Originally Posted by Oldfart123
I'm still following your travels since our chance meeting in the parking lot at Mesa Verde. When following your travels it is hard not to envision replicating such a trip, but when reality sets in, one of the most daunting "flies in the ointment" is Mike's ability to repair the Honda. Assuming one has a newer bike like a late model BMW GS, would the maintenance knowledge to keep the bike running be radically different. Another way of asking is it possible/likely to travel thru the areas you have with less knowledge of mechanical repair with a newer bike than the old Honda or is any bike likely to have multiple repair issues due to the terrain and riding conditions?
Be safe and know you are on the trip of a lifetime,
Eric - we are so glad that you have still been following along! (And our license plate bolts have stayed on solid ever since you noticed one working loose in Mesa Verde - thanks for that.)
Honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to take this kind of trip on any kind of bike, but the 2 things that I would recommend most (with more explanation below) would be:
1 - some Spanish
2 - basic knowledge about whatever bike you choose to take
Having the ability to get even simple points across in Spanish will help any traveler in the Americas, from basic exhanges (meals, hotels, gas) to border crossings to police checkpoints to bike issues. And really, fluency or conversational Spanish is not so important as just knowing enough to be comfortable explaining what's happening and what you need.
Back to what you asked though, as far as bike maintenance, let it be known that I am an absolute hack. All of my Transalp knowledge comes from the great resources on this forum (there is a Transalp mega-thread
) combined witth the Haynes and Honda service manuals. I enjoy digging into whatever problem may come up, but always appreciate and often require assistance from someone with better mechanical knowledge than me. Luckily, the Transalp has been incredibly reliable, especially given what we've put her through. But there are plenty of moto mechanics in all towns throughout the Americas if an issue does come up. Having talked with a few other travelers on late model BMW's and KTM's, their experience is a bit different. I imagine they may enjoy riding their machines a ton, but often they search harder for brand specific shops for maintenance, parts, and problem solving. In some cases, it is required (no small town mechanic will have a diagnostic computer or BMW specific tools) while in other cases it is a way for them to try to get the best service for their machine. No matter what bike you would take, having a basic level of comfort with maintenance will ease some of that service searching.
I am extremely happy with our 23 year old Honda Transalp. Without a computer on board, I know that I can address most electrical issues, the engine is known to be extremely reliable, it's chain driven, etc. However, I have met riders on late model bikes that are extremely happy with their machines as well (and I've met a few who have had major issues with their late model bikes).
Don't let any of those hesitations hold you back from taking a trip like this. Once you are on the road, it will all start to fall into place. And well, if it doesn't work out perfectly, then you just created an even better story!
We are definitely still loving our trip of a lifetime. And thanks again for dropping us a line - it's really good to hear from you.