2019 Trip Planning, Alaska, Ecuador, Himalayas, or SE Asia?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by PhiSig1071, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. PhiSig1071

    PhiSig1071 What's ******width?

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,676
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    So, it looks like I will be getting a six week block of vacation in 2019, it will be pretty much up to me when in 2019 I take it, and I'm trying to decide where to go. I might add some personal time along with it, but my trip time will probably be a max of four weeks total.

    The trips I'm considering are Alaska, Ecuador, Himalayas, or SE Asia. Any recommendations on one over any of the others? It's my first real "ADV" trip, although I have visited and rode my motorcycle in Baja. There's a pretty good chance I can convince a friend of mine to go with me, so it probably wont be a solo trip. I'll be traveling from the East Coast.

    This is what I'm thinking:

    Alaska: I've always wanted to visit, and for a first ADV trip staying in N. America might be a little easier. My options are to either buy a motorcycle (Vstrom? KLR? DR?), ship it to Seattle, fly in and ride. At the end of 3 or 4 weeks I can bring the bike to Tucson and store it here until 2020, which I may get another six week block of vacation, and then I can go on a Baja/mainland Mexico ride. My other Alaska option would be to fly in and rent a KLR for two weeks. I have been reading as many AK RR's that I can find, and I've ordered 'The Adventurous Motorcyclists Guide to Alaska". I haven't really started planning anything specific yet.

    Ecuador: I have heard a ton of great things about "Freedom Bike Rental" in Quito. They seem like they would make the trip very easy. I would fly in, and depending on my travel partners, do either a guided or self guided tour, about two weeks plus or minus a few days. Having read a number of "From xxxx to TDF" ride reports here, I would love to see S. America. My wife also would love to see the Galapagos, so at the beginning or end of the trip she might fly in to join me for a few days for a trip to the islands.

    Himalayas: Royal Enfield does a guided trip through the Himalayas every year, called the Himalayan Odyssey. It leaves from Delhi and travels up into the Himalayas for 18 days. I would love to see the Himalayas, and this seems like a pretty user-friendly way to do it. The only downside is that it's usually a big group, I think the 2017 ride had 40+ people. 90% of them are from India, which would make for quite an experience, and the riders break up into smaller groups naturally, but still, that's a ton of people.

    SE Asia: My friend who went to Baja with me, and will most likely join me on this trip, really wants to go to Thailand. I just read an article about renting motorcycles in Thailand, I think in Rider Magazine, and it sounds pretty amazing. This would probably be the shortest trip, maybe a week on the bikes, and then a week on a boat or in a beachfront bungalow with our wives. Also an option is Vietnam, I've seen a few RR's on here about Vietnam, and a friend and coworker of mine (AZHobo) just got back from a month in Vietnam. Vietnam is probably the cheapest option of all of them, although the Himalayas would also be pretty cheap.

    Ultimately I will probably do all of these trips in some form or another, it's just a question of which one first. The biggest issue is the use of time. If I have four weeks, then it seems like the best use of time is Alaska, because all the other trips seem like they can be done in a 1-2 week time frame, and Alaska seems like the more time you've got, the better. If I do that, then I'll have to buy a bike and ship it, because renting for anything more than two weeks is cost prohibitive. That does kind of lock me into Baja/Mexico for 2020, because my bike will already be staged in AZ.

    I'm interested in starting a discussion and hearing opinions on this subject from people who have done any or all of these trips. Thanks!
    #1
  2. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,454
    Location:
    On tour in North America
    I am a great fan of Asia so would vote for Himalayas or SE Asia, I would choose Thailand over Vietnam as in my experience there is less traffic and more out of the way places to visit.
    There are several companies that run tours in the Himalayas, hopefully someone will be along with a personal recommendation but India and Nepal are incredible countries to visit and a guided tour can be a good way to go on a first trip.
    #2
  3. HeidiHo

    HeidiHo Old, Bold, Still Riding

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    865
    Location:
    IOM - NZ - PNW
    @PhiSig1071 , I suggest you take that first bike ride to Alaska. I have been to all the places on your list, and still suggest that a rider that has not ridden long distances outside the contiguous 48 states...go to Alaska and the Yukon first. It allows you to iron out all gremlins on the bike, and in you, during a long distance ride that can still be managed from friendly faces, and the convenience of places that speak the same language, and use the same money.

    After conquering the Great Pacific Northwest/Alaska/Yukon.....then venture farther if you still have a mind to.

    If you choose going to Alaska, in 2019, then ship either the DR650 or the V-Strom 650 to my place, and I can "receive" it for you, store it for you, and do any last minute prep it may need before you fly up here, and take off for Alaska. I can also pick you up at the airport...either SeaTac or PDX.

