Frequently Asked Questions

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New questions as of Feb 5 2009

What about crossing the darien gap?
Are your bikes running ok?
Countries you're going to in South America?
Where are you now? What happened to the where are you page?
Why didn't (or aren't) you visiting XXXX?
What maps/GPS are you using?
What you do with your bikes at night. How do you secure them? Do you chain them to things? Bring the into the room?

 

Older (but still ok) questions

Where are you starting from?
What kind of motorcycles are you taking?
Why did you choose those bikes?
Where are you going?
Why are you doing this?
Are you carrying a gun?
How much stuff are you carrying?
Are you flying home from Buenos Aires?
What happens to the bikes after the trip?
How are you getting around the Darien Gap?

Answers:

New Answers as of Feb 2, 2009

What about crossing the darien gap?

The darien gap is a essentially roadless section of Panama and Columbia. Considered dangerous and somewhat lawless. Our plans (which could change for various reasons) are to fly the bikes (and us) to Quito Ecuador from Panama City, Panama. As of this writing, we do not have specifics yet so sorry can't share that with you. We have a great guy (Carlos Barrios) working on this back home and I'm sure he will sort this out for us. - This question is also answered here with link to more info about the dairen gap.


Are your bikes running ok?

The bikes are running perfectly. We've had virtually zero problems with them. Dan's bike has had a squeak in the front end that has been very hard to find - it sounded like the fairing rattling but after disassembly and reassembly several times we  took the fender off and the squeek went away. The fender was cracked before we left Portland and we repaired it with metal, epoxy, and pop rivets - it's possible that it creates some sort of air turblence that chirps - we'll worry about it when we get some time to fiddle with it.

The tires are not wearing as well as we would like - we're running Michelin Anakees and with about 5,000 on them the rear is ready for replacement. We're going to nurse them to Costa Rica and replace them there but we were hoping to get 7,000 to 8,000 on them.

The bikes are limited on ground clearance and we've been hammering the bash plates a bit here and there. Not just on the Topes but also just riding on rough roads/streets. Takes a bit of care to avoid hitting them.

Countries we're going thru in South America?

We're planning (using this word very loosely) - to arrive in Quito, Ecuador - tour Ecuador a bit, proceed into Peru (again touring a few places), short stint into Bolivia, then into Chile and when down there make some decisions about whether we are going down the roads in Chile to Tierra Del Fuego or crossing into Argentina and doing it on the better roads. Once arriving in Ushuaia we will head north to Buenos Aires.

Timeline - we are avoiding setting a timeline for various reasons so can't help you there.

Countries we're avoiding - only Columbia. I (Dan) have been to Columbia numerous times on business and have seen first hand some of the problems there. Yes, they are getting a bad rap and yes we would probably be just fine going thru Columbia - but we are choosing not to at this time.

Where are you now? What happened to the where are you page?

As of Feb 2, 2009 - we are in Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mexico which is in the state of Chiapas. Here is a link

Regarding the "where are we at" page - we're working on this. Unfortunately it was taking so much time to keep it updated that we just had to drop it off for a while. Dan has been working on a program to get it back on line and keep it automated - hopefully in a few days it will be back up.

In the mean time - you can always use our SPOT tracking page which is real time and shows you were we are on a 10 minute tracking window - here is a link to it

Why didn't (or aren't) you visiting XXXX?

The short answer here: because we aren't or didn't. Seriously, we have a limited amount of time to make this trip - and it is a long trip. We've done about 5,000 miles to get to the Guatemala border with Mexico and we have a long way to go. If we stopped and toured everything we would like to (or other people would like us to) we would be on the road for about 5 years. That might be ok with us, but there are wives, girlfriends, businesses, jobs, etc.... to tend to back home. So we have to draw the line somewhere.

Also - this trip is a motorcycle journey first and a touristy thing second. So - we're both quite content to just ride the bikes thru some amazing places.

What maps/GPS are you using?

We both have Garmin Zumo 450's on our bikes - these are GPS's made for motorcycles (you can operate them with gloves on and they are waterproof). We have the Garmin Worldmaps installed on them but these maps are from 2002 - and they are weak - very weak. We used  these maps when we did our Ice Cream Van journey across the Sahara desert and they worked well then but the roads in Mexico are not well documented in these maps.

We are carrying paper maps which are better than our GPS maps and between the two of them we manage. It's not perfect but it's working fine. 

What you do with your bikes at night. How do you secure them? Do you chain them to things? Bring the into the room?

Sure stolen stuff is always a worry. Most hotels have armed guards with shotguns that watch the parking lots. We spiff them sometimes and sleep well. Most also use locked gates for their parking lots at night. We bring our givi bags in at night and lock the side bags. We use Disk locks and thats about it. Some hotels allow us to bring them into the lobby or patio area. If they don't have guards or we can't bring them into a locked area, we stay someplace else.

Older (but still ok) answers

Where are you starting from?a>

Portland, Oregon

What kind of motorcycles are you taking?

They are 2004 Suzuki V-Strom 650's - model # DL650K. We felt these bikes are the best compromise of a road capable bike, something with a reasonable sized engine, and something capable of some light off road travel. Plus they are imported all over the world so parts shouldn't be a huge issue (hopefully?!) Check out the Bikes and Gear Page for more info on this.

The V-Strom is capable of running at 75mph all day on the road without vibrating your fillings out and it can handle gravel roads easily - it can handle some off road action but it definitely isn't made for dirt bike activities.

Lots of adventure bike guys choose either the BMW 1200GS or the Kawasaki KLR650 for this type of journey. I've owned the BWM 1200 GS and I think the bike is too complicated and unreliable to really go into third world travel with. Those bikes are routinely in need of expensive parts and maintenance - hopefully the V-Stroms will be a bit better. The KLR 650 is a very capable off road bike but it is a single cylinder engine and thus vibrates like a gravel masher - and if you want to cover some miles on that thing - you will be buzzing the entire distance.

Why did you chose those bikes?

We had to choose some bike :) - check out the Bikes and Gear Page for more info on this.

Where are you going?

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego - Argentina - and then up to Buenos Aires, Argentina

Why are you doing this?

Why not? - Dan has always wanted to do this trip and we are not getting any younger. John got sucked into the last big adventure involving the ice cream van in the Sahara desert (see www.creamytreats.com ) so he obviously didn't learn his lesson and has signed up to do this one.

Are you carrying a gun?

No. Firearms are not legal in most of the countries we're traveling through. We will carry some other forms of protection but no firearms.

How much stuff are you carrying?

Great question - check out the Bikes and Gear Page for more on this. The real answer is "exactly two motorcyles worth of stuff" - we are an "unsupported" trip and therefore carry 100% of all our support gear. I was asked this question by a gal that I work with - Cynthia. She asked it just like that "How much stuff are you carrying?" - I told her just one motorcycles worth (my bike) - and the very next question she asked was "do you have room for more than one pair of shoes?" - Hah! - priorities...

Are you flying home from Buenos Aires?

Yes - that's the plan. Barring any huge show stopping issues we will be heading back home from Buenos Aires about 3 months after we start.

What happens to the bikes after the trip?

Depends a little on how much we still love them by then - we may not want to see them anymore and we will just try to sell them. Or, we might want to ship them home and heap love and affection on them. Or, we may store them down in Buenos Aires in preparation for a return or onward journey.

How are you getting around the Darien Gap?

The Darien Gap is a roadless section of territory between Panama and Columbia. It is also considered to be quite lawless/dangerous. We are planning to fly the motorcycles around the DG and down to Quito, Ecuador. You can read a bit about the DG here - Darien Gap on Wikipedia