 Forgetting to put in oil after an oil change. Starting 'er up, and wondering why the low oil pressure dummy light doesn't turn off.
103 After a brake job, forgetting to pump the lever/pedal a few times, and taking off, wondering why there's no brakes as you're coming up on the intersection.
104 Having a mechanical gate close on you as you're trying to ride through.
105 Hitting that patch of sand which has washed across the road on a blind bend.
106 Absentmindedly putting the bike on the kick stand and walking away before you check to see if the driveway is level.
107 Applying your usual amount of throttle but with a passenger behind you ... "cool ... look at that plane".
108 Pushing your bike into a crowded garage, letting it get leaned just a little away from you, pulling you on top of it into your vintage MG.
109 Popping a wheelie while showing off for a girl, almost looping it, slamming on the rear brake to compensate, and passing out from the bollocking several yards later.
110 Assuming the puddle of liquid behind the convenience store was water when it was actually used motor oil.
111 Starting bike while habitually squeezing clutch lever, standing to the left of the bike, remembering too late that the bike is in gear. Realize too late that the choke gives the bike enough power to drag you 30' across the parking lot in first gear.
112 On your third ride with your first ever bike. Stop at a red light. When the light turns green, you have to start uphill, and turn right at the same time. Somehow that overwhelmed me.
113 Parking on a bit of an incline (slopes down right to left), having your left foot slip a little when getting back on the bike, and slowly loosing your balance.
114 Let your buddy ride it. And if you are really stupid let him ride it again.
115 Turning onto a busy street and in the middle of the turn you suddenly remember that this street has trolley tracks.
116 Put armor all on your tires to make them look nice and pretty and then ride on the white safety lane line as you take a HARD right turn at 35mph.
117 Throw a party and get together with a random girl on your bike in the garage while extremely drunk.
118 Pull into parking and failed to ensure proper extension of the sidestand then with near perfect execution of the Laugh-in scene where the bike topples over onto your leg, and you're going down, pinned beneath.
119 Stop for gas, carefully shut off ignition and take key out (to unlock tank), carefully remove helmet and set it over mirror, carefully remove gloves and place on instruments, open jacket, step off bike ... forgetting to put sidestand down.
120 With bike off, try to make walking U-turn in driveway. Bike doesn't have necessary turning radius, front wheel leaves pavement and goes into soft dirt.
121 The setting: Bikes at inside end of driveway, on centerstands, facing away from front of driveway. Backing cage into driveway ... slowly ... at about the right point, stop ... note that cover on bike #1 is moving slightly ... notice bike #1 ever-so-slowly roll forward off its centerstand, then sideways into bike #2. Bike #2 stands there and takes it without falling ... but there's no way to get it to lift #1.
122 Tweaking the front brake at a light as you JUST come to a stop with the forks turned to either side at ALL on a top-heavy bike.
123 Jump an old dirt bike over your parents' fence (use a ramp to get enough height). Realize on the way down that you *don't* know how to land. (I believe this was caused by "Adolescent Invincibility Syndrome".)
124 Test-ride an Electra Glide Sport (OK, these days it would have to be a Road King) around the old, cracked pavement in Brisbane near the Cow Palace.
125 Have a BMW with the sidestand linked to the clutch lever, so that pulling in the clutch retracts the stand.
126 Put the bike back together after waiting months since the last crash for a part to arrive, and don't install fuel filters. Gas tank rust clogs carburettor float needles, overflow tubes lube rear tire, brake to avoid manhole cover in curve, the waited-for part is broken.
127 Park next to some %$#@ on a Triumph who leaves his disc lock on, and return to find your XV1100 with a few dents and a little note saying 'Sorry' in the brake lever. (I left my phone number too...)
128 While riding home the day after getting your shiny new bike turn onto a dirt road and discover that they are in the process of combing the road and your front tire is now sliding through four inches of loose wet sand (Did I mention it was raining). While picking up your bike be sure to grind plenty of sand into the tank.