    If you choose the KLR, well then...someone else will have to volunteer to assist you :jack
    #3
    Mane and PhiSig1071 like this.
  4. scootac

    scootac Just a Traveler

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,684
    Location:
    Northcentral PA
    Helluva dilemma to be in!!!
    :D

    Only have a question for you if you choose Alaska....why buy a bike on East Coast and ship west....instead of just buying it on west coast and flying in to ride?

    Time to farkle it?
    #4
  5. PhiSig1071

    PhiSig1071 What's ******width?

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,676
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    That is a very generous offer, and if I end up buying a bike and shipping it to Seattle I will take you up on it!

    Pretty much exactly that. I'm almost 6'5" and about 260lbs. At the very least I find myself putting heavier springs and making ergonomic adjustments to every bike I own, especially Japanese ones. Alaska on my own bike is definitely first on my list, I feel like Alaska needs more time and I can't really justify renting a bike for more than about two weeks due to cost (About $100 a day for a KLR is the cheapest I can find). But the logistics of that trip are daunting. What throws an even bigger wrench in the works is that I wont actually be living on the east coast. I will be working abroad. But I will be "home based" out of Jacksonville, FL, and that will likely be my point of return to the US every time I come back. So that adds another layer of complication to owning a bike and shipping it to Seattle, and modifying a bike. I can store the bike in Jacksonville with family, but I wont have time to work on the bike, and asking them to take it back and forth to a shop for me might be a little much. I could find a shop that would both store the bike and work on it, but that might be a bit expensive. It's complicated, I'll probably be back in the US after about three years, and it would be logistically easier to prep for this ride then, but being stateside I wont get that long block of leave in order to actually do the ride. I could spend a few years in the US and then do another three-year rotation abroad, which would let me prep the bike in the US before I leave and still get the long block of leave, but that would postpone the trip to 2024 at the earliest (and I plan on retiring by 2032!)
    #5
    HeidiHo likes this.
  6. HeidiHo

    HeidiHo Old, Bold, Still Riding

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    865
    Location:
    IOM - NZ - PNW
    Well, as I stated above, I can do the work on your bike. I have my own shop, and those that know me will attest that I am a meticulous mechanically anal-retentive "almost" perfectionist.

    Again, you are welcome to store the bike at my place, and all the work that needs to be done can be done here. I do NOT charge for labor, only the parts needed to do what you want done.

    My shop: (now that I look at the picture closely, my shop is a mess in this picture, of my 2017 V-Strom 650XT up on the lift.) :fpalm

    V-Strom Farkles 003.jpg
    #6
    black 8, Suncoaster and PhiSig1071 like this.
  7. PhiSig1071

    PhiSig1071 What's ******width?

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,676
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Nice shop! I am officially jealous. By "last minute prep" I assumed you meant top off the tires and lube the chain, maybe hook it up to a battery tender for a day or two, that type of work. But if you could do more in-depth work that would certainly streamline logistics significantly! I really like the 650XT, I'm hoping that they come down in price enough that by the time I'm shopping for a bike for this trip they'll be in a more workable price range. I was working for a Suzuki dealer when the original V-Strom came out, it's a great platform. Riding my own bike to Alaska is looking more and more like a good possibility. I did a little checking and if I store the bike in Tucson after the ride I could easily do Baja, take the ferry over and hit Copper Canyon, then ride it back to Jacksonville as my 2020 ride.
    #7
  8. HeidiHo

    HeidiHo Old, Bold, Still Riding

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    865
    Location:
    IOM - NZ - PNW
    @PhiSig1071 , in my own shop, I can do 100% of the work needed or entailed in building the new bike for you. I do all of my own work, 100% of it, and in years' past I was authorized by Mother Honda to do my own "warranty" work. The local dealer(s) would simply hand me the OEM parts, and they would do all the paperwork on the warranty issue(s), but I was allowed to do the actual work on the bikes. Plus, my most immediate local dealer is both Honda & Suzuki, and I get discounted pricing on any parts from them. Which means, I can not only get a "bike" at a discounted price for you, but also build it up the way you want it, in my shop.

    Again, my "labor" is free........your only cost is the actual bike and parts. WHY ? Because I am retired, years ago, and LOVE working on motorcycles.

    OR......possibly...my 2017 V-Strom that is now 99.9314159% ready for the 2018 Alaska/Yukon rides "may" be available for sale, specifically to YOU, as a bike for YOU to ride to Alaska....in 2019 or 2020.
    #8
    PhiSig1071 likes this.
  9. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,942
    Location:
    Granbury Texas
    ALASKA...... Ride Local.....
    #9
    PhiSig1071 likes this.
  10. calmconviction

    calmconviction Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    In June 2019 there will be a total solar eclipse through Argentina/Chile. The totality is about 4600 km south of Quito. Certainly doable in 6 weeks roundtrip.
    #10
    PhiSig1071 likes this.
  11. black 8

    black 8 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    856
    Location:
    33.2295 -117.3711
    I wish I had that shop to work on my bikes HeidoHo... very nice! :thumbup
    #11
    HeidiHo and PhiSig1071 like this.